From 2005-2007, I played hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s School in Minnesota. In 2008, I was ranked by USA Hockey as one of the top twenty players in the nation. I had everything going and it felt like my life was hitting on all cylinders. But then in 2008, I was diagnosed with cavernous hemangioma, coming close to death multiple times. During my first surgery, I was given a five percent chance of surviving. I was hours from dying another time during my hospital stay. I had multiple brain infections, with one entering my spinal cord, paralyzing me from head to toe. From this point on, I had to re-learn everything from walking and talking, to eating and breathing. Feeling down about my circumstance is an understatement.
I truly believe the real reason I made it through those harrowing nine months in the hospital, and the purpose for my experience and recovery, was so I could share my story and help other people.
“I’m Alive: Courage, Hope, and a Miracle,” tells my story. The proceeds of this book are donated exclusively to The Pieper Hope and Courage Foundation. I hope to supply this book to hospitals and other organizations, whose patients can benefit from my experience in dealing with a life-threatening episode—whatever it is they are struggling with or attempting to overcome.
The challenges I faced during recovery, and how I overcame them, are all outlined in 15 summary points. I’m sharing four of the fifteen here.
Four Thoughts to Keep in Mind During Your Recovery
Nothing Is Out of Reach
Philanthropist T.F. Buxton once said, “With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” I was blessed with extraordinary talent as an athlete and young hockey player. Suddenly, without a moment’s notice, this talent was taken from me. I was left paralyzed and rendered unable to perform the simplest of life’s tasks. Feeling down would have been easy.
I persevered and learned that even the most seemingly unattainable things are certainly within reach.
For example, I have double vision, nystagmus, and my eye muscles do not function properly. My new goal in life was simply to be a ‘regular person’. I might have to do things a bit differently, but I’d get them done just like everyone else. Driving was going to be a challenge given my disabilities. However, through trial and error, I obtained my driver’s license (and on my first try!). This demonstrates that when you put your mind to it, nothing is out of reach.
Keep Your Body in Shape
Staying physically fit has always been a priority for me. During recovery, staying fit was a tremendous motivational tool. It was then, and still is today, something I look forward to every single day. When I am in great physical condition, it bolsters my all-around attitude and provides overwhelming positivity to my life.
Mind Over Matter
This strategy is an important part of my existence. I must keep my mind right. It gets me to where I want to go, and it lifts me out of even my darkest moments. It is nothing less than the foundation for peace in your life.
Feeling Down, Look Around
Feeling down about yourself today? Well, take a look around. I guarantee you will find someone unluckier than you. Instead of playing the victim, count your blessings. There are so many things to be thankful for if you know where to look. Try to focus on those things you’re thankful for instead of looking for the things that make you feel down. I take stock of my blessings every day.
These Things Are What Helped Me Recover
These are all tools I began to use during my recovery and still use today. I refused to feeling down. I am here to assist others any way I can, simply by sharing my story and my experience.
To leave you with a final thought: It takes courage, hope, and a miracle. And because of those, I am alive.