My Road To Recovery
This is what I looked like August 11th, in the hospital, before 4 hours of facial reconstructive surgery. And this is what I look like exactly two months later, on October 11th.
A lot of people, including the doctors, are saying that I have healed really well. I don’t have enough of a frame of reference to agree or disagree, but I’m really happy with how I feel.
For me, the most important aspect of my recovery has undoubtedly been my mindset and the support of my friends and family. That is what I tried to convey in the video. But I’ve been doing a lot to support my body directly as well. But remember, this is just my story--I’m not recommending any of this to anyone.
The primary physical concern for me has been inflammation.
The trauma activated pro-inflammatory cytokines as part of the healing cascade, and inflammation isn’t fun to deal with. More than the physical issues with the swelling, it was the fatigue. With my white blood cell count elevated, I felt like my energy levels topped out at about 60%. So, the first thing I had to work on was my inflammation.
I tackled this in a couple different ways. Immediately upon coming home, I started a regimen of CBD. CBD has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and really assists with healing. I have been using it topically every night, and taking roughly 20mg per day orally in a tincture. I have a CBD vape that I use as well, but that’s only a minor part of my regimen.
Next, I focused on keeping my levels of Omega 3 high. Having a higher Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio is absolutely vital to reduce inflammation. Fortunately for me, Onnit has me covered there, and I have been liberally taking the Joint Oil (packed with both fish oil and curcumin) and the Krill Oil. Chia pudding has also been a major part of my nutrition too. I talk about this strategy and a lot of the subsequent info in my book Own the Day, Own Your Life.
Of course, diet is important here as well, particularly when it comes to foods high in antioxidants. I’ve been drinking more Acai, Aronia Berry, and Dragonfruit smoothies than ever before. I throw some colostrum, some of our grass-fed whey, collagen protein, and tons of healthy fats in the smoothies too.
I also had to do something about my energy levels.
I’ve been drinking a lot of caffeine and having daily nicotine (SNUS), but that isn’t real energy. That’s hormonal and neural energy. Real energy is cellular energy, and that comes from the mitochondria. So I started doing NAD+ IV therapy. It’s one of the most uncomfortable procedures in the biohacking world, it feels like you have a small horse kicking you in the nuts for the entire time the drip is going. But the rebound is incredible. Later that day, and for the next few days, my energy expanded by 20-30%. I did about 5 treatments over the course of the first month.
To further assist with the mitochondria, I added in some PQQ and Co-Q10. The success I had with these supplements in supporting my cellular energy levels has led me to put the best versions of these ingredients into a new Mitochondria formula that Onnit should release in 2019. I encourage anyone who struggles with energy levels to give those ingredients a look and check some of the research.
Next of course, was the pain.
The doctors prescribed me ibuprofen, Oxycodone, and Tramadol. Ibuprofen I am really familiar with of course (it’s Advil), and I used this as necessary when I was achy or in pain. But the problem with habitual ibuprofen is it wears out the stomach and can contribute to even further inflammation. So, I would blend in a little bit of the Oxycodone when I really needed to relieve the pain. But I don’t really like Oxy. It was a crutch when I needed it, but it makes me feel not only physically numb, but emotionally numb as well. It’s almost like it removes me from both the pain and pleasure of life. Tramadol was the best solution. It is the same active ingredient that you can find in Kratom, just concentrated and standardized into a pharmaceutical. It literally just felt like it took the weight of the pain off of my body. But the problem with Tramadol, is that I can’t sleep when I’m on it. So I used Xanax to help me sleep. As soon as the pain was manageable I switched from Tramadol to kratom, as I always prefer the natural method over the pharma if possible.
That’s a lot of drugs! So detoxing was and is still is a major priority… From everything.
I’ve started the detox with intravenous glutathione, NAC, milk thistle, burdock, and as many greens as I can drink and eat. This combined with regular sweats, both in the sauna and the bath, has helped keep me feeling pretty good. But I’m planning a week-long detox in Miami which will include a full detox from nicotine and caffeine as well.
Then there was the physical conditioning.
I wasn’t able to do much at all for the first few weeks, and I just had to accept the fact that I was going to lose a lot of muscle. I got some massages and stretched a little bit, and when I started feeling better I would put on some music and dance a little bit. But about 3 weeks in I was able to start hitting the gym again. Now 6 weeks later, I feel almost back to where I was prior to the accident. I’m even playing some basketball again now.
Finally, there is the issue of the scarring.
This is the thing I’ve been probably the least concerned about, but I’ve nonetheless been disciplined in my approach to helping my body heal. I use nightly scrubs and apply a variety of oils and lotions to the scar tissue. Sometimes it is the CBD rub, sometimes it is a lotion with turmeric and other botanicals, and sometimes it is AC-11. I put sunblock on when I’m in the sun, and that’s pretty much it. I know I’m gonna have scars, but I think my diligence has helped my body recover faster.
Injuries like this are neither a blessing or a curse. They are simply a challenge. And we live for the challenges, because those are the opportunities to show up and be an everyday hero. My body is a little weaker now, but my spirit and my mind are stronger. I’ll take that trade. I’m sharing my approach to my recovery in hopes that it will help you or someone you know suffer less if you share a similar experience. And where this write up is aimed at helping the physical, the video is my best attempt to share my mindset; that this did not disfigure me, but helped transform me. And we always have this choice; to glance backward wishing hopelessly for a different reality, or look forward to a future where we use resistance as assistance.
Transcript of the Video
Around noon on August 11th, inexplicably I fell asleep at the wheel of my car, and crashed into a guard rail. I woke up in the hospital. The following is a transcript of my story: The first thing I remember is being in the hospital gurney, and a nurse had my phone. And she asked me who I wanted to contact. And I didn’t know exactly what happened, but I could sense that I got in a pretty bad car wreck. And I knew my face was numb and bloody. And I gave her the code to unlock my phone, and I told her to call Whitney Miller, my fiancé. And I remember Whitney being on the phone, and I told her I was okay and that I was sorry. But I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t remember the wreck. I didn’t remember veering off the road and hitting that guard rail, having it cut through my car and slice my face and cut me open. I didn’t remember getting taken in the ambulance. I didn’t remember any of that.
I just remembered that morning, a morning that was like any other. A Saturday, about a month ago, just going through the day like I always do. I had a nice smoothie for breakfast. I had a good shower. I did some Wim Hof breathing in a cold shower, and I was preparing to do a podcast with one of my favorite musical superstars, a guy named Nahko Bear. I was coming to the office and I was excited, and then I woke up in the hospital.
And there’s some theories about some things that might have happened, but nothing makes a lot of sense. I didn’t go out the night before, I had a good night of sleep, and something happened about two minutes away from my house where I lost consciousness and went off the road.
But the funny thing is when I was in that hospital, and even though I could express that I was sorry to Whitney because she would have to take care of me and I would no longer be the provider and the man that I had been previously. But she would have to take care of me because I was wounded.
But I had this sense that it happened for me and not to me. Yeah, it’s totally, completely random. There’s no reason, ostensibly, for me to have driven off the road. There’s no cause and effect that I can find, but I just had that feeling. And it was an overwhelming feeling; it was an undoubtable feeling that for some reason this accident happened for me, not to me. I just didn’t know why yet.
And then, as the weeks went on, I started to understand why. I started to understand that when you can’t breathe out of your nose and you can’t feel your face and you can’t kiss your loved one and you can’t taste your food anymore, you start to remember what’s really important and realize that all these things that we think are the most important things in the world... Our career, our success, our business, our relationship, all these things. Yeah, they’re great. That’s important, but you know what’s more important? Breathing air, tasting food, being able to kiss and talk, being out of pain, being able to sleep. That’s really what’s most important about life. And when you have that, well you’ve kind of got it made. And if you don’t have some of that, well, whatever you do have, that’s great too.
And not only did I learn that from this accident, I also learned what it really means to be loved, because i’ve always been such an active provider, caring for people’s emotions, providing entertainment, providing value, doing something to make myself worthy of love from another person, even my fiancé. I’m always doing, so that I feel that the love I receive is justified based on what I’m doing. It makes me worthy! Well, I couldn’t do anything, and what I found was that everybody loved me just the same, maybe even more. And I wasn’t doing anything.
So that love story was real. That it wasn’t me doing something and receiving favor in return. It was actual love. People love me, I learned that. And then as time goes on, I learn patience, I still can’t taste all my food, I still can’t feel parts of my face, I’m still not well. So you learn patience. You learn that the body is slow. You learn that even when you learn the lessons, there are more lessons to learn. Learn how to push on when I don’t have enough energy, when I feel tired and I feel weak and I feel broken. I learn how to find my own validation for who I am based on something else, based on something intangible, based on something that’s so deep and so unique and innate and undying about me that that’s what makes me who I am. It’s not the fact that I can smile a charismatic smile, ‘cause I can’t do that anymore. I can smile with my eyes or my heart. So you learn like what’s really most important about you.
And it’s not what other people are able to do. I had the luxury of having people around me who still love me through this process and still made me feel like I was the superhero that maybe I thought I was. But as those people have gone on their own journeys and done their own thing, I have to find that inwardly. I have to know who I am. Beyond the superficial appearances, beyond what I’m capable of doing in the gym, beyond the output I’m able to provide my business or my work. I have to know that the breather, the thinker, the lover, that’s enough. That’s who I am, and that’s what’s worthy of love. And if it takes an accident like this where steel splits my face in two and I may never be the same again, that’s okay. That’s a blessing. That’s a cheap lesson.
When I was well enough to get out of my house and out of the hospital and out seeing the doctors and the specialists and the dentists, a lot of them kept telling me, “Don’t worry! We’ll be able to get you back to the way you were. And there’s plenty of reference footage and reference photos and we’ll get you back just the way you were.”
And I appreciated them saying that, but I don’t need to be exactly the way I was... That was the old me. I love that version of myself, but I can love this new version of myself just as much. There’s no need to be the same person that I was back then that I am now because I’m not the same person. I’ve been changed by this accident. And it’s okay to visibly express what that change looks like. So whoever I’m becoming, is the new me... Just as whoever I've become inside, is also the new me.
You know, I was given a choice whether I was going to be disfigured or transformed. And we all have that choice when something bad happens. Is this going to be a curse or is this a blessing? You choose.
I choose blessing. And so I’m grateful, even in the hard times, even in the difficult times, I’m still grateful, because it’s an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to grow, and an opportunity to be a little bit better. So I choose transformed. And I hope none of this ever happens to you, but if it does, because it does to everybody, I hope you can make the same choice as well.