It was late at night and I was walking home after an evening out with my friends. I remember seeing the glow of headlights on the road just before I was struck. The force was tremendous, ripping me right out of my shoes and slamming me to the ground.
The truck that hit me drove off, leaving me in the road. My leg was mangled and I was bleeding heavily, but my adrenaline kicked in and I managed to drag myself to safety.
I’m not sure how long I lay there wondering if I was going to die. I could feel the wind from the cars that passed by. I was in and out of consciousness, so my memories only remain in small flashes. In one, there’s a state trooper standing over me with his flashlight, shaking his head. In another, a paramedic with scissors is cutting open my shirt. I don’t remember being put on the Life Flight helicopter or being flown to the hospital in Cleveland.
I lost so much blood, I later learned, that my blood pressure dropped to twenty-four beats per minute. I was pretty close to gone. I had three compound fractures and my heel was almost disconnected from the bone. The doctor initially thought I might lose my leg.
If I wanted to walk again, I knew I had to stay positive.
The first time I woke up in the hospital was just after my first emergency surgery. I remember a hand grabbing mine, and I knew it was my brother’s. I squeezed it as hard as I could, just to let him know I was there, to give him hope. He kissed me on my forehead. That’s something I’ll always remember.
I had some low moments in the hospital. I remember staring at the walls at night, feeling like I was going crazy. But the sun would come up the next day, and I’d think: New day, new start.
I came to understand that a large part of recovery from an injury or an illness is mental. If I wanted to walk again, I knew I had to stay positive.
Before the accident, I was a full-time student at Kent State and also worked as a UPS driver. I was very active, playing lacrosse and rugby. I’m a very physical guy. I’ve always been a fan of Muscle Milk® products. Since I was in sixth grade, I would drink one before every game—it was almost like a good-luck charm for me. When I was in the hospital, I felt I wasn’t getting enough protein, so I asked my parents to bring me some Muscle Milk® products. They brought in cases of it.
I would down four or five a day. If you don’t have all the nutrients you need, your body isn’t going to function right. If you’re lacking protein, you’re not going to be able to build muscle. Muscle Milk® products helped me get the nutrients I needed to speed up my recovery. I’m very appreciative of that.
I was in the hospital for two months, and have had twenty surgeries. At one point I lost over thirty pounds, but I’ve already gained back twenty. Now I’m back home and my plate is full. I’m still in physical therapy, but I’m starting school again. I have a good group of friends and no time to be sad about something that happened in the past. There’s no going back and changing it.
There are definitely ways the accident changed me for the better. I plan to finish college in the nursing program—that feels like my true calling. One day I’m going to see a patient with injuries similar to the ones I had. I’ll tell them that each day is going to be hard, but to never give up. I’ll tell them they’re going to have ups and downs, but in the end there’s more to life than just one injury.