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WoodyThe best way to express it is freedom -- pure liberation. Water skiing, wakeboarding, mono skiing, I rock climb, I love riding bicycles. When I'm in that zone, it's just a different adrenaline feeling, when you're just tapped in, pushing the envelope. Everything around you just kind of is gone.
I've always been adventurous. I'm living life to the fullest.
I'm Woody. I'm a T12 complete paraplegic, which means I have no sensation from the waist down.
Before my accident, everything I did revolved around my athleticism and my body. In my 20s, I just kind of set into a direction, but with the uncertainty and the unknown, but just dove in. I had nothing to lose. I had no -- didn't know where that next -- after that gig was done, didn't know where I was coming to next. And things just fell into place. It was just like after doing that, I'd meet somebody, it would land me here -- the American dream.
I'd go to awesome parties. I met my wife, and I instantly connected with her. And it was awesome.
JoHe's always someone that challenged me to do things that were out of my comfort zone. And it always felt safe with him, so I would always do it.
WoodyIt was a perfect fit. It was a perfect match. And I was right where I wanted to be. And then this happened to me -- the accident.
I was hanging out with my friends. And I had just bought my new motorcycle. And it was early evening. I was just popping over there, to say a quick hello, have a burger. And I left right around 9:45, 10:00 o'clock at night. I didn't see the person at all. The only thing I remember is I saw the side mirror really close to me. And I was trajected off of my motorcycle, and then I was knocked unconscious.
As soon as I came to consciousness, I was disoriented. But I realized that something was really wrong. I couldn't feel from the waist down. My body was -- it was ripped apart.
JoThey told me that Woody had just been in a severe accident, and that I had to come as fast as I could.
WoodyMy T12 -- thoracic 12 vertebra -- was decimated. My T11 was a little compromised, but T12 decimated -- fractured, all in my spine.
JoI refused to believe what the doctors were telling me, that my husband was never going to walk again.
WoodyAnd my --
It's so funny, because I'm past it. But when I think about it, it's just so -- the emotion that comes up is so powerful. Because it was such a traumatic experience for me and for her.
I was going through a lot of stuff coming to terms with the injury. Everything -- it just kept piling on. How do I get myself up out of bed into my chair without falling on the floor? And that includes getting this installation with this chairlift in our house. It was like, how much worse can this get?
JoI could see that his mind was going into dark places and stuff. And I would just tell him, it's like, you can go there, but you need to come back to the light and not stay in the dark too long.
WoodyI was so unsure if this was the life that I wanted to live out in this body. Because of truly not knowing what I could create with it.
JoThere was nothing left in him. There was no fight. It was just -- it just broke him. It was just his spirit that was completely broken and lost.
WoodyBut in the end it really was the imprint on the world that I wanted to leave behind. Now, when things really get hard, you're going to punk out? That is not who I am. I am not going out like that.
My really close friend got me back in the water, wakeboarding again. And that truly was my therapy right there. Being out there, everything just dissolved. It was like I was I was back doing the things that I loved to do. And my injury was not in the forefront anymore.
Once I came into myself of just like, oh, this isn't going to hold me back. I'm still going to do all the things that I love to do with the person I love. I said, when I get to a place, this is what I want to do -- a defining moment. I said, I want to help others that are going through this.
I am so honored with what I do now, working with newly-injured spinal cord injuries, and guiding them through the trials and tribulations that they go through. Because there's more, and I'm here to share what is out there and the possibilities that are out there. The look on their face -- what their achievement is, it's overwhelming. Words can't describe what that is.
This circumstance can bring beauty into your life that you never could have imagined of being, which is awesome. You know, it sucks being in a wheelchair, but you, yourself, once you get through this hurdle, it's like you can turn this around and make it bigger than yourself.
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