To My Body…

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To: My body

From: Eric LeGrand

Charity: Team LeGrand of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

Sponsor: Marcel Blythe is donating $200 to Team LeGrand in honor of the first 200 shares of Eric's letter

To My Body,

I remember the last thing I felt from you. It was your heels hitting the ground and then you went completely numb. I remember laying there and the trainers asking me if it was my head or my neck and could I feel this or could I feel that.

I remember my coach looking down on me saying, “E! You have to pray.”

You couldn’t move. You wouldn’t breathe. Honestly, I thought you were giving up on me and our life was about to be over. But it wasn’t …

In just 29 years, you and I have been through quite the journey. But as our relationship has evolved and changed, my true purpose has been revealed.

As a kid our existence together was simple. It was great! You made me the biggest, strongest and fastest kid around. Because of you I hung out and played sports with a lot of older kids. Playing with older kids made me confident and popular. Plus, it made me an even better athlete.

As a freshman in high school, I got an offer from Rutgers. So I knew early on you were going to play division one football. While later on you also got offers to Notre Dame, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Florida State and Miami, you decided to stick with Rutgers.

My freshman year wasn’t easy for us. You changed positions on the field several times. Plus, my girlfriend and I had broken up in the middle of October, so I was dealing with that, too.

Sophomore year was totally different. It was a blast. We found our home at the nose guard position and started to get really good.

I never really thought about you and all your talent. When someone is young they don’t think about their abilities until something terrible happens. Unfortunately, during my junior year of college something terrible did happen to you.

It was October 16, 2010. We had the game tied up, 17-17, against Army with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter.  We were running down the field and I am thinking we are about to make a big play for the team. We were facing a double team that game, which means two guys were coming at us at once. One tried to block us.  He missed and you were able to get right through him, giving you about a 30-yard head start on this guy.

We were about to make the tackle and I said to myself,  “Do I want to use your head or do I want to use your shoulders?”

And I said, “This might be a huge collision, I am going to use your shoulders.”

As we went to make the tackle one of our teammates got there before we did.  I put your head down thinking we’re going to use your shoulders to make the play. The guy’s body twirled in the air and the crown of your head went right into the back of his shoulder blade and that is what caused the accident.

We got carted off the field and I wanted to give a thumbs up to the crowd but you just wouldn’t let me.  It felt like there were a thousand pounds of cinder blocks weighing on my hand. I saw my mom and my sister in the endzone. My mom was hysterically crying. I tried to tell her everything is going to be OK. They put us in the back of the ambulance and they put an oxygen mask on you.  Then we tried to take deep breaths but you couldn’t make that happen. It scared me. From there, I blacked out and didn’t gain consciousness until four days later.

I woke up to a room filled with posters, cards and jerseys.  A whole bunch of my friends and family came to see. It was all positive energy.

I couldn’t feel anything from you at all, except your neck, which was a little sore from surgery. Because of you, my life turned upside down. At first, I questioned my love and my commitment to the game, but then it quickly turned to thoughts about trying to get us back on that football field.  As we were laying there unable to move, I was praying.  I was believing. I had faith in God. But according to doctors, it wasn’t looking so good.

I didn’t find out until a few weeks later but they told my mom that you had fractured your C3 and C4 vertebrae. They told her you would be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of our life. You would need to be on a ventilator, unable to breathe on your own for the remainder of our life. You would be on a feeding tube, unable to eat solid foods for the rest of our life. And that was if you even made it through surgery, as they were concerned you weren’t strong enough to survive the operation.

Eric L

But you sure showed them. When we went to rehab you started to take a turn for the better and you were able to come off the ventilator just five weeks later. You also returned to eating solid foods and enjoying a good meal.

It’s been nine years since your injury. You can’t walk yet, but I believe you will walk again.

I try to do whatever you allow me to in therapy. While you have made progress, you have also hit plateaus over the years. But we work hard to keep your muscles strong, so when that cure does come you will be ready for it.

The most important lesson I have learned is patience. As you know, I still don’t have much of it but I am learning everything isn’t instant gratification. I try to fall in love with the process.

You can’t walk yet, but I believe you will walk again.

In the meantime, I sometimes get frustrated with you.

The hardest part is not being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. Like what if I wanted to take a pretty girl out on a date?

I have to be confident enough to say, “Hey, can you come to pick me up and bring me?”

I have laid in bed and just cried to myself thinking, “If things were just easier…”

I don’t stay in those moments too long, though.  I get to have  five minutes of pity towards you and then it’s like, “Alright, this ain’t doing nothing for me.”

I know you aren’t fighting against me. Plus, I do realize how fortunate I am to not only be alive but to set an example for others facing challenges in life.

I remember back around 2011 or 2012 a blind kid came up to us.

He said, “I may not be able to see the world but after hearing you speak, I see that I can do whatever I want.”

His words made me realize that while you were good at football my true purpose in life is to influence people, to motivate them and to show them through hard work and determination anything is possible.

I want people to look at me as a hero. I want people to see that I believe in my dreams and I am doing whatever I can in my power to make them happen.

And when that cure comes, together, we are going to go back to MetLife Stadium and we are going to lay back on that 25-yard line, hop up off the ground and hopefully, you can run off that field. If you can’t run, you are going to walk. If you can’t walk, you are going to limp like an OG pimp. Whatever you can do, we are going to get off that field and we are going to finish that last play.

So if you take anything from this letter, know that it’s coming. Keep riding. We will get back to being Big Sexy again. Please, just don’t give up on me.

With great hope,

Eric LeGrand

 

Written with Lauren Brill

About the author:

Eric LeGrand is a former Rutgers football player, who became paralyzed after a hit to the head in a game. Now, as he strives to one day walk again,  he is a motivational speaker. He teaches people to appreciate life and to believe in miracles.

Repost, React and Give Back:

Marcel Blythe is donating $200 to Team LeGrand of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in honor of the first 200 shares of Eric’s letter. The Foundation aims to help people currently dealing with spinal cord injuries while also searching for a cure.

The Unsealed will match the donation if  they get 100 new subscribers to the newsletters and 100 new Facebook followers by 9-21-19.

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Thank you Lauren. Yes, we all have to start with the person in the mirror. Your reflections are received with mindfulness and appreciation. I've shared your article on my network. Stay safe and well. IyaSokoya Karade CEO/Owner Athletic Arts Academy NJ LLC Orange, New Jersey

May I encourage everyone of every color or shade, every ethnicity, and every faith (or no faith) to read the book Benjamin Watson wrote after he made such powerful and welcomed comments following the Ferguson, Missouri, killing and riots? Under Our Skin. Read the reviews, search and find the Under Our Skin Forum, it was in 2016, the video can be purchased and it is well worth the time and few dollars to watch. But read the book then give the book to a friend of another color or the same color as you! https://smile.amazon.com/Under-Our-Skin-Getting-Frustrations/dp/149641330X/ref=sr_1_1? When shopping on Smile.Amazon.Com you pay the same but Amazon contributes to your charity of choice (and ParentsUSA hopes you select it, the National Association of Parents, Inc.) David DeLugas, Executive Director, ParentsUSA

Nothing like maintaining a positive outlook! When i need to fight off despair i set goals. It is a great way to fight off negative thoughts and feeling!

Very interesting! Opinion at a later date!

Crazy that this still goes on. I fear for my safety almost all the time. Black or brown males are subject to arrest and violent behavior. I just read a article where a former New York cops claims they had to arrest more people of color to get a promotion. This is sick and I'm tired of living in fear. People are going to start fighting back.

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I think me and your grandpa would have been friends. I been a type 1 diabetic since three years old. I would have said the same thing waking up and seeing two nurses. Do I get to choose. I'm pretty sure I've done that before.

I have learned over my Fifty-Eight years of life, and more specifically over the last 10 that FDR's words about fearing only fear itself ring true; to me, they do, anyway. And, at the same time, how the words of the 23rd Psalm comfort me and my abundant faith in G-d allows me to fear only fear, knowing full well that He is always with me. Growing up in a Non-Orthodox, yet Observant Jewish family nicely brings both together and not only makes me feel more protected but commands me to believe so. You see, I have lived a different kind of life, as we all have to some degree, but mine changes daily. Not that I am ANY BETTER than anyone else, in fact, probably less so... I stray from my stories often. I shouldn't, but since my Stroke in 2012, I have somehow developed some sort of ADD, so please bear with me, the end will justify the means and I will *try* to stick with my story; for you, my readers. I moved my family of the ex-wife and four children Cross-Country in 2002 to be closer to my dad who was turning 75 that year, and while I could not afford both financially as well as mentally to move back to Southern California (where he and my mother lived), I chose the Midbar (Hebrew for Desert) of Arizona. Within just a few short weeks of moving here, I woke up one day with some of the most severe abdominal pain I had ever experienced. I found a local doctor and made an appointment to see him that day. I arrived at the appointment and was ushered into an examination room by their PA (Physician's Assistant), who is supposed to be the same as a Doctor, but not really (?). I was examined and Prescriptions for a Pain Medication and an Antibiotic. They continued to treat me in a like manner for almost six months when I ended up in an Emergency Room, where a CT Scan was performed and Colonoscopy was scheduled. I was then diagnosed with a grapefruit-sized obstruction and abscess in my colon that would require surgical intervention. Surgery was scheduled for two days later, on a Friday in Mid-March 2003. I arrived at the hospital at the designated time, 5:45 am; was admitted to the hospital; told them about ALL my allergies (including a BIG ONE, an allergy to a particular anesthetic agent), and taken to a room where I was put into one of those awful gowns and told that they'd be "right back" to take me to surgery. They promptly came back at 10:30 in the morning and took me to yet another room... to wait some more. At 11:45 the Anesthesiologist came in to talk with me. He informed me that he was going to use Propofol for my induction and that he was planning on using the EXACT ANESTHESIA TO WHICH I AM ALLERGIC to maintain me through surgery! "NOT ON ME, YOU'RE NOT", I exclaimed! "I'M ALLERGIC!!!" On my wrist sat a red band that clearly said ALLERGIES: CEVOFLURAINE. I then proceeded to give him a list of anesthetic agents that I knew to be safe. He tapped me on the knee and said: Okay, Smart guy, put yourself to sleep and quickly left the room. I awoke from the anesthesia on the following Wednesday evening. In addition to the NINE small incisions from various attempts to perform the procedure of removing 18" of my diseased colon through a scope, I also had one 6" cut in my belly that began around my navel and continued to just above my groin. I also began experiencing severe shortness of breath. The staples were ripped out of my skin by the Butcher Surgeon two weeks later, but my breathing difficulties continued. After being examined by one doctor after another, I finally decided to be examined by The Mayo Clinic. Over a ten-day to 2 week period, I was examined by multiple physicians, underwent numerous tests and procedures and was finally ready for my Report Appointment. I would learn the results of all of the tests and procedures and hopefully have a clear diagnosis and prognosis. The verdict had come in. Diagnosis: Terminal COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Causation: Bacterial Pneumonia due to Malignant Hyperthermia caused by induction of Detrimental Anesthesia Prognosis: 5% chance of Five-Year Survival I then took my report to a highly regarded Pulmonologist for Follow-Up Care, but not before enrolling in Rabbinical School in New York City. I had, (since age ten) always wanted to be a Rabbi. It was now or never. On the advice of the Pulmonologist, I began taking Prednisone (a Steroid) that would open up my Bronchioles and make it easier to breathe. The normal dosage for a man who is 5'9" and weighs 150 pounds (before I got sick, I weighed 174 pounds, all muscle, by the way) is <100mg per day. My STARTING dose was 100mg THREE TIMES a DAY. the dosage was increased every few months for the following THREE YEARS, when, on Sunday, September 9, 2007, at the weight of 340 Pounds (the Steroids had been increased to 250mg Four Times a day), I collapsed and at Mayo Hospital, was intubated where my organs began failing. Two nights later, on the First Night of Rosh haShana, the Jewish New Year, and while being mechanically ventilated, I went into Full Blown Total System Failure, and suffered a Cardiac Arrest for 14 minutes, followed by a Coma of several weeks duration. During my Coma, I felt as if I was in a box. The box had four dirt walls and smelled like the Morning Dew. In the upper right corner of the box sat a red square with a white X inside of it. "If only I could click on that X, I might stop this program", I thought to myself, but I could not move; I could not stand; could not reach, and could not scream for help. I lay in this place crying out in fear for what seemed like days and weeks and months. Suddenly, my cries were replaced by Psalms. I was reciting Psalms, some of which I had never even read before! And the Psalms turned into Prayers; The Kol Nidre, chanted at the beginning of our Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; every other prayer recited on this Holy of all Holy Days; the Prayers for the Sukkot Holidays that follow the next week and the Readings for every single Torah Portion of the year. I somehow knew them all. By heart. Without hesitation of memory and obviously without any text to look at. I kept reading and chanting day and night; night and day and resting in between. Really resting. Sleeping... until one day, I opened up my eyes to see my beautiful son Zac sitting at my side on my bed. Covering the holes in my throat and on the side of my neck, I managed to spit out "C'était le rêve de dix minutes le plus étrange que j'aie jamais eu"! I told my son that was the weirdest ten-minute dream that I have ever had in FRENCH, my first language and native tongue. He then told me that it had been over two months, and I was in a Hospice Facility. The night before, I had begun to breathe on my own a minute or so after being disconnected from the machines that had sustained my organs since September. A few days later I was wheeled to an ambulance outside to be transported to the truly amazing HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Scottsdale. The sun kissed my face as I felt like I was pulled up into a body of love. It spoke. In Hebrew: Don't worry, it said. "You and I are going to be okay". I spent the next six weeks learning to do things like eating and holding a pencil; how to shower and dress. I learned how to return to life. Six weeks after leaving HealthSouth, my dad died. In July 2018, my mom joined him. I have had many trials and tribulations over these last twelve years. A Stroke in 2012 took my ability to project my voice loudly; I've been hospitalized many times and know how very precious time is. I do not live for today, rather, I live for tomorrow. I do everything I can do today to help others, and pray that I am again awakened tomorrow to do more good. And if so, great! And if not; if G-d decides to take me tonight, I will hang out with my parents and loved ones forever. I win either way. President Roosevelt was right to believe in only fearing fear. Psalm 23 is even more so, as Faith follows all of us.

Funny my mom passed in 1991 as a 13 year old it was hard but she was much more then beauty. She was a fighter from the beginning and I will never be able to explain her impact. It shows you came from a strong famiy and I'm glad you had both a mom and dad because a lot of people don't. I pray your truth can make a difference

This is trying to scare us with more misinformation then actual information but thank you for giving us your reality. I like it a lot.and people just wash your hand like you should be doing anyway 😂

Great discussion, as well as some interesting numbers which I'm not sure are meant to calm us, or install even more fear. I have many of your same concerns. Just yesterday I scheduled a work trip to Miami for late next week, but am unsure if it will happen or not. And while i say or act like i'm not concerned, sub-consciously, i am quite sure it is weighing on my mind each time i cough, or sneeze, or feel "a little warm", or if someone around me does. One of the biggest fears i have is that with all of the media coverage and the additional testing becoming available, the numbers are sure to skyrocket, and this is going to really set some people off. Our country is going to go absolutely bonkers . We are all guilty of taking limited amounts of information and either talking about it like an expert, or completely overreacting. Here's hoping that the number stat to level out, and then drop. Lets hope that the American people can follow simple suggestions. Lets hope that countries from around the world can work together to come up with a viable plan to slow this train down. And last but not least, lets hope our politicians can come together to provide our country guidance as we all try to get through this. Lets hope they can forget about the presidential race for just a minute to remember what their job really is; to serve the American people. And now is their time to really step up and lead by example.

Lauren, like you I have to balance my fear and confusion. I work directly with the public and I have an immune system that is partially suppressed as a by product of treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I fear for my Father the most as his body is much weaker than even mine. I visited the Cleveland Museum of Art on Sunday just to learn three people were positively diagnosed on Monday in Cuyahoga county. You aren't alone in that fear. I think that we must turn to hope to keep us in this trying time. We have to...

Terry, As a man who has lived and breathed baseball, your letter was an absolute joy for me to read. What young boy wouldn't want to be in the clubhouse with his Dad? During your time as manager I've been to quite a few games in Cleveland. None though were as special as July 12th 2014. That was the day I celebrated my 30th birthday. Though the day centered around my birthday it saw me doing something for someone else. It was the day I took my Father to the very first professional sports game in his 59 years of life at the time. It was so touching the certificate that he got from the wonderful folks at Guest Services. And although the home team lost to the White Sox that day, it will always remain one of the best days in my heart. Letters like yours only serve to renew my love for the game of baseball. Thanks for sharing it with the little boy still inside of me wanting to throw that 0-2 curveball to the best hitter in the league.

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Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.

Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine

You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)

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Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?

So nice Roger <3

Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain

Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.