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It was my birthday.

The morning of December 5, 2006, was the morning of my 26th birthday. It’s also a day that forever changed my life. Two weeks prior to that date, I had reconstructive surgery on my knee.

That morning I woke up to the sound of gunfire. The first burst of shots woke me up; I was not quite sure what was happening. The second burst, I realized that someone was shooting. I sat myself up, while my leg was still immobilized from surgery, and tried to get on the floor. Before I could get there, the third burst of shots came, and a round penetrated the wall behind me, striking me in the back. I blacked out shortly after.

When I awoke, I had no spleen, a collapsed lung, multiple tears to my intestines and a feeding tube.

Physically I have recovered as best as anyone could. Mentally, I will never fully recover. I suffer from PTSD, anxiety and depression as a result, and every year, as my birthday approaches, I am painfully reminded of the day I almost died.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.