“It’s mid September 2019 and the end of another solid week of work and work-outs. As I type my thoughts, I sip on a fruit and vegetable smoothie. I like to drink most of my calories because it’s easier for my body to absorb nutrients, and helps to reduce uncomfortable IBD caused by my spinal cord injury.” (Mayo Clinic definition of spinal cord injury)
“My name is Aaron Baker and I’m a recovering quadriplegic. I preface the term quadriplegic with “recovering” because to me, the term implies learning and improving myself. Even still, after twenty years post-injury, my body continues to either progress or regress, depending upon how much time and attention I give it. From the onset of this condition, I have rebuilt my life with “health” as my first priority. With this approach, I have learned a way to manage and control this injury, rather than to have the injury control me. I can tell you with 100% certainty, that if I stop exercising my muscles, fueling myself with quality foods, and resting both my mind and body, all the health and functional gains I have been able to achieve will regress quickly, and land me back into a state of full body paralysis…and I will suffer the long, painful list of secondary complications that follow a disabling condition.
“I have to willfully make my body move. It is a conscious act of intention and focus. I workout 2-4 times per week and use a wide variety of techniques, bikes, trikes and different assistive devices like: a cane, a manual wheelchair and a motorized scooter to manage my overall time, energy and risk. By doing so, I am able to remain in motion without overexerting, overtraining and/or burning myself out psychologically with the immense mental effort it takes me to complete even the most simple tasks. The bottom line is…Move!
Life is kinetic, everything is in motion, the human body is made of moving parts and is designed to move. So if you can’t move standing up, move sitting down. If you can’t move sitting down, move lying down, and if you can’t move at all. Then think about movement, and channel your energetic thoughts through your body, visualizing movement.”
“I am often asked; “how long did it take to regain motor and sensory control of your body”? For me, that question is difficult to answer because of the variable “time”. This type of injury is very subjective and has no clear path of recovery, and becomes a way of living, rather than a phase or chapter in life.
I have discovered, that my continued, overall improvement and better quality of life is based on my consistency and discipline to cultivate all things kinetic. I use “goal setting” as a way to work for incremental gains along my path towards short-term, long-term and ultimate goals in my life.
This injury has had a profound effect on my life and shapes the way I perceive and value each moment. A ventilator machine and respiratory failure, forced me to recognize the gift of a simple, life giving breath. And my once completely paralyzed body, taught me to celebrate the tiniest twitch of a single toe. The motion of contracting muscles, has been an opportunity, for me to hug those that I love most, and today, allows me to pursue once thought impossible goals – like pedaling a bicycle across the United States (twice), walking across Death Valley, California, and racing down mountainsides atop a custom recumbent cycle.”
“The fact is, is that the process is the progress and it’s all relative. For me to stay positive and moving forward, I employ these five fundamentals: Awareness, Gratitude, Action, Nature and Nurture…continuously.
I take a deep breath of Boost Oxygen at the beginning of each day with a gratitude mantra: ‘Grateful for my body, my family and all that is. I am alive and well with the ability to empower another with my service. My greatest gift is time and love, and through this great adversity, I have learned to not just survive, but THRIVE!”
Thank you for taking the time to share your story Aaron – you are an inspiration!
After seeing some Instagram posts by Aaron with a bottle of Boost in-hand, we reached out. Asking how he came to have Boost with him, he replied: “Ever since my walk across Death Valley, I’ve been needing a literal boost in my training. I found the bottle and it works. Won’t go without it.”
In 1999 Aaron Baker broke his neck in a motocross accident, leaving him completely paralyzed from the neck down. Despite doctor’s grim prognosis over the next 16 years Aaron decided not to listen to those who said ‘he had a million-to-one odds of ever feeding himself again’ and instead endeavored to regain as much mobility as possible. This journey through the unknown took him from the depths of depression to the joys of cross country road tripping via tandem bicycle with his mother and friends, and finally, culminated in his opening a socially conscious low cost gym focused on increasing mobility for the disabled. Now in Coming To My Senses we watch as Aaron takes one final journey which symbolizes his recovery: to cross a 20 mile tract of Death Valley unsupported on foot. But will he make it?