My Accident -Part 1: Prologue

Today marks my anniversary. It is the Sunday before Memorial Day. Eighteen years ago I was an 18-year-old who was about to break his neck. Tying it to a day of the week and a holiday makes it feel closer than a particular date. It helps you remember and colors your memories with context.

Being able to share this series of posts starting on this day is one of the major reasons why I wanted to start this blog. My dad has told me for years that I should talk about this as a way to help others. Maybe it was his incessant nagging or maybe that my own ego has got to such a prodigious size that I think my own story told through my perspective is important. I think that a true story means more when you know what comes next. It isn’t a story while you were living it. Maybe the story has aged enough and it is as good a day as any to pop the cork.

I am going through a little bit of a midlife crisis. After 18 years as a quadriplegic am I more a disabled person or a injured able bodied person? It is a time for me to ponder what could’ve been and also to recognize how futile that exercise is. It is time to be grateful for the health and opportunities I have been given. It is a time to celebrate the things that I’ve been able to accomplish so far in my life and to imagine what more I could’ve done if I wasn’t so damn lazy. It is also a time to contemplate what I should do with the rest of my time and how lucky I am to be able to legitimately ask that question.

I hope that this story will provide a little bit of understanding of what cannot be understood for those who are interested or are now in a situation where they need to know more. Please do not assume that my experience is like anyone else’s. I realize it is presumptuous and egotistical to assume I’m a good enough storyteller to transfer any of this to you. I also realize that telling this story is a dirty writer trick because the content is so raw that it makes it impossible to critique. You will have to say you liked it! The story is graphically honest- which is the only way I can tell it. Over the next few weeks you are welcome to come on a journey while I remember what it was like to be me the day I fell through the door to my new life.

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18 thoughts on “My Accident -Part 1: Prologue

  1. Joe you have done well. Nice to have such helpful parents! You know my brother who was 2 years younger had a similar accident when he was 15. Keep inventing things that will help others very proud of you!

  2. You’re a *Rock Joe. Your story will inspire people with and without disabilities. Good Luck my Brother.

  3. Joe – I have a dear friend (and ex husband 🙂 ) that is a C5 Quad due to a diving accident. He is coming up on 30 years in his injured able body.
    I look forward to hearing your story and I applaud you for telling it!

  4. Looking forward to getting to know you better as a person and friend after hearing your story

  5. Keep on rocking dude! We need to play some cards one of these days when we are both in the same zip code!

  6. Joe, reading and reliving with you fills my heart with emotions of love for you and everyone who has been with us over these past 18 years. Each of us experiencing your process in light of our own hopes, dreams, tears and fears. Thanks for helping me. I pray that Jesus will continue to strengthen and bless you and those who’s lives you have touched over your life before, now and in the future.

  7. As a guy who’s been disabled for his entire life (37 years), I’m often approached by others and referred to as a source of inspiration. But, I’ve gotta tell ya, man…you’ve inspired ME since I met you at MSU back in 2001. I always thought I had a nothing-can-stop-me attitude…until I met you. “Wheelchair Jesus” always 1-up’ing me with your ability to grow that sweet Jesus/zz-top beard, flying to australia, moving to baltimore to become an inventor, blogger and all-around-bada**. I appreciate the motivation, Joseppi…lightin’ fires under my tires <– see what I did there?

      1. That’s true. My coolness is well documented…stories of my x-rated shenanigans will be told for generations. Now if you’ll excuse me, the blueberry muffins I have in the oven are just about finished. Then bedtime.

  8. I will never forget that night that I was told. I prayed and prayed because in my heart my marathon cousin would make it. My heart is still swelling while I am writing this, and I am still crying, but Joe don’t give yourself all that credit! What my cousin doesn’t realize is how much of an inspiration he really is. It never started after the accident. It started with the crappy plates. He is the cousin that Knows how to laugh,learn,love, and teach. He might not have known how much he does for me everyday, and you’re right should I put a “weird al”quote in there? My cousins gifts are a reason on why people can continue on knowing life is a great purpose.

  9. I look forward to reading your journey. You and your family have always been an inspiration to me. God bless!

  10. You are a good friend and have never been one to try to attract attention to yourself or toot your own horn. I’m so glad you’re sharing and know that it will be a powerful story that will matter greatly to those that read it. Lots of love!

  11. All of our stories are worth telling Joe, yours included. We spend so much of our lives convincing ourselves that we’re not important just to, hopefully, find out that we need to start convincing ourselves that we are. The latter being much more difficult. Thank you for sharing; its not an easy thing to do.

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