Upon awakening from the surgery, a neurosurgeon began talking to me, saying things like, “losing use of your legs isn’t the end of the world,” and “you can still live a happy life from a wheelchair.” My Marine Corps career and my life as I knew it seemed to be gone. The surgeon explained that I had shattered my spine in multiple places. Spine surgery was needed to repair the damage but I couldn’t have the surgery until the fractured vertebrae had fully healed. A year later my spine was repaired enough to have the surgery and I underwent a 9 ½ surgery to put 12 rods, 14 screws, and 4 hooks into my spine to hold 7 vertebrae together (yes, I set off airport metal detectors).
And so ends – and begins – the remarkable story of the eight year USMC veteran Jim Halley. It was only two years into his career in the Marines, when a jump gone bad almost cost him both his career and his life. A strong wind blew another Marine underneath him, sucking the air out of his parachute. Jim dropped 120 feet – 12 stories – in 3.5 seconds. He didn’t bounce. He hit. And hit hard. But it wasn’t the end. The hardware in his spine meant that he couldn’t really damage himself doing activities. His only limit was his willingness to suffer. How willing was he to suffer? Five months after the accident, he ran a 21:27 5km. But Jim says it best himself.
To this day, I wake up every morning with pain I will never be able to describe.
Every day I take more ibuprofen than I do water. Each night I struggle to find a position comfortable for my back (after 10 years, I’ve decided there isn’t one). But most importantly, each day I train. I swim, bike, or run, I get a little stronger, a little better, and one day I will be back to where I was before. I’m not stronger or more courageous than other athletes on the race course; I was just given an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate those qualities.
You can read the whole story HERE.
JH, you are a BAMF!