Back in ‘95 I got into a car accident. A drunk driver veered into my lane and hit me head-on. My son Jason, 17, was killed, and I had a broken back, broken leg, broken arm and a broken heart. I was in the hospital for a year; the doctors put me back together with titanium hardware.
By the time I was released from the hospital, headed to Essex Center for my rehab, I had lost one leg and was paralyzed from the waist down. I have to admit, at first, I was a terrible patient. It’s not that I didn’t like my therapist; I just didn’t like anyone. I believe I had what they call survivor’s guilt. I wished I had been killed and my son had lived.
The fact is, my therapists have been amazing. From day one, they understood that my rehab was as much about my mental state as it was about my physical condition. That I had to want to get better before I ever would get better. And believe me, they were relentless.
I can’t remember the exact moment… Maybe it was when they invited my daughter to come into the facility to celebrate her birthday. Or the time one of the therapists challenged me to a game of chess and I felt a bit of the old competitive fire. Or it could just be that I realized I really liked the place.
Now, Essex Center is my home, and I fully expect to walk again, even with just one leg. There will always be a hole in my life that my son used to fill, but I have learned here at Essex Center—every day there’s a different outing or a new trick to learn—that life goes on and fulfillment comes in many different forms.
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