Nate

Age: 41

Location: Arizona

Injury or relation: Spinal cord injury, C6 for 18 years

Hobbies/Interests: Wheelchair rugby, drawing/painting, photography, piloting, live music, reading/learning, architectural design

Why did you become a peer mentor? I was in a bad way when I was first injured. Seven weeks into rehab, barely able to push my wheelchair, I was asked to speak to a brand new patient that was a complete, high-level quad with a halo and a tracheostomy. He couldn’t speak and he couldn’t nod his head. Nevertheless I spoke to him for an hour. We arranged an agreement that I’d ask him questions and if the answer was yes, he’d blink. If the answer was no, he’d do nothing. I could see the fear and pain in his eyes. I knew how he felt as I had just been weaned off of a trach. I could also feel how grateful he was to be presented with hope. My own problems were simultaneously erased as I realized how lucky I was. I’ve been speaking to newly paralyzed individuals ever since.

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