Ten years after his spinal cord injury, Joe Guglielmi, AKA Joe “Gu”, stays busy doing what he loves. He plays in a hard rock band, spends time with his girlfriend, promotes accessible products and motivates other rollers to pursue their passions. But, he had to weather some storms to get to where he his now, and he knows you can too. Below, Joe shares his story for the Cure Nation!
Joe Gu’s Honest Take on His Spinal Cord Injury
Joe Gu has always loved music and began playing seriously in high school. Just over ten years ago, he was a member of an AC/DC tribute band and partying like a true rock star.
One late night after a show, Joe recalls, “It was a long night and I had been drinking – not really probably making the best choices. But, I was at this point in my life, where I knew I had to start making better choices. So, instead of driving home, I decided to stay in a hotel with my bandmates.”Unfortunately, Joe didn’t sleep much before he woke up not feeling so great. He decided to just head home, although, in retrospect, he realizes he probably should have slept the night off a little more. “I must have fallen back asleep or blacked out or something and my car went off the road,” Joe explains. “I guess I was ejected from my car, I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. I was found 50 feet from my car.”
“I have no memory of the accident or what happened, I just know I woke up in an ICU and started puzzle-piecing memories back together to figure out why I was was there and what happened.”
Even a decade later, Joe is thankful that no one else was injured in the accident. He shares, “It ended up really hurting me, but luckily, not anybody else. Making those bad choices for myself resulted in my injury.”
Joe Survives His Darkest Days
Joe spent a couple months in ICU, then went to rehab once he was able to get health insurance. He wasn’t just dealing with the spinal cord injury, either. He was recovering from so many other injuries, including a punctured lung, broken ribs and more. And, although he had a T-3 SCI, he mysteriously had a completely paralyzed diaphragm, which meant he was on a ventilator.One of the biggest shocks, though, was when Joe finally realized that at least some of his condition was likely permanent. “I had not been told that I had been injured in such a way that it would be permanent. After I had one of the surgeries, I assumed I was going to walk again. When they told me I wouldn’t, I went into this four-month spiral. It was a dark time.”
Joe says he finally stopped listening to the voice in his head and started listening to the positive encouragement of all his family and friends, things started to turn around.
They convinced him that he had what it took to survive what he was facing. “Slowly,” he remembers, “I started seeing small improvements. I went from a power chair to finally using a manual wheelchair. I got off of the ventilator after seven months.”
Music is Therapy for Joe Gu
After getting out of rehab, Joe went to live with his parents, who, by some miracle, already had a wheelchair accessible home. It didn’t take Joe long after getting settled to jump back into his first love – music. He reached out to friends and found people ready and willing to play with him. Joe admits, though, being worried about connecting with music again after his SCI.
“There was a time in the hospital where I didn’t think I would have the ability to play, or that no one would want to play with me – but I was totally wrong about that.”
When Joe did pick up his guitar again, he found that it was the same sweet escape it always had been. “I always wanted to play my guitar,” Joe shares. “It was like therapy for me after my injury – a safe haven for me in my own mind.”
About five years ago, Joe started another AC/DC tribute band called Done Dirt Cheap.
He says things are different this time around, as “we’re doing it right and going strong. We play about once a month, just enough to keep these classics fresh for our audience.”
“We’ve played charities, too, including an annual hospice fundraiser for the past five years.”
Joe Gu’s Advice for a Good Life: Gratitude and Confidence
Joe believes a key piece to being able to do what he loves is being grateful to the people that make it all possible, like his bandmates and girlfriend. He says he never takes their support for granted, such as carrying his band gear, and realizes they he couldn’t do it without them.
Confidence is also important. Joe advises that when you’re on stage or pursuing your passion, don’t be afraid to be noticed.
In fact, he says, “that’s kind of the point, anyway, when you’re an entertainer or performer. When you’re on stage playing, the audience gets to see you for who you are and respect your talents, regardless of the wheelchair.”
Joe Gu Promotes Accessible Boats at the Abilities Expo
Joe Gu was introduced to the Abilities Expo community by a friend and fellow rolling musician, George Flores. After getting to know some folks, he was referred to a company that was looking for someone to demonstrate an accessible boat. They connected and Joe began demonstrating the boats in Chicago and Boston at Abilities Expos.
Alucat boats come with ramp access and are designed with a catamaran hull for an extremely stable ride. Learn More!
According to Joe, the Alucat boats are available in two sizes and are great options for people with mobility challenges. As a water lover, he’s excited about the possibility of better access to the water for people who roll. Alucat is out of based in Finland, with sales offices in Florida.
Why Joe Gu Loves Cure Closed Systems
Joe says, “I love Cure products, especially when I am doing my nightly routine including bowel programs. The Cure Catheter Closed System works great and I’m a big fan.”
If you want to try one like Joe did, feel free to request a complimentary sample below!
To request free samples of the new Cure Medical® Closed System or any Cure Medical® catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
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