CURE NATION: It was football season, 2014. Anthony Sanchez was with his buddies, planning to watch the game at home. Instead, they headed out to watch the game at Boomer’s, a local watering hole. It was a minor decision, until you look back on it.
Revisiting the Moment
“My girl was 2 months pregnant,” Anthony recalls. “She usually didn’t like me to do things she couldn’t do, but this time she said it was ok to go. I grabbed my motorcycle, backpack and helmet. This was the helmet with the limo tint – it was crazy dark – but for now it was still daylight and I didn’t think we’d be out that long.”
The next few words will be familiar to those who have survived motorcycle crashes: “My cousin said he knew a shortcut. “
Many motorcycle crashes occur to inexperienced cyclists, or those who are in unknown territory. In Anthony’s case, it was both.
He continues his story, obviously one he has told many times. “They were building a new subdivision, so we were going through places I didn’t know. I was following my cousin, but a car got between us and I went faster, trying to catch up. The street made an S curve and I was supposed to turn, but I missed it. I ended up in gravel and started to lose control. Being an inexperienced driver, I squeezed the throttle and went from around 30 to 70. I should have popped a wheelie when I hit the curb, but I didn’t. I don’t remember if I went in the air, but my back folded in half as I hit the ground. I hit at T-4, right at my shoulder blades.”
As is the case in many traumas, Anthony doesn’t have clear memories of the accident, just snippets.
“My cousin said he just saw all the dust and smoke everywhere, not even any houses there, and me laid out like a snow angel. They thought I was dead, and they were going to pick me up and dump me in the truck when a car stopped, and a lady got out. She happened to be a nurse and told them not to touch me! She called 911. I just remember opening my eyes and the paramedics telling me I’d just had a severe motorcycle accident.
“Then I realized I couldn’t feel my legs. The ambulance driver said to stay calm, don’t panic as I might just be in spinal shock.
“I remember this next part clearly” Anthony states with certainty. “I remember the doctor saying he had good news and bad news.
“The good news, the doctor said, is that there is no brain injury. The bad news is that you have a T-4 burst fracture, and you may be living life from a wheelchair. You are paralyzed. I can’t tell you what you will accomplish in life, but you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than of walking again.”
Anthony looks back on that moment, recalling holding his baby’s mama while they both cried. At that early stage they swore they would make it through together and Anthony went to Baylor for 3 months of rehab.
” Once I got home reality started to strike. Some of my friends, I’m watching their videos (on the internet) and they’re all out enjoying life and no one was even saying, ‘Hey, we’ll come by.’
“Cousin Eddie, he’s my righthand man, he came to see me every day. He was the one getting married, I was supposed to be his best man. He’s the one who called my daughter’s mom. He would come over and I’d say can you get me a coke and he’d say, no get your own coke. My girlfriend, she was crippling me more than I already was by doing everything for me! You don’t really realize how much you are affecting that person’s mindset.”
Anthony acknowledges that his girl was doing the best she knew how, taking care of him.
“But it was making me feel more sorry for myself! I ate junk food; I wouldn’t cut my hair. Then I would look at myself in the mirror and I hated what I saw, so I stopped cutting my hair. And I’m a clean-cut guy!”
Like so many couples after a spinal cord injury, the relationship didn’t survive the strain.
“I got a letter from my old work, saying my short-term disability was ending and I had to go back to work. I was ready, happy to go back to my old job. Then 6 months later, I get laid off!”
After finding renewed self-esteem from working and making money, this next blow was more than Anthony could take.
“So now, not only am I paralyzed but I just lost the only job I’d ever had. I started working there when I was 18. Now I’m just home being a bum, and I have no motivation to do anything. She was like ‘Can you change the baby? And I’m like: I can’t, I’m paralyzed.’ She’s like: ‘Can you do the dishes? Me: I can’t, I’m paralyzed!’”
“6 months after that, she came to me and says I’m not happy anymore. The chair played a part in it, but I didn’t know no better. It is what it is, everything happens for a reason. I didn’t want her to feel that she had to be with me, I didn’t want her to be with me out of pity.
“She moved back with her mom, got a job and now I’m a stay at home dad. I figured it out on my own! We were both first time parents, so we were both figuring it out on our own.”
Unfortunately, it was too late to bring them back together.
“Even when we lived together, as soon as she got home, I’d go to bed. I was tired, but so was she. We’d be at home, but we were more like roommates. After she left, I had to figure it out, how to take care of myself. All I was doing was ordering Chinese food and Pizza Hut. So now I’m getting fat, not cutting my hair, feeling sorry for myself.
“One day I figured out how to get my own chair into the car. Before she left, she put the hand controls on the car. I got in – it took me more than an hour – I went to Water Burger and I sent her a picture. She said who’s driving and I said ME. She said she was proud of me. Meanwhile, I actually ate in the car cuz I didn’t know how I was going to get out!”
The pull to get back in the world began his independence. However, it was when he discovered that his ex was seeing someone else that Anthony’s real comeback began.
“Found out she was seeing someone, so I got into the gym. I cut my hair, and people were starting to say ‘Man, you looking good!’”
“My old job called me later and asked if I wanted to come back. Around this time, I started to accept that I’d be in wheelchair ‘cuz I was making good money again. Money was always the great motivator for me. This chair ain’t stopping me no more! “
Perhaps Anthony’s biggest motivation is to be a great dad. Mya Chanel Sanchez is a frequent guest on Anthony’s YouTube channel and can be tracked from birth to present day on his popular Instagram.
“I get her every other weekend now, but I could see her every day when I was working 2nd shift. It took Mya’s mom getting a boyfriend for me to really change. I just thought, if she’s moving on, why am I going to get stuck feeling sorry for myself? Now I can pay bills and take a woman out to eat!”
Dating was the next natural step, and Anthony wants everyone to know that sex is indeed possible after paralysis.
“I ordered some Viagra once I was dating this one girl and I found out I could be sexual again. It worked! That really set my confidence level up even higher, and I could see how everything builds to the next step. I feel in my heart that you have to go through these things to set you up for the next level. “
Anthony knows now that having once been really down makes him more credible to others.
“This is all new for me, letting people see that everything fell apart and I cried myself to sleep every night. I didn’t go through this for no reason, this is what God wants me to do. I’m better than I was before. Life happened for me, to make me who I am today.”
At one time his best friend got him an interview for an engineering job, even though Anthony only has a high school diploma.
“The guy asked me, can you do this, can you do that? I told him yes, cuz it was true. I can drive, I’m great on computers, if you have anyone willing to teach me and train me. If I can make it through this, I don’t think a computer program is going to stop me.
“I have seen that attitude and mindset can get you everything. My history shows that if I can do it, then you can do it. When I have my daughter with me, we don’t just stay at home and play video games. I ask her what she wants to do, and we go do it! A couple years ago I couldn’t imagine being able to do that.”
Support from friends and requests for direction led Anthony to make his own line of T-shirts with inspirational sayings.
“Shout out to Leah Holderbaum from NuMotion. She was at Baylor where I was in rehab and she supports me this whole time, with the T-shirt project, with everything.
“One of my favorite T-shirts just says: ‘If Ant Can, You Can’. If I can lose 45 pounds, what’s your excuse? If I can raise my daughter from a wheelchair, then you can. I started a men’s group, so people know that they are not alone. If Ant can, I can.
“Every day I’m getting messages from random people telling me how a simple video helped them get through something. They say, ‘You helped me be a better father.’ Well, if my struggle can help you be a better father, then that’s what I’m here for.”
Praises for Cure Medical
Leah was also instrumental in introducing Anthony to Cure Medical.
“I had multiple infections before I got with these catheters. I use the intermittent packet, and I like it! It’s very compact, I have a bag under my wheelchair so I can be sterile with the whole thing. It’s a whole kit and that’s a game changer. You can use it anywhere and I recommend it to everyone. I haven’t had any UTIs since I started with CURE!”
Anthony’s upcoming plans involve motivational speaking, continuing to sell his merchandise – perhaps at the Dallas Abilities Expo – and keeping up with his YouTube videos. And of course, being a great dad to Mya Chanel Sanchez.
“I am truly in love with who I am today and what I’m doing for people that I don’t even know. I can see what God is doing through me and it is perfect. I would never go back.”
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