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A second away

It was January 17th. James Julius stepped out into the road, and the next thing he woke up on the side of the street, blood everywhere. He was a second away from not being here.

Working in hospitality, James moved to Miami from New York City in 2021 to set up his own business. After six years of working for Major Food Group, James is currently setting up his restaurants and members club. Early on January 17th, James was heading to a business meeting. Whilst eating his breakfast as he paced the streets of New York City with his headphones. He turned the corner on West Broadway and crossed the middle of the road, pausing between two city bike stands at a white line. James looked right, and nothing was coming. James looked left, and that is the last he remembers. 

James Julius standing in a shirt and trousers smiling by a harbour with blue skies behind
James Julius

James woke up on the side of the road, sprawled across stairs. Blood was pouring out his head, and he had no idea what had happened. People came running over screaming, and within seconds, an ambulance and police were at the scene. James noticed an eighteen-wheeler truck pulled over talking to the police and tried to put two and two together but had zero recollection. He questioned if someone had hit him and tried to mug him. Instead, a truck had hit him.

James was rushed to the hospital and straight into the trauma unit. As time went by and the shock wore off, other parts of his body began to hurt. However, as it was the middle of winter, he wore a thick coat with extra padding in the accident. The jacket ripped through the elbow but had saved him from what could have been a broken arm. After various x-rays and CT scans on his brain, James did not alarm anyone with his news until he knew his results. He had been married for nine days at the time to his wife Talia but refused to call her until he got the all-clear so as not to worry her.

“I have been in an accident, but I am okay. I got hit by a lorry, but I do not remember anything. My CT scan is clear, but there is something wrong with my knee. Nothing has come up in the x-ray,” James explained on his call to Talia as she burst into tears. His head had been split open and was stitched together with eight staples and wrapped up. James winced in pain. He was prescribed Oxycontin, which he refused to take. Although James was in agony, he dislikes prescription drugs and did not want to go down that route.

“I was a second away from not being here.” James Julius

James boarded a flight back to Miami within 24 hours of the accident. His left knee pain gradually became more severe, and the knee became swollen. He saw an orthopaedic surgeon, had an MRI and was given a knee brace. James found out he had one of the ‘worst bone bruises’, and an injury like this can take longer to heal than a torn ACL and surgery. Finding out this was extremely difficult for James to hear as this all happened as he was starting to set up his own business. James had the staples removed from his head two weeks after the accident. The pain was excruciating, and he fainted twice.

James with his head bandaged up after the accident
James Julius

James lives his life as an active person who is crazy about health, wellness and fitness. Suddenly, it was all taken away, and everything stopped. “I am a type of person who if I don’t work out in the morning, I can have a terrible day,” explained James, “during the Covid-19 pandemic, I studied to be a physical therapist as I could not work as much at the time and it was fun. One of the reasons I undertook the PT training was to learn about recovery as I have other health issues”. At this point, James would have preferred surgery but instead began a waiting game for at least six months to heal.

“I met up with my original physical therapist, stepped in with a knee brace on and my head bandaged up, and my PT exclaimed: what happened!? I got hit by a truck, to which he stammered let’s start!” James described his first session back. James has a high level of fitness, and four months after the accident, James had already bounced back far quicker than most. “I am used to putting my body through vigorous workouts and pushing my body to the max that when it comes to pain threshold, my body was more prepared for the impact of the fall in the accident,” explains James. As he understands the value of personal training, he was willing to push through the pain and get on with it in his recovery.

“The gym is my second home. It is where I escape.” James Julius

Had James stepped into the road a split second before, things could have ended very differently. “I very well could not be here right now, but it is not worth thinking about,” states James. The accident has had an enormous effect and impact on James and how he looks at life. He understands how quickly life can be taken away from you. James took away the understanding that every decision you make in life impacts the rest of your hour, day, and the rest of your life. James was going about his day. Now questions whether: if he had taken a different street to the subway, left the hotel thirty seconds later, or not have gotten breakfast, how differently that day would have been.

James struggles when he cannot exercise and finds that his mental health is affected. It plays an immeasurable part in his life that he shares with his wife. They are both dedicated and passionate about training. James’s physical therapist cleared him recently for upper body workouts. However, rushing straight back was not on his mind for the first time in his life. At this moment, he realised how much significance the accident had. He was terrified he would injure himself more.

 “Every decision you make has an impact on the rest of your life”. James Julius

James performing a handstand at an outdoor gym
James Julius

“It has been a crazy journey. The craziest thing to of ever happened to me. Emotionally I am a very emotionless person and tend to block everything out”, describes James. However, he knows his family have been greatly affected and now has a different aspect of life. To watch their child go through that as parents, and having lost a child in the past, “it struck a nerve on how close they were to losing another child. No parent should ever have to go through losing a child”, explains James.

James constantly tells himself how lucky he is to be alive. He reminds himself of this the whole time through his recovery. James thinks he might not have fully processed the accident as he tends not to process challenging events and instead gets up and gets on with things. “I sweep things under the carpet as though they have never happened. It is how I have gone through life, and I have been alright up to now,” describes James.

For the first time in forever, James is listening to his body. He is aware that if he damages his knee further whilst in recovery, this will set him back and make his knee weaker for when he is older. Physically James is capable of exercising but mentally not ready. He struggles with this.

“Life can be taken away from you so quickly.” James Julius


James performing a strength trick by handing onto the side of a pole and lifting his body to the side
James Julius

James did not hear the oncoming truck. He believes if his headphones had not been in, he would not have had the accident. James was not even texting but simply eating his breakfast. The scariest thing for James is having zero recollection of how hard he smashed his head to what could have been five to eight minutes blacked out. He recalls waking up on the side of the road but is unaware if he got there himself or if someone helped him. “The meeting I was attending was important, and I video called my business partner, but I have no recollection of the conversation. I showed him the back of my head with blood pouring out,” James laughed.

For James, this has been the most challenging thing he has experienced. Nevertheless, he is extremely fortunate to have a fantastic wife that looked after him and an incredibly supportive family. He is extremely grateful to have a marvellous support network around him.

“Keep a positive mindset. It’s mind over matter.” James Julius

“I sat in the hospital waiting for a brain scan and thought, this could have been so much worse. I am unbelievably lucky. I remind myself of that every day,” describes James. Life can quite simply be taken away in the blink of an eye. Every step we take and every decision we make affects the rest of our life. Like James, we are so lucky to be here through all the unexpected events, experiences and twists and turns of life we all experience in our ways.

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