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  • Jeff Eben - The How Many Wins Guy

Rehab, The Road to Recovery; The Fishman Cometh (part 5)

Being lost at life is a trip. The realization the wheels have come flying off and you have no idea or, scarier yet, desire to fix it leaves you buck-naked lost. I didn't have the emotional maturity to find any sense of myself in these early days, but I didn't have to. Miraculously, 2 men came into this journey who saw good things for me that I couldn't see for myself. The wild part of it was they wouldn't leave my side until I was able to see a future that had me in it. It was as if these 2 had conspired a plan that would result in me leaving the hospital believing that I could beat disability. It was a crazy notion, but it was about to become truth. And it started with trying to reconnect with who I was BEFORE my head met that boulder at full speed. A southern gentleman by the name of Gary Sells came to the hospital to visit, and he hung out for the duration of my stay. He actually showed up in the scary, early days when I was barking at the moon. Mr. Sells was on a mission, though, and wasn't intimidated by my ugliness.

By introduction, Gary Sells was a Health teacher at our school. I was in his class at the time of my injury, but I had known him for awhile. Gary taught my brother a couple years earlier and was pretty involved with students in Campus Life and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Mostly, though, I remember him being one of the funniest guys on the planet and we had a constant back and forth that was a blast. For no intelligible reason, my brother and I called him the Fishman. Unbeknownst to me, he accepted the job as my hospital teacher (for which he refused pay). His job was to try to keep me up on my school work, but he did way more than that. He would come at different times of the day or night and experience different aspects of the journey. Gary would help with feeding me during meals, learned the processes of daily living like going to the bathroom, and even attended (including misbehaving) some of my group sessions put on by the rehab social worker . We did school work too, but he had enough vision to know when it was time to put the pencil away and allow me to share my deepest emotions. Mr. Sells was an exceptional listener and managed to offer supportive advice. As the weeks rolled by, his magic came to light. I wasn't just keeping up on work, I was reclaiming my role as a student. I was securing my ability to return to school and graduate with my friends. Those sessions would always be a little school work and a lot of Human Relatin' as we called it. Those sessions became a catalyst for the setting and accomplishing of my first goal; I wanted to go back to school and graduate with my friends. Those sessions ended every night with Mr. Sells pulling out his guitar and he and I singing John Denver tunes. As corny as it sounds, it was the only time during those months where, even for a few minutes, I forgot where I was.

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