***This was written a few years ago by me as exactly what the title implies, a quick history of where I was the evening of June 30th 2008. This is the 5 year anniversary I was given a second chance. Or maybe a 3rd, 4th, 97th chance. The updates needed are athletic accomplishments such as high finishes, making TeamUSA and traveling to Worlds later this year (September 2013), and becoming a member of a true second family in Team Rev3; all a miracle considering that hospital bed so many years back. There are more important things that have occurred too: my family’s NPO Sneaker Savior getting off the ground, and sharing this story to people all over the world including in schools and churches, detention centers, races, and anyone who read through Chicken Soup for the Soul: Troubled Times for Teens. It’s these things that I value. I am and will be forever grateful the Big Guy upstairs decided to give me what must have ben my umpteenth chance, and for smacking me in the back of the head to get my attention. Five years seems like forever ago, but every day I wake up I know it’s His will, and another opportunity to share this story. Enjoy the read, then retweet, repost, share, or just old fashioned tell your friends and family. Miracles still happen.***
This is a quick kind of background on my life the past couple years, and what has happened is really the only reason I’m where I am now, doing what I do. I will tell you now that it may come across as “preachy”, but I promise that’s not what I mean by it; it just kinda happens because of the story and what happens in it… That being said; I’ll begin…
I’ve always been a 110%,full out, go big or not at all, kind of guy; this goes with sports, as well as everything else in life, and makes it almost impossible to balance life. In high school, I was the leader of my little clique, and no one, maybe my best friend at the time, could stop me from doing something or alter my decisions. We did what I wanted, and that happened it be partying most of the time. I’d do just about anything to get a buzz and then, to get wrecked, and I got pretty into drugs for a while. Alcohol was always a staple, which was probably amplified by strong alcoholism on my biological father’s family, and my great grandparents on my mom’s side. My first issue with alcohol came the first month of ninth grade, in public school(I had attended a private Christian school from k-8th; there were just as many problems there, just harder to get substances) when I literally chugged a 20oz bottle of McCormicks vodka. This was my first time drinking, so I didn’t know what I was doing, and it landed me in my bed with no recollection of what happened. Turns out I had passed out, my cousin called my mom looking for me because I wasn’t answering my phone, and mom found me not breathing and pale blue. She told me she simply said, “please God…”, and I rolled over, puked. After she and my stepdad cleaned me up, they put me in bed. You’d think that near death experience would get my attention, but I’m more than hard-headed, so I needed something else, something much much bigger, to catch my attention; that’s what I’m writing about in this next part…
First year out of high school, June 30th 2008, was normal Friday night. I was going to a party with my mind heavy and foggy because I didn’t want to go to school, and I didn’t know how to tell me parents I was going to join the Marines because I felt like I was out of options. My friends and I threw an open house at some kids house who’s parents were out of town. After winning who knows how many games of beer pong, with another beer in hand, and almost a weeks worth of oxi, I blacked out around 2am. Now I don’t remember anything after I blacked out, but friends tell me that all that liquid courage made me want to go home to talk to my parents about the Marines, and that no matter what they did, they couldn’t stop me from getting in my car and driving off.
Half way home, I wrecked. I was thrown out of the sunroof because I thought seatbelts were highly overrated, and I was 19 and invincible anyway. I landed on my head after being ejected, cracking my occipital bone, which happens to be the body’s hardest. My Ford Escape, ironic right, flipped 6 times, and stopped, no joke, 8 inches from my body. One more flip, and I would have been under it. Here’s where you have to start thinking SOMEONE was looking out for me for some reason bigger than me.
Where I wrecked was in front of the only place open, a gas station, on that street for 2-3 miles either way. An EMT who had just gotten off her shift, and was on her way home, saw my wreck from the opposite lane, and got out to take care of me while the gas station cashier called 911 and prayed until the ambulance arrived. I was responsive, sort of, until I arrived at Kennestone Hospital, when I fell into a coma. They ran tests and told my parents that with the damage I had, including 3 times the cranial pressure I should have because of my brain bleeding, I’d be extremely lucky to make it through the night. However, they didn’t know if I would, and if I did make it through the night, I’d need months of rehab because of the parts of my brain that took the brunt of the damage. I may lose all inhibitions, motor skills, short term memory, and my sight… WAIT! It gets better, or worse depending on how you’re looking at it.
With every damn machine in the hospital hooked up to me, including 2 catheters(brain and the normal kind), I looked like my life was done; game over man. When I woke up for the first time, after 3 days in my coma, I had no vision. I still don’t remember this part, but I’m told I freaked out when I realized I couldn’t see, and I was put back into a coma. The next day was the same as the last three in the morning, but that evening I woke up, looked at my mom, and told her that she was wearing a blue shirt before passing back out. I could see.
The catheter in my head was removed, along with the neck brace, but I was still in bad shape. I tried to feed myself on day 5, my first very foggy memory after the wreck, but unless my mouth was on the side of my head, that idea was out. Yeah; say goodbye motor skills. Day 6 I regained my motor skills enough that I could shovel jello into my mouth, but that was about it, and the docs still didn’t think I’d regain everything.
Early morning day 7, around 4am, I woke up, looked at my mom who was asleep on the couch in my room, and told her I was hungry. I grabbed my hall tree of my IVs, tubes, and catheter bag, and set off to the cafeteria like nothing had happened. I hadn’t been able to keep any food down the past 6 days, and I needed food right then.
I don’t think I need to say that my doctors and mom were in awe. I seemed like nothing had ever happened. After some final cleanup of the glass and asphalt in my back(there’s still some in there), I walked out ON MY OWN the afternoon of the seventh day. Even the doctors said it had to be a “God thing”. If you wanna call it a long chain of coincidences, go ahead, but that takes more faith than saying that I was being looked out for.
After all that, I walked out of the hospital with some scars, a new hole in my head, some ADD, and a new respect and belief that there is something bigger out there. I figure that’s a decent trade off, and a damn good lesson learned. The first words out of my mouth when in the passenger seat on my way home was, “I think I had alone time with God. I had to make a choice between myself, and believing and following Him.” Do I need to tell you what my decision was?
3 months after I being discharged, I ran my first 5k road race, took 3rd in my age group, (The picture is from my first 10k, a few months later; I don’t have a picture for the first race… look at how awful my form is.. :^/) and have been hooked ever since. That love, and healthy *cough* addiction, led to competing in triathlons. I’ve raced triathlons of every distance, numerous running events, and had podium finishes. Only 2 years from that first 5k , I competed in a full iron distance triathlon in North Carolina at Beach2Battleship.
I’ve used this new ability as a medium to share my story of His glory and power. I’ve learned a lot since then, but most importantly that God kept me here for something more than myself, I’m not invincible, that you have to be humble, and not many people get at lucky and blessed as I have been.