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How a man from a Christian Military Family Ditched School and turned to Drugs which FOREVER Changed His Life | Wesley Salway


In today's blog, I'm excited to introduce Wesley Salway, who has an incredible story of overcoming adversity. Wesley, who was raised in a Christian military family in the Midwest, became paralyzed at the age of 33 due to complications from drug use. Our conversation dives into his journey from facing severe challenges to finding new purpose and strength.


A Glimpse into Wesley's Early Life

Wesley was born in Chicago and raised in various states due to his stepfather's military career. His upbringing was deeply rooted in strong family values and a Christian faith. Despite the challenges of moving frequently and the impact of his biological father's alcoholism, Wesley had a fulfilling childhood. He shared fond memories of playing basketball, a sport he was passionate about from a young age.

The Turning Point: High School and Beyond

Wesley's life took a significant turn during his high school years. Despite having a stable and loving family, he struggled academically and eventually dropped out during his junior year. He later enrolled in Job Corps, where he trained in facilities maintenance and eventually enlisted in the Navy. However, his path took another detour when he began using drugs at the age of 22.

The Descent into Addiction

Wesley's introduction to drugs started with marijuana and later escalated to cocaine and heroin. This period of his life was marked by instability and a growing dependence on substances. Despite periods of sobriety, he found himself repeatedly drawn back into addiction.

The Day That Changed Everything

On June 7, 2017, Wesley's life changed dramatically. After experiencing excruciating pain for several days, he decided to drive to the hospital. En route, his body began to shut down, and within minutes, he was fully paralyzed from the neck down. The cause was an abscess in his spinal cord, exacerbated by his drug use.

The Road to Recovery and Rediscovery

Wesley's initial prognosis was grim. He spent weeks in the ICU on a ventilator, unable to move or breathe on his own. But slowly, he began to regain some movement in his arms. Despite the severe limitations, he found ways to adapt, using his left hand and voice-to-text technology to communicate and stay connected.

Battling Depression and Finding New Purpose

The first two years after his paralysis were the hardest. Wesley faced a profound identity crisis, struggling to reconcile his new reality with his former self. During this time, he attempted suicide multiple times, overwhelmed by the loss of his physical abilities and the impact on his sense of self.

However, through his faith and the support of his family, Wesley began to find a new purpose. He realized that his story could inspire others facing similar challenges. Today, he advocates for mental health awareness and the importance of seeking help, sharing his journey to help others navigate their own struggles.

Returning Home After Paralysis

After experiencing paralysis and being released from the hospital in Seattle, Wesley moved back home to live with his parents. This transition marked the beginning of a challenging yet transformative journey. "I'm very grateful for them," Wesley reflects, acknowledging the significant sacrifices his parents made to support him during this difficult time.

Struggles and Suicide Attempts

The two years following his return home were particularly tumultuous. Wesley continued to struggle with his circumstances, making poor choices and attempting suicide multiple times. His oldest niece, who found him on two separate occasions after his attempts, witnessed firsthand the severity of his struggles. One especially harrowing incident involved Wesley stabbing himself in the stomach with a 10-inch kitchen knife, resulting in severe internal injuries, including a lacerated liver, damaged kidney, pancreas, and a completely severed artery. Wesley lost two and a half quarts of blood by the time he reached the emergency room. "If I didn't believe in God then, I sure did now," Wesley says, reflecting on his miraculous recovery. Astonishingly, after just nine days in the hospital, Wesley was well enough to return home.

Emotional Toll on Family

Despite this miraculous recovery, the emotional toll on his family was immense. Wesley's niece was deeply traumatized by discovering him after his suicide attempts. Six months later, after another period of struggle, his parents decided they could no longer care for him at home. Wesley moved into a nursing home and later transitioned between several adult family homes over the next year and a half.

A Difficult Time in Nursing Homes

During this period, Wesley experienced significant hardships and abuses, which are, unfortunately, common in such facilities. The fear and isolation he felt only deepened his longing for home and family. Eventually, he asked his parents if he could return home. To his immense relief and gratitude, they agreed.

A New Beginning at Home

Wesley’s return home marked a pivotal point in his journey. "I came back a completely different person," he recalls. The time away had given him a new perspective and a renewed commitment to change. He credits his transformation to his faith and the support of his family. "Every suicide attempt made the reality of being paralyzed more real," Wesley shares. "I told God to guide my footsteps and give my family and me reconciliation."

Sacrifices and Support from Family

Back home, Wesley's parents made further sacrifices to accommodate his needs. They moved into a toy hauler trailer, modifying the back portion to serve as a fully functional living space for Wesley. This space included all necessary medical equipment, making it easier for his parents to care for him.


Wesley’s journey from paralysis to finding purpose is a powerful testament to resilience, faith, and the unwavering support of family. His story serves as an inspiration for anyone facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, reminding us that with determination and support, it is possible to overcome adversity and find new meaning in life.

Moving Forward with Hope

Wesley's story is a testament to the power of resilience and the human spirit. Despite facing unimaginable challenges, he has found a way to redefine his life and inspire others. His journey reminds us that even in the darkest times, there is always hope for a better future.

For more inspiring stories like Wesley's, be sure to subscribe to the "You're Blank, What Now?" podcast. And if you found his story as moving as I did, please share this episode and blog post with your friends and family.

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