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.