In this age of fear of the unknown and extended isolations, I want to sound my voice to the abilities I have thanks to medical professionals, my friends and my family.
My physical abilities changed in an instant. That incident has changed how I look at my life. Before my accident I could run for miles, swim and dive in the ocean, and nimbly climb up and through the trunks, boulders and trails of our Pikes Peak mountain areas. Now life looks quite a bit different. But the difference is, now I am so very grateful for the life I have and the time I’ve been given. I’ll start with the simple things because that’s what is important, but also that’s what I took for granted. This is what healing and regaining life and gratefulness has been for me.
I am grateful that I can see the sunrise and sunset, and the beauty and smile on my wife’s face.
I am grateful that I can listen to music, the birds sing and even the dogs barking and howling sometimes in my neighborhood.
I am grateful I can breathe deep and smell the sweet roses in our garden and the smell of breakfast cooking in our kitchen.
I am grateful that I can taste the delicious meals my wife makes or the savory sweetness of strawberries and raspberries.
I am grateful that I can feel the warm sun and cool breeze in the wind and even the chills on my skin on a cool night.
I am grateful that I can use my hands and arms to hold my wife and play with my cat.
I am grateful that I am able to get my butt out of bed, clean myself up, comb my hair and make breakfast and prep meals for the day.
I am grateful that I can work in my garage on wood working projects, fix and plumb toilets and keep up on cleaning my house and I can even sweep up a spill… usually caused by me, of course.
I am grateful that I can transfer into my car and go shopping for groceries or go to a movie with friends (pre-COVID virus of course) and go to a park or roll myself around the sidewalks of our neighborhood.
I am grateful for my neighbor, Marie who helps us with our garden, planting and watering our flowers and helping to make our lawn and garden beautiful.
I am also grateful to her because she has been here for me when my wife was in the hospital and I needed help up off the floor, putting on my socks and helping me by reaching spices on high shelves and whipping together a batch of cookies.
Above all, I am grateful for my health and the time I have with my wife and family. I am so grateful for my family that has been a monumental blessing to me. After my injury, my wife’s cousins, her mother, sisters and even grandmother all teamed together to modify my house so I can more easily get around. They designed and built a ramp for the front door, built a deck off the back of the house, built an island in our kitchen so we’d have a bar made to a height accessible for me and kitchen storage low enough for me to reach. In addition to all the accommodation modifications, my family replaced our wood flooring after a hailstorm blasted open our ceiling skylights and wrecked our living room flooring. How blessed am I that all of these people came together to help me heal after my injury, continue to support and care for me, and make my life new again.
These are all things I took for granted before my injury. The simple things, the seemingly mundane details that for most people go unnoticed, now make me so grateful to be able to experience again. I have learned a deeper appreciation for life and the opportunities I have been given again.
Written by Andrew Lewis
Native Coloradan, born and raised amongst the plains and mountains in the northern part of the state. On August 18, 2018, Andy was in a motorcycle accident that fractured his skull, neck, left shoulder, collarbone, T4 & T5 vertebrae and severed his spinal cord. Prior to his injury, Andy served 4 years in the US Navy and is an active member of the Paralyzed Veterans Association, and a Peer Mentor to Craig Hospital patients living in the Colorado Springs area.