In 1976, I was 21 and owned a motorcycle. One day I had a girl on the back of my bike, Julie. She was 18. I was going home with her on the back of my bike, and as I was going through an intersection we were hit broadside by a pick-up truck. The truck was going south on a northbound lane. He was charged with impaired driving.
After I was hit I landed, still holding on to the bike, in a ditch. I let go of the bike and the bike went one way, and I ended in a ditch. I tried to get up, to look for Julie, but blood was rushing out of my foot, and I found I could not get up. I was taken to Scarborough Centenary Hospital where my leg was amputated. Later I was transferred to St. John’s Convalescent Hospital where I learned how to walk with a prosthetic limb. After several months I was able to return to work. I also found out, and there really is no easy way to say this, that the girl on my bike (Julie) had died at the scene of the crash. This has been, and is, one of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome.
In 1983, I was 29, in North Lake Scugog, Blackstock at a friend’s cottage for the weekend. It was the last weekend of vacation, and a hot summer day, July 31st, so my friends and I decided to go for a swim. My friends walked into the water while I decided to walk to the end of the dock. I took off my prosthetic limb and then attempted a shallow dive. As I dove into the water, my head hit the bottom of the lake and immediately broke my neck. I was immediately in spinal shock (spinal shock lasts from 6 months to a year, meaning you have the possibility of regaining some mobility within that time frame). I was face first in the water. I tried to turn myself over as I was holding my breath, and found I could not turn over. As I was letting air out of my lungs, and about to inhale water, my friends came to turn me over and brought me to the edge of the dock. They then lifted me and put me on the dock.
It took the ambulance some time to get to the scene. Being it a hot sunny day, I tried to get up and out of the sun. My neck snapped back and I caused more damage to my spinal cord. This further injury could likely have been avoided if I had not been taken out of the water. You should always let the paramedics do that unless there is no choice. The ambulance came and took me to Port Perry Hospital. Being a small hospital they could not stabilise me and I was flown, by Bandage One rescue helicopter, to Sunnybrook Hospital. There I was diagnosed as a C-5 C-6 quadriplegic, and told I was probably never going to walk again.
After 3 or 4 weeks I was brought to Lyndhurst Rehab Hospital, did 18 months of occupational and physiotherapy. I waited another 6 months to find appropriate housing. I was still able to go to my Dad’s and friends on the weekends, going out to football games, concerts, theatres and restaurants. I met a girl at Ontario Place, we ran into each other several months later, then started to date. We got engaged to be married, and got married in 1991. We had to move to a larger apartment. Although I’ve tried looking for work I haven’t found any. I have been a member on a few boards, one for a housing project for the disabled, and another to make the city of York more accessible.
Now I do the P.A.R.T.Y. program twice a week hoping that I will prevent at least one person from being in my situation; I will never know if that will ever happen.
A spinal cord injury cannot be repaired - it is a lifetime injury. It could happen to anyone. It happens in a split second, and it changes the rest of your life. I was once a person that was able to walk and do everything that you, or anyone else reading this, can do. That is why it is my goal to prevent at least one person from ending up in my situation.