Meet The Walking Quadriplegic

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Find out how he beat the odds

Name: Josh Wood
Age: 33
Club: Goodlife Point Cook

It was in June 2000 when my life changed forever. I was in a snowboarding accident that fractured my C5, C6, C7 and T1 vertebrae in my neck – ultimately leaving me a quadriplegic. The doctors told my family to prepare for the worst, but that if I did survive, I would have no real quality of life. Every single day I was told that I would never walk again, that this was now my fate. But my mum believed in me, she knew that I was stronger than what they were saying. I had never been one to give up and that resolve was only strengthened by my accident.

Each day was a step closer to survival. I was battling both emotional barriers and excruciating physical pain, but I found the negative attitudes from my doctors to be the biggest challenge I had to overcome. I knew I could prove them wrong, so I would lie in physically lifeless on the hospital bed for hours at a time, willing my big toe to move. Just the smallest of movement would mean everything to me and it would show me I had some hope for the future; that I would walk again.

"Every single day I was told that I would never walk again."

I can proudly say that after three weeks of single-minded focus I managed to move my big toe ever so slightly, much to the disbelief of my medical team. “It’s just an involuntary muscle spasm,” they said. That reaction fuelled me to do even more on my own, to move more parts of my body against all odds. First my toe, then my finger, my hand and then my whole arm. The overwhelming frustration that comes from not being able to scratch your own nose gave me the power to achieve the impossible.

Through sheer grit and determination, I walked out of the hospital with only the help of two crutches, just three short months after being wheeled in on a stretcher. While it took everything I had and caused me more pain than I could ever comprehend, I knew this was just the beginning for me.

It has been 16 years since the accident and I have taught myself to do things I was never meant to do again – walk further, feed myself, ride a motorbike, lift weights and even snowboard. I have just 5% use of my spinal cord, and while nothing seems impossible to me now, it doesn’t mean that every day and every movement isn’t a constant mental, emotional and physical battle. My injury affects my entire life and that of the people around me. Despite my positive attitude, there are still days when I struggle to fight the pain and get out of bed.

I’ve been a member of Goodlife Point Cook for nearly two years now. My motivation? It’s pretty simple: if I stop training, I lose everything. I’ve gained so much ‘freedom’ over the years that I never want to go back. Every time I have taken a break from training, when I get lazy and comfortable like people often do, everything snowballs.

"My injury affects my entire life and that of the people around me."

Not only do I need to maintain my health and fitness for the sake of my recovery, but I now have a three month old son to be strong for. I want to physically be a better dad, without the limitations I sometimes face. It’s the smallest of things to others that are the biggest accomplishments to me; at the moment I am working towards being able to pick my son up off the floor if he cries or wants a cuddle. It’s something most people don’t even think about, but for me it will be a huge milestone and I can’t wait to reach that goal.

I find that everyone has their own reasons and their own goals for joining a gym. Feeling supported and part of a community helps me push past the pain to keep training. I read the forums and blog, I talk to other members, I’m participating in the 12 Week Challenge and I love seeing other people’s successes in club. For me, training at Goodlife isn’t about being a hulk, it’s simply maintaining what I’ve gained back over the years – the freedom to move, to walk, to live.

Even after everything that has happened, I still have such a positive outlook on life. It’s so easy to focus on what we don’t have, yet we never sit back and appreciate what we do have. Sometimes we have to go through a bad place, to get to an even better place – I have a beautiful wife, I have my son and I have gained so much physically and mentally over the years since the day of the accident. I am constantly reminded that when I am in good health, I should appreciate it and when it’s bad, I know it doesn’t always last and that tomorrow will be a new day.  

Goodlife Team Posted by: Goodlife Team

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