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Making the Choice to Heal

After suffering a tragic accident while vacationing in Florida, Mike Sackey was faced with a choice that would direct the trajectory of his future.

Mike Sackey, a white man with brown hair in his power wheelchair wearing a dark sweater and smiling for the camera. On the wall behind him is one of his paintings with a black background and many large cream-colored pine cones.
Mike at his home in front of one of his paintings.

As a successful event planner in the corporate world, Mike used his aptitude for exceptional creativity, repairing furniture, and managing a warehouse. His beautiful flower arrangements were a designer’s masterpiece, sought out by his many customers. He also played in a band, pushing himself to live a life filled with activity and accomplishment. Except that Mike didn’t feel like he was living in the moment.

Then, in 2020, as with so many, Mike’s business closed related to the pandemic. What happened next became the catalyst that propelled Mike into a major life change.

Visiting in Florida with family and friends, Mike experienced a profound accident while body surfing, causing a bruised spinal cord and head trauma. Though he has no memory of the incident, the trauma of spending six months in a rehabilitation center forced a changed trajectory in his life. Surrounded by love and support from family and friends, Mike proceeded on the journey presented to him.

Mike credits medical professionals from both Florida and Michigan for facilitating his ongoing progress in health and function. However, Mike realized that his future would depend in large part on his mentality. He set out to create a healing environment, intentionally staying away from any negativity.

A painting on a white canvas that reads, "One of Mike's paintings. It reads, "I am realistic. I expect miracles." in red with vertical and horizontal paint smudged lines in various shades of brown and gold.
One of Mike's paintings. It reads, "I am realistic. I expect miracles."

“Healing Doesn’t Just Happen Naturally”

This realization came to Mike quickly as he faced returning to his previous life. As a part of his desire to accept his new life, Mike began a journey to focus on living with a spiritual purpose and started to join related coaching sessions on Zoom. A specific coaching class provided by Alan Cohen became a staple for him. This spiritual teacher has a passion for passing along healing wisdom and skills and has written a book, “A Course in Miracles Made Easy.” His “daily dose of reality” that Mike participated in became a foundation for him to build a life of regular meditation and expressing his intentions through daily affirmations. His favorites include “I am that I am” and “I am healthy.” Mike states that he speaks to the Holy Spirit, proclaims his healing, and actively tries to live toward wholeness. Instead of asking, “Why me?” Mike has chosen to be grateful for all that he has in his life. And this has proven to be a seat to many miracles.

Six months after the accident, Mike and his wife, in conjunction with his daughter and her family, made the decision to all move in together. Living with his extended family, including his grandchildren, has facilitated an environment of mutual support and love. He and his wife, Nora, help their daughter’s young family with daily life, while they help Mike by providing a spacious, safe, accessible home. Spending both quality and quantity time with his grandchildren is a key to his hopeful future.

The progression of physical skills and improved motor functioning has been significant for Mike. Currently, he transfers independently, walks short distances with a walker, and uses a wheelchair for his many community trips. Recently, he acquired a portable power chair which improves his independence from others for long-distance mobility. Prior to the accident, Mike was right-hand dominant. Since his right side is affected to a greater degree than the left, he now effectively uses his left, previously non-dominant hand. He is competent with basic self-care and is also able to produce a signature. Working steadily, Mike continues to have success as a painter, having been provided with an adaptive device by a program at the University of Detroit Mercy. He has maintained his ability to work as a florist and play the drums. Nora states that she wanted to see him paint again, believing it would bring him peace. In her heart, she knew how much he wanted to be independent. She feels that he is gifted as a storyteller, observing the positive effect he has when sharing stories with his grandchildren. Although writing is not an interest for him, embracing his skill in storytelling has brought him joy.

An adaptive easel mounted on a desk with a multi-direction swivel. A painting with a blue background and dark red flower is held onto the easel by magnets.
An adaptive easel custom-made for Mike by the Faces on Design program at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Reconnecting With the Desire for Intrinsic Value

Mike now knows that his previous life did not include living in the present, but that he was always striving for accomplishment. Today, his definition of success has changed and is mostly focused on others. He values his family and friends above all else. Mike expresses how it feels to see the sadness in the face of others when they react to his circumstances. This has helped him find his intrinsic need to serve others and become energized by social interactions.

A painting of a man wearing blue jeans and a light blue blazer. It is mounted on a wooden ladder and features four guitar necks attached horizontally to the ladder, with two on each side.
Another one of Mike's artistic creations.

When trauma enters one’s life, it can bring about a required adjustment in future hopes and dreams. Mike has embraced this, identifying his ongoing need for intrinsic value and acceptance. In order to continue to make a difference, seeking out new strategies is required. Mike has demonstrated to himself, his family, and close friends that his new slower pace is needed to forge his future paths. He states there is a “fine line you walk between hope and acceptance.” By all measures, he has learned to navigate that fine line in his new life!

Resources Mentioned in This Story

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