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Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

by Seth Resler · November 22, 2012

Seth ReslerThis was a tough year. In the spring, I was the victim of a violent crime. A young woman tried to steal my iPhone, and in the process, dragged me about 300 feet with her car. I don’t remember it; I woke up in Stanford Hospital. I was hospitalized for days. I had road rash all over my face and body. I had a concussion that lasted for a month. And I suffered nerve damage, which paralyzed my left arm.

Since then, my life has been filled with doctors, police and insurance companies. Some of it played like a bad cop show on television: I had to pick my attacker out of a photo lineup. The cops showed up at my door to summon me to court. And when I went to court, I confronted the woman who inflicted this injury upon me. She stood before me in an orange jumpsuit and shackles, tearfully apologizing. I believe that she meant it, but the apology doesn’t fix the injury. So I helped send a woman to prison for two years, which, to be honest, wasn’t on my list of things to do this year. But life has a way of derailing your plans. The truth is, I could have very easily been killed as I was dragged by that car. I wasn’t. For that, I give thanks.

For most of the last fifteen years, I have lived far away from my family. It was only a year and a half ago that I moved back to the Bay Area, primarily because I wanted to be a part of the life of my nephew (and now my niece) as he grew up. My family has been incredibly supportive through my injury. If I had suffered this injury while I was on the other side of the country, I don’t know how I would have made it through. So I am incredibly thankful for everything they have done for me in my time of need.

I wear my paralyzed arm in a sling. When I go to the grocery store, people inevitably ask me what happened. When they do, I have to decide whether I want to tell them the (long) real story, or deflect the question with a witty remark (“too many pushups”). I think most people assume my arm is broken and will heal in a few short months. In fact, the nerve damage is far more serious than that. There are only 30 or so neurosurgeons in the country who specialize in this kind of injury. I am lucky that two of them happen to be at Stanford Hospital, which is only an hour away from me. For that, I give thanks.

I underwent surgery two months ago. The doctors removed several inches of nerves from the back of each calf and used these nerves to try to rewire my left bicep and deltoid. It will be months before we know if it worked. I go in for a second round of surgery next week. Every week, I also go to Stanford Hospital for physical therapy. In the seven months since my injury, I have seen gradual improvement in my left arm. It is slow – they say nerves heal at the rate of an inch a month – but it is clearly progress. My arm will never work the way it used to, but there is hope that I may one day get some use out of it. For that, I give thanks.

I am very acutely aware of the fact that, all things considered, I am in a good position to have endured this injury. If I had lived a hundred years ago, it very well might have been the end of me. I am incredibly thankful for modern medicine, and for the fact that I have access to health care. I supported universal health care before this incident, but now I am the posterboy for why it’s so important. What happened to me could happen to anyone at any time, and nobody should have to suffer unnecessarily because of it. I give thanks for government safety net programs like Disability and the California Victims Services, and I give thanks for those who fight for programs like universal health care.

I like to joke that I restarted Mystery Meet because I ran out of Breaking Bad episodes to watch on Netflix. But as I laid in bed recovering, I needed something to focus my mind, to keep it from going to dark places. I mothballed Mystery Meet after I left Boston last year, and I never expected to go back to it. But as I lay there recovering, I realized how much I missed it. I met wonderful people through Mystery Meet – Glenn, Katrin, Jacki, Michelle, Bianca, David, and Heather, just to name a few. So, armed with nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection, I set out to spread the group to other cities across the country. To my surprise, many of the people who supported Mystery Meet in the past returned to help out. And many new supporters also came on board. For that, I give thanks.

I am a radio guy. Even though I left broadcasting several years ago, it still courses through my veins. So with this new iteration of Mystery Meet, I launched a podcast and began interviewing food bloggers from Boston. Then it spread to food bloggers from other cities. And it quickly grew to include fantastic chefs and organizers of world-class food festivals. I am having an enormous amount of fun interviewing people again. It feels good to be back behind the mic. For that, I give thanks.

Perhaps the hardest part about this injury is the way it’s sapped my stamina. I simply don’t have the energy I used to, presumably because my body is healing itself. A month ago, I attended the Foodbuzz Food Blogger conference in San Francisco. It was a fantastic event – incredibly well organized, attended by wonderful people, and a lot of fun. But it also kicked my ass. Two days of trekking up to San Francisco was incredibly tough for me, even as I gulped down 5 Hour Energy Drinks. At the end of it, I was exhausted, and it took me several days to recover. I know this will get better with time, but at the moment the lack of energy is incredibly challenging.

A few months ago, I began coaching the speech and debate team at the local high school. Mystery Meet is a lot of fun for me, but sometimes you have to get out from behind the computer screen. Given the limitations imposed by my energy level, this was one of the best ways to surround myself with other people. I have been working with a group of incredibly smart and driven students, and it has been a very rewarding experience for me. For that, I give thanks.

Finally, I give thanks for all the experiences I have had. An injury like this has a way of bringing the important things into focus, and it has forced me to ask myself what I want to spend my time doing. I don’t know what the future holds in the long run, but I am shaping Mystery Meet into something that I enjoy. I am using it to build upon my skills and my strengths, as a broadcaster, as an event organizer, as an online marketer, and as an entrepreneurial innovator. In doing so, I am able to prove to myself that while my injury has sidelined me, it hasn’t taken me out of the game completely. And for that, I give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving. -Seth

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  1. Seth Resler says:

    An update: My second round of surgery was canceled because we are seeing improvement in the muscle in my shoulder. Tests confirm that it is healing on its own. One more thing to be thankful for.

  2. Jess says:

    You are my hero, Seth – a real inspiration!