5 Years Ago

An explosion goes off behind me. Dust, everywhere. My ears are ringing, and I’m stunned. My body locks up momentarily before succumbing to gravity, as I collapse into a heap inside the Stryker. I hear my brothers yelling “Ian!” and “Doc!” The darkness begins to creep in and I think to myself “They got me… I can’t believe they fucking got me,” as I prepare to wake up on the other side.

But I don’t. There are tubes going down my throat as a machine pumps air into my lungs. Its been a few days and I’m still dazed from the blast, and groggy from the meds, but I know one thing; I can’t move my limbs. I don’t ever recall being told, but I know I’ve been paralyzed from the neck down.

The following months are brutal, as my body learns to adapt to what happened to it. Learning how to eat and drink again. The process of getting in my wheelchair takes close to two hours, as I need meds, compression stockings, and an abdominal binder to keep my blood pressure up. Nurses supporting each limb and my head, as I’m raised up from my bed and lowered into my chair. The slightest environmental change triggers a massive reaction from my body. Simply putting a sheet over me could potentially spike my temperature to 104 degrees. My limbs seem to have developed a mind of their own, as they flail about and wrench me from one side to the other, for what seems to be almost no reason.

As time goes on however, things begin to get easier. I start to understand what my body needs and how to take care of it. My wonderful wife is there by my side, helping me in my physical and emotional needs, and I know I couldn’t have gotten this far without her.

Five years ago today I was hit by shrapnel from an IED. Five years can drag on like an eternity, or go by in the blink of an eye. At times for me, it has felt like both. As I described above, it was no picnic, but I have come through it a better person. In the five years since my injury, I have been able to take part in some awesome events, and met some incredible people.

In the past year I have been fortunate to get plugged into an amazing group of other quadriplegics, and it has been life changing for Nicole and I both. In January Nicole underwent an IVF cycle, and we are overjoyed that we will be expecting twins sometime in September! I have been privileged to help start an organization who’s goal is to get survivors of spinal cord injuries back out doing activities and sports. It has been an incredible year.

To the brothers I was with, know that I love you, and I harbor no blame or ill-will towards you. That IED was meant for me, and I would take that shrapnel , and relive the past five years every day if it meant keeping those I served with safe. I know that I have fallen out of touch with some of you, and for that I am sorry. Please feel free to write me if you would like, I would love to catch up.

So here’s to you , you insurgent bastard; You thought you ruined me with that blast, but you were wrong. You may have broken my body, but you will never break my mind, my spirit, or my resolve. I will carry on with my life no matter what.

Chillin’ inside the truck.
Dave and I at the local Iraqi Army post.
Dave and Wayne, my crew on the MEV.

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