A serious motorcycle accident leaves this man in a coma, only to wake up to a double amputation and loss of sight. 

Dennis Thompson knows he has taken a wrong turn or two in his life, the most serious one being a motorcycle accident over two decades ago. And though that moment is far in the past, it still follows him today.

The Army man had always loved riding his motorcycle and being on the open road with the wind in his face. “I’m tough,” he described himself, and maybe so; but it didn’t stop him from making a serious error of judgment that would nearly cost him his life.

“I messed up. I started drinking, trying to drink the anger away,” Dennis explained. Even worse, he drank and drove that motorcycle. When the inevitable happened and Dennis crashed his beloved bike, his life took another dramatic turn for the worse. The life-threatening motorcycle accident left him in a coma for months.

Why One Man Was Forced to Sell His Beloved Bike

man riding motorcycle on the beach during sunset
Photo by Nick Wehrli

During those long months in the hospital, Dennis’s heart stopped beating six times. His right arm and leg had to be amputated, and he needed 156 units of blood just to stay alive. It was touch and go, and even when Dennis came out of the coma alive, there was more bad news.

“I tried to turn on the lights,” Dennis remembered. But he couldn’t. Dennis had also lost his sight. It was hard not to give up. The tough man felt worthless, as if all of the things he loved to do had been taken away from him.

Blind and missing two limbs, he angrily decided to sell his motorcycle. But his brother David convinced him that he didn’t have to.

How One Project Helped a Man Look on the Bright Side

“You know your bike,” David told his brother. “You know all the things to do with a motorcycle, so why don’t we rebuild it?” Dennis had indeed been an aviation mechanic and he was skilled with his hands. David knew his brother could modify the motorcycle he loved so much to make it possible to be out on the open road again.

The project was just what Dennis needed to be able to look on the bright side again. As soon as he was able to after the motorcycle accident, he got to work. It was a labor of love that took him and his brother a few months.

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When they were done, the unique motorcycle was something to be proud of. Perhaps Dennis, despite all that he had been through, the amputations and the blindness, could get back up on that bike again.

During the months of recovery, when things were looking up for Dennis and he was hard at work on his beloved project, he met Sandy. Sandy had never driven a motorcycle, but she could see how much her soon-to-be-husband was enthralled by it. So she decided to learn.

How One Man’s Story Is a Testament to a Powerful Mind

In the meantime, Dennis and David poured hours of work and love into adapting Dennis’s old bike to his new needs. In the end, they had a two-seater motorcycle specially adapted to allow Dennis to sit in the back seat and feel the wind on his face once again. This time, it would be his wife Sandy in the driver’s seat. The two would turn the page, starting a new story on the road together.

“I use my imagination or my mind more when I’m riding,” Dennis said. It was indeed that tough mind that took him from the motorcycle accident, his lowest low, to a new high.

“Just because you crash doesn’t mean that you stop doing what you need to do or what you enjoy doing,” Dennis said metaphorically.

His story is a testament to the power of the mind: the physically tough soldier turned mentally tough survivor.