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A Life Worth Living

Glen House, thankful for a day of great skiing, rode the chairlift up the mountain in Park City, Utah for one last run. The only thing that would make this day better would be skiing that closed powder field, he thought.

Glen's silent wish came true when he and his college friend, Scott, rounded a turn. An "open" sign marked the field of untouched snow. "Hey Scott! The run is open now!" Nothing more was needed to make them completely forget the rigors of Pre-Med and the pressures of college life. “Let’s do it!”  Glen yelled.

Both young men pointed their skies downhill to attack the mountain. But, neither of them knew that the "open" sign was a mistake.

No one knows exactly what happened next, but when Scott found Glen, he was on his back, his head was bleeding and he was unable to move. Scott knelt beside him, held his scalp onto his skull, covered him with his coat and called for help. 

Emergency personnel arrived and transported Glen via Lifeflight to the hospital. Soon, a room full of doctors and nurses swarmed around Glen. By the time they insisted on cutting off his new ski pants, he knew something was seriously wrong.

In a matter of moments, Glen House became a quadriplegic. He went from being an active, college junior, determined to make his mark on the world, to a hospital patient who couldn’t hold a fork—a sharp contradiction to his former life.

Glen had excelled at every sport he'd competed in: gymnastics, track, football, wrestling, skiing and bodybuilding. He began skiing at age five and later competed in races around the Northwest. At home, a special wall showcased his athletic victories with trophies, ribbons, newspaper articles and medals. Glen’s identity had always been in his ability to compete and to excel.  Now what?

When Glen's sister received word that if Glen lived, he would be paralyzed from the neck down, she begged God not to let him live. Unable to imagine how her athletic brother would handle life without being able to even dress or feed himself, she wondered, "Would he want to live like that? Surely, God would not require that of Glen."

But Glen rallied and continued to dream about life as a doctor. He went through rehabilitation for just three months, returned to college and graduated only one semester late. He then went on to medical school where he was the first quadriplegic to graduate from the University of Washington’s Medical School. 

Later, Dr. House completed his residency in Houston at Baylor College of Medicine where he was chief resident his final year.  A one-year fellowship at Kessler Rehabilitation Hospital followed.  Today, Glen is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor and the Medical Director of Rehabilitation at Penrose-Saint Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  He also holds two U.S. patents.

Throughout the years since his accident sixteen years ago, Glen has continued to compete and excel.  He has gone sky diving, snowmobiling, mono skiing, and hunting. He also competed in a 5K wheelchair race and recently pushed his wheelchair to the top of Pike’s Peak in a little more than three hours. 

At one time, it looked as if Glen’s life was without value and not worth living.  Today, many people would disagree. Glen is an inspiration to his co-workers, patients and family. He has been married for nine years and he and his wife, Nikki, have a five-year-old daughter and a newborn baby girl. They too would say "In spite of paralysis, Glen's life is one worth living."

Shelly Templin, a freelance writer, lives in Kingwood, Texas with her husband and three daughters. She is active in her community and church.



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