Imagine this: You are a healthy man, full of life. One of your passions is para jumping. Today is the day that will change everything. Today is the day your parachute won’t open. Slamming into the ground with immense speed. This is what happened to Pjotr. In only a few seconds his life changed tremendously.
We all have changes in our lives but how do you deal with such drastic change?
Pjotr is now 41 years old and is living in the Netherlands. He has a very touching and inspirational story. 5 years ago he got paralyzed after jumping out of an airplane. He hit another skydiver mid-air, broke his neck and got unconscious so he couldn’t open his parachute. He slammed right into the ground. This left him paralyzed from the chest down.
“When people say he’s in a wheelchair, it makes it sounds so sad. It’s not. This is just the way I need to transport myself.”
The way he says this only proves his positive outlook on life. Shortly after the incident, he noticed that people were talking a little slower than usual and they used a higher voice. They went into pitty mode. Because he was in a wheelchair, people automatically treated him differently. He would not have it. He accepted his faith from the beginning.
During the accident, he got very lucky in a sense. After hitting the ground, he couldn’t move. Another guy landed nearby him. This guy works for the special forces in the military. Whenever there is a panic situation, they bring out Maarten to solve it. He works with panic and accidents on a
daily basis. He was the first one that got to him. A lot of people gathered around Pjotr and Maarten was telling everyone what to do.
One man he ordered to tell bad jokes. Pjotr was laying on the ground whit blood coming out of him and having a lot of pain. The bad jokes made him laugh and everyone around him started to relax a little bit. This made the time before the ambulance arrived a bit more durable. After taking a look at him, the medics knew it was a bad situation and put him to sleep. He was in a coma for over 5 weeks.
The doctors didn’t have high expectations, they didn’t think he would make it. During those 5 weeks, he had a certain level of awareness. He knew a little bit of what was going on around him. After waking up he realized that his reality looked a little different than what was actually happening. His subconscious brain changed the reality into more colorful stories in his own head.
He also had to digest the fact that his body wasn’t working like it used to. He had a spinal cord injury. His wife arranged for him to be picked up by a private jet to go back to Amsterdam. He continued treatment in a care facility and this is where it all started to sink in. After a few days, he talked with his doctor and asked him when he could walk again. His doctor told him that it would be a miracle if he ever walked again. Pjotr just took everything as it is. His overall state was definitely not sad at all. He was happy he was with his wife and friends.
Before the accident, he had about 70% of the outlook on life that he has now. He was working at a bank at that time. The politics that were going around there, made him a little bitter. “The accident made me realize I was losing myself. Thinking back, the accident itself was quite unfortunate but everything that happened after that is a blessing.”
Everyone is talking about being in the moment and being mindful. According to Pjotr, this is all BS and way too theoretical. The only way to make it practical is by getting out of your comfort zone. Extreme situations like skydiving will make you forget about the bills you didn’t pay and the chances you didn’t take. The only thing you can think about is the next few seconds.
After the accident, he felt reborn. Everything changed in a split second, and his body didn’t work like it is supposed to. You have to relearn everything. Every move is very conscious and you have to create new routines. When the doctor said it would take a miracle for his life to be normal again, he decided to work hard for that. It’s not about luck, it’s about the work you put in. His goal is not to walk again, his goal is to regain the function of half of his body. Failing that commitment will make him like anybody else and that is the last thing he wants. His driving force is “Nothing comes for free, just fuc
king do it”. Pjotr has a lot of confidence in his goals and he’s determined to make it happen.
Seeing other people who were crippled, made him realize it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It almost made it fun for him because he was seeing new things and opportunities every time. Shortly after the accident, he couldn’t even move his head but after seeing other paralyzed people getting in a car he knew it would get better. It made him look at the world with new eyes. Do what you can, instead of looking at the things you can’t do.
Pjotr always had an interest in accomplished people but after the accident, he finds them even more fascinating. The only thing that has changed is that he raised his level for other people to become fascinating. Because he’s overcome so many challenges himself. The mindset of Wim Hof is off the charts for him. According to Pjotr, he has it all figured out and he wants to get on that level himself. He has been doing the breathing exercises and he can notice the difference in his lung capacity. His wife even said he stopped snoring. That’s already a big win for him. He’s got a long road ahead of him but he is determined to get to a higher level.
Becoming a father has also changed his mindset. Little kids try to communicate with you and you have to figure out what they want. It has been a lesson in patience but you also get more creative. You can learn so much from your kids and they learn from you. This is also part of the reason he is not giving up. The legacy Pjotr wants to leave behind is that you should not give up and just do it.
I am curious about the changes you’ve had to deal with and how that affected you!
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