“I was in the backseat of a Humvee that ran over an IED in Afghanistan. I was thrown out of the vehicle and injured my spine, and was immediately paralyzed from the chest down. One minute you’re a strong individual, and the next minute this. But every day I’ve gotten better. I’m studying finance and real estate, which makes me feel like I’ve got a purpose. My main motivation now is to set a strong example, especially to other injured veterans.”
You may have seen this post on the Humans of New York photo blog. “It was completely random,” Joshua Himan said about his appearance on the blog. He had been visiting New York firefighters that support the Wounded Warriors while finishing up his certificate course in Real Estate from NYU. “They had a formal ceremony to welcome me,” he said. “The guy from HONY saw the ceremony and asked to take pictures.”
Adapting to a spinal cord injury
Joshua, a native of northern Virginia, has been a wheelchair user since 2009. He received a Purple Heart for his service after his spinal cord injury. “I’ve been very lucky to have the support of the local community, the VA, and military non-profits,” Joshua shared. His house modifications and adapted van were all funded by donations and has made a huge difference in his recovery. He even got adapted gym equipment that gave him the ability to get back to exercising:
“I don’t know if you ever get over it. I probably still haven’t… That’s going to come with time and maturity. I try to be happy and not let it get me down.”
“Would I trade my situation for death? Definitely not.” 14 men died in his batalion during his operation in Afghanistan. He was fortunate to survive when his Humvee ran over an IED. “Think about them and their family. I get to enjoy a meal, a laugh, a hug. When I feel bad for myself, I think about them. I’m definitely very blessed to be here still and to have the abilities that I do."
The man that made all the difference
When he was first in the hospital, his saving grace came in the form of a Marine Colonel who got him thinking about his future. “When I was in the psychological stage of ‘Why didn’t I die? What do I have to give? My life is over’ a Colonel came to visit me.” That Colonel reminded him about his degree in finance and shared a program that helped Wounded Warriors transition into finance. “It’s been finance and the love of studying money that’s been my motivator in life, so I started reading my books again and I got back into it.” That has been a driving force behind his recovery.
Joshua has learned a lot in the years since. “I drive, I’m able to do work, I’m able to do a lot of the things I want to do. The only thing that I can’t do that everyone else does is walk.” There is still a lot of effort that goes into a quadriplegic’s daily routine. “What people don’t understand is what it takes for me to get dressed, get into my chair, deal wtih my blood pressure, take my pills, and everything else…Just because I’m projecting a strong attitude doesn’t mean there’s not a lot going on behind the scenes.” Adapting a life with paralysis is not without its challenges and takes a lot of effort and patience. “My mindset is always to adapt and overcome,” Joshua shared. With that in mind, the possibilities are endless.
Joshua is now seeking a job in the field of finance. “Hopefully someone will give me a job or I’ll create my own.” Joshua is working hard to break into the field. “I’m not intimidated, but the first job is the hardest to get.” We wish him all the best in his search as he follows his passion.
“Find a passion in life for something. Keep trying new activities, professions, and subjects to study until you find something you really enjoy. Once you find that passion your spinal cord injury will become secondary to your life’s purpose.”
What was your “saving grace” while you adapted to a disability? Share your story and you may be featured on AbleThrive.com!