Pablo Aguilar

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My name is Pablo Aguilar Jr., here Is my story. January 31, 1988, was the day the Washington Redskins played the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Redskins won the game, and Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to be named Most Valuable Player. But it was no super day for me. This was the day my doctor told me I was never going to walk again or breathe on my own. After dropping off my younger brother at work, I headed to my own job. As I drove to work, my arms and legs started feeling heavy and became numb. I managed to park my car and yell for help. After a couple of minutes, the ambulance showed up. After they put me in the ambulance, I quit breathing and passed out. I was told that a rare virus called Transverse Myelitis had caused swelling to the spinal cord and left me as a c2-c3 incomplete quadriplegic. I stayed in the hospital for 15 months and didn¹t come off the breathing machine. I felt like all my dreams and goals had died. I was very mad at the world. I was only 19 years old and just when I thought my time had come, it seemed like it was all over. I was mad at God because I couldn¹t believe that he would allow me to get paralyzed while there were murderers, rapists and child molesters walking around. I could cope without the use of my legs, but why did he allow the virus to damage my spinal cord so badly that I could not use my arms, my legs and my breathing? I wanted to die. I was so mad about my injury that nobody wanted to be around me. I was always complaining and talking negatively about everything. If someone said,” It sure is a great day," I would say, "How could it be a great day if I am paralyzed?" I just sat in my room all day and watched TV. I didn¹t really have anything to look forward to in my life. It was not until I went into the rehabilitation center that I started to look at things in a different way. That is where I met my best friend Rex, who is a paraplegic, which means he has the full use of his arms. They put him in my room because he was also having problems coming to terms with his injury. They thought it would help him if he saw someone else with a worse situation. When we first met, I remember being a little jealous of his having the use of his arms. One day I got to the physical therapy room early and saw a couple of kids in wheelchairs. Some had head injuries while others were amputees or cancer patients. I saw them with their mothers, brothers and sisters trying to play with them after they were through with their treatment. That is when I realized that I was not cheated out of life. These kids were the ones who were cheated out of life. At least I had a normal childhood growing up with my brothers. I got to work, date girls, drive a car and even got arrested, but that is another story. I then saw an older lady who was a stroke victim crying and yelling about how she couldn¹t do anything more for her family. That is when I started thinking that she was even luckier than she thinks. At least her prognosis was good, she was going to get a lot of her movement back. That is when I realized that things can always be worse. I did not graduate from high school, but I did get my GED and pass the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP) test required in the community colleges. I am the oldest of five brothers and also the first person in my family to attend college. So far I have earned an Associate Degree in Art and Science. I was the president of the Phoenix Club at Richland Community College in Dallas. This is a club for people with disabilities. Before I became president, the club was not active. Within a month of becoming president, I helped recruit many members, and organized club events and monthly fund-raisers. My club also was instrumental in establishing the Michael D. Pierce Memorial Short-Term Loan Fund. I am one of 10 students nominated by Richland College for inclusion in the 1997 edition of Who¹s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges. The quadriplegic injury that I have makes things in my life very challenging. I have learned to adjust my life to living with a disability. I have learned to look at the bright side of things instead of the negative things in life. I also feel that by having a disability I have learned to accept the things I cannot change and focus on the things I can. I have now been paralyzed for 22 years. It has been really hard accepting the fact that I am never going to walk again, but with each year that goes by, it gets easier to accept. With the help, love and support of my family and friends I have adjusted. I also now know that dreams don¹t die, they only change. I have now graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. I have a Bachelor Degree in English and Psychology. I graduated in May, 2001 and plan to go on to graduate school and get a Master¹s Degree in Psychology. I want to be a Rehab Counselor because, I think by having a disability a lot of people would be comfortable around me. If they start to whine and complain or say their life is over, I will be there to say that it’s not over until you say it¹s over. Look at me, I went back to school and didn¹t let it slow me down. I will tell them all the advantages and disadvantages of being disabled. I will tell them about the best seats we receive at concerts and sporting events, the great parking spaces we get to park in and how the majority of people are willing to assist me when I need help. In my 11 years of being paralyzed, I have only had two people tell me no when I asked for help. I didn¹t take it personally because, I figure they were really having a bad day. I will tell them it won¹t be easy at first, but the moment that they have accepted their injury or paralyses, it starts to get easier and more fun. What I hope you learn from me is that you should not let little things get you depressed or upset because, things can always be worse. Instead, you should concentrate on solutions to your problems. Figure out how you can make them better instead of letting your problems ruin your day or interfere with the activities you have planned. Never take it out on your family and friends. Live for the moment and make the most out of what you have. Life is too short to be wasting it on being upset over things that are not in your favor. When I found out I was going to be paralyzed, I asked God to let me die, but there isn¹t a day that goes by that I don¹t thank him for not answering my prayers. I have accomplished many things in my life and plan to accomplish even more. I try to live life to the very fullest, because winners never quit and quitters never win. I feel that the day you quit living is the day you start dying.