Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Who are you?

Our paster did a wonderful sermon this last Sunday that I felt I just had to pass on through this blog. While not directly related to my accident, it does fit with the overall message.

Who are you?

At first glance it seems like a fairly simple question. I am an Engineer that designs composite medical tubing for use in minimally invasive procedures. I am a husband and a father of 4 wonderful children. Easy right? The truth is that these answers are what I am, not who I am.

Do you know who you are?
Where do I fit?
What is my identity?

After my accident, I struggled with trying to answer these questions. However, after much praying I realized that my physical condition was WHAT I was and had nothing to do with WHO I was. Several of my what's had changed, however none of my who's had changed.

- Does my ability to walk have anything to do with my ability to follow God?

- Does my inability to move my legs somehow influence my relationship with Jesus?

So, Who am I?

I am a Christian, a believer, and a disciple of The Lord. I was given a second chance by God; in order to complete the work he has asked me to do.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Be Thankful

Thank you God for giving me a second chance at life. I know that you alone gave me the strength and power to make it through this. You are truly my savior.

Friday, September 21, 2012


A family unit is the unit which builds up a person's personality. How you behave and what you become in life is very much dependent on your family life. Psychologists believe that a child learns the most from his or her family life. The way your family members deal with you has a life long effect on your personality. Keeping in view all these facts the importance of your family life cannot be denied. Family unit happens to be the most important part of your life till you grow up. The children are usually closer to their parents and their siblings as compared to any other person in the world. As the children grow up they find good friends, spouses, their own kids and colleagues to share their lives with. Although time brings this change but the importance of family remains there. The children who have a sound family background and who belong to a family with strong family ties are almost always happier. Thus one cannot deny the importance of family life.

This wonderful drawing of our family is courtesy of Alexander.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A good cause

I recently assisted a group of individuals who are working to teach athletes all over the US how to perform CPR. The group is Athletes for America and they recently taught a group of students in Battle Creek.
Schools who participated in the event not only had their athletes trained free of charge, but they also received a free AED from Zoll for their school.
I was honored to work with such great instructors and volunteers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why Me?

The day I almost died, I wondered "Why Me", but the truth is that I was given a Gift that day. My gift was a 2nd Chance. Don't take life for granted and be the best you can because you never know what will happen...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Stolen spaces: Handicap parking in Michigan

It's truly frustrating when you need the extra space a handicap spot provides, and it's taken by someone who is more than capable of walking a few extra feet. I'm glad to see a news organization bringing this problem to light. Click on the link below for the story and video.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Love / Hate

It's been a year since the accident and I've now been using a wheelchair now for six months. It's slowly becoming normal that I must use this device every waking hour to get around. It's become both my best friend and my sworn enemy. Much like a relationship, we have good days and bad days together.

Our good days are filled with proper transfers, correct tire positioning, and weight balance. Every obstacle is conquered with grace and smoothness. The days when everything goes right its almost like a well disciplined team.

Our bad days are... Well Bad. When we fight, I always end up loosing. Most of the time, I end up sprawled across the carpet or pavement. The chair, still upright, reminding me who is in charge.

So I have a love hate relationship with this device.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Death and Emotions

We are trained as firefighters and EMS through repetition so that when seconds count we don't have to think about how to accomplish a task, we just do it. From donning our breathing apparatus to drawing specific drug dosages it becomes second nature and we do it without thinking about it.
We become sort of robots that are trained to block out our own emotions and the chaos around us to perform at our very best.
Some of us have become very good at using this ability to block out chaos and our emotions to accomplish a task. I used this ability to speak at my sisters funeral and to be there for my family during their time of need. It can be very useful when you don't have time to process your emotions at that specific moment. The difficult part of this process is remembering that you must eventually come to terms with those emotions or they will come back to haunt you.
In emergency services, this process of coming to terms is called CISD Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. It's a process of releasing this huge volume of stress and emotions in an appropriate way. After a particularly difficult call, a CISD team will be called in to work with the group to release the suppressed emotions. It's an important step in supporting the emotional needs of our emergency services workers.
The takeaway in this is that everyone processes events differently. Don't judge people by the way you see them react, they might be delaying the emotional processing until a later date

May 20

Yesterday was a difficult day for me, it was my little sister Amanda's birthday.

I remember when she was little, teaching her what day her birthday was. May 20th I'd say... her reply was May 20. I always teased her about that, but I never forgot the date of her birthday just based on the way she said it.

I miss you very much Sis. Happy Birthday in heaven and I'll see you up there someday.


Your Big Brother

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Today is the anniversary of the event that forever changed my life's path. Yes, one year ago today I was fighting for my life in a bed in ICU.

How did I spend the day? I spent the day with my family, enjoyed a quiet lunch with my wife, and attended a kindergarden program at Grace Christian. I spent the day with the people I love, the very people I fought so hard to live for.

Thank you everyone who has been a part of my recovery. Everyone who helped make my home accessible, orchestrated and attended the many fundraisers, donated time and/or money, and those who took the time to pray for my recovery. I am truly in your debt for everything you have done.

I could not have made it through this without my loving wife. The woman who affectionately earned the title "Mama Bear" from the staff at the hospital. Thank you honey, for everything you have done. I Love You.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why am I able to walk in my dreams?

Why am I able to walk in my dreams?

Never once, in any of my dreams, have I been handicapped. It's odd to be able walk and run in my dreams, but unable to do so in reality.

I was once told that dreams are driven by your soul. Evidentially my soul doesn't know that my body is handicapped.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grace Christian

I have to admit, I thought I would be the last parent in the whole world to send my children to a private school. Isn't that why there is a line item on my property taxes marked school? Angie and I attended public school and we turned out fine. My older two children attended public school and went onto college. What's the difference?

You can tell the difference from the moment you walk in the door. Chances are there will be a student there to greet you at the door. The attitude of these children is amazing. Children of every age are helpful and respectful.

The teachers are very caring and genuinely want the children to excel. The Grace teachers are much more than just teachers. The night of my accident, Alex's preschool teachers drove an hour to sit and pray with Angie in the emergency room. At Grace, our children are much more than just students, they are part of the Grace family.

This all started with Angie and I looking for a preschool for Alex. What we found was more than just a preschool, we found a community that welcomed us in with open arms.

Thank you Grace Christian family, for introducing us to a better education and accepting us into your family.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Constant Remider

Individual: "You are getting really good in that thing (wheelchair), before long you will forget your even in one"
Me: "Thanks"

What I really wanted to say: I don't really think I'll ever forget that I'm confined to a wheelchair. My whole world is one constant reminder of my situation. Everything I look at and everything I do reminds me of this wheelchair.

I can't really see this as a valid explanation... Visual: me laying on my back at the bottom of a long flight of stairs trying to explain to the people trying to help me get back into my chair... Oh, I'm sorry, I must have forgotten that I'm in a wheelchair.

I lived 36 years with the ability to walk and run, and don't think I'll soon forget that. I'm just praying that this will get easier as time goes by.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Little Angels

Dear God,

Thank you so much for stepping in during my accident and allowing me to live through it. I know that you are the savior who held my hand through the darkness. I am so thankful for the opportunity to continue to be a active part in the raising of my two little angels. When the pain is unbearable and the disability restricts my movement, I only look at my two angels and thank you for everything.

Love, Matt

Sunday, February 19, 2012

By the grace of god


Thank you, I know that it was your intervention that allowed me to live through the accident. I've learned the term "By the grace of god" quite well. The times when I become frustrated with my condition, I remember the alternative and suddenly the problem doesn't seem so bad anymore.

I don't know yet what your plan for my life is, but know that I am ready to serve you in any capacity.

Love, Matt

Friday, February 17, 2012

Handicap Parking

Caution: This may offend some portions of my reading audience.

I get an odd look from people when I pull into the handicap parking spot in front of a business. Most of the time it's an older man or older woman who first notice. They notice a younger person invading on their "age earned" preferential parking location.
Evidentially, the Americans with Disabilities Act left out the minimum age requirement clause when defining who can use the parking spaces.

Maybe the logo on the blue sign needs to be something other than a wheelchair?

Often, the looks begin change as I open the doors and start to assemble my wheelchair on the pavement. My favorite look is the second they realize that I'm in a wheelchair. Then I get the maybe I judged this guy too fast look.

The handicap spot might be more convenient and easier on your legs, but remember they were designed for people in wheelchairs; those who can't use their legs at all.

Here is a simple test:
If you require a handicap parking spot to provide enough room to a) extend your wheelchair ramp, b) assemble your wheelchair, or c) can only walk with the assistance of a walker: by all means park in the area.
If a, b, or c are not true, then leave the spot for someone who requires the additional space. Because, someday it might be you looking for a parking place wide enough to get your wheelchair out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Young Loss

For those of you who haven't heard, I lost my sister on January 30th. I was asked by my Mom and Dad if I would speak at the funeral for the family. I couldn't think of a better way to pay tribute to my sister. Here is the tribute I spoke at the funeral.

"Amanda is 10 years younger than I am. I remember the day she was born and every milestone of her growing up... From the day she was born, to her first steps, to her first bike I was there to share it with her. One fond memory I have is that she would come into my room and we would crank up my stereo and sing and dance. Billy Ocean: Get Outta My Dreams (get into my car) was one of her favorite songs to sing along to. We would drive Mom and Dad crazy singing loudly, or maybe it was just that we sang off key so bad. 

When I made the decision to leave California after graduation, I not only left the state, but I left my 9 year old sister behind as well. We talked on the phone and saw each other several times a year, but we lost the daily interaction we shared when we were younger. As we grew older, though we were miles apart, we still understood each other.

My sister started her family a little sooner than she had planned. (Following her big brothers lead) But, through hard work and sheer determination she finished college while raising a family. She wanted a career, but she wasn't willing to sacrifice her family for it. There wasn't anything my sister couldn't accomplish if she set her mind to it.

My sister and I could banter back and forth for hours on just about anything... We have always been pretty competitive with each other. Playing board games was always an all in adventure for us. Much to the delight of our parents, I think Dad was always keeping score for us mentally as we volleyed back and forth. I'm betting Amanda is gloating right now about how she got to walk in heaven with Grandma first.

After my accident, Amanda and I talked more than we had in the past. During one of our last conversations, Amanda said that she really wanted to be a better Aunt. She said that even though there was a physical distance, she could do a better job than she had been doing. She said she wanted to be more like our Aunt Jan was to us. We both agreed that we would work on it.

I draw strength knowing that she will not be forgotten. Her legacy is the live's on, through the lives that she touched and the 2 children that she brought into this world. Amanda will live on through both Jonah and Kendall. Her spirt is in them. I believe that it's our duty as friends and family to ensure that Kendall and Jonah always know exactly what kind of a person their Mom was.

Amanda, I don't know why God decided to take you from us now. I know that you are walking with Grandma now and that we will see each other again. You will be truly missed. I Love You Sis."

I ask that anyone wishing to pray for my family; please pray for Amanda's children and my Mom and Dad. I can't imagine what it must be like to lose a child.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My work is not done

I often wonder why my life was spared during the accident. If you look at just the physics of the accident, there is no explainable way that someone could live through the trauma. It's definitively a miracle that I survived.

I know that I had not finished the work that God had planned for me and therefore he spared my life. I don't know what work he has planned for me, but it must be important.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11