Guest Post: Grateful for My Second Chance at Life by Goran Sabljic

My one year anniversary since my injury is today.

This has been an adventurous year. I involuntarily went on a journey to fight my injury. For those who don’t know, I suffered a paragliding accident where I shuttered my back and consequently end up in a wheelchair. A year ago, I found myself submerged in a new environment of people with spinal cord injuries.

I was sad because my world and everything I took for granted was suddenly gone in a split second. I didn’t have chance to appreciate the simple things. And I was happy cause I miraculously survived and got another chance to see an unknown world. New places and lands, new people and their heart-touching stories. Sharing a day-by day fight for anything to come back in terms of healing and recovery.

It was an amazing privilege to see what the human spirit is capable of and can achieve when it is determined. I had chance to see a living walking miracle, which left such a deep impression on my heart. It was a year between “waiting to see” and “accept it.” A term very often used in the spinal cord injury world.

No doctor is giving you any guarantees to walk again. Soon I realized that every injury no matter how seemingly similar is unique; you just can’t compare. Nobody knows what future brings but I decide to accept it day by day, fighting and not thinking too much about tomorrow. At the end, the show must go on and life is beautiful…walking or walking later or even not at all.

If walking would be a synonym for happiness, than every person on this earth who walks would be happy and this is not the case, don’t you agree? It was a year of gratefulness to my incredible girlfriend Tanne. Without her and her love I don’t know if I would gotten this far. Also to my family and the many people who supported me on this trip and showed real friendship in this hard time for me.

I am as well grateful because I could erase from my mind all the people I counted on who haven’t been there for me; a valuable lesson I would have never learned if it was not for this injury. Thank you all. It truly was a year of learning to appreciate the little things and be more sensible, humble and a better person.

I learned that everything in this life comes from good and that there is a hidden purpose for all of us. Sometimes things have to happen to be a “wake up call” or to protect us from something worse. Going through something like this really brings a valuable revelation of who and what do you need to surround yourself with – peace, love, understanding, patience, support, motivation and comfort. The fight will continue and I will give it my all I got to improve and progress towards my life’s purpose.

And on a side-note: paragliding is a beautiful sport and in my 24 long years, it took me to places many people will need another life to experience. Seeing the world from the cockpit of the paraglider is the most beautiful thing. There are no words to describe it. It is the most purest and natural form of flying after the birds. Now I know why the birds are singing. Sadly, there is no money to pay for such an mind-opening inexplicable experience. I still defend this sport as one of the most safest, simplest and easier ways to fly. I was injured due to my own several mistakes, ignoring the signs and having over-self confidence. Human factor is the only one responsible for most of the aerial accidents. There is no one to blame other than ourselves in most cases. Lesson learned.

In closing, I just want to say I’m thankful and immensely lucky to have another chance in this life. I encourage all spinal cord injury people to fight right now. I want to see all you people healthy and prosperous, being the best version of yourself who can change this world for the better and to achieve the fullness of your destiny.

– Follow him on Instagram at @goranpingosabljic

Guest Post: How I Learned to Live Again Amidst my Spinal Cord Injury by Nikki Walsh

My name is Nicole Walsh, and I was in a severe multi-car accident in August 2018. I woke up in Jefferson Hospital and found out that I was now paralyzed from the T2 level, aka chest down. I look back everyday, and I still cannot believe that I survived such a terrible accident; one where I should have died.

After being in the hospital for 2 weeks, battling through intense pain and respiratory distress, I was finally moved to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia. Seeing myself for the first time in the mirror was devastating. I did not even recognize myself, and I wondered how I could even go on like this. Luckily Magee has incredible staff, and along with them, I had such an amazing support system with my family and friends. Due to all of this, I was able to start waking up each day with a positive mindset to do a little better than the day before.

Inpatient Rehab was hard, and outpatient continues to be so also. I still go to therapy because I have goals I need to reach to live a normal lifestyle. I am pushing as hard as I can to be stronger and better than the day before. I know that just because I am unable to use my legs now, doesn’t mean that I have to stop living. Coming to this realization didn’t happen overnight, it took a long time, and it is still a battle.

The phrase “I will walk again” has been my morning mantra to keep my mindset positive for the day, however this doesn’t always work. Sometimes I need a push from my support system to get back on track. For example, this past year, only one year after my accident, I got onto a plane and traveled to Hawaii with my family for vacation. I definitely would not have done this without them, but I am so happy that I went. It allowed me to get back on track to feeling “normal” again. We even rented a beach chair I could use that allowed me to go into the ocean, and that was huge for me. I finally started feeling like myself again.

Before my accident I was a personal trainer, and afterwards, I never thought that I would be able to get back there again. Boy was I wrong. I started to get back into the gym with the help of a personal trainer, and that began to make me feel like myself again. I know now that just because I am in a chair, does not mean that I have to limit myself. You can do whatever you want to, you may just need to ask for help.

– Follow Nikki on Instagram @waikikinikkii
– Follow my blog at www.waikikinikki.com