Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Eric.
At the time of this writing in 2014 that name is one of many popular names that parents choose out of their baby names book. But 51 years ago that name was almost unknown. I had the honor of being named after both my father and my grandfather on my mother’s side, who had come to America from Sweden. The only other Erik I knew growing up had parents that had emigrated from a Scandinavian country as well.
I was born in Illinois, had a brother a year later in Pennsylvania, and the family settled in New York shortly thereafter. Growing up I was smart, active, and probably what my parents would describe as a bit of a handful. “A bit of a handful” is my way of introducing you to my sarcastic wit and penchant for understatement. I managed my way through school with a hundred funny stories I intend to tell over time. I played football, was in a band, was very social and did well enough that I was able to continue and get a degree in Psychology, and then a Master’s degree in Social Work. I set out to save the world working at Ellis hospital. I married, moved to Arizona, and had a wonderful career moving up the ladder in the mental health area. I managed a suicide hotline, ran a crisis unit, and then moved into government work. I left government work for consulting and a return to the private sector to return to my love of counseling and helping to run a local agency. Along the way I trained in hypnotherapy, mediation, put on a conference, and served on a board of directors of a child advocacy agency.
Most of this is fairly average in terms of what a guy from Schenectady might hope to one day accomplish if given a few breaks along the way. What ended up being different for me was that my wild side caught up with me just as I was in my second semester of college. I was in a car accident and broke my neck five days before I turned 19. So the story above was filled with a few more challenges along the way. My wild ride is the story of my health and how by mostly being stubborn and having a positive attitude (and those few breaks) I have been able to enjoy a full life. Many people over time have asked me to put my story down where others would be able to come and be “inspired” by my story. I’ve always resisted because I don’t find my story all that inspirational. I’ve developed this site because explaining my health situation now has become so complicated that it’s easier to just point at a web site and say “go there.”
Lest you think this story is whitewashed tales of glory let me be up front and admit now I am no hero. You’ll find heroes in my stories when I describe how family and friends have propped me up and repeatedly saved and improved my life. I’ve made huge mistakes. My story includes a divorce. I moved back to New York as my health was going downhill and would need the support of friends and family. I went on disability, went back to work, and then went back on disability again. I have “died” several times and now deal with chronic pain and the continued loss of independence that comes with a disability and the aging process. My life consists of rotating through various hobbies to keep myself distracted from pain as much as possible while my various skill sets go frustratingly unused due to my lack of ability to work. So now I’m turning to an old love of writing to help in the distraction and share my story. I mention above that I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learned great lessons through those mistakes and perhaps I can help someone else avoid making similar mistakes.
Fair warning. I tell the truth. There is a level of detail about my health that may be too much for some people. I’ve included my entire medical history. Some might find the stories depressing. If so, skip them. This won’t be for everyone. I do promise humor along the way. I wouldn’t have made it this far without it. Nice meeting you!