Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dancing with the Stars

While in the hospital, when I got hurt almost 6 years ago,  after realizing I would never walk again,  a thought haunted me every night before the drugs would knock me down in a deep sleep. The thought that haunted me was not about being able to provide for my family or work or anything like that.  The thought that haunted me was rather how I was going to dance with my daughters at their quinceañera parties? And how was I going to walk them down the aisle. You see, for Venezuelan Dads, dancing with their daughters at their quinceañera party is a big deal.   As a man, it is something that I have dreamed of all my life.
The good news at that time, was that my older daughter was only ten and my twin daughters were only 5. This meant that there was time for the awaited cure to arrive and give me back my ability to walk so that I could happily dance with my daughters.
Unfortunately, the cure never came.  As the birthdate approached, my anxiety grew. When it was inevitable, I came to the realization that at the end what really mattered was that I was the first man my daughter danced with upon turning 15, regardless of whether I danced on my feet or on my wheels. That is the way I convinced myself that it would be OK. 
The day came and OH MY GOD!  As I saw my beautiful girl come towards me, walked by my handsome son, I completely forgot that I was on wheels. The pride, the happiness and the love invaded my heart in a way that the wheels became completely irrelevant. My son escorted my daughter to me and she started floating in my arms. I forgot what we rehearsed, I forgot that I was surrounded by many people, I was immersed in the most amazing feeling of happiness that anybody could imagine. The fact that I was so lucky to be her dad and that among the millions of men in this world,  I was the one who was dancing with her at her quinceañera was more than enough to make me the happiest man on the planet. The rush of that moment was so big that it lasted all night and lingered in my heart for days afterward.  Dancing with my daughter was not exactly as I dreamed it, it was way better.

Dancing is something natural. The wheels don’t matter. It is about the feeling. It is about moving to the beat of the music. I was convinced of all these until reality hit again.   My daughter (who is a real dancer) asked me to dance in the parent number of their dance competition. All the sudden, I became terrified.  In my head I told myself NO WAY!!!  I am not doing that.  Then again, the voice of my three daughters begging me to do it melted my heart.  The chair was completely transparent to them. They just wanted their parents to be in the parents dance number the same as all the other parents.  So I said YES.  Let’s do it.
We rehearsed for 6 weeks. A couple of days before the actual competition we had to rehearse in front of the Dance Company kids.  I felt as nervous as I felt when I had my first job interview. I was going to dance in front of 50+ amazing dancers.  I did not want to embarrass my daughters. What a pressure!  but we did it.  As we (the parents) were dancing, all the kids started cheering and screaming. I doubt they were screaming for how good we were but I felt like a STAR.  As I was dancing, the smile in my daughters faces fueled my energy, I really felt like a hip hopper. I was actually looking forward to the big day.
The big day came. We performed in front of probably 500 people. I knew my three daughters were watching us. The energy of the room erased my wheels from my mind. I was dancing. I was dancing with the stars.  It was so much fun that the 4-minute dance felt like a 4-second dance…. When everyone gave us a standing ovation, I was like WHAT?  Is it over? Can we dance again? My wheels did not matter. What really mattered was that I felt the energy, I enjoyed the 4 minutes and the journey and most importantly that my daughter’s dad was there with all the other dads and moms making them proud.

I can’t wait to experience these feelings again.  I can’t wait for the next dance competition. I can’t wait for my twin daughter’s quinceaneras. I can wait to dance with my stars again.
I dedicate this post to my daughter Antonella that today becomes 16.

Happy Birthday!  I love you to the moon Nena!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Home Sweet Home

It has been 4 years since I had my injury.  During these four years I lived in the same house where I had lived for the last 12 years.   We loved our house. It was the perfect house for my family. It was in the perfect subdivision, with the perfect neighbors.
My injury changed my house from the perfect house to a house that did not work for us. It was not really accessible.  I could not fit everywhere. I spent the last 4 years not being able to go to my twin daughter’s room, four years not being able to read to them and tuck them, 4 years not enjoying my basement, my back yard.  Going to my room everyday was a big ordeal. I had to transfer from my chair to a chair lift, from the chair lift to another chair. I did this every time had to go to my room.  There was only one bathroom that I could use.  Moving around the house was always an obstacle race.  Worse of all, there was only one exit I could use in case of an emergency.  
After 4 years of dreaming, saving, working hard, we finally built and moved to the house of our dreams.  Our dearest cousin Luz Montiel, our architect, executed our vision of a fully accessible house and at the same time incorporated the most beautiful design elements resulting in architectural work of art.  I might be a bit biased but for me it is a work of art.  Similarly, I was lucky enough to hire Marty Ankers and Paul Shrieve from HIGHLANDER COMMUNITY to build our house. They did not only worked with the utmost professionalism but took this project as a personal challenge going always the extra mile to make sure that the end result was what we wanted, expected and more. 
Life in a wheelchair has always the added annoyance of not having the freedom of going to places without fearing the possibility that place will not be accessible.  It just takes a narrow door in the bathroom, several steps in an entrance, narrow space between tables to make it difficult to go to a restaurant, a park, a friend’s house.  I really was dreaming the time where at least in my house I could feel I belong to. Being able to get to every corner of my house has been liberating and unleashing. For the first time after 4 years I am finally able to experience what it feels like being at home. I can take a nap on my bed whenever I feel like.  I don’t have to rely on someone to help me get to my deck when I want to enjoy a glass of wine.  I can hide in the basement when I am going through a dark moment phase. I can read to my girls at bedtime. I can tuck them.  I now can bring coffee to my wife in bed same as she has been doing in the 4 last year (I have not done it very often but I have done it J.) My teen kids are not very thrilled. I can now get to their rooms and discover how messy they are.
I dedicate this blog to my comadre Luz who patiently worked with us to ensure that we could call our house our dream house.  I thank her for considering every detail to ensure our house was truly accessible, for keeping us honest, for her tireless dedication, for always going the extra mile, for making this project a personal project.

Monday, October 7, 2013

#October8 #PayingitForward

 La version en espanol se encuentra al final de la version en ingles
The Spanish versión comes right after the english version
#october8  #payingitforward
Today we celebrate the International Day for paying it forward.  
Some people have asked me why I chose October 8th.  I chose October 8th because that date is a very important date for our family.  53 years ago an angel came to our world.  She stayed with us for only 10 years and during those 10 years touched the hearts of so many people.  It is to celebrate her birthdate.  Kindness always makes us remember her.
I came up with this idea for several reasons:
The first one is that in the almost four years with spinal cord injury I have benefited from the kindness of so many people. Not only from my nurses and doctors at Shepherd, or my friends and family, or colleagues at work but also from many strangers. Strangers that have always been ready to extend a hand to me even when I did not need it.  Every night when I go to bed and pray, I cannot end my prayers without expressing my gratitude for all that I have and have received.  It will be my way of paying it forward to each and every one who helped me and continues to help me make my journey with spinal cord injury a rich one.
The second reason is that we are oversaturated with bad news: wars, crimes, abuse, injustices, etc. Bad news that constantly jeopardizes our happiness, constantly threatening the good nature of human beings. I felt that with the idea of the international day for paying it forward we can create a chain of kindness and even if we get to only 200 acts of kindness, it’s 200 more acts of kindness than before.
The third one is just curiosity. I wanted to test the power of social media.  I wanted to see how much traction a movement like this can get. So I hope that all of you, who have read my blog over the past 3 years can help me with this experiment.
It is very simple. Today  anytime during the day, I would like you to do a random act of kindness. It could be for anybody, for someone you know or for a total stranger. It can even be for an animal, for the environment.  Make sure to tell the person you did it to pay it forward. Once you do it, you have to go to my “Happiness is a Choice” page (don’t forget to like the page first) and write down what you did and how you felt. You can also tweet it. Don’t forget to hashtag it with #payingitforward. Let’s get the ball rolling. Remember that kindness is contagious.  If it comes back to you please let everybody know. Let’s enjoy the feeling of giving.
Good Luck!

Version en Espanol
Spanish versión
#october8 #payingitforward
Hoy celebraremos el Día Internacional de la Retribución. 
Algunas personas me han preguntado por qué escogí el 8 de octubre.  Escogí el 8 de octubre porque es una fecha muy importante para mi familia.  Hace 53 años un ángel vino a nuestro mundo, una niña que permaneció con nosotros durante solo 10 años, pero durante esos 10 años llegó al corazón de mucha gente.  Estamos pues celebrando su cumpleaños.  Las manifestaciones de generosidad siempre nos recuerdan a ella.
Se me ocurrió la idea de celebrar el Día Internacional de la Retribución por varias razones:
La primera es que en estos casi cuatro años, desde que sufrí la lesión en la médula espinal, he disfrutado de la generosidad de muchas personas. No solamente de mis doctores y enfermeros en el Shepherd, de mis amigos, mi familia y mis compañeros de trabajo, sino también de muchas personas que no conozco, quienes siempre me han extendido su mano de ayuda aun cuando no la necesitara.  Todas las noches, cuando voy a acostarme y rezo, no puedo terminar de rezar sin expresar mi gratitud por todo lo que tengo y he recibido.  Ésta será mi manera de retribuir a todas y cada una de las personas que me han ayudado y continúan ayudándome a hacer que mi lesión en la médula espinal sea una experiencia llevadera y enriquecedora.
La segunda razón es que estamos sobresaturados de malas noticias: guerras, delitos, abusos, injusticias y pare de contar. Son malas noticias que ponen en juego nuestra felicidad y amenazan la natural generosidad del ser humano. Pensé que con la idea de un día internacional de la retribución, podíamos promover una cadena de actos de generosidad y, aun cuando solamente tengamos 200 actos, serán 200 actos más de generosidad que no teníamos anteriormente.
La tercera razón es curiosidad. Quería poner a prueba el poder de las redes sociales.  Quería saber cuánta tracción puede crear un movimiento como éste. Entonces, espero que todos ustedes que han leído mi blog en estos 3 años me ayuden con este experimento.
Es muy sencillo. Hoy, en cualquier momento, me gustaría que hicieran un acto aleatorio de generosidad. Pueden favorecer a quien quieran, desde una persona que ustedes conocen hasta un extraño. Podría inclusive ser a favor de un animal o del medio ambiente.  Eso sí, pídanle a la persona a quien ustedes hayan favorecido que a su vez retribuyan con otro acto de generosidad. Una vez que hayan terminado, quiero que visiten mi página "Happiness is a Choice"  (no olviden indicar antes  Like (Me gusta) y escriban qué hicieron y cómo se sintieron. También pueden enviar un tweet.  No olviden utilizar #payingitforward. Pongamos a rodar la bola.  Recuerden, la generosidad es contagiosa.  Hagan saber al resto si el acto de generosidad les regresa a ustedes.
Disfrutemos de la sensación de retribuir.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

International day for Paying it Forward

I am thankful. I need to give back.
Giving back gives me joy, a lot of joy.
During this journey, I have learned to be thankful. 
When I look around my life, I only see things that I am thankful for. 
I feel the urge to give back. I feel the urge to pay forward.
I feel guilty if I don't. I feel happy if I do.
Giving back and paying forward gives me a high. It is a strange feeling. It is a good feeling.

We sent a bag full of medical supplies to Uganda and Kenya that we collected thanks to the kindnes of some friends and family. When I saw the shining smiles coming out of the beautiful dark skin of Ken, Jane, Julius  and Father Thomas, I could not resist the urge to drop a few tears, tears of happiness. Father Thomas sent me a message saying that they were happy and that they dared to say that happiness is a choice!  My heart almost exploded.

I want to do an experiment, "the pay forward experiment".  Since it feels so good to pay forward, not only for the giver but also to the receiver, why don't we try for one day, to all do at least one act of kindness to someone.  It could be anything, from paying for coffee to the person behind you in the Starbcucks drive through line to feeding some one that is hungry.  Make sure you tell the person that he/she needs to pay it forward. After that, please write a comment in The Happiness is a Choice facebook page. Write what you did and what you felt. The more people that do it, the more happy people there will be.... Willing to try?

We will call it "The International day for paying forward". Let's do it on October 8th, 2013. Start thinking what you will do. Start planning what you will do. Spread the word. We have 1 month to create awareness. Let's make it big.

This post is dedicated to my friends in Uganda Father Thomas, Jane, and Julius and my friend in Kenya Kennedy. They have taught me the value of kindness, humbleness and courage!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Paying Forward

A year and a half ago, I started an intense rehabilitation program (Beyond Therapy).  Although the program helped me get stronger, taught me new skills and made me healthier, it did not get me closer to potentially stand up and take at least one step.   I knew from the beginning that the chances were very slim but I wanted to give it a try anyways. I knew that it would benefit me in many other ways as well.   After a year in the program, I decided to stop. The program demanded a lot of me. 9 hours+ a week, time away from work and a lot more money (a lot!!!). I was extremely lucky that with my savings, the help of my parents, my sisters, my aunt and uncle, cousins and many friends and co-workers I was able to afford it. However,  I just could not do it for much longer without risking areas of my life that were as important (my job, time with my family, my financial health, etc).
Everyday on my way back from Beyond Therapy, while reflecting  back on the progress I was making,  I could not stop smiling and thinking how fortunate I was.  The words “thank you” continued to slowly and silently come out of my mouth.   
1.    During that same time, I met two wonderful persons:  Father Thomas and Mary.  Father Thomas is a priest from Uganda who is also in a wheelchair. His level of injury is very similar to mine.  When Father Thomas had his motorcycle accident, he did not get any rehab. As a consequence, he spent the following two years in bed.  He could not work, he could not use his great potential.  He did not have an appropriate wheelchair, he lived in a place that was not wheelchair accessible, he did not count with the medical supplies he needed to have at a minimum a dignified existence. Thanks to the immense heart of an Angel called Mary and many others Angels that appeared in his path, mountains were moved to bring him to Shepherd Spinal Center.  In less than a couple of months, he learned all the basic skills. He is now back in Uganda able to live, serve, be happy and provide happiness. (If you want to know more of Father Thomas story please go to these links:  and

Meeting Father Thomas plus realizing how fortunate I am, an uncontrollable need to help, to pay forward is growing every second in my heart.  For this reason, my wife and I are starting a non-profit organization to help victims of SCI in the underprivileged word.  A class-mate of mine, Carlos helped me develop the idea even further. Although the idea is still hatching, “Happiness is a Choice” (HIAC) is ready to start helping.
I am happy to introduce 3 people in addition to Father Thomas that HIAC is committing to help this year:
·         Jane Nagaddya:  She is 26 years old. On 14th, June, 2006, she had a car accident and suffered a SCI. She was admitted to Mulago hospital (Uganda’s National Referral Hospital) for her operation and treatment. She stayed in that hospital for 5 months. She has had no therapy!!! She is 100% dependent on her grandmother! She has suffered from multiple bed sores, depression, accidents, UTIs, fevers, malaria, headaches, etc.  Since she is not employed, she totally depends on the mercy and generosity of her community members.

·    Julius Tumwesigye. He is 29 years old. His SCI was caused by a Road accident on August 2, 2009. He was admitted to Mulago Hospital in Uganda where he was diagnosed with a fracture dislocation of Thoracic Spine (T8 and T-9) with paraplegia. As is the case with SCI patients in Uganda, he was discharged without rehab or therapy!!! He too is 100% dependent and like Jane, has suffered with multiple sores, depressions, accidents,  UTIs, fevers, malaria, headaches, etc. He has a progressive scoliosis.  And like Jane, since he is not employed, he totally depends on the mercy and generosity of his community.

On behalf of “Happiness is a Choice”, I ask you to consider donating funds or supplies to send to Father Thomas, Julius and Jane. If you are interested in helping, please email me at

The fourth person is:
·         Kennedy Ng’ang’a: He lives in Mombasa, Kenya. Kennedy used to be an avid swimmer until a diving accident in 1992 left him quadriplegic. Kennedy was told by doctors that he would never do anything productive again. Kennedy’s mother, his care giver, passed away a couple of years ago. He is alone without a caregiver and living in extreme poverty half a world away. Yet through this all, Kennedy has tapped into an amazing gift. He is a gifted painter/artist, which is truly amazing considering his physical limitations. If you want to help Kennedy, consider buying one (or more J) of his paintings.  To see Kennedy’s work please go to his facebook page and explore his albums.  You can even commission an original work by contacting him there. Once you receive the work in mail, then you will pay him. If you buy a painting from him, please let us know

I hope that with HIAC, we can help as many people as possible with this tough condition. This is the best way I have to thank GOD for the many gifts he constantly gives me…..
Happiness is a Choice is my way to pay forward for all the support I got from my  family, friends, co-workers to help me pay my year at Beyond Therapy. It is done in your honor. I dedicate this blog to you and to all the people HIAC will be helping in the years to come…..

Sunday, April 28, 2013

2 of my biggest sources

La version en Espanol esta al finalizar la version en Ingles
The Spanish version is reight after the English version

I have not been very active writing my blog. I am working in a big personal project that is taking my time. I can't wait to be ready so I can share it with you. However,  my post today is about two of my biggest sources of happiness: my daughters Antonella and Arianna. They said they wanted to write in my here they are:

This is from my 13 year old Antonella:

"In life people say bad things happen to bad people but why such a bad thing happen to such an amazing dad? I like to think of it as a lesson from God. My father has taught me amazing things and his injury taught me a lesson that cannot be taught by any ordinary class in school. I learned not to get too comfortable with the life you have because it can change into something completely new in just a matter of days. I was about 10 years old when my dad had his injury, I had no idea it was going to affect our lives so much.
A few days after  his surgery, my siblings and I got to see him for the very first time. Seeing my dad hurting so much he could hardly talk and having wires all over his body was probably one of the hardest things to see. That was the moment I realized, Wow! This is more serious than I thought!
It has now been about 3 years since the injury and my dad is getting more independent as each day goes by. Due to the injury my dad is now more worried about keeping our backs healthy. It’s an ongoing battle between me, my sisters and my dad to get us to stop doing flips and tricks all over the house. I have also always wanted a trampoline, but I’m not allowed to have one because I could injure my back or neck. Although I would still love a trampoline and I love flipping around the house, I understand how scared it makes him. It makes me happy to know he cares about me so much!
Having my dad in a wheelchair may change his physical appearance but, he is still Enzo Piscopo, and most importantly he is still my daddy and I thank God every day for blessing me with him. This experience has made me and my family stronger than ever, and has inspired me to become a better and more caring person."

Each of my kids had a very unique and different reaction to my injury. Antonella was always very strong. She was the one that never expressed any concerns. She always acted as she was sure that everything was going to be all right.  Seeing her always that strong made me feel proud and gave me so much strength to face whatever was coming my way.  I remember when I asked her what color should my wheel chair be, she responded why should we care about the color if it is going to be something temporal. It broke my heart. However, I loved her always positive attitude. She has always expected from me the same or more than before my injury. She does not give me any slack....and I love it.  She made my heart burst when before her Middle School Talent Show she said:
"I dedicate this dance to My dad who is my inspiration"

And this is from my 7 year old Arianna:

"Hi!, I’m Enzo’s daughter, Arianna.  I love my dad  and I don’t care if he’s  in a wheel chair ‘cause it’s actually kind of fun! I get to sit on his lap and he gives me a ride! And I think it’s special that he is in a wheel chair. When he went to the hospital, I  didn’t know he was going to be in a wheel chair I thought he was just a little sick and he would come back from the hospital soon. But when I went to the hospital he told me he was going to be in a wheel chair I felt weird because that never happened to me before .  I was also very worried! In my head I was asking myself “how is it like having a dad in a wheel chair?” and I didn’t know he had to do all that work just because he was in a wheel chair. He has a kind of chair that brings him up and down stairs and “it’s really cool!”.  I love my daddy."

Arianna, as opposed to Antonella, was the one that showed the most concern, anxiaty and sadness.  She would break my heart. Several times she came to me and said: "Daddy how much I wish you were not on a wheel chair" or "Daddy hospitals lie, they took you to get you better and you came back on a wheelchair". She always talks about my wheelchair. She is much better now. She is constantly letting her kisses invade my face. Each kiss fuels me with energy to continue this journey. As long as I continue getting her kisses I know I will be all right.

I dedicate this blog to my 4 kids. They are my biggest source of happiness. Their smiles, their hugs, their words, their love give the most sense to my life! I love you Rafa, Anto, Ari y blog will be by Rafa and Sabri....may be :)

Dos de mis fuentes más grandes de alegría
Últimamente he estado un poco apartado de mi blog. En realidad, estoy entregado a un importante proyecto personal que me está ocupando mucho mi tiempo. Espero tener este proyecto listo pronto para compartirlo con ustedes. Sin embargo, la página de hoy en mi blog la ocupan dos de mis fuentes más grandes de alegría: mis hijas Antonella y Arianna. Ellas manifestaron interés en participar en mi blog y ahí va lo que querían decir.
Mi hija Antonella, de 13 años, escribió:
"La gente dice que las cosas malas ocurren solamente a las personas malas, pero yo me pregunto por qué esto tan feo le ocurrió a un papá tan bueno. Me tranquiliza pensar que es como una lección de Dios. Mi papá me ha enseñado cosas increíbles y con su lesión he aprendido cosas que nunca habría podido aprender en una clase normal en la escuela. Me enseñó que uno no debe acostumbrarse demasiado a las cosas que uno tiene en la vida pues todo puede cambiar en cuestión de días. Yo tenía 10 años cuando mi papá sufrió la lesión y no tenía idea de que eso cambiaría tanto nuestras vidas. Mis hermanos y yo pudimos ver a mi papá unos días después de la cirugía. Probablemente lo más difícil para mí fue verlo con tubos conectados a todo el cuerpo y tan adolorido que ni siquiera podía hablar. Fue en ese momento que dije, ¡guau! ¡Esto es más serio de lo que yo me imaginaba!
Han pasado ya 3 años desde que mi papá sufrió la lesión y cada vez es más autónomo. Debido a su lesión, mi papá se preocupa más por la salud de nuestras espaldas. Hay una lucha constante entre mis hermanas, yo y mi papá, quien quiere a toda costa que dejemos de hacer piruetas en la casa. Yo siempre he querido tener un trampolín, pero no puedo porque podría lastimarme la espalda o el cuello. Aun cuando definitivamente me gustaría tener un trampolín y me encanta hacer piruetas en la casa, entiendo que esto lo asusta mucho. Sin embargo, me siento tan feliz al saber que mi papá se preocupa tanto por mí. El hecho de que mi papá esté en una silla de ruedas puede que cambie su apariencia, pero sigue siendo Enzo Piscopo y, lo que es más importante, sigue siendo mi papi y agradezco a Dios todos los días por haberme bendecido con este papá. Esta experiencia nos ha fortalecido a todos en la familia y me ha ayudado a ser una persona mejor y más solidaria".
Cada uno de mis hijos reaccionó de manera diferente ante mi lesión. Antonella ha sido siempre muy fuerte y nunca mostró preocupación o inquietud alguna. Siempre estuvo segura de que todo se resolvería de la mejor manera. Ese control de sí misma me hizo sentir orgulloso y me dio la fortaleza que necesitaba para enfrentar  cualquier obstáculo que se me presentara. Recuerdo cuando le pregunté de qué color debería ser mi silla de ruedas y ella me respondió que por qué teníamos que preocuparnos por el color de la silla cuando se trataba de algo temporal. Eso me partió el corazón. Sin embargo, me encanta su actitud siempre positiva. Ella siempre ha esperado de mí lo mismo o más de lo que esperaba antes de que yo sufriera la lesión. No me da tregua, y eso me encanta.  Antonella hizo que mi corazón estallara de felicidad cuando en el show de talentos de la escuela secundaria dijo,  "Le dedico este baile a mi papá, la fuente de mi inspiración".
Y esto es lo que mi hija Arianna, de 7 años, escribió:
"Hola; soy Arianna, hija de Enzo. Yo amo a mi papá y no me importa que esté en una silla de ruedas porque ¡es divertido! ¡Yo me siento en sus piernas y él me lleva a dar vuelticas! Además, creo que es una cosa especial que él esté en una silla de ruedas.
Cuando él se fue para el hospital, yo no sabía que iba a necesitar una silla de ruedas. Pensé que solo se sentía un poco mal y que pronto regresaría del hospital. Pero cuando yo fui para el hospital y él me dijo que estaría en una silla de ruedas, sentí algo extraño porque nunca me había pasado algo así. ¡También estaba muy preocupada! En mi cabeza me preguntaba cómo sería tener un papá en silla de ruedas. Además, no podía imaginarme todo el trabajo que tenía que hacer por el solo hecho de estar en una silla de ruedas. Mi papá tiene una tipo de silla que le permite subir y bajar las escaleras que es ¡calidad!  Yo amo a mi papá".
A diferencia de Antonella, Arianna mostró siempre mucha preocupación, ansiedad y tristeza. Me partía el corazón verla así. Varias veces se acercó a mí para decirme,  "Papi, cómo quisiera que no estuvieras en una silla de ruedas" o "Papi, los hospitales mienten; te recibieron para ayudarte a que te mejoraras y te devolvieron en una silla de ruedas".
Ella siempre habla de mi silla de ruedas. Ahora está mucho mejor. Constantemente me llena la cara de besos. Cada beso me da la energía para seguir adelante. Mientras tenga sus besos, yo sé que estaré bien.
Dedico esta página de mi blog a mis 4 hijos. Ellos son mi mayor fuente de alegría. ¡Sus sonrisas, sus abrazos, sus palabras, su amor dan sentido a mi vida!
Rafa, Anto, Ari, Sabri, los amo. 
La próxima página del blog estará a cargo de Rafa y Sabri.... quién sabe, :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tonight....nosotros somos jovenes!

Tonight! Nosotros somos jovenes!

A traumatic injury tends to have some unintended benefits. It brings rich teachings not only for the victims but also for the people surrounding the victim. During my journey with spinal cord injury, I have always been amazed the impact that my injury has had not only to the people very close to me but to my extended family, friends and co-workers. For this edition of my blog, I have asked my nephews and nieces to write in their own words what my injury has taught them.

From Alex

“My uncle's injury and road to recovery has thought, motivated and inspired a lot of people that follow his story; including myself. Being an athlete, I tend to relate or apply some of these lessons to my career as a professional baseball player. The first thought that comes to mind is the awareness of one's own body. This injury reminds us how perfect the human body is yet how delicate it can be. It brings awareness on how to take care of our body to prevent such injuries. An athlete's weapon in battle is the body. It works as a machine that has to be put in to shape and be maintained regularly in order to perform at its best. An injury prevents us from doing our job, and without it we can't make a living. I attended to some of my uncle's workouts at Shepherds and got to see him work through various exercises to strengthen his body. I was amazed to see how similar all his core or abdominal exercises were to my training as a ball player. I now value some of these tedious routines I do as part of my training more than I ever did.

Going deeper into what this experience has meant to me, I can say that everybody that has been affected by this injury has grown up and matured to a more loving and unselfish person. I watch how Antonella, Arianna and Sabrina display their girlish love to their dad and I see how Rafael uses his size and strength to help his dad move around. I admire my uncles's ability to set aside the internal and external pain he feels in order to channel it into a happy optimistic point of view. He is as strong family man that sets aside his own problems to help others. As hard as it might be sometimes, he puts on a smile and moves on. He has learned how powerful his mind can be and how it can help him through these struggles. In the sports industry, athletes can't stay stagnant on their bad performances. Athletes do their best when their mind is clear of bad outings and are excited for their next. My uncle's experience is a reminder of that. I believe that in his mind, his injury wasn't a punishment rather than an opportunity to teach, motivate, help and inspire the people around him.

To my uncle, my godfather, and my friend. To show my appreciation for everything you have ever done for me, I got my glove sponsor "Rico Gloves" to add your initials next to my name on my baseball glove. “

 From Lucio Alejandro:

“My Tio Enzo is like a father to me! He has been an example of life and pillar to our family! He has provided me with many very special moments!

Thanks tio”

From Oriana:

Things just happen. In the world things are constantly happening. These things are the ones that break our routine. Why are some of the things that happen good and others Bad? I tend to think that everything is driven by the power of intention. Intention comes from each of us and from GOD.

I really do not remember how I found out about my uncle's injury. I only remember thinking, "Woo, Why did he have to have such a complicated injury?

I asked myself several times what can I learn from this. Soon enough, I started to notice the reaction of the rest of my family. I realized that the injury had a different meaning to each of us. I think this injury came to our lives to remind us and show us some emotions and values that we take for granted. I was convinced Tio Enzo was one of the few people I know (if not the only one) that had the strength to live, learn, share and even enjoy such an unexpected experience.

The more I spend time with him, the more proud I am of being his niece. I admire his spiritual strength and his perseverance to improve his physical strength.  I admire his never ending desire to be happy and share his happiness with others, but above all, his youthful mind. He will always be for me my “tio joven” (my young uncle). He never stops. He always has a new plan to undertake. I love how he enjoys being around people, young or old. I love how he fights for what he believes and wants regardless of what people think. He truly believes in the power of his intension. I am confident his intentions are good if not the best.”

 From Eduardo:

“Knowing someone in a wheelchair never seemed a reality to me until my uncle Enzo had a spinal cord injury that left him paraplegic. I always associated people in wheelchairs to people who had a pre-existing condition, and therefore were at a disadvantage in life.  As it turns out, it’s quite the opposite.  It’s been well over two years since my uncle had his injury, and his disability couldn’t be any more normal. Everything he used to do prior, he still does, just from a seated position.
When he finally left Shepherd and began his normal life, I was not concerned about his ability to operate.  I was confident that Shepherd had trained him well.  My only concerns were how he would do at social events, outings, parties, get together, etc.  Undoubtedly it’s challenging for disabled people to stroll around in public places if they are not accessible.  Another concern was related to how other people would react to the situation: friends, family members, and strangers alike.
Not all countries, regions, or even cities are wheelchair friendly; I have noticed that in my travels in and outside the United States.  However, in the past several years I’ve also noticed that people can be unexpectedly helpful and concerned for another human being’s health, even though not everyone is really that nice and helpful.
 I think that if someone does not personally know or is not related to a disabled person, he/she could care less about making sure public places are accessible or making an effort to learn and discover about all the great things that disabled people are capable of.”
From Loredana:

“When I heard that my Uncle was being transferred from one hospital to the other by helicopter it sounded like a lot of fun. I really thought that Doctors needed to perform a simple procedure, something fast. I later learned that the situation was really serious. Being far in Venezuela, I thought everything would change (I mean my uncle's personality and way of being in front of the world ...) I thought I would not be able to go out with him. I thought I would not be able to enjoy with him our favorite Starbucks. I only had sad thoughts. I was completely wrong!  To my surprise, when I went to the States to visit him, I realized that “mi tio joven” (my young uncle) was still intact, and even regenerated. His emotions and motivation were still there. He wanted more than ever to continue to grow spiritually and fill people around him with joy. I remember telling my sister that I had not noticed any differences in my uncle’s personality. We still had fun together as we always do. My sister reminded me that the things that really matter did not change!  I understood how important motivation is to move forward, to fight for your goals, and primarily to improve. My uncle’s journey with SCI has taught me that the word "impossible" should not be in my head. With patience, hard work, dedication and the right attitude you can achieve everything in life. He taught me that there is nothing big or difficult enough to stop you from achieving what you want.”

From Victoria

“To mention each of the things I learned from Tio Enzo over my life is almost impossible. However, I will try to name the most important ones for me. Due to my uncle’s journey with SCI, I have been able to grow immensely. I had the opportunity to live with my uncle and aunt for a few months. Living with them is something I am deeply grateful. It was a life experience, learning and growth. Above all, Tio Enzo has taught me the important role that health plays in the spiritual and emotional well-being. His good attitude and enthusiasm despite his accident taught me that you have to be thankful for many things. Tio Enzo has taught me that a positive attitude is worth more than anything against adverse situations of life.

Tio Enzo has always been my support. It has taught me that having passion and love for what you do is the key to being successful and happy in life. He is one of my biggest role models.

Tio Enzo, I want to thank you for being the person you are. For making me appreciate my life more and more. For teaching me that you do not need to walk to take steps forward in life and that love and faith can help you do anything. I'm proud of you and Aunt Gaby and I hope one day, with the passing of time, you can feel as proud of me as I am of you”.

A spinal cord injury sucks! sucks big time. However, it has taught me and others the most valuable teachings.  I just wished the method of teaching had been a little bit more subtle….. J

I feel a lot of joy and satisfaction by knowing I am having a positive impact on people, especially on the people I love. If that is the reason why GOD placed me in this journey, so be it.

I dedicate this blog to all the people that my injury has impacted, has taught, and has changed because knowing you exist makes my journey smoother.