Story by Antonio Vechhio

Life can be seen as a series of moments that lead us to where we are now. Although some moments are inconsequential, others have a profound impact on every moment that follows. In those profound moments, we have to make a choice that will affect ourselves and those around us.

Let me share one of my moments with you.

I found myself sitting in a dark place, knowing that the world would go on if I stayed in this place forever and no one found me. I had transferred myself onto the floor and was sitting in a corner, with a lifetime of suppressed emotions pouring out of me. 

There is a pain in these moments that is unbearable, and only those who have been there can understand the overwhelming urge to make the pain stop.

How did I arrive at this moment? What had happened to get me to this point where I had all this inside me? 

When I look back through my life, it’s hard to say precisely when I started to feel not quite myself. Thinking about it, it was before I began to live with quadriplegia.

No reason to change

After I sustained my C6-7 spinal-cord injury in a car accident in 2005, I just accepted it as normal to be feeling down about myself. I would often have people tell me how amazing I was, and that I was an inspiration, and that it was okay to have bad days given what I’d been through. So I felt no reason to change my behaviour. 

Time went on, and I lived an active life surrounded by friends and family. Yet I found little enjoyment in things that had once given me great satisfaction. Instead, I found myself feeling numb towards things that I knew should trigger an emotion within me. 

Again time moved on, and I was confronted with another moment. For many of us, sustaining a spinal cord injury is the most catastrophic thing that we could ever imagine. But for me, it was insignificant compared with seeing my dad take his last breath. 

A smile for the world

This loss was the moment that broke inside me in ways that I never thought I would recover from. But life went on, and I continued to show the world a smile and pretend to be the strong inspirational person that everyone thought I was. 

There was a pain inside of me that I would never wish upon anyone, and yet I taught myself how to suppress my emotions and get through the days and weeks. 

As I was sitting there on the floor in the corner, I was not thinking about any past moment that had led me there. The numbness that I had felt in past years had gone, and every tear was an emotion that I had kept within me. 

The thing about moments we are confronted with is that often we need to make a decision. These decisions are never easy. Decisions in these moments lead us to where we are today. The decision I made was to pick up my phone and call for help. 

  • August 30, 2021

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