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.
I continue to do all that I can to achieve my objectives and help those with neurological conditions gain a better quality of life.
101 thoughts on “About”
This is one of the most complete about pages I have read..and I have read many. This photo is compellingly beautiful and a fitting image to inspire hope.
Hey Arash – thanks for putting this out there. I have been thinking a lot about you with no good way to get a hold of you and tell you that if anyone can perservere – I know YOU can. I am so proud to call you a friend and I wish you all the best. (and Matt says hi too!) – Ashley
Arash, my thoughts and prayers and positive energy for you!
Hi Arash, Thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing your experience through this blog. I can feel your optimism in between every letter typed and know that you will surprise all of those doctors because of your determination, good health and positive outlook. We are incredibly lucky and thankful you are here to share your story and inspire us. I’m learning a lot from you through this and continue to send excessive amounts of healing energy your way. Lunch again soon now that I’m back in town. Big hug, Melbove
Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve never met you in person, but I’ve heard your name many times over (I’m a former BR leader). I’m sorry to hear about your accident. When I was 16, I fell off of a 42ft cliff and destroyed my foot and ankle. At the time, the doctors didn’t know if they could save my foot, and if they could save it, they didn’t know if the ankle joint would be permanently fused. It’s been almost 20 years since the accident, and I’ve run two marathons, climbed a few mountains, and set foot on all but one continent (not to mention biking a few thousand miles around Europe). I know our injuries are quite different, but I know what it’s like to have your reality shifted so severely. The unknown is the scariest part. It will suck at times. Stay positive. Stay focused. Stay determined. I also found that stubbornness can work wonders. I’ll be sending you positive thoughts and positive energy.
Wow Heather. Great to get your perspective. While I try to remain as positive as possible, you’re right that the unknown really is the scariest part. And yes I’m counting on my stubbornness taking me through this trying time. It’s hard to only be able to rely on my own belief and not on what doctors have told me but if that’s the way it is, then so be it. I hope to meet you in person one day, maybe on a hike or bike ride 🙂
Arash – you are an inspiration and it’s a gift to so many people for you to be able to share your story. Tons of positive thoughts & energy for you as you go through your recovery! Thanks for sharing it with us. – Lesley Anderson (Braby)
My name is Eric, from Switzerland, we never met each other but i’ve landed on your blog through some acquaintances. Considering what I have read, I’m astonished by your positive attitude, strength and determination that will certainly help you to overcome every difficulties in life. You seem to do what many people can’t do: taking the best of every single moment even if life is sometimes a bitch. You’re an incarnation of will! Keep on going forward, thinking positive!!!
All my thoughts are with you.
Thanks for the support Eric! I’m happy to connect with you even though we haven’t yet met. I appreciate the positive thoughts and hope to remain in contact. Sending positive thoughts to you in Switzerland. -Arash
Thanks for posting your story and thoughts on your blog. You are truly an inspiration. We will be thinking of you.
Jia Yn and Carley Chen
Arash- im a total ass for taking this long to connect to you so i hope you get a chance to read this note!! I have a very close friend in LA who oddly enough has had a similar injury at C5 from a horrific bike accident last year, and is dealing with very similar issues as yourself. He was also an avid cyclist and a go getter/adventure seeker…none of that has changed in his spirit, but now he and you both have physical obstaces to overcome….hearing of your accident was really upsetting to me and i wish there was a miraculous cure to his paralysis and yours, but i know the reality is it will take time and work….HOWEVER i am SO happy you are keeping this blog. it is inspiring to me, and i am planning to forward it to my friend in LA in the hopes that maybe he can get some perspective and maybe start his own blog. you are on a tough journey…there is no easy answer and no easy road but i am excited to hear of your progress and your strength. just wanted to let you know i was thinking of you and have only good thoughts going your way. i have seen the hard work of many SCI patients so i have wonderful hope for you and will be avidly following your blog! xo, Dara.(your old neighbor on arch st)
I just found out about this now through your Facebook post and am deeply saddened to hear what has happened. That being said I know you are an incredibly strong and dedicated person and if anyone can get through this and make it happen, it’s you.
I will be following your blog and sending you my thoughts and prayers every single day. Wishing you all the best and looking forward to following along with your recovery, I know you can do it!
All the best,
Arash…. How are you sooooo amazing. Seriously. Your perspective and writings in this blog are absolute inspiration and hope… Leah and our newest , Milo, are sending you big love man. If there is anyone that has the positive sole to overcome, it will be you! I really believe that. Let’s connect soon. Please keep writing your story… We are following!
You were inspiring when I met you for the first time at the top of Machu Picchu 4 years ago ( I am so glad I asked you to take my photo! HA!). And now you continue to inspire me with your positive approach to overcoming this huge challenge. It’s absolutely amazing. And I am sorry to have been late to respond but I just saw a few posts this morning. It was just another day at work for me until I read through your blog this morning-and I am now lost for words at your strength, will and determination. Again, amazing! Tomorrow, and the next day, and day after that I will continue to keep you in my thoughts during this challenging time and place a big old spot for you in my heart! I realize the blog is a great place to connect, but would love to send things in snail mail. It’s a lost art, right? And when things do arrive in the mailbox-I don’t know, it always puts a smile on my face (minus the bills of course. HA!).
Anyway, hit me up with a mailing address if possible……..
All the best and looking forward to following your progress,
Your spirit an fierce determination to conquer this challenge – just as you always have in all your other life pursuits is so inspiring ~ beautiful and rich. Admiration and Love to you ~ Heal Heal Heal — I will be keeping you in thoughts, heart and prayer — RL
Arash – my sunshine! When we met on the hiking tour in Norway – you changed my life with your positive attitude and inspiration – which you still do today! I will keep you in my thoughts each and everyday and will do whatever I can to help you through this part of your life journey! You are an inspiration to all and I know you will conquer this – as you have conquered everything you attempt….mind over matter, my friend. All the best – I will be following you……as I did in Norway….on each and every trail…..sending love, prayers and good thoughts your way…..Teik
Hi Teik! Great to hear from you and thank you so much for your support and kind words. I look forward to sharing this journey and know that you’re reading. Much love and positive thoughts to you too. Stay in touch -AB
WOW! Inspiring! I am totally at awe reading your blog! You are a very upbeat person. I believe the human mind is a very powerful thing! We can accomplish much if we only decide it can be done. I came to this conclusion when I was diagnosed with head and neck cancer at the age of thirty. I didn’t have a good prognosis and despite what the drs. told me I believed if I had a positive mentality and stayed strong in my faith I would survive. Not only did I survive, I also overcame many of the things I was told by drs. I would not. I love your optimism and believe with your strong will you can and will be fully restored. I surrounded myself with positive people! I still live with chronic pain. Some days my pain level is a 9 out of 10 and on a normal day at least a 4 out of 10. I understand how you feel because at one time I too was in a wheel chair. However, I weighed just over 80 lbs and I didnt know if I would survive. I too am an athlete! I love to run and do all things outdoors. I love your story. I look forward to reading your blogs! You inspire me!
Your story is quite inspirational as well. Congrats to you to be able to defy what doctors told you and make your own reality from your situation. I hope your cancer is better and that your pain is less extreme. Thank you for reading and for sending your own inspiring thoughts. Happy to learn of your story. Best to you -AB
Heart-wrenching, yet warming at same time 🙂 Beautiful story…Our times of trials and challenges can make us stronger, if we approach them as such. Although, getting asense of perspective, i realise i have never had something like this happen to me. Im very glad to have discovered your blog today…I have recently created a blog where, I will be exploring aspects of my big passion in life -nature and what we can learn from it/environmental education, how we can reconnect with it through living sustainably, BEING in it etc… So i am excited to read further posts of yours from your travels, hikes and love of nature etc 🙂 Best wishes to you from Malta. Namaste
Your blog is a wonderful idea and I congratulate you for tackling those issues as they are dear to me too. I hope that once I recover I can devote more attention to subjects like yours and reappreciate nature. I’m flattered you found my blog all the way in Malta. Best to you -AB
Thank you all the way from my heart Arash. I feel same about having found your blog. The synchronisites of life eh 🙂 I wish you lots of healing so you can return to your love of the outdoors. With love, light, peace. Namaste, Ciara
Much appreciated Ciara. Look forward to sharing our respective journeys -AB
Arash, I found your blog quite by accident and now find myself compelled to post something right about the time I usually swipe my finger across my iPad and move to the next blog.
Just a few hours ago I was lamenting about something which I now find quite irrelevant. Embarrassingly so, even. Your story has put so much into perspective for me today. It is so important to “keep going”. Thank you, for that. As far as changes in your life, the comments by people who know you indicate to me that, despite your accident, you continue to be the same person – you simple have found a new way to inspire awe.
I wish you continued progress and happiness. 🙂
Your message means a lot to me and one of the things I strive for in this blog is to provide even just a tiny bit of perspective to others. So I’m honored I could captivate your attention for a few moments. Thank you for reading and hope you continue reading -AB
Thank you Arash. I will make a point to visit. Stay well.
What a beautifully written page, and blog…. Thanks so very much for sharing your experiences. Sending healing vibes and love your way, from across the miles and states — keep visualizing! The brain is a powerful device.
I agree with you on the power of the mind. Thanks for your support and I hope you keep reading -AB
May your journey of self-acceptance grow in richness and strength…..strong enough you will have photos of your new self.
You need to like your new self to reveal to the world what you are now, what you look like now…not photos of just prior to your accident. May you find new passions long-term.
Courage to you: I worked in a hospital for spinal cord injured adults for 3 yrs.
Arash…I just found you through Robyn and its so good to meet you! I don’t have words for what this journey must be like for you…wanted to say that you inspired me as I read your story….please accept my healing prayers for you….and keep wiggling that toe! I have huge respect for visualization and prayer, both have which has gotten me farther down the path….keep writing your story my friend and your circle of love will keep growing and growing….
As a runner/hiker/walker who is in constant motion from dawn to dusk, I empathize with the burden of forced sedentary living, necessary though it has been for you to heal. Too bad you can’t ‘bank’ your exceedingly active days and spread them over the idle ones, if that makes any sense. But, you stood much closer to the scalloped edge of Half Dome than I had the nerve to when I ascended back in 1998!
I see that you are a San Francisco Bay Area resident. I live north of the city and it has been so bitterly cold, even in midday, that you haven’t missed many ideal hiking days. A small matter in the scheme of things you are dealing with at the moment, I realize.
Having stumbled upon your blog while trying to shape my own into some kind of meaning, I’m inspired by your candor. ‘Fad saol agat’-Gaelic for ‘long life to you.’
Hi Dana, yes I agree I wish I could have banked by active days to now but I’m actually pretty active these days with therapy. Doing 3-4 hours a day 6 days a week, it’s just not in the form I would most like, namely being outside. I’m assuming you live in Marin? To seeing half dome again… -AB
The fact that you are in such good physical shape could very well have something to do with the pinky toe…Best of wishes!
I hope that has something to do with it Tom, that is what I hear. -AB
Your story breaks my heart, but I have a feeling it’s not the last word. With your tenacity, determination and discipline, better days are surely ahead.
I’m sorry about your accident. Keep working and stay positive!!! As finding Nemo says “just keep swimming” that may be out of reach literally right now but not mentally!!!
Haha I love the Nemo quote. Thanks for reading -AB
Arash–You are one of us. Those outdoor people who are constantly doing it out there, pushing the limits and defing the odds–until…we don’t. You are an inspiration, though I’m sure you don’t feel that way all the time. I’m older now, and when I look back at the things I’ve done, I think, “OH! Jeez! Lucky!” As a former park ranger, I’ve hiked, biked, rafted, and climbed my way through a number of western national parks. Now, it’s horses! Riding the other day, a bit too fast for my old and abused spine, I thought about what might happen if the horse stumbled, and we slowed down. Now I find your blog and feel such kinship with you. I can’t tell you how lucky you are to be born into a loving family! More power to you all! Wiggle that toe! And the rest of you!! And thank you for sharing yourself with the world.
I’m so happy you read and feel that kinship. I too feel it and know that if you’ve spent so much time outdoors like you say, you have an idea of how badly I want to do all of those things again. That is my fuel and motivation, I just refuse to accept that I’m done doing the things I love the most, so I have to get back, right?? Stay safe out there and keep enjoying the outdoors. I’m there in spirit. Thanks for reading -AB
I find you blog truly inspiring. You are such and amazing and strong person. Thanks for sharing this. I wish you all the best 😀
I’m happy you enjoyed it and hope you keep reading -AB
Here’s an award for you.
So many of us take our health for granted until we are given reason not to. Good luck on your journey Arash, add my positive thoughts to the many others. You sound as though you have an optomistic spirit and I am sure that will serve you well.
I am doing my best to keep that optimistic spirit alive and going. I know I will never take my health granted again. Thanks for accompanying me on this journey -AB
I wanted to share this with you
And this.. for the same reasons. You are a very cool example of living in the moment. http://scvincent.com/2013/04/03/blame-the-morphine/
Thank you! Glad we could connect -AB
Hello Arash! I have nominated you for a ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award 2013’ – if you would like to accept the details are here: http://sarahryan85.wordpress.com/awards/ Wishing you all the best!
Thank you much! I’ll check out the info now -AB
Thanks for sharing… Very inspiring indeed. :). Keep shining.
Thank you for reading. Just a quick picture of who I am 🙂 -AB
Arash! It’s great to read your posts! Thank you! I love your son-risa! (smile: has sun (son) brings laugh (risa))
Ha! I’m been studying for a few hours…my brain it’s trying to connect any ideas! but it’s true your smile is amazing!
Thank you for reading and for your support -AB
I do not see my other comments posted so I will repeat.
I was just devastated when I heard, just the other day, about your accident from Kristen J from your USF days. My heart and thoughts are with you. Your blog is amazing. Very well written and inspiring. I have a former student I would like to get you in touch with. He is the Head of Disability Services for the State of CA, reports directly to the Governor, and has10,000 employees. He is a long time friend and may be able to direct you to services that are available for you.
In the meantime, keep up your spirits and the amazing rehab work you are doing.
Your (favorite?) prof and Friend, Leslie
Hi Leslie! Yes I just saw your comments. Thank you for the kind words and support. I will respond to you on email but I’m happy you found my blog. Talk soon -AB
I just watched the Upworthy video posted by your friend that features you taking your first steps since the accident, and I am so happy that you shine and go on the way you do. You have an incredible smile that must be reflective of your soul. In your About page I did not expect to find a person with such similar attributes and takes on life as me. I only hope that I can be as strong-willed and brave if and when life throws something so challenging in my way. Until then I will continue to follow you on this amazing journey which looks to be very promising for you and everyone who can relate.
Thank you for the inspiration.
Fatin, thank you for the kind words. I only hope that nothing even close to this is ever presented to you. It’s a horrific injury and situation and I hope that you’re able to gain a great perspective (seems like you are) without having a tragic injury or situation like this. I greatly appreciate you reaching out. Best to you -AB
About you- You are awesome! Inspiring, keep it up 🙂 XO
I’ll keep it up! -AB
Hi Arash. I found your blog quite accidentally through a tech website, where you trialled a walking machine. But I relate to you in as close a way as I have with anyone else. I had an injury at my L5-S1 junction, which threatened to paralyse me. The bed-rest for 3 straight months, constant fear that every movement could potentially be the last, the expert opinions that I would NEVER even run, or lift my own luggage again, were completely disheartening. I even met some yoga therapists and neurosurgeons who had suffered through the same injury, and had tales of despair themselves. Weirdly, my first question to all those 20 experts was – ‘WHEN will I play tennis again?’. Every morning, my first reflex wasn’t to stretch or yawn, it was to check if my toes were moving, cos that would mean paralysis hasn’t happened. Yet.
I was the quintessential sportsperson all through college, and on the verge of having all of that taken away from me. After 4 months of wallowing in self-loathe, I started to look at rehabilitation. Started trying to walk, then up and down slight slopes. Took inspiration from Lance Armstrong (still can’t take this away from him) and James Blake. One day, I jogged. The next week, I ran! Full tilt! To my own surprise, after 6 more months of slow progress, (albeit with a supporting belt), I DID achieve my dream – I played tennis again. In the one year since my injury, I was playing sports in a meaningful way, and though I couldn’t really compete, playing itself was my biggest victory.
There were a lot of downs that year, existential issues, mental breakdowns. But the bright side of this all is that it gave me a better understanding of my body. I learned to treat it better and take care of it. I realised that I wasn’t Superman, and I couldn’t just ‘will’ my body into doing things that I was mentally but not physically ready for.
Yours is of course a much more extreme scenario, and there’s nothing I can say to alleviate the agony of being in your place. But if there’s one thing I learned, it was that injuries can only be temporary. Walking is just base camp. Take as much time as possible, but know this – you’ll be hiking and biking again someday. I guarantee it.
I’m so grateful for you sharing your story with me. Thank you!! You have been through something similar and it means a lot for me to read your words. “Walking is the base camp”… I love that. I may have to use it in fact from now on. I believe in your guarantee too and hope that I’ll be hiking and biking soon. Much appreciate your support. Hope to stay in touch -AB
This is an amazing story! and this new ekso bionic exoskeleton is absolutely incredible! My friend posted a video and I just happened to be on facebook. She is an amazing person and she seemed to be very excited about this story as it could change her life as well one day…so grabbed my interest and I clicked. Anyhow, as I was watching the video, I thought you looked very familiar to me. Did you happen to go to Kensington Elementary School ? You look look a kid that was in my grade. Anyhow that was ages ago but I thought I’d ask. But regardless, I wish you the best with everything and it’s so awesome to see people in the world with amazing and inspiring stories. I can’t wait to see how this technology will change lives.
What a small world… Yes I did go to Kensington. Do we know each other from back then Sophia? -AB
Arash~I had a chance to catch the piece where you where in a walking wheelchair. I also suffered mild SCI & subluxation at C1/2 but am not paralyzed (very long story). I did, however, spend time in/out of a chair and may, at some point later in life, end up back in a chair. The videos were so incredible! Thank you for sharing your experiences as there’s so many others that are inspired by it.
Thank you for reading. I hope you can avoid the chair for as long as possible. It’s the bane of my existence… -AB
Arash. I am so inspired by you. Life has so many twists and turns. And positive attitude is so critical. I am thinking of you and live in the Bay Area. Consider me as part of your community and call on me anytime.
PS Are you Iranian?
I am indeed. Thanks for reading and for your support. I hope you keep reading -AB
Of course I will. I read your last post about semantics and definitions. I was thinking about it. When I heard someone referring to someone else as blind the other day, your article popped in my head again.
Have you read “Born to Run”? If not, I would love to get it for you. It is the story of Ultra Runners and the mental space and attitude it takes to run a 100 miles pretty much straight.
Cool on the Iranian connection. I dropped my career to start human rights work for Iran about 4 years ago. It has been the hardest and most rewarding work. United4Iran.org
Be well Arash Jan.
I saw your organization, looks very interesting! Good for you for following your passion for human rights. I have indeed read Born to Run. Great book. It inspired me a lot. Cant wait to get back to running and apply those ideas again -AB
Just wanted to say that I really appreciate reading your blog because there is so much I can relate to. At the end of Sept 2011, I had a devastating & freak bike accident (a piece of a branch got jammed into my spokes) on my way to work. I suffered a C6-7 incomplete injury (Asia C). I also .spent 7 wks in hospitals (5 wks in Kaiser Vallejo). Altho I have been living with this longer than you, I can relate to issues as far as worries about reaching a plateau & not progressing further. Before my accident I lived a very active life. I biked, rowed, and hiked during any free moment when I wasn’t working as a veterinarian. I am also determined to get back to my active life. After a year, I was able to start walking short distances with a walker & am now able to use a cane with someone supporting me on the other side. I also have weak hands & last week had tendon transfer surgery on 1 hand to improve my grip. After a few months they will work on my other hand. My Kaiser physiatrist hasn’t been too helpful but I found out about this surgery from others & once I asked Kaiser about it they agreed it was a good idea. So, it does pay to learn about all of these options. Finally, I just started working out at Sci- fit ( which you may already know about). Being in a gym, doing things I never thought I could do has helped me with my depression & with my hopes of someday being able to live without the dreaded wheelchair. Anyway, I am sorry to go on about me and I look forward to reading more about your progress.
Glad we could connect via email. Hope to meet you soon -AB
Hi, Arash, I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. You can see what it’s about here. Keep on smiling, my friend. The world is a brighter place with you in it. xo
Thanks so much! I’m honored and flattered -AB
Dear Mr.Arash, humble greetings from Malaysia! Myself, Dinesh 23 an incomplete SCI patient at the level of T-12, among many other severe injuries following a tragic road accident 3 years back. I regained myself on my feet with the assistance of crutches at the moment, continuing a daily dosage of physiotherapy hours. I have continued this journey yet completed my Bachelors of Engineering, and continued with my MSc in Chemical Engineering, completing in 2 weeks time. I will definitely say, the road to recovery is not easy yet achievable. It takes lots of faith, perseverance, effort, emotional and physical strength. I look forward to keep in touch with you and walk along this route of recovery. Looking forward to hear from you at its soonest. Personal regards, Dinesh Dorai Raj. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
So nice to hear from you Dinesh! Thanks for reaching out and sharing your story. I’m impressed by your progress and fortitude and appreciate your words of support. I too know this is not an easy road and you’re right that those qualities are necessary to achieve recovery. Do you have any photos or videos of you walking? WOuld be so cool to see. I look forward to staying in touch with you and feel free to contact me anytime or communicate via email. email@example.com Best to you -AB
I follow your blog for quite a while now and I’m stunned by it mostly because of two reasons. First of all, you are just great! Second, I’m surprised by the things I recognise from my own health struggle, no let’s call it recovery 😉 Even though our conditions are so different, the challenges, thoughts, feelings etc can be so similar. After reading your writings I more then once thought YES, YES, YES I feel exactly the same. Maybe because some themes are so universal, maybe because we have some shared characteristics. Anyway, I am reading a book right now which I find hugely inspiring and thought I’d share it with you. “Mind over Medicine” by Lissa Rankin.
Take care you brave human being 🙂
My 25 year old nephew, Jeff was in a snowboard accident three days ago injuring his cervical spine and is just beginning his journey back from paralysis (currently from the chest down). Your website/blog is inspirational and I can’t wait to share it with him.
Thank you for sharing your journey, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it,
Hi Patti. Thanks for reading. I hope that your nephew can find a bit of help from the blog. Please make sure he checks out the page on SCI Resources and Inspirational Links. That may help him a lot and inspire him on his recovery. Best of luck to him and you. -AB
Dear Arash (and all) I am so very new to blogs so I hope I am doing this correctly.
My beloved husband survived a tragic accident 16 months ago (shattered his C-6-C7)and his accident almost exactly mirrors your accident Arash. He was profoundly injured and is paralyzed from the chest down. He was labeled quad,assigned a power chair and given minimul PT. He is beginning to feel in one arm and we are hopeful. With a fantastic community to support us, we had plans to attend Project Walk in CA in Oct. You mention SCI-Fit. Did you also attend Project Walk? How would you compare them to SCI-Fit in Northern CA ? We have been very excited and encouraged by your site and links for SCI resources! Kind Regards, Debra Nunez-Eugene Oregon
Hi Debra, apologies for the late reply. I will respond to you via email to answer your questions. -AB
I am a student at Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia. I am studying a bachelor of Digital Media, Majoring in Photo Media. I have a research project that contributes to my graduate project and this research can be on anything my heart desires.
I have chosen to conduct my research project on Spinal Cord Injuries. If you don’t mind, I would like to tell you a little bit about why.
I set out on the trip of a lifetime, July 2013, backpacking around Europe with some of my best friends. It was almost that dreaded day of returning home, little did I know I was about to spend a whole lot longer in Europe.
I was in Dubrovnik, Croatia with a bunch of mates and thought it would be fun to jump off a cliff into the beautiful clear water. Not thinking about the danger, only the thought of being in that water. The first cliff I jumped off literally changed my life and me forever. Once hitting the water, I struggled to stay afloat with friends swimming to my aid to get me. I instantly knew something was wrong, my body went numb and I lost complete control. I was flown to Germany where I received emergency spinal surgery, being told to prepare myself for the worst, as the likely outcome was being a T4 Paraplegic. I woke up eight hours later being able to feel my lower body. From recovery to being cleared to come home it’s been one massive challenge and with surgeries still to come it will continue to be a challenge. There are days where I go through emotional lows, moments where I question why I can walk and times when the bulk of the metal in my back gives me incredible pain. Having that feeling of pain makes me stronger and appreciate the life I live now. I cherish the simplest of things more then ever and think how incredibly lucky I am to be walking.
That is my story, I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you.
My story is only part of the reason I am choosing to focus my Research Project on Spinal Cord Injuries. Before my accident, I never fully grasped what it meant to have a Spinal Cord Injury. I now find myself reading about spinal injuries everyday, reading peoples stories and following their blogs. I am committed to one day finding a cure for Spinal Cord Injuries and to raise awareness about how incredibly easily it is to find yourself in this situation.
As apart of my Research Project I am asking for your help.
I am planning to create a photo documentary along with your story to share at my graduate exhibition at the end of the year. I hope to create a book with photographs and writing from four to six people with Spinal Cord Injuries.
As we do not live in the same state or perhaps country, I would like to ask you to capture moments of your life on a film camera (That I will send to you, via mail) over the next month and tell me your story, the biggest challenges and the happiest moments you’ve had in your life.
Upon completion of this research project I hope to have achieved a detailed piece that allows complete understanding about Spinal Cord Injuries. I want it to allow people to realise just how incredibly common Spinal Cord Injuries are and the effects this injury causes on the human body, physically and mentally.
From a personal perspective I want to showcase your lives that have been dramatically changed, I want it to allow support for others beginning this journey and people living with a Spinal Cord Injury. I will create something that if it only helps one person, I know that we, together have helped change a life.
Please work with me on this project, I assure you, you will teach me things along the way and together I know we can make a difference in this world!
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
I look forward to hearing from you, regardless of your decision.
Great to hear from you Ebonie. I will respond to you via email. -AB
I enjoy reading your well written blog and learning about your recovery. I did see you mentioned a two year end point in healing and am glad that you are not allowing such nonsense into your recovery. I was disabled 22 years ago due to a tumor and was flat on my back for a year then in a wheelchair for another couple years. Then I discovered that could ride a bicycle despite ot being able to stand up. I slowly built up my confidence in riding and I have now ridden my bike around the circumference of the US and recently returned from riding my bicycle from San Francisco to Costa Rica. I am now able to walk about although not for long distances. I am still getting better by the day and it is 20 years since I was first disabled. Keep working and your body can perform miracles. I applaud your spirit, Keep it up. It is inspiring.
I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read your comment. It seriously makes me so happy and provides me with hope for my own recovery, even though I recognize that our situations are very different. Many congrats to you on all of your accomplishments. I hope to one day be doing many of the same things, including being back on a bicycle, what a thrill! Thanks for reading and commenting. -AB
Arash, thank you for sharing your story. It’s wonderful to hear of your positivity, that will take you far my friend! At the end of May of this year I fell 30ft while rock climbing & my world, too, was completely turned around. Though our injuries are very different (I landed on my feet, breaking both ankles & bursting my L3) I’m sure we’ve faced some of the same challenges & fears. One thing that helped keep me going was the amount of times strangers walked up to me to share their story. One man in particular, Jo Jo Polk, was a football player who broke his back. His doctors told him he’d never walk again, & yet there he was, standing in front of me, pushing me along. He’s a life coach now, & I’m sure he’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in another resource. Also, when I was feeling pretty down, I read this book called “The Long Run” about a NY firefighter/Ironman Matt Long who suffered some horrific injuries & then went on to compete in & complete the Ironman. His story was inspiring to me, & reaffirmed that I can do anything I set my mind to. I wish you all the best in your recovery.
Amanda, it’s great to hear from you. Thank you so much for reaching out to me and sharing your story and those of these other people. I will email you privately to learn more. So honored to connect with you and many healing wishes to you too. -AB
Sounds extremely preliminary and experimental and maybe you’ve already heard it, but wanted to share this with you:
The pioneering treatment uses cells from the nasal cavity and strips of nerve from the ankle to repair a spinal injury.
Peace and Healing.
Great story. Thanks so much for sharing. -AB
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