Change is not always easy


Since this TBI I have had to alter my life in ways that are both good and bad in my opinion. Some were very easy changes since it really didn’t make a difference in the way a lived my life from day to day. Others were things that I didn’t want to come to terms with.

On the easy side I had to make sure that I did not drink more than a couple of beers at a time. I am not much of a drinker to start with. A case of beer put in refrigerator today will still have a few in there 6 months from now. Since there were seizures involved with my accident and I have been placed on seizure medication, the doctor wanted to be sure that I did what was best for me. It turns out that alcohol will lower the seizure threshold of a person. That was a very easy change.

Another change that I really didn’t have much of an issue with is amusement park rides. Since the crystals in my ear are not back to normal, riding those type of rides is not a real smart thing to do. We don’t go to many amusement parks so that was ok with me too.

Some of the more difficult ones are things that I was accustomed to in my life prior to the accident. Something that would seem so simple to most people is now something that I have to take precaution in and think through before doing. Changing a light bulb on the stairwell when I need to use a step ladder is now dangerous because of the positional vertigo. Coaching softball as I have done for over 10 years is now something that I have not gone back yet too just in case I get hit with a ball. Cleaning the down spouts on the porch while on the ladder or siting on the porch roof I can not do without using extra care. If it was up to my wife I would never do any of these again so I always wait till she is at work.

Strobe lights is something that I have to be careful around. They  lower the seizure threshold and can cause a seizure. I absolutely love Halloween and going to a haunted house I have to be careful. Usually I just lower my head and get through the room that is flashing. The down side to that is that I miss the scare that is in the room.

These things are very small in the grand scheme of life bu they change the way that you have to live it.

Change is not always easy but in My Fall to Life if that is the price that is to be paid, I can adapt and make the best out of it.

My second and largest test so far when it comes to my job


On my last post I talked about a families reaction to a critical injury. Some of that will play into this post, but in a way that a family worries all of the time when their husband or father is in a potentially hazardous occupation. The worries are just compounded because of the injury that has happened, and it doesn’t get easier as time goes on. For example, my accident was on a Friday and my second admission was on a Friday. For about 10 months or so every Friday my wife wold call me a couple of times a day just to make sure that I was ok. It sounds weird but maybe it is a coping mechanism or just a good feeling kind of thing.

This test was going to come in the way of a major structure fire in the downtown business district in the city. When I say city, the business district consists of about 4 blocks but has some very old and nice buildings. The tallest of these buildings is in the heart of the downtown business district and it is called the Liberty Building. The call came in as an automatic fire alarm. there were two of us on duty plus the Fire Chief which is the normal manpower during the day. My partner and I went out the door in the first due Engine and the chief stayed behind and told me to let him know if we needed anything. It wasn’t long until I knew that we would need help and lots of it. I called for a general alarm which means I called all of our off duty guys in to work. We had smoke coming from the fifth floor near the rear of the building. Because there is not a water source for us to hook up to on all levels of the building. I went up to the fifth floor with a fire extinguisher to see if I could slow it down until I had some help arrive. Trust me when I say fire extinguisher is not the weapon of choice when it comes to this type of fire, but it was my option at the time. I knocked the fire down and thought that i had made a pretty good hit on it. I relayed that information to my driver and asked him to send up additional units when they became available. What I didn’t know at the time because of the heavy smoke conditions is that there was another wall that ran the length of the building that was holding the rest of the fire in. I had made my 3rd trip up the stairs when the cavalry arrived and brought the hose lines and thermal imager up to the fire floor. the 3 man crew made up of me and 2 others made our way towards the fire. Smoke conditions were to the floor and the heat was about as much as we could do before we would have backed out. There were pieces of the ceiling falling and making loud thumps when they hit the floor. Fortunately no one was hurt. Once we needed to refill our air bottles we went outside and I took over the job as Incident Commander, which is where I was supposed to be.

Once I was in command this scene became a whole new monster. Command is different because you not only need to do things to mitigate the emergency, you have to do it making sure that your crews are safe. We had a lot of crews there. We needed to call in 6 additional fire departments to assist at the scene. This was a 7 hour long ordeal and of course the news channels showed up as well as our mayor and city manager.  The mayor and city manager were very understanding when I told them that I had other things I was doing and I would talk to them when I had a chance.

Part of being in charge is being good at delegating tasks. When the news crew came up to me and wanted to talk about the scene I pointed to my chief and told them that he was my Public Information Officer on scene. He was less than happy that I gave this to him, but I was in charge he can do what he was told.

Once this was over and we finished clean up at the station and had our critique as usual I had a chance to take a break and look back at the days events. I was pleased with the way that the incident went and the tactics used to complete the job. I have passed this test and My Fall to Life was once again looking better

A different outlook on a critical injury


A couple of days ago I had an email conversation with a very nice and smart fellow blogger. She said that if there was a way for me to show a different point of view to this injury that it may shed a little more light to a complicated time in someone’s life. I am going to take that conversation to heart and I am going to try to do that in this post. I am going to attempt to explain what I saw as my families reaction, as well as actual reactions that my family had.  Everything that I have written in this blog to this point has been shoot from the hip style of writing. I sat down with the lap top and I went after it. This post is going to be a little different. It may take me a day or two to tell this point of view in an effort to be as clear and concise as possible. Please be patient. Hopefully it will not be too long and still hit all the points I want to hit.

The first part of this is the obvious. A families reaction to this type of injury or life changing event as I say sometimes will be the same for everyone. You will be afraid, confused, worried, tearful, mad, and sad. You will ask “why has this happened to our family?” Of course there is no answer that you will hear that you will make you as a family feel better or understand such a quick and unexpected tragedy. You will do everything within your power to make it go away. The only thing that will make it go away is time, compassion, understanding, and the ability to accept what has happened and look forward to better days. Sometimes I suppose that won’t even work, but remember I am only speaking from my families experience.

The second part of this is a little more complicated to understand unless you are the one who has had the injury. There are going to be alot of emotions running through your head, and as much as you the family are trying to help an injured adult, they may think that you are holding them back or treating them like a little child. I had alot of these emotions going through my head for sure once I was able to use my brain again for something productive. What a family or spouse needs to understand is everything that you are doing for the best of reasons may be beating the injured one down in their mind. I am not saying that is the truth, I am just saying that when I was injured I had those feelings. I was full of guilt thinking that this was my fault, also for my children to have to watch me when my wife was at work. I had to be followed around the house when I stood up. I had to have my food brought to me, I had to be bathed, and actually dried off and dressed because I could not bend over to put my own socks on without excruciating pain. This causes alot of guilt for a man that is used to going to work everyday  providing for his family. I was the rock that all of my family depended on. Now I am literally a rock that can’t get off the couch by himself.  I was full of grief for seeing my family in so much emotional pain. I tried to make it all go away for them.  Actually I was making it worse by trying to do too much which scared them and made them work harder.

As a family caregiver, you may get yelled at alot. “I can do it myself” or “just leave me alone” were common for me. Leaving me alone was nothing more than just stop talking to me for a few minutes. When this kind of injury hits your family remember that the only thing the injured may have control of their opinion. Do not take their opinion away from them. You don’t have to agree with it, just acknowledge it. The injured may want to speak for an hour at a time about things that have no relevance or may not want to talk all day. I wanted to talk so badly about what I was feeling but I felt that it would cause more grief to my family. I stayed to myself about it which made me withdraw completely some days. Its ok if they decide not to say much today. Its ok if they get a little angered, or frustrated, or sad, you most likely have done nothing wrong. It is a cycle that I went through that had no rhyme or reason.

I did do things that I was not proud of of. Most of it I have no recollection of because of the nature of my injury but it did happen.One that stands in my mind is a story that my wife has told me on a couple of occasions and I do have vague memory of. She had taken my medication and hid them because I was messing them up and taking the wrong ones at the wrong times. She would get the proper pills out and give them to me when needed. When I first went to get my pills and they weren’t there and she told me what she had done, I picked up a large down throw pillow from the couch raised it above my head and slammed it to the floor. I have been married for 23 years and my wife has never been afraid of me. She told me that she was afraid of me on that day. She had put those pills in a safe place for a very good reason but I could not see it that way at that time.

Be ready for a mix of emotions that you have not seen before. You will see plenty of tears, anger, sadness, guilt, some happiness and gratitude as well. There are plenty more and I could name them all day. Just be ready for the unexpected.

Just remember that you do not know what they are feeling or what they are going through. Also remember and make them remember that you are going through it as well, just in a different way. Do not allow them to continue to pity themselves. Encourage them that it will get better and try to help them keep their held held high. You cannot make it better, but you can make it worse. Be very understanding while at the same time standing your ground. You do do not deserve to be talked to in an angry fashion. It is not your fault and let that be known. “I am sorry you feel that way but  its not my fault. I do not deserve for you to talk to me like that.” That is how it sunk in to me. I was actually causing a bad situation to get worse. Once I realized that,   things started to get better.

You can and will get through this and hopefully the outcome will be great. If there is anything that I missed or  did not say clearly, please do not hesitate to send me a message or post a comment. I will try to clear anything up as well as I can.

Lisa thanks for the idea to try to get this point of view across.

A job and a lifestyle


A picture of American firefighters in the 1770s

A picture of American firefighters in the 1770s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Am Your Firefighter

Friday, May 03, 2013 CDT

Dear citizen,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am your firefighter. I’m the one who shows up at the firehouse for my shift, and I’m the one who shows up when the pager goes off. If we passed each other on the street, you most likely wouldn’t recognize me. My face may not be familiar. But rest assured, I am your firefighter. I am a brother; a sister; a mom and a dad; a son and a daughter; and, yes, a grandfather and grandmother.

I am writing to you in an effort to clear up some misinformation. You may have heard lately that firefighters make too much money or don’t want to respond when the rooftop siren on the firehouse wails, that they don’t care and have lost their grip on the true meaning of being a firefighter. Rest assured, they haven’t. They still very much do care and do more to stand that post than ever before. We train in the skills of firefighting; emergency medical services; hazardous materials; specialized rescue; and, yes, in weapons of mass destruction. The list is long and can range from the basic to extremely technical. We do not sit around the firehouse and play checkers like you may have read in a children’s book. We stand ready to respond to your emergency no matter what it is. You see, I am your firefighter.

We sleep in a firehouse or with a pager next to our bed at home, ready at any moment to respond to someone in need. Our response to those who need us is done so without prejudice. We don’t perform a credit check or make you submit an application. We respond to your needs immediately without regard as to who you are or what status you carry in the community. We take care of the wealthy and the homeless, and we will treat your children, your grandmother, and your home or business as if they were our own. This is not a practiced or trained skill but a way of life for your firefighter. To us, it’s not a job or even a profession; it’s a calling–one that involves the thrill of helping others in their time of need. You see, I am your firefighter.

It’s not a new job. We’ve been there for you since Benjamin Franklin decided to create the first volunteer fire department. The position has gone from that of prominence to that which people look down on; we have gone from being perceived as heroes after our country was attacked to, once again, those who have too much. Let us be clear in this area as well when it comes to having too much. Most of us work two jobs in an attempt to put food on the table or into a college fund. We miss a lot of our kid’s soccer games, recitals, birthday parties, and so many special moments that are gone forever to either work that shift or make that call. We work on Christmas and a long list of other holidays and run out the door when our children are opening their presents from Santa. When you wouldn’t think of giving up one of those special moments, we do. We stand ready for you. Yes, it is a choice we made, that of serving others, but it was a choice made without promise of wealth or personal gains–just that of taking care of others. You see, I am your firefighter.

And can we address that issue of being a hero? You see, those of us who serve or have served as firefighters do not consider the position that of a hero. We will admit the task does require acts and deeds of bravery at times; it comes with the work we love to do. Again, we’re just moms and dads, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, who just want to make a difference in the communities we serve. We have never met a firefighter who said, “I can’t wait to be a hero today.” All they want to do is serve others, take care of people, and have a belief in “family” that is paralleled by few. They are values driven, not money driven, so please do not read this wrong. Firefighters are some of the bravest people we know, but there is a difference between an “act” and a belief in something special. To them it’s not about being a hero; it’s more about being guardians, those which support family. You see, I am your firefighter.

We paint, clean, maintain, and mow the grass at our firehouse not as much because it saves our taxpayers money but because it is our home. We realize that a firehouse has stood within a neighborhood as a place of safety for decades, a place where a senior citizen who is lost and can’t find the way home can go and find help, and those helping her will treat her like she was their own grandmother. A place where a child who is scared, lost, or being followed by a bad person can go and find protection. Please understand to a firefighter their firehouse isn’t just another building; it’s their home and a symbol of what is right within a community. It’s a building where we train together, prepare to respond to your call for help together, and for some where we eat, sleep, and spend a third of our lives together. It is where we stand ready for you. You see, I am your firefighter.

We realize that each time the economy takes a downward turn, the first thing they say at city hall is, “What can we cut in the fire department?” and we once again will do more with less. We will always try to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar and save money wherever we can, but there is only so much you can do with less. You can line the street with as many fire engines and ladder trucks as you want, keep in mind that fire trucks don’t fight fires, firefighters do, and we need them to be successful at serving you.

We’ll change your smoke detector battery free of charge, make sure that there is no carbon monoxide in your home waiting to harm you or your loved ones, and we’ll walk with you through your home, helping you identify areas that need to be addressed for your family’s safety. We stop along that dark roadside and help you change a flat tire because you are family and we would never leave a loved one stranded along the road. We read to children hoping to promote literacy and to help them understand that reading is just not important but can be fun, too, and those that can read do well in life. We conduct fundraisers to help those in need and give little children fighting cancer a ride on our fire engine because we know that 30 seconds of your life can change another’s forever. And if you’re ever wondering just how important a firefighter is in the life of a child, the next time you’re in your local bookstore, go to the children’s section and count how many firefighters, fire engines, hook and ladder trucks, and ambulances you see in the books there. To a child they are a hero, but more importantly a mentor and role model, again, a person who values family. You see, I am your firefighter.

It may seem that I am a bit partial when it comes to firefighters, but please don’t look for an apology. I am that way because I have seen firefighters risk it all for those they do not know and in some cases for those who could care less about them. I have seen the biggest of them kneel down next to and help an 85-year-old grandmother who has fallen for the fifth time this month with such care and compassion that you find yourself choking back tears. I have watched them bring life into this world, save lives, and many times do everything in their power, to the point of exhaustion, to save another’s life, only to not be able to do so, and I have heard them cry. Yes, firefighters have feelings and yes, they cry. You’ll never see it, because they’ll do it when they are alone or in the bunk room sitting on the side of their bed. It’s after they’ve done everything to breathe life back into that baby or to cut someone’s daughter out of their wrecked car or after they have lost a fellow firefighter in the line of duty. It’s not normal to see what a firefighter has to see or do what a firefighter has to do, but they do it. They do it because they want to serve you. They want to stand that post for you and your family, to be there for you all day long and for you long after you go to bed. You see, I am your firefighter.

In closing again, firefighters don’t do “it” for the recognition. Yes they are proud of what they do, but don’t try to give them medals or accolades. They’ll just tell you they were doing their job. They have a passion for serving others and are not looking for rewards. Maybe just decent tools, equipment, and protective clothing to do their jobs. The training that keeps them prepared to take care of you and your family and the staffing they need in order to make that happen, and once in a while the secure feeling of knowing that they’ll be able to continue volunteering in your community or working in that firehouse, without the fear of cuts or closings. They won’t ask for laser beams, fancy titles, or for a “room with a view.” To be honest they already have the best view in the house. It’s from the firehouse down the block from your home. The one that allows them the privilege and honor of serving you and your family. You see, I am your firefighter and we will always be there for you!

Written by Rick Lasky

I call it like I see it


I had been back to work for awhile and most of my worries about being able to my job properly were gone. I still haven’t had the really big one that would test me to the limits physically, and I was ok with that. I would rather never fight another fire for the rest of my career. I don’t say that because I am afraid or because I don’t want to, I say that because like I have said before, when we are doing our job, someone else is having one of the worst days of their life. This job is very rewarding to the soul, but at the same time it is very hurtful to the heart. There are things that we see that are unfit for human eyes. We do this not because it is fun, we do it so someone else doesn’t have to. I know that if any firefighters are out there reading this you may say out loud “can you believe this crap?”  I understand that because I have lived it for many years. The big bad firefighter is not phased by anything. Well that is not true. Some may be better at putting those memories deep in to their brain’s storage so they don’t think about them often, and others may just have a better coping mechanism than others. What I do know for sure is we all feel this in one way or another. I come from a small career fire dept. and have the utmost respect for the larger city departments that deal with these type of calls multiple times a day.

The point that I am trying to make is that after I got back to work I found that I had changed in such a way that I said what was on my mind. Sometimes it is a good thing and sometimes it is a bad thing. I am no longer going to fall in to the stereotypical fireman while on the job, and I was no longer going to allow statements and unprofessional actions to slide by with just a “well you know you should have done this”.

I did not make the change over night because I knew that it would not be accepted very well. Instead I slowly began to correct someone when they were saying something about someone else or another shift. I would tell them that if they have a problem with something that is going on to man up and tactfully address the problem with the person that you think is causing it. The other quote that I started to say alot was “It’s not my business so I stay out of it.” If it was my business, you be your butt I would be in it, if not I would stay out of it.

It took some time to see if any results were coming from this new found way of thinking. I know some of the guys were probably calling me all kinds of nice things when I wasn’t around, but I don’t care about that. I was put in the position I am in to right the ship when it starts to tilt, and that is what I am going to try and do.

The down side to this was that my word filter or sentence filter if you will had not returned all the way to my brain. It still hasn’t to this day, but for the most part I can say only the things I want to. There are still times to this day that I know what I am going to say may not be the best way to say it, but it cannot be stopped until it comes out. It is by far one of the weirdest things that has happened to me in this entire journey. Imagine speaking a sentence while in your mind you are literally saying it in another way. Unfortunately you cannot change your word mid sentence. I guess the best way to describe it is looking into the sky at a thunderstorm or snowfall coming tour way. You can see it coming to you, but there is no way that you can stop it from happening. i am not saying that I say inappropriate things, I just say things that I would like to say a little differently. All in all it just makes me feel embarrassed because I feel like I sound stupid. Most of the time it is so minor that it goes unnoticed  by anyone but me. Either that or everyone is good at playing it off as if they didn’t. My Fall to Life still has some challenges, but the hurdles are getting shorter.

Go ahead and test me, I am ready


I have made it through the first test in my mind by being subjected to some medical calls similar to mine and now I am ready for the big test. I do not wish bad things on any person, however my job is usually about bad things happening to good people. It is not a fun thing to go to a house or a business knowing that the owner and family is watching their dreams literally going up in smoke. You hear that firemen love to go and fight fires. We do in fact love to do our job, but with that being said if we truly loved to fight fires, we would be loving to see utter chaos and destruction. What we love is being able to go and mitigate the problem and save as much as possible while doing so. I sometimes get borderline angry when I see all of the T-shirts and the bumper stickers bragging up “We fight what you fear.” We fear it too. The difference is that we are trained on how to interfere and make it go away. We are given the proper equipment and technology to enable us to cause that interference. A fireman without his equipment and training is nothing more than the civilian standing on the street watching it burn while we work. Any fireman that says he is not afraid of going into a burning building in some way, is in the wrong line of work and is asking for trouble. Anyways back to the topic. My rant is done.

I needed to have that test for me to see if I was ready. The Dr’s. said that I was and I believe them completely. I just needed to know how was my body going to react. Was the vertigo going to come to me while crawling through a smokey room looking up to the ceilings? I didn’t know because I haven’t done it yet since the injury.

I think even more importantly I needed to prove to my co workers that I was back and, I was back better than ever. I was working out as much as possible while I was off in my home to make sure I stayed as fit as I could. During those two weeks that is spent on my back I had lost about 12 pounds and a good portion of muscle mass. I have never considered myself to be “The Incredible Hulk” but I am not built like a stick figure either. I can still get in the push up position and whoop the young guys in push ups, and sit ups as well. I know that my co workers had to have questions whether or not I was still able to do this job the way I did before.

Those first couple of fires I went out of my way to be sure that if a task needed completed I would not just point to a couple of guys and tell them what was needed accomplished. If I was not the officer in charge, I would tell them what was needed grab the equipment and tell them to keep up. Of course they did. We have very good and well trained firemen. I climbed up a ladder to a roof one day and was using a pike pole to pull down some ceilings. I looked out the window while I was straddling the sill and there were 3 guys watching me do what I was doing. One half of me wondered if they were watching and trying to get the nerve to tell me to get down because I wasn’t supposed to be there, and the other half was wondering if they were watching just to make sure that I was ok. Either way I was going to accomplish the job. I was elevated yes, but i was in a seated position in a safe place doing my job. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

A few more tests that I would need to face would eventually come my way, but one of the big ones was gone and successful. I know that it was partially a sense of pride for me knowing I could do it and proving to the others that I could do it.

My physical abilities have been proven to the crew. My mental status would be tested next. In a good way I guess. I was no longer the tight lipped guy who would let the little things slide by without saying too much. THAT ME WAS GONE. My Fall To Life was taking another turn for the better in as far as my eyes could see.

Finally going back to full duty.


From this entry on I am going to keep the latest post at the top. The main part of my story has been kept in chronological order starting with “The Day Before.” It is getting harder and harder to keep placing them in order and not fair to those who may be following this to have to wade through the rest of it to get to the latest post. I hope that this will not be received poorly by anyone.

It is finally time for me to go back to full duty as a fireman. when the day came that my six month license medical suspension came I was on the phone with PEN DOT while the Dr. was faxing the paperwork to them. I talked to a very helpful woman on the phone. She told me that she was looking at the paperwork as we speak. She told me that I would be reinstated by the time we got off the phone. This was great news. I cannot do my job without being able to drive a fire engine or an ambulance. As soon as I received the fax back from Penn Dot saying that I was in fact re instated I went straight to the city manager’s office to give him that document. There was just one thing that I was not allowed to do yet. I was not allowed to be on elevated platforms. I was still having positional vertigo which made me dizzy when I looked up and to the right and when I looked down to the right and left. I was sent to occupational therapy because of this to see if they could help the crystals in my left ear go back to where they were supposed to be a little sooner. They also had me doing lunges, and crawling on the floor, lifting things off of shelves and putting them back up. I did squats with no weights, and bounced balls on the floor.

The best way to describe what was going on my ear is this. The ear has little crystals inside that act like marbles to give you balance, I  hit my head hard enough that my little marbles flew out of their bowl. Until those marbles made it back to the bowl, my brain could not make sense of what my body was doing. Normally if a person does a somersault the body can react because of these crystals and keep you balanced. If these crystals are not in their proper place your brain can’t keep up with what your body is doing. Therefore when you are done with your somersault your body thinks that it is still doing it which gives you dizziness. Pretty weird, but also pretty neat if you really think about how smart the human body is.

I got through this therapy and the dizziness was going away at a pretty fast pace thanks to the staff. I was feeling pretty damn good about where I was right now, and ready to tackle anything that came knocking at my door. Then I had a reality check of what my friends, family, and co-workers went through on Nov. 11th 2011.

Within the first two weeks of coming back to work we had a couple of very severe medical calls. Both of them were head injury patient s that were going to be flown by helicopter to  a trauma center. On the first, one the patients spouse met the ambulance at the helicopter landing site and just missed him being loaded in to the aircraft and flown away. We assured her that her loved one was in caring hands.

The second one was a little worse of an accident where the patient fell down some stairs and had a head injury. The patient’s family was on scene. I was doing my job as a medical care provider and it was very very hard not to be distracted by the cries of the family asking us if she was ok and if she was going to make it. That is an answer that I never give in the field because I am not a doctor and I do not diagnose. I told the family that we are doing everything possible and their loved one will be very well taken care of. Fortunately for both the outcome was good.

I have been doing this job since January of 1996 and I have seen some very bad things and have been on some very hard incidents. These two weighed very heavily on my mind for quite some time. There were days when I went to work wondering if this was still the job for me. The other side of me said that there was no way possible that after fighting so hard to get back to this point that i was going to give up because of a couple bad calls. Of course it was going to hit me hard, it hit very close to home. Something good would come out of this as well.

I have always seen myself as doing the best job possible when it comes to caring for patients. What I have learned though is that I feel like I have  become better at caring for people with head injuries or seizures. I think that maybe this is because now I can empathize with what they are going through better than I could have before. I know they are confused or do not know what is going on at all. I have a little bit more personal knowledge that I carry with me now. It doesn’t make me better because I have learned alot about this type of medical call. It makes me better because I am more compassionate to this type of medical call. Once that patient is on the way to a facility I always try to console a family for 2 or 3 minutes while they are getting ready to head to the hospital. I take great pride in this. It makes me better at my job as well as a better person. My Fall to Life was beginning to have more plus sides than down sides