Starting From Scratch

So I’m sitting in my hotel room right now overlooking Poipu Beach in Kauai, Hawaii. It’s raining outside, heavy for Hawaii even, and it dons on me that I haven’t written anything on my blog in almost a year. With nothing to do and a lot to write about, I’ve decide to sit down and start writing again. The past few months in particular have been full of travel and adventure with no end in sight any time soon. But before I tell you about all that, I must update you on the events that have led up to now. Where to begin?

About a year ago, I published my last post on here. I was just starting the long and fun process of prepping Que Sera for cruising. October 27th was the date I was to sail away from the docks and start the next chapter of my life. I spent the next 4 months working day and night preparing for the big sail. As September came to an end, there was very little left on the to-do list. But of course as every story that I have, there always tends to be a twist. On October 1st, I was involved in a motorcycle accident in an Los Angeles intersection about two blocks from the marina where Que Sera was berthed. Not knowing it at the time, this accident would change my life forever.

I’ve been in many motorcycle accidents. I’ve been extremely fortunate in every single one of those accidents and I’m grateful for the skills that I’ve acquired over the years from riding for there is no way I would still be alive today without them. Whether it has been by chance or there really is something looking after me, my track record for getting back up and walking away has been nothing short of a miracle. But as every experienced riders knows, there is going to be that big accident someday and this was my day. I was traveling down a main road in Santa Monica at 40 mph when a vehicle pulled out in front of me in an intersection. I managed to swerve out of the way at the last second but I was forced to slam into the back of a stopped semi-truck. Thankfully, and miraculously, I did not hit my head (don’t ask how I managed not to) and so was conscious through everything. My body was completely mangled and all my limbs on my left side were facing in opposite directions. Now, being the optimistic person that I am, I immediately looked at my body and said to myself, “Oh good! I just dislocated everything! They can just pop all that stuff back in and I’ll be good!” Well I couldn’t have been more incorrect on that assumption. At 40 mph, the impact shattered my pelvis, left elbow, and left wrist, and dislocated/broke my left shoulder and left knee. And due to the severity of my pelvis, there was a mass amount of internal bleeding that ultimately caused me to bleed out. I was pronounced dead for one minute and twenty-six seconds. I remember waking up again when we arrived to the hospital but no recollection of the ambulance ride aside for making a joke to the paramedic before I bled out.

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I ended up spending the next two months in the hospital. The first two weeks I stayed at UCLA medical center and the remaining month and a half at a skilled nursing facility in San Diego. These two months were some of the hardest days that I’ve ever endured. I’ve been through a decent amount troubles in my life and I have managed to handle most of them pretty well but this was like nothing I had ever been through. While the pain was horrible, it was nothing compared to the emotional pain that I went through. I’m a pretty happy person who has an extreme passion for life. I love to live, love, learn, and experience new things in my life. I have acquired many coping skills through the years and have put most of them to good use to keep that smile on my face but the emotional toll that is put on you when you’re living in a hospital is just horrible. Being the positive person that I am, I have always avoided negativity and haven’t been in too many situations where I couldn’t walk away when negativity was present. I found myself surrounded by very unhappy people. People who understandably didn’t have a whole lot to be happy about but being surrounded by them really rubbed off on me. And the pain meds that I was on caused me to go on these emotional roller coasters that made life a thousand times more difficult than it needed to be. The highs were pretty miserable and the lows were just LOW. While I understand why pain meds are addicting, I don’t understand why people choose to take them recreationally without ever needing them… Except for Dilaudid. That stuff is amazing and needs to be kept locked up! And because of how great Dilaudid was, I knew it was important for me to get off of my pain meds immediately! I managed to only spend three weeks on heavy narcotics before I switched to smaller pain killers such as ibuprofen and Benedryll for sleeping.

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After getting off my meds, I was able to start working on being positive. I had a very limited amount of energy and the way I looked at it was I could either spend it all on being negative or I could spend it all on being positive! With that being my option, it was a no brainer where I needed to spend all of my energy. I did my best to communicate with other patients and learn about why they were in the hospital and I spent a lot of time trying to be active. Most of my time in the hospital was spent in bed sleeping. But for the 5-6 hours of the day that I was up and about, I was the most active person in the hospital. I would wheel through the corridors with my one arm and one foot at hight speeds visiting anyone willing to have a conversation about anything. I also spent a lot of time in the physical therapy room lifting my three pound dumbbell with my good arm. I dropped to a staggering 109 lbs during my hospital stay so when I began feeling well enough to venture out of my bed, I was determined to get back into shape. Before I knew it, I was doing one handed wheelies in my wheel chair when the nurses weren’t looking and doing anything that I could to keep from going insane.

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As a sailor and an outdoorsman in general, I’ve learned the importance of looking positively towards the future. During times of survival, it’s the ones who say “WHEN I get out of this situation.”, WHEN I see my wife next…”, WHEN I get home, I’m going to…” that make it through the other side and get to step out of that life raft. Not the ones that are saying, “IF” the whole time. It shows the importance of being positive. But with this knowledge, I began planning what I wanted to do with my life once I recovered. Going cruising was no longer an option. Figuratively speaking, that ship had sailed and I was left with a blank page. It was my job to write the first word of this new chapter and I had the option to go in any direction that I chose with nothing to hold me back.

After this accident, I found myself to be single, homeless, unemployed, and possessing few belongings with little to no commitments to anything. Now to most people, single, homeless, and unemployed sound pretty horrific but I saw an opportunity in it. I saw it as having more options than I have ever had before. Fortunately, I had over $13,000 saved up in the back that I was planning on going cruising with and I know how to stretch a dollar pretty well so I knew I had some wiggle room. Immediately, I became fixated with Mexico. I started looking at properties and investment opportunities south of the border and coming up with ways to make a living. I know I am capable of being successful in anything I choose to put my energy and heart into and I also know I’m very adaptable. With the help of a few connections south of the border, I’ve began traveling back and forth into Mexico in the past few months to further explore my options and see what I have to offer Baja.

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Currently, I have been working with a partner and building a business plan that we are shooting to launch early next year. My main goal, which is open ended at this point, is to buy property, beach sides preferably, down in La Paz, Baja California Sur, and rent the property out as a vacation Rental. My aim is to have residual income flowing in 5 years to responsibly carry on my sailing adventures and any other new hobbies or interests with less distraction in the financial department. I will be going further into depth on this topic in future blogs.

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So where am I at now with my recovery? I have got 11 screws and 5 plates in my pelvis and 6 screws and 2 plates in my left elbow. I am suppose to have surgery on my shoulder but I have full range of motion with little to no pain at all and will most likely decline surgery unless convinced otherwise. I am still doing occupational therapy for my elbow and am working towards being able to straighten it. I will more than likely never be able to completely straighten my elbow but a second surgery is being considered in the coming months if I am not happy with my capabilities. So far I’m not too unhappy with what I can do. My pelvis feels as good as it ever has. I’m still a little weak in the sense that my leg gets tired after doing about a miles worth of walking in a day, which is a very little amount for me, but other than that I don’t have any restrictions and just need to continue strengthening my leg muscles. The only real issue that I am still dealing with is my left knee. A little bit of crunchy sounds and pain here and there but not the end of the world. MRI’s have been taken on the knee and I’m beginning to see a new specialist to see what more we can do to speed up the healing. (Update: I was diagnosed with some kind of knee syndrome where my patella slides out of place and causes my knee to give out under too much pressure. I don’t remember the name of the syndrome but it is a result from the atrophy I experienced. The good news, nothing is permanent and I will be making a slow but full recovery in the knee by simply continuing to strengthen the surrounding muscles and ligaments. Until I have that strength again, I have a knee brace which holds the Patella in place.)

With all these injuries, screws, and surgeries, one would think I’m pretty limited in my abilities now. Well contrary to popular belief, I am back at my old speed and even more active than before. While I do tire easily now, I have adopted the phrase, “Mind over matter” as my new motto and manage to still pass people hiking up mountains and swim in the ocean on a regular basis, along with many other activities… Especially sailing! With a positive attitude, I have managed to start a new page in my life on a good foot and big smile on my face.  I’ve learned more about myself and other people from this accident and I couldn’t be more grateful in the life lessons that I’ve learned, regardless of how awful it may have been.

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