Imagine this one minute you're driving home from work -- then you wake up six weeks later, on a ventilator, fighting to stay alive and being told you'll never walk again.
That was the reality for Sam Riggio, your average young lad. He loved his car, his mates and his life, but, this Mr Average was about to leave the medical world scratching its head.
A truck slammed into his car, it spun, then wrapped around a pole in a split second life stopped.
The impact dislocated his skull and first and second vertebras so that Sam's head was literally dislocated from his body -- he had spinal cord injuries at the C1 and 2 levels. Sam shattered his pelvis, broke his ankle, perforated his liver, ruptured his spleen, punctured his lung and parts of his bowel had to be removed. In all, it took five hours to stabilise him then he fought to live.
The 190-year-old was on life support for six weeks, then out of a coma, what was the life that lay ahead? "I thought many times about ending it. I just wanted to end it", Sam said.
As Sam puts it, only millimetres separate Christopher Reeves' injury and his own. But it didn't give Sam even a fraction more hope. "I'd say that 50-60% of nurses and medical staff I dealt with sometimes their silence was enough to say, "You know this isn't going to happen." Sam said.
He was on 20 to 30 tablets a day, staying in a rehabilitation hospital for over a year. When he returned home, there was still no chance of walking.
But this Mr Average took an extraordinary step inside his head. He made the decision to ditch conventional medicine, throw away the tablets and turn his back on the experts to go it alone. "I started studying weight training, natural therapy, using acupuncture to help with pain. It took months but, slowly but surely, things started to improve. I felt toxins leaving my body but I also felt my body spring to life", Sam said.
The proudest photo of Sam's young life is the one of him taking his first step with balance bars beside him. "Much to my shock and amazement my legs started moving left and right and I was taking my first steps", Sam said.
After almost seven years in a wheelchair he proved the medical experts wrong and he walked. "I couldn't feel them at all really. As I was putting my foot down it was pretty wobbly, it was a very surreal feeling", Sam said.
He attributes his astounding turnaround to dumping his medication and pursuing acupuncture, loading up on vitamins, changing his diet, massage and weight training.
No one will ever truly know the exact thing that gave him back his mobility, perhaps it was even just luck.
His GP, Dr John Pattison never thought he'd see Sam upright. "I had doubts", Dr. Pattison said.
"He's certainly a poster boy to how much you can achieve if you put your mind to it", he added.
Sam strongly believes staunch friendships also play their part in miracle recoveries. Best friend Adam Mizzi still can't believe his miracle mate survived such a smash, let alone now walks beside him. "He's changed the way I think and look at life, nothing can not be achieved, anything is possible", Adam said.
It took 12 years to take just two steps -- two steps that still puzzle the medical world. But more than two steps on, this average young bloke is never looking back.
He's written a book about his battle -- almost giving up and finding enough grit to swap his wheelchair for walking.
And to be further inspired you can read Sam's book "Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself".
To place an order, visit Sam's Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Sam-Riggio-Nothing-to-Fear-but-Fear-Itself/198198846866150
OR: The book is available at Collins Bookstore Sunbury, 03 9744 1533