My 15 minutes of fame

Just a couple days before I went to Ekso Bionics for the first time to walk in their exo-skeleton, they asked me if I would mind talking to “some friendly British guys doing a short documentary” about my initial experience. A few hours later, they called me again and asked if the British guys could come to my house and ask me a few questions before I actually walked at Ekso. I agreed to everything, assuming these guys were doing some esoteric, low-profile documentary project that no one would ever see.

The friendly Brits setting up at my house
The friendly Brits setting up at my house

The British guys showed up at my house (and indeed they were very friendly), they explained that this was actually for Al Jazeera English, a very well reputed international news channel with a growing influence and a viewership in the hundreds of millions worldwide. I was STOKED. I’d been reading and watching the shows on Al Jazeera for years and was always impressed by the quality and depth of their programs. Now I was going to be a part of it??

So let me say a couple disclaimers about this show before I sign off. Firstly, in full disclosure, the fact that this happened was simple good fortune. These guys didn’t seek me out personally, it just so happened that they were here that week and I happened to be one of the people who was walking for the first time on those days they were here. The fact that they decided to profile me and build the program around my story was a nice surprise.

Secondly, while I was filming with them and answering questions, I was repeatedly asked how excited I was about the future of Ekso and how it could apply to me. My response was honest and I want to reiterate it here. I think what Ekso is doing is fantastic and prolific. They have developed incredible technology that will revolutionize the treatment of people with Spinal Cord Injury. While I’m extremely grateful and excited about using Ekso as much as possible and reaping the benefits of their product, I also have no intention of using Ekso for a long time. My goal remains the same: to stand and walk and regain functionality in my lower body without any help. I see Ekso as a wonderful tool for rehab and recovery but I hope and plan on not using it for everyday life. It’s stubborn, but that’s just me…

Alright so here it is. Feel free to spread the word:

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/thecure/2013/06/201362384057310764.html

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39 thoughts on “My 15 minutes of fame

  1. Arash!!!!! I am in tears watching this! Wow! What an amazing opportunity! And you are do articulate about your experience so you are the perfect subject for the documentary. Al Jazeera does outstanding documentaries–I use them in classes all the time. How wonderful that you contributed to this exciting project! Sending much love!! Caren

    1. I felt fortunate to be part of their program Caren. I too think they do great programs and they perform the kind of journalism that is so lacking these days. It was a fun project and I hope it gets SCI a bit more attention -AB

  2. Ah! What a beautiful interview! You present yourself so well and make an excellent spokesperson for those with spinal cord injuries. Yes, it be great if all could go from the wheel chair vantage point to the normal one.

    1. I’m so glad you liked it and enjoyed the written piece and the video. It was a fun experience and yes I can’t wait to get out of the shorty vantage point back up to eye level. Best to you -AB

  3. Arash, what a great video and you know it was meant to be since they just happened to be there on the week that you happened to be one of the first to walk in the suit. Now you will get to be a blessing to even more people! It was really awesome to see your parents, too! Lastly, keep on being stubborn – it’s a great rehab tool, but it is not your future! So happy for you and will continue to send good energy your way as you recover!

    1. You nailed it. You absolutely understand where I’m coming from. Yes I want to use everything at my disposal in terms of rehab but I refuse to let a chair or a bionic suit substitute for what I love so much – my legs! Thank you for the kind words -AB

  4. I saw your story on Al Jazeera. I thouht you might like to see this short doc about my good friend that suffered a C5/6 injury in a surf accident and still surfs every day. He inspires me greatly! http://vimeo.com/9358866

    Best wishes to you.

    1. I appreciate you reaching out and sharing the story of your friend. That’s great that he’s so committed to his passion. Glad you found the blog and hope you keep reading -AB

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this Arash. I felt like I was right there with you in this documentary piece… nodding my head the whole time in support and encouragement. You have such a strong presence… I felt that in other clips and through your written word, but this one just really showcases your determination and spirit so beautifully. Al Jazeera folks were so lucky to stumble upon such a fantastic spokesperson for this important revolutionary technology. It’s all very impressive, and I know only a stepping stone for you as you move forward in your quest for FULL RECOVERY. Much love dear friend ~ x Robyn

    1. I love that you CAPITALIZED those words: FULL RECOVERY!! Yes I get frustrated sometimes when people ask me to adapt to life as it is now but I just can’t stand it or accept it. I just tell myself that I have to keep fighting. No other choice. I’m so glad you liked the video. I think they did a really nice job too. Thank you as always for your support and love. Smiles to you -AB

  6. This was simply awesome, Arash. What you’re doing right now with your work and your recovery is so much bigger than you. This video was proof of that. Keep going, my friend. Keep going. (As if you needed any encouragement, lol.) -jess

  7. Impressive stuff Arash. The video was great, but more than that it’s really inspiring to read about your attitude towards your recovery.

  8. I just saw this video linked on Upworthy.com and I think it’s amazing how motivated you are to recover back to your pre-injury state (and I’m sure you’ll do it!). This Ekso product is amazing as well. Great video 🙂 Best of luck!

  9. I saw the video and was very impressed. Are you able to use the Ekso suit more often and is it helping you in your recovery?

  10. Found my way here via Upworthy’s feature of the Ekso video, stayed because your writing is beautiful. My mother is a lifelong T10 paraplegic from a spinal cord injury due to a tumor at birth. At 68, she has lived with paralysis for longer than almost anyone alive today. Perhaps because she never knew it any other way, perhaps because of who she is, she thrived, working with her limitations rather than railing against them. She had three children (the old fashioned way, no less), and traveled Europe in the 70s with kids in tow. She worked, she gardened, she drove, she rode horses, camped, and was an amazing cook. Physically, as her body struggles now after so many years of sitting, I recognize how many of the issues she faces would have been alleviated with regular use of something like an Ekso suit. I hope that in your lifetime, it’s a stepping stone to healing in ways that weren’t available to her. My mother set the bar pretty high for the life you can lead. I wish you higher.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your mother’s story. She sounds like quite an inspirational person to have done all of those things. I can sense that you have great admiration for her, as do I knowing exactly some of the struggles that she has faced. I wish both you and your mother the best -AB

  11. I just watched part of the documentary. It blew me away. I have spinal cord injuries but am still able to walk. However I have always been told to be careful, don’t stand too long,don’t sit too long, don’t bend down like that ,don’t lift that or your back will go out and there will be nothing we can do you will need a wheelchair. I joined this site just to be able to comment on your blog. Mine happened 14 years ago and NONE of the doctors or specialist in all of that time have been able to explain how I can still walk. When they ask I just say no one ever told me I couldn’t. It has been a long recovery process some things have gotten better some worse. I have read a few of your other blogs and this I can say. YOU have the right attitude. Do not let the Drs tell you your limits they do not know you, your body or what you are capable of. If I had listened to even one of the drs I would have sat around watching my body rot away. It will be hard but you can do it!!! You seem like you have the will don’t get discouraged there will be bumps in the road you just have to find a way over under or around them and I think you have what it takes. I wish you the best life can bring and Thank you for being an inspiration to others.

    1. Your words are so inspiring to me. I LOVE hearing about stories like yours, of people who have defied the odds, confused the doctors and carved their own path. I’m happy that you’ve been able to retain your walking abilities despite your injury. I’m flattered that you found my blog and grateful for your comments. Hope to remain in contact with you -AB

  12. Hi Arash, I stumbled upon your blog accidentally a few days ago (it was on Upworthy.com). I watched the video, read your blog and have not been able to get you off my mind since. I’m not really sure what sending you this message will accomplish. Whether is provides you any support or encouragement at all really. However I do know that you, a complete stranger has put my personal situations into perspective. I’ve struggled with my weight these last few years and have let myself fall into the trap of thinking my life was worthless or at the very least not as important when compared to others. I let other people’s weaknesses and judgements define me, only because I did not think I was worth the energy or effort of thinking highly of myself. Slowly over the years I discovered because of other people’s judgements I did not love myself. I did not think I was worth any real effort. I’ve been working on this, I know I am important, I know I have great things to offer and accomplish. After reading about your story, your drive, your dreams it has given me a “kick in my fat ass.” If you, can visualize yourself walking, running and climbing again then I can visualize myself “being enough.” My size doesn’t define my accomplishments, I do. You give me hope that I will again love myself, and that I can control my future and that I will be proud of the person I am. You’ve done that.

    Isn’t it amazing that we can just sit behind our computer screens, never meet yet have an impact on a stranger? You don’t need to be able to climb a mountain to have an impact on someone, all you need is a genuine truth, and a forum in which to represent it. Thank you Arash for impacting me. I look forward to reading about your journey and can’t wait for the day your body connects with your mind and takes off running down the streets of San Francisco.

    -Navi (Vancouver, BC)

    1. Wow. Your comments leave me almost speechless. I’m honored you had that kind of reaction from reading my blog and I hope you continue to overcome your struggles. What you say about defining yourself, I’ve thought about this a lot. I’m actually planning on writing a post about this soon so stay tuned. NEVER let anyone define you but you. NEVER let people’s judgments or reactions affect you deeply. I am embarrassed nearly all the time when I’m in public because I hate people seeing me in a wheelchair. But if I let their reactions define me, then I’m in bad shape. I’m so happy you read my blog and feel free to comment, email, stay in touch. Best to you -AB

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