Bio

I grew up in four countries as a child but the SF Bay Area has always been my home. After venturing to Boston for my undergrad and 5 years working and traveling to dozens of countries across five continents as a trip leader for an international biking and hiking tour company, I came back to the Bay Area to pursue an MBA. Shortly after that, one seemingly normal summer day turned into a horrific night that completely changed my life.

I have led my entire life with the belief and desire to make the most of every moment. Following the devastating spinal cord injury I suffered in 2012, I was faced with two options: 1) Listen to the doctors and medical specialists and accept and adapt to my damaged body with little to no hope for improvement or; 2) Commit myself fully to prove them wrong and to work diligently towards regaining function and getting back on my feet.

Maybe you can guess which option I chose…

Since then, I have worked relentlessly not only on my recovery goals but also to make a larger impact on the larger spinal cord injury community. I have presented and spoken to a number of audiences (see my Speaking page for more) about my experience and continue to share my story through my blog, my memoir and more speaking engagements.

In 2015, I co-founded the No Limits Collaborative, a 501c3 non-profit aimed at helping people with SCIs and neurological conditions to access exercise, physical therapy, education and an improved quality of life. I also helped a friend establish and coordinate Comedy for a Spinal Cause, a regularly occurring standup comedy show that raises funds for people with spinal cord injuries.

 


My Injury

On July 8th, 2012 I fell from a third story apartment balcony, landed on my neck and shattered the C5 and C6 vertebrae in my spine causing major trauma to my spinal cord and instantly turning my world upside down.  A couple of hours later, I woke up in a hospital bed, unable to feel or move most of my body and knowing full well that intense medications were the only thing numbing the excruciating pain coursing through my body.

In a halo, hours after the fall

In response to the injury, my spinal cord had swollen dramatically. I was injected with steroids to control the swelling and told I had to wait a couple of days for the broken bones to resettle and for my spinal cord to come out of panic mode. With my head and neck in a halo and lying flat on a swaying, twisting bed (which prevented muscle atrophy), I could only lie still and stare at one spot in the ceiling for the next 48 hours as family members and friends would come into view, greet and console me, all the while trying to hide their fear and worry at seeing me in this condition.

Giving a thumbs up heading into 7 hours of surgery

At 11am on July 10th, I underwent a 7 hour long surgery that involved cutting me open in the front and back of my neck, removing all the pieces of broken bone, reconstructing my spine by fusing together four vertebrae (C4-C7) with titanium rods and screws, and, in essence, piecing me back together.

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Surgery scar
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Shortly after surgery

When I woke up that evening, I was told the surgery had gone well but that I had a long road to recovery, and no one could define what recovery would be…

How they reconstructed my neck - titanium hardware and a carbon plate
Titanium rods and screws

 

101 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Arash,
    I stumbled upon your page from Facebook when it highlighted people I might know. This is Caitlin, your RA from Hamilton House at BU. You have had quite the journey since I last saw you at BU. Your recovery journey is incredibly inspirational. Just wanted to send a note of support and well wishes.

    1. Hi Caitlin. Thanks for reaching out. It has been quite some time since Ham House at BU but I hope you’re doing well. I’m doing the best I can given my situation. Thank you for your support and well wishes. Hope you keep reading as I continue my journey. -AB

  2. Arash — this is wayyyy back in your past when you temporarily worked at (cough) Oracle. You got some cool job as a trip guide and what? an injury? not fair. We used to go to the pleasanton mall to get away from Oracle. oh jeez. are you okay? I’m Rebecca Sammel, now a professor at Ferris State U.

  3. Arash–I just watched your talk–wonderful and remarkable–wanted you and Britta to know (we saw each other today at Albany Pool)–really, very very fine!!! Always my best to you both, Tony

  4. Hey Arash…good to know you are living an honorable and powerfully purposeful life. Thank you! This is Sharon Louisell from Berkeley High. After I heard your story from Mariel Adler-McAllister I felt it was important to share with you a little about my life too. I recently studied at The Nordblom Institute for Footzonology (www.footzonology.com). My teacher used the technique to “zone” tumors out of her newborn son’s brain (no surgery!) and the founder of the institute travels the world helping families by “zoning” their loved ones out of comas. I know it sounds unbelievable but you have been through enough to know that the unbelievable often speaks progress. There is more I would like to share with you. Email me if you would like! Moving forward….I think footzonology could help you reach your goal and fortunately one of the most experienced practitioners is here in the bay area! (https://www.schedulicity.com/home/results [Health Wellness and Healing]). Keep recovering and would really enjoy hearing from you!

  5. Hi Arash!
    My name is Kesey, and I am a 4th Year Occupational Therapy student in Australia. I came across your blog whilst searching for SCI bloggers. I am seeking to develop my understanding of the lived experience of having a spinal cord injury, I would love to be able to email you some questions if possible.

    Also, going through your blog and reading about your journey shows that every individual’s journey is different. It is shaped by so many factors and that no one should be entirely categorised by a textbook!

    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Kesey.

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