Today's guest blog is from Paradox Sports athlete Tommy Carrol, who discusses his amputation and his life as an amputee and with a severe traumatic brain injury. We are partnering with Paradox Sports and the Wounded Warrior Project this weekend in North Conway, New Hampshire. Tommy is also a veteran, having served in the Army from 1985-1987. Tommy is a tremendous example of courage, drive and determination! The ice climbing photo is from Claudia Lopez.
Paradox: A seemingly self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true; a situation or person that demonstrates the above.
My name is Thomas J. Carroll and on January 18th I will be 46. Over 20 years ago on a beautiful summer day in northeast PA my life changed forever. I rode my Kawasaki motorcycle to a Blue grass concert that afternoon. I play hard and live life the same way and when I left the show I was late to pick up a friend. The band was playing at a lake with a two-lane road around it, and since I was late already and riding hard I went around a turn and deiced to pass a slower car in my lane. As I passed I realized too late that was a hard left coming up, and that was the last thing I remember.
I woke up in the hospital with grave injuries: a broken cervical spine, a shattered left forearm, a large portion of my left femur destroyed, left hip dislocated, left knee shattered, and the left ankle and ball of my foot badly broken. When I cam out of the coma I had no idea where or who I was or for that matter who anyone around me was. To this day I still have a closed head injury and TBI. I tried to keep my left leg but the ball of the foot would not heal.
They gave me options on where to amputate and before the accident I had just purchased a new Ford Ranger truck that had a clutch. My left knee would not bend to operate the clutch and I did not have feeling or control over it. The doctors informed me that I could get a whole new leg with a knee so I told them to take to take it off, just so I could push the clutch in on my new truck back home. It was a tough decision and I had practical concerns.
The head injury and amputation brought a large degree of disorientation. I did not know why or what was going on for a very long time. I did not know who I was and even to this day I have a lot of trouble remembering what I did a yesterday. It’s a constant battle that I deal with and accept. That being said, the battles are endless and daunting. I battle with my self worth constantly as a result of my physical disabilities and my TBI / closed head injury. The continual questions of what for and why hammer my mind and I try to answer them as best I can.
I am a Prosthetist, I design artificial limbs, and I moved to Colorado in 2004 for a job. I moved to CO because it felt more than just home, it felt like family, like I was more whole here than anywhere else. It helped me fill the void in my life. One day a roommate came home and told me that he’d just met some people that were going climbing in support of people recovering and dealing with Ovarian Cancer. The incredible part was that one of the climbers only had one arm, (Pete Davis, a Paradox Sports athlete.) Pete told my roommate that they were climbing in Eldorado Canyon State Park outside of Boulder, CO and that everyone that was climbing was “DISABLED”, one way or another, and they were all involved. I had to see how this was done.
I went and watched the next day and again my life was changed forever. Since that incredible connection I have felt more alive than ever before. I knew there were people who push their limits every day but I wasn’t one of them. I was not part of that group or lucky enough to know them. I now know that one of the biggest gifts of life is CHANGE, it always happens and if you walk around with your eyes closed you will miss the opportunities that are around you. There are people and groups who want to help and grow. Paradox Sports is the one that has changed my life.
In turn I get to live a special life filled with the people I now help. I assist others get to open their eyes and see the gifts that abound in this one life. I respect my disabilities and those of others and due to Paradox Sports my definition of that word no longer has me down and depressed but on the contrary has me climbing upwards to the sky. And after each successful endeavor I contemplate and anticipate the next EPIC Adventure that life has to offer. Consider joining Paradox Sports to learn more and to help people obtain their personal greatness. Rebirth can happen at any moment, you just need to be open to the experience. It is as much about being vulnerable as it is courageous. Help us make it real for the next person; you just might know them.
Adversity: A state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty or adverse fortune
We at Paradox believe that this is actually where fun begins!