He was on a mission in one of the most hostile areas on the planet, in Southern Afghanistan; a place also known as “The Devils Playground”. He knew something wasn’t quite right. He blamed himself for the death of the enemy. He questioned his decisions of leadership that placed him in the wrong spot at the wrong time.
Timothy Payne was about to go through a ‘life transformation’ that was both dramatic and purposeful at the same time.
In a flash, an instant; a moment in time he will never forget, a hidden improvised explosive device (IED) flashed beneath him – changing his life forever.
As he describes it, “I was walking, looking at the ground and it went off, it was the biggest like red, white and debris flying at me like thousands of miles per hour… my left leg blew up like a firecracker, and my right leg was gone right below the shin, and I’m laying there looking at my arm blown wide-open… trying to figure out, like how bad am I?”
He wouldn’t know the answer to that question for a couple of weeks, until the moment he awoke from a coma. Timothy Payne had lost both his legs and severely injured his left hand. 120 surgeries and 100 blood transfusions. He spent 1½ years recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center.
“I made a deal with God to spare me instead of killing me for killing the bad guys,” Payne said. “Why don’t you just take my legs instead of taking my life? And the next day, I got blown up, died and came back. Now, I’m just trying to stay motivated and be an inspiration to other soldiers.”
The Next Leap Forward
The battle was not over. In fact, it was just beginning.
He wanted to die. He even tried to self-induce a heart attack with Adderall.
“I was suffering from depression. I was suicidal. I had all these different issues and kept it all to myself,” Payne said.
“My road to recovery began the first day I started swimming
I was getting in shape. My cardiovascular activity skyrocketed
Healing with Inspiration (Swimming, Wheel Chair Marathons, Discus)
1st year of recovery started in pool
Only me and the water. You get lost in your thoughts.
5 Laps, 10, 15, 20 and now 100 laps
It is just me and the pool
Now it is me, God and the pool
I must do this to be the best example to my soldiers
My team can’t see me fail
I had to work the body first then the mind and spirit
It has been the most amazing journey that I couldn’t have imagined”
Tim Payne wins gold at Invictus Games swimming