SPORTS, FITNESS & DANCE

BACK TO THE GYM... I GOT THIS

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Michael Harris

I saw a flash and heard a loud BANG

Before my injury, getting up to go to the gym or play basketball was almost a daily task. Believe it or not, the more active I was, the more relaxed I’d be. Some people would come home from work and watch television to unwind, whereas I’d change into some shorts and go to the gym. Unfortunately for me, that all changed on a Monday night in January of 2006. I had just pulled into my driveway, with my two sons, and was headed towards my front door when, unbeknownst to me, I would be met by a person holding a .40 caliber pistol. I saw a flash and heard a loud BANG….I fall to the ground and yell to my kids to run. Two weeks later, I woke up in a hospital with my brothers by my side. I ask them to help me up so I can go to the bathroom, but neither of them would move. Instead, they’d look at each other and tearfully tell me that I couldn’t get up because I was paralyzed.

I refused to live the rest of my life in the house

After spending 5 months in the hospital and going through a year of outpatient therapy, I told myself that I had to make my move; I refused to live the rest of my life in the house. I refused to have people treat me as though I couldn’t do anything for myself. I refused to feel sorry for myself and allow people to pity me and treat me any differently. I just can’t do it. But right when I got ready to let my front casters roll out of the door, I was hit with something I didn’t see coming, fear. I was no way near as strong as I was, and being a quadriplegic, I am unable to use my left hand. In addition, what if someone sees my leg bag or I have an accident while working out? Every bit of confidence I had instantly disappeared. What can I do?

I literally had to “keep it pushing"

What I did was thought about what my mom used to tell me when I was a child. She would tell my brothers and me to be the best at whatever it was we decided to be. Well naturally I didn’t decide to be a quad, but since this was going to be my new lifestyle, I was going to live it to the extreme. I literally had to “keep it pushing.” Day one at the gym felt strange. No matter how hard I worked out, my face and clothes were just as dry as they were when I arrived. Because of my injury, sweat is pretty much nonexistent. I couldn’t allow myself to get discouraged or push myself to the extreme, so I took some time off to do some research on different types of exercises I can do and to see if there was any adaptive equipment I could use that would make things easier for me.

Go back to the gym....you got this!

Thanks to YouTube and some help from my old therapists, I got what I needed. It was time for me to get busy. The more I went, the more comfortable and confident I became. Is it easy working out in a gym being in a wheelchair, no it isn’t. Is it challenging, yes it is. I have gotten back to the point where I’m feeling at home in the gym. I put in my earbuds, turn on my music and let myself go. Whether I’m working out alone or with a partner, I make sure to give it my all, but not to overdo it. I love the gym and I am glad that I am once again able to relax and unwind the best way I know how. Once you decide to get it going, keep it going because you will not only feel the satisfaction from being active, you will make things a lot easier for yourself. Go back to the gym....you got this!

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