Written by Daniel Bax
Almost ten years ago I woke up paralyzed and now I cycle 60-80 kilometers per week in training for my bicycle ride across Canada. This is how I healed myself and my life.
The year was 2005, feeling invincible I decided to take a motorcycle out for a test ride. When I was out on the country roads, my ego took the handlebars. My ego rode me face first into the back of a van at 140 kilometers per hour. The impact partially severed my head, launching me 30 feet over the streetlights and equally as far down the road. I landed on my face, fracturing my neck, back and bleeding profusely. Emergency medical personnel scraped me off the ground, and rushed me to nearest hospital. From there, I was airlifted to a trauma unit hospital, and underwent ten surgeries in fourteen hours.
The doctors informed my family that I would never walk again, talk again, eat solid foods, move my left side, and, most likely, never remember anything in my past including family. Over the course of fourteen hours of surgery I endured three severe strokes and four massive heart attacks due to the head injury. In medical terms, I was Glasgow coma scale 3 (it doesn’t get any lower than that!).
It was in this moment that I realized the power of “the state of mind”. My brilliant mama had the idea to play Anthony Robbins’ CD continuously while I lay there in my hospital bed. I absorbed his empowering words like a sponge, since my mind was empty of anything else. I was inspired by Anthony Robbins’ mantra “I can, I will, I must, make a difference”. I repeated this every single day with the intention of making a difference in my personal well-being and in the world of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
Using this newfound mentality, I spent hours focusing on moving my left big toe. Then one day my toe responded with a wiggle! As if having traumatized lungs wasn’t hard enough, this took my breath away! This is when I realized that ANYTHING is possible with power of your mind. I finally understood how Helen Keller did it.
When looking at the “impossible” that I was diagnosed with, I had a new point of view with a different spelling–“I’m POSSIBLE!”
I became obsessed with overcoming the challenges I was facing. Within the year, after the success of wiggling my toe, I went on to the movement of my foot, leg then rest of my left side. After that, nothing could stop me!
It was in my first rehab facility that one of my care takers asked me:
“What is your goal, Mr. Bax, while you are here?”
My response “I will leave walking in one year”. His response was one of disbelief, “No, really, Mr. Bax, what is your goal?”
I repeated my goal. I did not know how I was going to do it, I just knew that I would!
I moved from rehab to rehab and the doctors and care takers were simply amazed with my progress. Once I discovered that I could move again, I didn’t stop moving! Every opportunity to move was a moment of celebration, and I love to party!
In seven months, I walked out of that rehab facility and straight into the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario (NRIO). It was in my second rehab placement at NRIO when I began to realize that if I wanted to do something I needed to begin taking action right away in my life! NRIO has a garage on the property that could use some organization. I chose this as my challenge that I would take on to advance my healing. After receiving permission to work on the garage space, I spent every spare hour cleaning, organizing and creating a functional space. This project took half of a month to complete. When I was done, the staff members were simply amazed at the transformation. Even the Chief Executive Officer and founder of NRIO, Rolf Gainer, congratulated me on a job well done.
Now ten years later, I am taking on the challenge to cycle across my great home country of Canada from coast to coast. I look forward to providing you with updates and stories about my healing and my everyday journey of continuous growth! Check back here for my blog series about my bicycle ride!
When anyone asks me how I did it? I answer that I remained dedicated to my vision and focused on what needed to be done to achieve my goals. What still runs through my head is “I can, I will, I must make a difference!”