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The story of a new life

It is Tuesday and at around 2:30 in the morning my colleagues and I are putting together the back of a truck and for that, as usual, you have to move a lot of metal sheets. One in particular seemed to have my name on it and even though it might have weighed about 90 kg I went over to it and bent down as I so often did and started lifting it by myself. Why did I do it even though my colleagues told me not to? The only thing that occurs to me is that at 23 you think you’re INVINCIBLE, that if I can lift it why not do it... what can happen to me? I’m really strong and THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO OTHER PEOPLE.

You probably won’t walk again.

My life as I knew it ended there, at that moment. They give me two emergency operations practically in a row, explaining to me that the pressure generated by lifting so much weight incorrectly caused a whole load of herniated discs and fissures in some of my vertebrae. They tell me they will still have to operate a third time. After this third operation, the prognoses turn out to be correct, as the oedema has led to a spinal cord injury. The surgeon tells me, with all the delicacy I think he can muster at that moment, that I PROBABLY WON’T WALK again.

The world is falling in on me, I don’t believe it, and although I’ve always had a very open mind, I DON’T BELIEVE IT. I won’t be able to go back to work, I’ll no longer be able to ride a bicycle, I can’t ride a motorbike... My girlfriend leaves me. Another blow. What am I going to do???

The doctor explains the plan of action to me so that I can learn to look after myself, and he tells me that I will lead a normal life in the end.

The surgeon tells me about the Institut Guttmann. I think I’ve gone past it a million times, but I’ve never stopped to think about what is going on in there. He has already asked for an appointment for my first visit.

When I get to Guttmann it seems to me that those million times that I had passed by have vanished. I’ve never been to this part of the world. They usher me into the consulting room and the doctor is behind his desk; he introduces himself as Dr. Guevara and starts reading the report that has been sent to him. He tells me to go over to the examination bed and try to get onto it (get onto it???). I approach it in my chair the best I can because I’m still wearing a corset that reaches over my chest, and when I turn around, I see that the guy who will be my doctor is in a wheelchair (I think “ouch, if a doctor hasn’t healed, what chance for me”). Along with the nurse they help me stretch out on the bed, not without moans and groans and excruciating pain.

After examining me, he confirms the diagnosis and says that the inflammation still has to go down and that until then we won’t know what the definitive sequelae will be, but that I should forget about walking; I would almost say that they were his exact words. In the end I even take a liking to him for saying it like it is and for not embellishing any of his answers to my questions.

He explains the plan of action to me so that I can learn to look after myself, and he tells me that I will lead a normal life in the end. NORMAL, yeah right!!!! He even tells me I’ll get over it. And I think I’ve lost a lot to be able to get over it.

One of the things that haunted me the most was: WHO’S GOING TO LOOK AT ME, I’ll never have a girlfriend again...

The day arrived when I would begin to shape the rest of my life, at the Institut Guttmann. This first day is horrible, but a member of the team walks by, and seeing me dejected, he gives me a boost by telling me that in the end I’ll overcome this and I’ll laugh again. As the days go by, I start to think that maybe he’s right.

It’s hard work, everything is a massive effort. All that strength that I had had before disappeared and I am still wearing that huge, annoying corset. What I like most about the week’s work are the sports sessions. I don’t have the best chair, like all rookies, but I have a great time. There’s archery, swimming, athletics, handbike, handball and many more sports that I thought were off limits for people in a wheelchair and that I am realising I can do. But there is one in particular that stands out above the rest: basketball.

They discharge me and tell me that Guttmann’s basketball team, Barça, wants to try me out to sign me. Me? If that team is at the top… I go to Can Dragó, and it may sound very cheesy but when I go in I see a girl at reception who turns my head. So much so that even the friend I’m with tells me that he’s noticed. But the usual thing came back into my head: “who’s going to want to go out with me?” The try-out goes well and although they want to sign me, for various reasons I end up in the ranks of Catalonia’s second-best team, which in those days was Juventud de Badalona. I’m good at basketball and find it very fulfilling. But I still have time to practise another sport as an amateur: athletics (javelin throw, discus and weights). I became champion of Catalonia and Spain in my first year, and I still was three years later, until somebody recommend that I give it up. You can’t imagine who... Do you remember that girl who made me go gaga when I saw her? We went out for coffee just as friends, I assure you. But in the end we hit it off, became friends and then started to become much more. The Barça wheelchair basketball coach asked me to sign up and I didn’t think twice. So she told me that I had to quit athletics, and I didn’t think twice about that either. I was coming home! To Barça and, above all, to Guttmann!


I’ve done high-level sports, I’ve travelled all over Spain for six years, and the best thing, I am married to the best person in the world and she has never stopped being my friend. How wrong I was. I wasn’t useless. Not only have I managed to build a normal life, not only have I overcome my disability, but I have exceeded my own expectations. My beautiful daughter is eight years old, and many at Guttmann have known her since she was a baby. They have seen her grow and they have seen me grow.