How I Almost Ended My Own Life…

I pride myself on working harder and smarter than anyone I know. Unfortunately, blind and furious determination has put me in some tricky and sometimes painful situations. This post was written a while back but I decided not to put it up because it was still a very personal event for me. I was put into a position that had me weaker and more vulnerable than ever before. The rearview is always clearer than the windshield though so after a few edits and new insights, I wanted to share what happened in January of 2013 that forever changed who I am.

Most people look forward to Friday night for five days after their hangover wears off. I consider myself lucky to do what I love every day of the week and so sometimes my Friday nights are the antithesis of partying – a trip to Blue Mountain to snowboard and escape the club scene, watching the Raptors swish hoops (or attempt to) for a few hours down at the Air Canada Center, or in the case of January 18th, 2013, pick-up basketball with some friends.

In the grand scheme of things, this was the healthiest and best choice I had made on a Friday night for weeks. Everyone knows December is insane with tons of birthdays (my own included), followed by endless Christmas parties and then New Year’s, so a few weeks to get my sh*t together was definitely in order. I didn’t take a break from any of it until this faithful Friday when I finally drove up to the gym for some hoops.

Nobody likes playing in an old gym but there is something to be said for the rustic smell acquired through 40 years of pick-up sports in one room. This ball court was inside of an old church and had a doorway across one baseline that led to a kitchen where the players went to get water between games. Everyone filtered into the facility around 7pm as we only had until 10pm before they shut it down.

It took a few games to get back the stroke but before long, we were racking up points and owning the floor. By 9:30, we had won a few games in a row and it was almost time to call it a night. Sitting on the sidelines while the other teams ran the court, I could feel the beads of sweat dripping down my forehead, just about to roll into my eyes. That’s always the sign of a good workout and in combination with a knee to the calf earlier, usually a sign to throw the towel in.

Lo and behold, 9:45 comes around and they want one more game. Reluctantly, I hop out on the court, never short on determination but notoriously short on strategy. After picking up a few points in the opening minutes, the game gets a little scattered and people stop trying. Off a quick rebound on our net, I began to sprint up court to receive an outlet pass for a fast break bucket. It’s worth noting at this point that I was racing full speed towards the baseline where there was a concrete wall 5 feet behind the line, which had the door leading into the kitchen.

With the pass landing 10 feet in front, I turn up the speed and can basically catch it and go up for the layup without dribbling. As I grabbed the ball, the only defence even close decides that since he cannot catch up and play anything resembling defence, he would take the cheap route and trip me from behind. Without anything to grab onto, I hurtle through the air with the ball towards the concrete wall and the door to the kitchen, which is submerged in the wall with a metal door frame around it. I turtled in the air to protect my face and head so my back smashed into the wall. My head bounced off the metal door, leaving a nice dent, and my spinal cord wrapped around the metal door frame. I wanted that lay-up, that 2 points. My determination wouldn’t let me say “F*#k it, it’s only pick-up basketball bro.” That was the fast-break that almost ended my life as I know it.

neckbrace

Next thing I know, I woke-up surrounded by the players in the gym asking me if I am ok, can I hear them, do I know where I am? Everything was spinning and my head was thumping, but there was something else wrong. I couldn’t move my arms or legs and even worse, had a tingling sensation across my entire body. “What the f*$k is going on? This can’t be happening.” Mumbling something along the lines of “Don’t touch me,” I couldn’t prove to them I would be ok and they had to help me to the sidelines where I regained movement in my limbs again but the tingling did not stop. It was now almost 10pm and the sound of ten basketballs dribbling around the gym at the end of the session sounded like shotgun blasts to my concussed brain. As I stared up at the ceiling of the gym, all I could think of was “I need to get the f#$k out of here.”

As I stumbled out the door, a few people asked if I would be ok to leave by myself but the last thing I was trying to hear was from the person and his team who put me in this situation. I hopped into my car and decided I would drive myself home, tingling finger tips and toes and all.

Driving down the DVP (a notoriously busy highway in Toronto), all of the oncoming traffic headlights were spinning in circles. It was identical to the birds people see in cartoons floating around their head when they get knocked out. I couldn’t think straight and missed my exit so I called a few friends to try and keep someone on the line with me. On a busy Friday night, most calls go to voicemail and this was no different. I finally got my mom on the phone at her work and instead of telling her what happened, I tried to make conversation. Very quickly she asked if I was OK and when I asked why, she mentioned I had just told her the same story twice in a row. I ended the conversation as quickly as it started and pulled into my parking lot.

Getting onto the elevator, I saw my roommate who immediately asked if I was doing OK. He hadn’t heard about the incident but said I didn’t look good and asked if I wanted him to drive me to the hospital. Being the stubborn human being I am, I refused and said I was tired; just needed a shower and I would be fine. Wrong move.

The shower was the most challenging thing I had ever done. I was having bursts of tingling across all my limbs which crippled my ability to move or use my hands or balance. I gave up and called a friend who insisted we go to the hospital.

After waiting around Sunnybrook with a bunch of people coughing up malaria, bleeding profusely on each other and so forth, they took me to another area for examination. I don’t remember too much but apparently I was making jokes and downplaying the whole event like it was nothing. They took me to get MRI’s, X-Ray’s and finally, slapped a neck brace on me at 5am.

The doctor told me I was lucky to be breathing, walking and talking, let alone making jokes. When I wrapped my neck around the metal door frame, I impacted between my C5 and C6 vertebrae. It only takes about 25 pounds to crack one of these and any fractures will leave you with quadriplegia, whereas beneath C7 you can be “lucky” enough to suffer just paraplegia. Somehow I had the luck to hit with 175 punds right between the two on a soft spot of tissue which would be bruised for months afterwards, narrowly escaping paralysis. The immediate paralysis I suffered when I wokeup, concussed on the gym floor, was the result of my nervous system effectively “shorting out.” The bursts of tingling were called “burners” and would continue for a few weeks afterwards. The concussion was bad but I had no internal bleeding in my skull, just bruises along my neck, back, hands, elbows and knees.

My orders were strict – go home, sleep as much as I can everyday, wear sunglasses 24/7, don’t read, don’t look at computer screens or cell phones (so far – they told me to just live like a rapper), don’t watch TV, don’t listen to music, don’t have sex with girls, don’t have sex with yourself (their words, not mine), don’t raise your heartbeat even a little, don’t lift weights, don’t talk loud and especially do not drink or do drugs. They told me it would be months before I could even begin to think of integrating these things back into my life.

It has been over 6 months since January 18th and the effects still swirl around me today. Not being able to concentrate or remember things, constant headaches, the inability to do most athletics (have to keep it super light in the gym still), painful acupuncture sessions and most frustratingly, a general confusion about whether or not these symptoms are going to disappear. I have been back in the studio pumping out new material and despite the doctor’s orders, I was bopping along to music within a few days of the injury, albeit at a much quieter level.

All things considered, I walk around today with a different state of mind. Not only was I lucky enough to graze the edge of quadriplegia and drive home but I was lucky enough to inherit a new outlook on everyday life. Einstein once said,“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” After almost losing everything I have worked my entire life for over 2 points and a pickup basketball win, I can tell you right now that every single day is a blessing.

Every time I step into the booth to record a track, every chance I get to spend time with family, friends and fans, every day when I wake up and can move my arms, legs, toes and fingers, I know now that it all could have been gone. #AP3 just dropped but #AP4 is already on the way. Dreamchase with me because it can and will ALL change when you least expect it.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 22nd, 2013 at 8:11 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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