Reading Dave Liniger’s life story on paper almost feels like watching a highlight reel of the latest “Amazing Race” season. The RE/MAX co-founder has parachuted out of a plane, dived the deep seas, hunted big game in the African desert, and raced NASCAR racecars at 4G speeds. He even trained with a team of NASA experts before attempting to fly around the world in a technologically advanced helium balloon. With a plethora of gusto and a can-do attitude, Liniger has accomplished a lot throughout his lifetime, including founding and running RE/MAX, a company that’s responsible for significant home sales around the world. That is, until a deadly staph infection almost took him down for good.
Liniger’s new book, “My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope,” recounts his horrifying, yet hope-filled, tale of the illness that almost ended his life. In January 2012, Liniger woke up in the middle of the night paralyzed from the neck down and afflicted with excruciating pain. Having had a history of back problems, he thought his back had gone out, but in fact, something much worse was distressing his body. What turned out to be a severely life-threatening condition, doctors found a staph infection located all along his spine. Not much later, he slipped into a drug-induced coma.
“He was unconscious. He went into respiratory arrest. His blood pressure dropped. He was septic. He had cardiovascular collapse. He had to be sedated. He could not communicate. At that level of illness, kidneys start failing, livers start failing, and the lungs are failing. You don’t know the status of the brain. Everyone was just holding on, hoping for some improvement,” says Dr. Barry Molk, one of the medical professionals attending to Liniger.
In a vicious battle for his life, Liniger was bedridden for most of 2012; his infection so deadly that doctors gave him a frighteningly low 5 percent chance of survival.
In “My Next Step,” Liniger documents his struggles every step of the way. Helping tell the story are his children, wife, doctors and friends, whose voices fill in the gaps of Liniger’s terrifying comatose days. With his family by his side the entire time, he battled both physical and mental demons, including a dark period where he almost succumbed to despair after months of confinement to his hospital bed. He even attempted to slow his breathing and stop his own heart at one point. Despite these hurdles, Liniger’s resolve remained strong.
After a self-directed pep talk, he got his head back into survival mode. His guiding light was the mantra, “Just 10 steps.” Ten would become 20, and 20 would become a mile. Little by little, Liniger began the long, arduous road to recovery. He was released from the hospital in July 2012 and began his quest to walk those first 10 footsteps of the rest of his life.
Liniger co-founded RE/MAX with his wife, Gail, in 1973. Since then, it has become a global real estate franchise that has changed the face of the industry. Liniger was an advocate for the housing market at the height of the recession, pushing for governmental housing reform policies that would help speed up the housing recovery nationwide.
“My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope” is currently available courtesy of Hay House.