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Josh and Joseph Woll (the goaltender of Toronto Maple Leafs)

Josh tells his story

On December 22, 2022, I was in a car accident where two people were killed, one of them being my Lola. The other two people in the car walked away with minor injuries. I got the unlucky hand. I was barely holding on. 

I don’t remember much. The driver of the car I was in was going 155 km an hour, blasting music. I was in the backseat. I couldn’t see what was happening. Lola tried asking her why she was driving so fast, but she wouldn’t say anything. The car than rolled over 20 some odd times. 

I was taken to the nearest hospital where I had four surgeries: my arm, my wrist, my spine, and my ribs. I broke 10 of my ribs, snapping them in 17 different spots. That was probably the worst part. I wasn’t able to breathe. I wasn’t able to talk. I wasn’t able to cough. I was in a coma for 10 days until I could breathe on my own. 

I remember this huge gap of time. It’s literally just blank. Black. There’s nothing there. 

For a while people were concerned that I wouldn’t come back to myself. But shortly after I came out of the coma I was talking and I’ve been able to recover. This is in part because we got incredibly lucky with how fast the ambulance came and how quickly they were able to operate. 

Before the accident I worked part-time at Tim Hortons. I went to the gym a lot, and I hung out with my friends. Life was normal. Everything was great. And then I was put in a position where I had no choice.


Arriving at Holland Bloorview 

I came to Holland Bloorview in February 2023. Because I’m 18, I was really lucky to come to a pediatric facility. The resources and care at Holland Bloorview are holistic, and I’m not sure I would have received the same level of personal care at an adult facility. 

The progress I’ve made is huge. In the beginning, I could only stay in my wheelchair for five minutes, but that eventually progressed to hours and now I can be in the chair all day.

Also, I couldn’t eat when I first arrived at Holland Bloorview, now I can practically do everything by myself. I can shower, get in and out of my wheelchair, get dressed – they really got me up and taught me to do everything. I’m able to reach down, when I’m in my chair, to grab things off the floor or plug things into the wall, which is really huge. 

My spinal cord injury affects my T11 and T12 vertebrae. This means I have all of my abdominals and above. So right from the start they told me I would be able to live a pretty independent life. But that was hard to believe at first. Everything was really hard and hurting me and it took a long time to get through that. 

Other kids should know that things are possible. For the longest time people told me I was making so much progress, but it took me a long time to accept that and realize that I wasn’t going to get back to where I was before. I was doing 5% of what I used to do, but I’ve learned that I’m in this situation and I can only do what I can do. 

I’ve honestly never seen strangers care so much about a person before coming to Holland Bloorview. I’ve gotten very close with all my therapists. Very quickly I could just tell that everyone here cares about their jobs.

Holland Bloorview has also set me up with some pretty cool perks. I’m a HUGE Leafs fan and I’ve had the chance to meet some players. I’ve hung out with Joseph Woll a few times. He’s a very caring person and it was pretty cool to have him here. 

Life after Holland Bloorview

When I go home I’ll be doing outpatient therapy at an adult facility. They have some different technology that I’m excited to use.

As for next year, I was able to finish high school at the hospital. So many people put pressure on me to go to school next year. Before the accident I had always dreamed of becoming a police officer and was already accepted into school for it. But what you have to understand is that for me, I’m relearning all of the basic steps of how to live my life. It won’t take me the full 18 years, but it will take some time, so I’m just trying to lay the steps down. 

A quote I’ve always lived by is “there are only two options: make progress or make excuses”. That has not been truer for me than in the last 6 months. People are capable of so much, but are always making excuses of why they can’t do it. There are no excuses, there is only what you are capable of, and with that there is so much that you can do. 

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