"Never give in,
never give in, never, never, never, never"
We all face challenges and struggles in our lives that help shape who we are. How we choose to deal with those challenges impact the current situation and our future. For me, July 11, 1981 turned into one of the luckiest days in my life. I was 18 years old and out with a buddy. We saw a movie and then stopped by a McDonald's for a bite. I was walking across a parking lot to go into the restaurant and a car hit me and threw me 20 feet through the air where I then slammed into the brick wall at the corner beside the entrance door into McDonald's. In a split second I looked up to see the car coming right at me a higher rate of speed. The car ripped the hand rail out of the ground and pinned the handrail and the car bumper against my knee against the wall. Fortunately, I landed in the corner and the walls of the McDonald's building prevented the car from crushing more of me.
Initially I thought not only was my leg crushed, but my dreams of making to the majors were also crushed. However, that night turned into a blessing that has taught me many things about myself and about life, including perseverance and the need to never give up. I use a baseball saying, “one base at a time”, as my life philosophy that inspires me to take on my life challenges one by one. I try to use every success and/or failure either big or small as learning opportunity to help empower me to take on the the next challenge 'one base at a time'.
For 29 years, every night I had one to five night terrors/nightmares and was scared to go to sleep. During that time in my life I was also having flashbacks often triggered if I heard a revving car engine, squealing tires, the smell of car exhaust, or the aroma McDonald's french fries. At the time, I didn't understand what my symptoms were or how best to treat them. I was too ashamed and scared to ask for help.
A chance reading of a magazine article set the course for treatment of my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I was at my doctor’s office to receive acupuncture for pain management and looking for something to read during the treatment. A Smithsonian magazine caught my eye because it contained an article about a new facility treating veterans with PTSD (see article here). My oldest daughter was studying psychology and interning at the newly formed Home Base Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and I thought the article might give me some insight into what she was learning. As I read the article I realized I suffered from most of the symptoms it described as relating to PTSD. No doctor had ever asked me or my wife about PTSD. I always thought only active duty military members or veterans could have PTSD from the horrors of war. Now I know that anyone can get PTSD from a life threatening trauma. As a result, I don't want other people who are dealing with PTSD to suffer in silence like I did. I tried my best to protect my family: I tried to keep my symptoms a deeply guarded secret because I didn't want to burden them. Now I know that I wasn't able to protect and shield them from my PTSD symptoms, as through treatment I have learned that PTSD affects the entire family.
Many people have told me they think I'm one of the most unlucky people in the world since I've been hit by a car 3 times and had 43 surgeries and PTSD to name a few things. But I strongly disagree; I think I'm one of the luckiest people in the world. It's up to us how we turn our challenges into opportunities to not only help ourselves but help others too.
Always remember you have the power to choose to never give up. Wishing you all much strength as you take on and conquer your own challenges!