I was an all-State athlete, fresh out of college with the world at my fingertips. I got married to my beautiful wife, Mary, at age 23 and together brought 4 amazing children into this world. I started a new job, we bought a house, and I started adding all of my “toys”.
My time to break free from the noise to my “getaway” was always with my 1997 Basscat Pantera II. Man could she fly! I loved that boat! It didn’t matter if I was fishing tournaments, out with the friends, or enjoying some of my favorite times, just being alone, fishing, and talking with the Lord.
You see, my life was pretty dang good! Then in the blink of an eye, things in my life went from great to awful overnight…
At age 25, I was injured at work one afternoon on a forklift. The load I picked up off of a semi was too heavy for the lift. The forklift tipped over and slammed me down from about 10 feet in the air. After all was said and done, I sustained a 4mm neck compression, my L1 and L2 vertebrae are herniated and I have arthritis. My L1 and L2 vertebrae are also compressed 3mm, and my tailbone is rotated up and back 16mm.
Pretty crazy right?
But the worst injury I sustained is a tear to my spinal cord at my T5 vertebrae. It turns out, the “tear” is called Syringomyelia. It’s is a pretty rare condition that very few people are struggling with.
To simplify, I basically have a tumor in my spinal cord that is eventually going to paralyze me.
It has truly taken its toll on my family and I. The tear was very hard to diagnose. It took three years of doctors appointments, MRI’s, scans, blood tests, multiple trips to the ER, and dozens of scars on my face from falling all the time… it was pretty bad there for a while.
Finally an MRI to the right spot found the issue. During that time, I was forced off my job due to the medications the doctors had me on. We ended up losing our house, my truck, and I was forced to sell the boat, all my fishing and hunting gear, guns, everything I had, just to try to pay some of the medical bills. Every toy and extra thing I had ever worked for and saved up for was gone… I was left with nothing but my family and bad health.
But where most people would sit at home and lick their wounds for the remainder of their life, I decided to make the most of what I have.
I want to enjoy whatever time I have left! Nobody’s going to tell me how to live my life. If I could be paralyzed at any moment, why try to live in caution and worry? I want to have as much fun as I possibly can! So, I fish and hunt when I am having good days, and I enjoy the memories of those trips on my bad days. Those memories and the good times spent in the outdoors are what keep my passion alive!
You see, a lot of guys are too focused on chasing that 10+ pound bass, or that Boon and Crocket buck, but I think they are missing out on the point of it all! That hook set keeps me coming back, it doesn’t matter if it’s a giant, or a baby, I love that feeling!
It’s the same feeling I get when a flock of ducks are locked and coming in, or a 10 point comes crashing out in front of the blind, it’s an amazing feeling to get to experience the outdoors for what it is!
That’s why I thank God for this gift everyday. You may think I’m crazy… How can I have this condition, lose everything I have, live my life barely making ends meet, and call this a gift?
With that accident, even though it has taken the expensive toys and cool objects away from me, it has allowed me to truly know the love of my family. That’s the important piece. It has allowed me to truly see what is important in life.
The love of an amazing woman, and spending quality time with my kids… those things are so much more precious than the objects in life anyway.
I know that I won’t lose this passion for hunting and fishing, no matter my health. I know I will continue to go out into the outdoors because that’s my getaway, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
With true love for the great outdoors,