IAMA am a former New York Times journalist who was strangled by a Green Beret, a Vietnam War Veteran, during an interview. Since then I’ve been in a wheel chair with limited use of my arms and legs. AMA
At the age of 26, I was interviewing him in Hawaii, while working as a freelance reporter on my way to Vietnam. I thought it was important to bring attention to the war, which was no longer on the front pages. Americans were no longer coming back in body bags. However, our dollars were still being used to fight that war. We were paying for the Vietnamese to kill each other. Someone had to tell that story.
The Green Beret had a flashback while we were talking. He thought I was a Vietcong and was going to kill him. He tried to strangle me and left me for dead. I don’t remember my attacker, I don’t remember the attack and I don’t remember stumbling out of my Waikiki hotel room, which is initially what saved my life. But I’m very stubborn, so I survived. When I woke up, I had lost a week.
As a result of that encounter, which I refer to as an accident (we are both victims of the war), I am in a wheelchair with limited use of my arms and legs. My voice is barely audible. The diagnosis is Traumatic Parkinson’s.
I have not let my disabilities stop me. I have reconstructed my life and now I am a passionate sailor, who races on the international stage. This past summer I raced in Scotland where I competed in a World Championship event. I have taught sailing at Shake-A-Leg Miami where I continue to sail almost every day. It is an accessible community-sailing center that celebrates the healing power of water. I wrote in an article once, becoming disabled is like falling into an astronomer's black hole. It can be an intensely dark, an intensely constricted, a hopeless place. Sailing expands your universe once again, brings you out of the dark and back up into the air, the sunlight, back to joy and a life worth living. TL;DR
Fire away any questions, or just fire away.
Edit: My motivation behind this IAMA is to show that no matter what people face, whatever circumstance, with a positive attitude, anything is possible. You can overcome even the highest barriers. I am not trying to slam my assailant, or attack any person serving in our military. I just wanted to tell my story. My hope is that it will help others.
Edit2: 9:38 PM (EST) I am calling it a night. I will try to address as many comments as I can over the weekend. Both my typist Jon Van Natter and I are exhausted. Thank you so much for all of your comments! Reddit, you made my day! Thanks for the front page! :)
Edit3: Again, thank you so much for the comments. Reddit is a fantastic community! If you want to see me sailing, you can click here! In addition, you can go to shakealegmiami.org to learn more about our amazing sailing organization for disabled children and adults! Remember, if you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything. -Kerry Gruson