His pain is considered as a level four, but it has become his zero. Master Sgt. Michael Christiansen lives with pain daily because of a fractured and shifted vertebrae of his lower back. That pain doesn't prevent him from representing Team Air Force in the Warrior Games.
Through the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Adaptive and Rehabilitative Sports Program Christiansen found a sense of purpose and connected with fellow wounded warriors.
“You see others fighting through their injuries and it was a long time for me to be able to accept going and doing those things,” the protocol office superintendent at Peterson AFB 21st Space Wing said. “Once I did, I realized there’s a whole new world of adaptable sports that I could get into.”
A large explosion from a rocket attack during his deployment in Kirkuk, Iraq, threw him into a Humvee. The damage from the impact continually grew worse, until his back gave out during a 2007 deployment in Balad, Iraq.
“One morning I got up out of bed to try and walk across my room to get ready and I just hit the floor,” he recalled.
“I haven’t been able to ride a bike for the longest time, so I can’t go bike riding with the kids,” Christiansen said. “The hardest part is when my six-year-old comes over to me and asks me to go jump on the trampoline and I have to tell them no.”
At the Warrior Games Christiansen is participating in archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball.
At the Warrior Games, where branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as teams from Canada, Great Britain, and Australia, compete against one another in a variety of adaptive sporting events.
“They see something in you and they drive you to be better, and when they see that you have that drive to do better, that’s when they realize that you might be what they’re looking for to move on to a competitive level in the program and compete in the Warrior Games,” Christiansen said.
The 2018 Warrior Games began June 1 and end Saturday.
“We have folks that are missing limbs, that are down on the court and competing and they’re doing better than I am," he said. "It’s their story that inspires me.
“It makes you realize you’re not alone and they’re not alone. It’s making you feel like you’re not lost anymore, that you have something to give, that you have something to compete for,” he reflected. “The mentality of security forces is that we just press on.”