My dad has always told me that the world is made up of 2 kinds of people. One group believes good or bad fortune happens to you, basically you have either good or bad luck. The other group believes you create your fortune. 5 weeks had gone by after my injury and I had transitioned from staying on the ICU floor to the rehabilitation floor of the hospital. I had been making great progress. I was able to feel the sensation of touch throughout my entire body. I was able to get some strength back in both shoulders, biceps, wrists, and abdominals. However, I still had no movement in my legs…

I was starting to worry about whether anything would come back in my lower body. I was feeling a unique sensation with my legs. They felt trapped by an invisible caste. Like a caste that would immobilize a broken bone. I tried to break through this caste but nothing would activate in my legs. Midway through my 5th week in the hospital, I awoke to a new sensation in my left big toe. It felt as if it had emerged out of the caste, like it was exposed. But I still couldn’t move it.

I was excited about this new sensation and so was my dad who was staying with me at the time. We knew my doctor would be visiting my room this morning and we were anxious to share the news with him. I excitedly explained this new sensation to the doctor. He was unenthused. So I suggested he take a look at my left big toe. But he refused to look at it…

I responded with more hope and determination than ever before. I was fueled to prove the doctor wrong.

He said I was experiencing a “phantom” feeling. He went on to lecture me about this “phantom” feeling and how this phenomenon happens to a lot of people with spinal cord injuries. Because I wanted to move my toe so badly he said I tricked my mind into thinking I was feeling something real but in reality I made it up which is why it is a “phantom” feeling. He ended the conversation by saying I wouldn’t be able to move my legs again and he walked out of my room…

I was devastated… My eyes instantly swelled up with tears. I felt like giving up. My dad, who is the strongest person I know, started to cry too, which I’ve never seen him do before. My dad turned to me and said, “Chris, do not let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do.” I turned to him with tears in my eyes and said, “I never will.” I responded with more hope and determination than ever before. I was fueled to prove this doctor wrong.

Not even a week later, on Thanksgiving Day morning, I wiggled that exact toe my doctor said I wouldn’t ever move again. To put it lightly I was PUMPED. I told my therapists and nurses to go find that doctor, who I now refer to as “Dr. Phantom”, to tell him to come to my room and “phantom” this!

Soon after my toe wiggle I began to move other parts of my legs. A HUGE step closer to my dream of walking again.

Life is about your responses, not your circumstances. In other words, how you choose to respond to obstacles and challenges will determine your success and happiness. You cannot allow your circumstance and other people stop you from accomplishing your dream. We are always in control of our responses because we control our attitude and effort.

TAKE ACTION: Think about what’s your biggest challenge you are currently facing. Now think of how you could resolve it by your attitude and effort. Responding is an action. It means you are not satisfied and want to do something about it.

Don‘t let other people discourage you and don’t discourage other people. Hope is so powerful.There will be people who don‘t believe in you or what you are doing. That’s ok.Just believe in yourself and be sure to offer hope to others.

We have discussed Dream, Focus, and now Respond. Next week we talk discuss the importance of GRATITUDE.