Facing your fears head on can be extremely difficult, especially if the wounds are still fresh. That is exactly what Jeff White, Coordinator, ED Residency Program, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, did after his near death experience two years ago to the day, February 15, 2016, while on vacation in New York City.
White’s wife, Shellye, planned a once in a lifetime trip to NYC for him as a Valentine’s Day gift. The trip was quite memorable, just not in the way most families hope their vacation will be commemorated.
A scalper selling tickets to tour the Statue of Liberty physically assaulted White, punching him in the right temple, after he rejected purchasing the tickets. White suffered a fracture to his skull after falling unconscious to the ground, forcing him to spend two weeks at Bellevue Hospital and months of physical therapy. The physical healing process took 10 weeks before White could return to work. Robert Andersen, scalper, was later charged with felony assault.
“I had headaches, trouble with my memory, trouble with walking. With a head injury, every day it’s up and down. It’s a daily unknown. But thankfully I had a great recovery,” he said to New York Daily News.
With his faith in God and his heart set on a full recovery, White completed his 12-week physical training program in 4 short weeks, exceeding everyone’s expectations. He showed his friends and family, others in similar situations, what prayer and hard work can do.
“I have to give all my credit to healing to God and I make sure that my kids know that and see that.”
Despite his long road to recovery, White travelled back to New York with his family to experience the city and the Statue of Liberty as he initially intended and hoped.
“The experience 2 years ago was such a horrible situation, but so much good has come out of it,” claims White.
Not many would expect something positive to come out of such a traumatic experience, but White perceives it exactly that way: a gift to really live life. He’s remained positive and optimistic, holding no ill towards his attacker.
“So many expect me to be bitter towards my attacker, but I’m not,” said White. “Holding anger and vengeance toward him only holds me back. If I let anger rule me, the attacker wins. I’m winning this one…”
It was no walk in the Central Park for White and his family to revisit the scene of his tragic attack. However, the NYPD gave the White family an exclusive tour of the Statue of Liberty.
“Logic and instinct tell you not to go, declared White. My thankfulness for life brings me to the motto ‘Do Life’ even when it’s scary or hard. If you don’t do life, it will do you.”
He’s no longer afraid to do anything, having practically touched death at fingertips. White only wants to be a better person than he was before, stronger, happier, and grateful. This is an amazing feat. Many of us can’t even imagine overcoming a simple fear of heights. Meanwhile, White faced his fear head on.
“The only way to win, other than being healed completely by God, is to come out of this better and that’s the journey im on. That is how you win.”
There used to be a time when he was afraid. The pain was intense, but the support of his family, friends, and community were stronger. This support system went above and beyond.
White’s family in Texarkana created a GoFundMe page and raised enough funds to cover the costs of medical expenses he incurred from the attack, exceeding any expectation they held. Donations from people in Texarkana and the surrounding area poured in to show support.
“Literally everyone I know was, and still is, rooting for me.” he said with a smile.