Tim Medvetz woke up and looked around. The last thing he remembered was being told he would probably have his foot cut off.
The previous day, Medvetz, then part of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, was hit by a truck on his motorcycle.
Medvetz needed eight surgeries to save his foot. He had two metal plates and 20 screws used on his cracked skull. He endured a nine-hour surgery as doctors put a titanium cage in his shattered back, plates and screws repaired his knee and more surgery fused a finger.
He was left partially paralyzed and not expected to walk again or fully recover.
When Medvetz woke up on the morning of September 11, 2001, his injuries may have been the second most surprising aspect of his life. Medvetz was more concerned with hospital officials showing a lack of attention to his shredded body.
"I'm looking around thinking, 'I'm in a safe place. I'm alive. I'm in a hospital,'" Medvetz remembers. "There are all these doctors and nurses in a room. I'm trying to get their attention and everyone's looking up."
Someone explained the commotion to Medvetz. Three airplanes crashed into the two World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. Another plane crash-landed in Stonycreek Township, Pa.
"Everyone's starting at the TV. I look up. Boom, the towers are coming down," he says. "Everyone remembers where you were that morning. I'll never forget it."
Within 24 hours, Tim Medvetz's body broke and his country was attacked. No one would have blamed him for giving up on life.
No one except Medvetz. He was in no place to roll over and let time pass. In September 2002, one year after his horrific accident, Medvetz set a goal: He would climb Mount Everest.
In spring 2006, he made his first attempt in a climb covered on the Discovery Channel's "Everest: Beyond the Limit." He failed due to a lack of oxygen 300 feet from the summit.
Of course, Medvetz did not give up. In May 2007, Medvetz topped the world's tallest peak, also documented by "Everest: Beyond the Limit."
The rush of the journey incentivized Medvetz to continue climbing. At the same time, he committed to helping those similar to him.
Medvetz made his focus wounded United States Military veterans. In the summer of 2009, he trekked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with double-leg amputee veteran Neil Duncan. He followed with a trip atop Mount Elbrus in Russia with leg-amputee veteran Keith Deutsch.
As Medvetz reached the summit of Elbrus with Deutsch, he was inspired to take yet another step.
"I took those last 50 steps to the summit and had this moment for the first time in my climbing career where my last thought was about getting to the summit and taking that photo with my arms up," he says. "Watching [Deutsch] take the last 50 steps, it was such a powerful moment. I thought, 'I have to keep doing this.'"
In the fall of 2009, Medvetz founded The Heroes Project. Medvetz's non-profit organization raises funds for him to climb the world's highest mountains with wounded veterans. The founding came eight years after Medvetz was broken in a hospital as his nation was attacked.
The Heroes Project connects two parties: Medvetz, the injured motorcyclist, and the soldiers who went to war after 9/11.
In the past four and a half years, Medvetz has taken soldiers all over the world in all sorts of altitudes. He has taken wounded veterans to Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, Mount Vision in Antarctica, Mount Denali in Alaska and Mount Kilimanjaro again.
"I tell these guys, here's the deal," Medvetz says. "I had injuries. I had almost every bone in my body broken. My injuries have no comparison to you guys being in war. But I can relate to you about getting your life back."
In the latest endeavor of The Heroes Project, Medvetz plans a return to Mount Everest.
Medvetz will make the journey with USMC Sgt. Charlie Linville (below). On January 20, 2011, during an IED Sweep in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Linville was blasted into the air by a tertiary explosive device. Linville landed in the blast crater and suffered severe injuries to his right foot and hand.
Early last summer, Linville had surgery to amputate his right foot below the knee. The day before the surgery, he met Tim Medvetz.
"I told him when you're ready, when you get out of the hospital and back on your foot, give me a call. We'll climb a mountain," Medvetz says. "He went into surgery the next morning at 6 a.m. My phone rang at about 11:30 a.m. and it was Charlie. On morphine, just after getting his leg amputated, he said 'I just want you to know I'm your guy.'"
Two months later, Medvetz and Linville started training. On March 27, the duo will begin their 60-day journey up and down Mount Everest.
Although Linville was not originally intended to be Medvetz's Everest mate, Medvetz was impressed by Linville's grit in training. He will need all the support he can get, as Medvetz himself failed his first trip to the top of Everest.
On a lighter note, more than a decade after his initial accident, Medvetz has a TV show. On March 3, Going Wild will debut on Nat Geo WILD.
In the three-part series, Medvetz takes average Americans on outdoor adventures (chump change to Medvetz but challenges to most Americans). Medvetz could not care what sort of occupational stresses or commitments his pupils have. He kidnaps them and gives 'em hell.
"Remember that movie Old School when they pull up in the black van? That's like me, but I'm on a motorcycle," Medvetz says.
Medvetz is naturally intimidating on a motorcycle, and his ability to get back on a motorcycle after nearly losing his life on one shows his mental toughness.
Medvetz's journeys on the program include tests at Mount St. Helens in Washington, the Owyhee Canyon on the Oregon-Nevada-Idaho border and the Moab Desert in Utah. He yanks people out of what he calls "their mediocre lives" and brings them into his dojo.
Medvetz then breaks them, only to build them back up again.
"People don't put themselves through the whole test. People don't know what they're capable of," he says.
Medvetz, who says he is happiest when he is at a place where his cell phone does not work, enjoys watching the individuals on "Going Wild" reach their potential. He watches them find their abilities through outrageous stunts.
It is an unexpected opportunity for a once-partially paralyzed outdoorsman.
"I don't have a headshot. I don't take acting classes. I have no desire to be on TV. It just kind of came across my desk," Medvetz says.
The past 12 and a half years have been a hike for Tim Medvetz, but the experiences have been unique. Medvetz had an adventurous life before his accident as part of Hells Angels, but this is minuscule compared to his post-injuries experiences.
Asked if he could have seen himself interviewing for a national publication before the debut of his television show and a trip atop Mount Everest, Medvetz said: "That'd be a big no."
Medvetz, once a body on life support, is now a reality TV star and elite mountaineer. His body will never be perfect again, but he has sucked all he has been able to out of it.
Medvetz does not want to be put on a pedestal.
"I'm just one proud American doing my part," he says.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.