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Staff Writer

SHIRLEY — Jonathan Hobbs laid in a hospital bed 10 years ago, incapacitated from a spinal cord injury and breathing through a respirator.

“You wake up, you got so many tubes coming out of you,” said Hobbs, now 35.

He had moved from Massachusetts to California right after high school so he could spend his days surfing, skateboarding and his nights going to punk rock shows.

On Aug. 13, 1998, Hobbs dove into the ocean from a cliff and hit a sandbar, injuring his spinal cord.

Hobbs remembers being depressed and frustrated, knowing he could never use his arms or legs again and that he will always be hooked into a device so he can breath.

Hobbs met another quadriplegic during his initial stay in the hospital as part of a counseling session. This man was able to move freely in his wheelchair and told Hobbs about the life he built for himself after his injury. He went out with friends, had a job and even went to the beach.

“I was like, ‘Whoa, you can have a life,’ ” Hobbs said.

Hobbs moved back to Shirley to be with his mother, Toni Callahan, and stepfather, Steve Callahan. He lives in an apartment attached to his parents’ house.

Hobbs returned to school and now helps counsel newly injured men and women facing the same issues he did.

“I had to figure it out for myself through trial and error,” Hobbs said. “I share my experiences with them,” he said.

The people Hobbs counsels constantly call him for advice and help, said Bernadette Richard, the head nurse for Hobbs.

“They all love Jonathan,” she said.

Hobbs can give them information about finding jobs and college. He helps figure out how to find nurses for care and where to get the best medical equipment.

While Hobbs works to help others, he begins his day helpless. He is stuck in bed until one of the 10 nurses who provides care for him assists him to get into a lift that will take him into the shower.

The nurses must shave him, wash him, shampoo his hair, brush and floss his teeth and then feed him

“I gotta rely on everybody for everything,” he said.

Richard schedules 10 different nurses to provide 16 hours of a care every day for Hobbs.

His mother takes charge at night, listening to the many alarms hooked to his respirator through a baby monitor.

It typically takes hours for Hobbs to get ready in the morning, from showering, to physical therapy and medications.

He keeps busy through many intellectual projects, a big change over his former life.

Hobbs does occasional consulting work for Boston University Medical Center, he volunteers at the Fort Devens Museum and now hopes to study history.

Hobbs recently earned his associates degree through Mount Wachusett Community College and discovered a love for reading and history.

“I keep my brain working,” Hobbs said. “That’s all I have.”

He can read on his own, as long as one of his nurses puts the book in a viewing stand. He can turn the pages with a device he powers by sucking and blowing through a tube.

That’s how Hobbs navigates his wheelchair, too, with a “sip and puff” air tube he can control.

Hobbs hasn’t been out in recent weeks, as his wheelchair van needs repairs. He’s waiting to see if his sister’s boyfriend can fix it.

But Hobbs does not let it get him down. One of the things he tells the people he counsels is that the injury and the circumstances will not change who you are.

“You’re still the same person, you’re still you,” Hobbs said.

Damien Fisher can be reached