“In the very end, I lost everything because of my addiction. I think it’s easy to fall into very bad habits after someone acquires a disability, if you don’t engage and get the support you need. That’s exactly why I do peer support.”
CLINT COOKS STORY
In 1988, Clint Cook was just a couple years out of high school when he survived a spinal cord injury. After a fun night out, he and a friend got carried away racing home in brand new muscle cars and Clint had a terrible accident.
His car flipped end-over-end, ejecting him from the vehicle and eventually landing on top of him.
For more than 15 minutes, Clint was pinned against the vehicle’s engine as he waited for the emergency crew to arrive.Clint’s accident resulted in a cervical spinal cord injury and severe burns on his back. He was transported immediately to a small, local hospital, where he stayed in ICU until he was well enough to travel to Shepherd Center for rehab.
Clint spent four months in rehab at Shepherd and another year doing daily outpatient rehab.
CLINT COOK EMBRACES LIFE AFTER SCI
A few months into rehab, Clint was so busy with therapy that he hadn’t really thought ahead as to what he would do when he was discharged. He recalls, “One afternoon, I’m laying in rehab at Shepherd and this little old lady in a wheelchair rolls in and says she wants to talk to me about going to college. I thought, ‘Why? I’m a house painter and that’s what I’ll do when I leave.’
“She explained that that career might not work for me anymore. I realized she was right, so I took her up on the offer and explored going to college.”
“As soon as I got out of rehab,” Clint continues, “I started college, and got a degree in music business. Not long after graduation, I got a phone call from the biggest radio station in Atlanta and I thought I’d won a contest or something. It turns out they had spoken to my college counselor who said I would be perfect for a job they had. They asked me to come in for an interview and I got the job. So, I worked in radio broadcasting from ’91 until ’93, when I was introduced to the medical supplies field.”
Clint Cook found his calling when he discovered the medical supplies industry.
He shares, “I started with a small medical supply company in ’93 and I was with that company until ’96. Then, a few friends and I started our own catheter company.
I did that for another 13 years and retired from that company in 2009. Now, I’m back in the urological industry with one of my former partners, and we opened a catheter company First Source Catheters in 2017.”
CLINT COOK BELIEVES IN THE POWER OF PEER SUPPORT
Over the years, Clint has continued to stay active at Shepherd Center as a peer supporter and mentor for others with SCI. He facilitates weekly meetings and works with folks around Georgia to create local peer support groups in their area.
He believes it’s important to share experiences and be there to show others what’s possible.
For example, Clint recently joined a group from Shepherd Center at the Atlanta airport to demonstrate some of his best adaptive travel hacks. They covered everything from parking, to riding the airport train to avoiding big crowds.
In 2018, Clint decided to start a private Facebook group to reach and connect more people with SCI. He says, “I’m just amazed how the community comes together online and helps each other on any topic imaginable. I absolutely fell in love with way the community interacts.”
IF YOU HAVE A SPINAL CORD INJURY AND WOULD LIKE TO REQUEST TO JOIN THE SPINAL CORD INJURY USA GROUP, CLICK HERE.
Peer support isn’t just helpful for coping with an SCI or other disability, but it can also help individuals deal with common struggles that impact all walks of life, such as addiction.
For Clint, that struggle was alcohol.
He explains, “I’ve been in recovery since 2009 and have used the 12-step program.”
Clint remembers blaming his disability when he was struggling the most in feeling that no one else understood how difficult it was to be in his position. But, in recovery, he learned that wasn’t the case. “It was just an excuse,” Clint shares. “It wasn’t my disability that was the problem, it was me.”