Just when you think have seen it all

Just when you think you have seen it all is something that we hear and say comes across our path. There are only two reasons for this to happen. First and foremost usually this is not a good thing. It is something that strikes us as very odd or outside of the norm for us. I t could be a person or a thing, it can make you feel like there is no hope for humanity. There are others that show you without a doubt that there is absolutely hope for humanity. I am going to touch on both of these that I have either seen or heard.

This first one is the not so good side of things that I have seen or heard. I am going to keep this very brief and not share my opinions because I get a little bent out of shape when I think about it. I think you will know where I stand without the details. Recently a verdict was just reached on a high profile lawsuit. The audacity of the person who filed the suit is nothing short of jaw dropping. Is money really more important than integrity and self worth. I am going to post one name and leave it at that. If you would like to know more about it you can look it up. If you already know about it I am sure that your opinions are already formed one way or the other. Chris Kyle.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The second one which is the very good side of humanity happened several months back. I did not forget about it and it was such a wonderful thing to see that I was reminded of it after seeing this bad. Is this the brains way of evening things out within yourself. I don’t know, and actually I don’t care because the last thought I had was the good one, not the bad one. I am a pay it forward kind of guy but his puts me to shame. I was in the grocery store waiting to go through the check out line. Ahead of me was a mother with her little girl. My guess was about age 8. Ahead of them checking out was a lady about 40 or so. When the cashier gave her the total she handed her the money then started to look for the correct change to add to the dollars she handed the cashier. This little girl had a pack of Twizzlers in her hand and a dollar. Her mother was going to allow her to pay for her own treat. The little girl looks at her mother then puts the Twizzlers back on the rack and asked her mother if she could give the lady looking for the correct change her dollar because she didn’t have enough money. The young girls mother assured her that she had enough money and she was just giving the proper amount of change. The little one picks her Twizzlers back up and places them on the checkout stand dollar in hand. Then I see a dollar land on the belt and the gentleman behind me who must have seen the whole thing as well said that he was going to pay for those Twizzlers and told the little girl to save her dollar for later.

I don’t think I could have said a word if I had to at that point. I was speechless. An 8 year old girl willing to give up her Twizzlers to help an adult was astonishing. That made me smile inside myself. I looked at the mother and thought how good of a job of raising that child she must have been doing.

Bravo to that little girl, her mother, and the gentleman behind me. The rest of us may be able to learn a lesson from a kind little girl like that.

Think about it and have a good night



Learning by teaching

Low head dam at Newby Bridge - geograph.org.uk...

Low head dam at Newby Bridge – geograph.org.uk – 1226662 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This weekend was pretty interesting  to me. I started out 4 wheeling and camping, changed to a tanker rollover that I worked on scene of for 8 1/2 hours then on Sunday taught a water rescue class. On all three days I discovered  that learning by teaching is a pretty dang cool. I guess there are times in life that you feel if you are the teacher there is nothing to learn besides the fact that you see success in the ones you teach. That could not be further from the truth. Friday while 4 wheeling and camping the subject of teaching water rescue came up. I was talking about how we teach and some of the skills that are a must in order to be certified in swift water rescue. I have been doing this for a long time so there were a few things that I took for granted when it comes to those who do not have a lot of experience. For example, the power of water flow coming over a low head dam. That stuff will kill you in a heartbeat but many people don’t see it as a threat because the water is normally calm on the upper side and the dangers cannot be seen on the lower side. I know this. It kills recreational boaters and people in  kayaks. It also kills rescuers every year that get in to a situation that they cannot get out of usually by accident.

Saturday while dealing with the 7500 gallons of diesel fuel contained inside of this tanker truck with possibility of coming out I learned a few things as well. In a high risk environment many people would crumble under stress. We have trained for these types of accidents but until they come upon us, we do not know how we are going to react. There are some members of our organization that are new and have never been this type of incident. They are well trained but have not had the “Real Deal” yet. These guys did exactly what they were supposed to do exactly how they were asked to do it. Then there are the experienced ones that have years of experience. 90% of the time things go well with us guys as well. I am not going to go in to full detail but there were a few instances that completely took me off guard. Things that should never happen but did on at least one occasion. This is day one stuff that should be like riding a bike. I learned that these situations can be smoother with the younger members that are just getting their feet wet. It could be because they do not want to make a mistake and do their best to show that they are more than capable to handle an important task at a large scale incident. On the other hand I learned that a seasoned pro can get a little too caught up to the point that he falls off his bike and should have had the training wheels during this incident.

Sunday during the water rescue class we were teaching students the skills and tactics of performing self rescue and rescue of victims in swift water conditions. There I learned that the teacher can also become the student. I do not know everything and I admit that but I am damn good at what I do. There is always a new question that you haven’t heard before that makes you say “hmmmmm.” They give you their thoughts and their reasons as to why they think that way. It goes into my brain and the light bulb goes off. That is a damn good thought. The other way works great but this could work as good without the same amount of exertion. I love it when that happens. When you get to the point that you only think one way works you become tunnel visioned and that is when people get hurt.

I learned these things in 3 completely different environments. It has given me the foresight to look around a little harder and be smart enough to try to learn something in every situation. Take a look around, educational opportunities are everywhere.

I am going to tell you something you don’t know and you will still be clueless

That is a pretty arrogant statement. I bet you are thinking that at least a little. Guess what, its true. TBI, what does that stand for, what does that mean? To some that means Totally Bitchy Individual. To some it means Traumatic Brain Injury, and yet to others it means “hell if I know.” This should not com as a surprise to anyone that has had any experiences with a TBI or someone with a TBI. Have you ever seen a something on the TV that made you emotional enough that you had to change the channel or get up and go to another room? Have you ever walked into a grocery store and saw some of the faces on the cereal boxes and laugh because you can see them being modeled after a real person? Ever been in a stores electronic section and a half hour later you are still watching TV?  Welcome to the life of a changed life! It is actually pretty neat to catch yourself in these moments. Afterwards I think to myself WTF was that all about? Two and a half years later and it still catches me off guard. It always is like watching a movie for the first time but is more like a train wreck. I cant quit thinking about it for hours. I try to explain it to myself but I am never successful. Picture yourself standing in a roomful of people speaking a different language and laughing at their jokes and trying to figure out what they said that made you laugh. that is a pretty good analogy. Now that i told you all of that you still have no clue but at least if you see someone laughing uncontrollably in the cereal aisle take a moment to say hello. The chances are pretty good that it is me.

Happy with my TBI

That may sound like a really messed up title to those who have been through a TBI (traumatic brain injury) or the ones that are a caregiver for a survivor. I want to explain my point of view. A brain injury is a nightmare born in hell, there is no doubt about it. It also is an eye opener and a lot of good has come from it in my particular injury. I have spilled a lot of beans on this blog about my injury and the worst parts about it. I have also shared many things that have been good for me. I am slowly moving away from the bad things and trying to concentrate on the good. The bad are still there, but why worry about things you cannot change. It is much healthier for me to concentrate on the good and focus on my future.

I have always been very compassionate about my job and I am very good at it. The difference is that I am now more compassionate as a human being. I see things in a way that I did not see before. I try not to take anything for granted and I am usually successful. I enjoy the simple things in life more than before. I could look at clouds for long periods of time and just watch them move and change while they move. I watch birds tilt their head while in the grass and wonder how the heck they figure out where that worm is and very rarely miss their target. I like to think outside the box. Sometimes it makes me look crazy until I explain my reasoning, then I am only half as crazy to them. I turn everything into a math problem. Here is an example. I will sit on my front porch and count the first hundred cars and see how many people drive by with the driver texting while driving. (that really frustrates me when I see it.) I take that number and the time it took for those 100 cars to come past my house then turn that in to how many cars per hour will have texters driving. I will then multiply it by 24. That gives me an idea of how many people text and drive past my house in 24 hours. That is a very scary number. That may sound a little OCD but the numbers would shock you. What is so important that you are risking your life and others that you cant wait until you are stopped to text?

My TBI has shown me another part of this wonderful planet that I would have missed without my injury. It is a very refreshing feeling after going through hell

Take a look at yourself

It seems like there is a common thought that I have heard a lot of lately. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I am talking to someone individually or if there is a group of people. The common thread is success. Everyone defines success based on the success that other people have accomplished or failed at. How often do we sit back and define success on the things that we have done in our own life. The small things to the biggest success in our life. Take a moment and think about that and see what you come up with for success and what you may think have been failures.

I will give you my take and you will either see me as crazy or think “hmm never thought about it like that.”  If there is a supposed failure I will insert it behind each failure. When I was 12 years old I played Little League and I made the all-star team. I chose not to play at age 13 because I was afraid I would not be as good when I played with the older kids. I started playing me’s softball at the age of 15 and was a pitcher and catcher. I had a rocket for an arm to the point where not many players would attempt to steal on me. I was a senior in high school when I decide to join the military. I became a paratrooper with 58 jumps and went to War by the time I left 6 years later. I became a firefighter and got the first full time opening available. I then was promoted to Lt. at the next open position. I am a state fire instructor, a state water rescue instructor. I am good at my job. My wife and I have been married for 24 years. We have raised two wonderful daughters. I am very easy to get along with. I have been to Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Italy. Germany, the Netherlands, Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. I was sent to New Orleans Louisiana with another firefighter from our dept. Our dept was requested from the state fire commissioner to send two personnel. I was the first to put my hand up even though I knew we were going straight in to hell when we got there. I coached girls softball for 11 years from the little league level up to the high school level. That is a pretty big list of success I only listed one failure. I see what most people see as failure as a lesson and an opportunity to improve.

I have been faced with a tremendous hurdle when it comes to a TBI. I felt like a failure. I thought that I was letting my family down, my friends down, my employer down, and my community down because they rely on us when they are having a bad day. I often sat in my house and felt sorry for myself and telling myself that I did not deserve this after the life that I have lived and being a part of helping people. I came. Once I allowed myself to snap out of my own pity party I saw that I had a bigger purpose in my life and success was right in front of my nose I just didn’t want to see it. I survived my injury because my work here is not done yet. I have had to change my course a little bit but I see that as a success. I have started this blog to share my experience and I know for a fact that I have helped people. They have emailed me and told me how I have. That is a huge success. I belong to a TBI support group where I share my experiences with the survivors and the caregivers. It is only my experience and I do not pretend to have the answers for others, just my experience. I get on that page every single morning and say “Today is going to be AWESOME because…….” then I fill in the blank. Others have responded to it by sharing how their day is going to be AWESOME. That is a great thing to hear!!! I talk daily online to numerous people that just want to be heard. I gave a presentation at the PA Brain Injury state conference and I loved every minute of it. To me that is the definition of success. I dont care what kind of cars people drive or the house that they live in. That is only the shell of successful people.

I want to wrap this up by saying that you may think I am puffing out my chest and talking about myself. That is exactly what I am doing. I have been a success and I am proud to share it in my mind and with the blogging world. Take a look at yourself and I bet you will find the same AWESOME success that I have in your own life!!!


Is criticism slowing your inspiration?

I was listening to a pod cast today given by JT DeBolt on people thinking that they do not have good ideas and are afraid to put themselves out there because of it. I would like to put my little spin on that.


In this wide wide world that we live in there are an immeasurable amount of people that could get some very useful things out of your thoughts and ideas. When it comes to my situation having a TBI, I knew right away that I wanted to help other survivors and their families. I had to get the courage to take that first step though.


I was afraid that my friends and others would criticize me for telling a story that most did not think was a big deal because it didn’t happen to them. I finally decided to take that leap of faith and started to tell my experiences as a traumatic brain injury survivor. I am sure that there are those out there that still would think that I do this for no good reasons and that is ok with me. If you always try to please everybody, you will wind up pleasing nobody. Once I took this step I had another bridge to cross. It took quite some time for me to share it with friends and family. To this day I still do not publicize it on my Facebook page for those reasons. That is about to change.


I have a lot of information to give on TBI because I am very fortunate to have come out of this nightmare with a very good outcome. I have returned to work as a firefighter and my life is very close to the way it was prior to my injury. For any of you that do not know, I had a traumatic brain injury that included a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, mid line brain shearing, a 3.5 cm skull fracture, 100% loss of taste and smell, and a 40% hearing deficit to my left ear. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there that have a similar story like mine. Professional athletes, veterans, and people who have just had the misfortune of having this injury.

pie chart of causes of traumatic brain injury

pie chart of causes of traumatic brain injury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



When I did my presentation in Lancaster PA at the PA brain injury state conference there was a former NFL player in attendance. He came up to me after the speech and let me know that he had played with a local former player with the Atlanta Falcons. He asked me to give our local player his phone number and tell him that he said hi. I was honored to pass that information on.



English: A CT of the head years after a trauma...

English: A CT of the head years after a traumatic brain injury showing an empty space marked by the arrow were the damage occurred. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My experiences and thoughts throughout this recovery have been beneficial to others because they have informed me that they have. My point is do not allow your fear of failure or criticism stop you from expressing your thoughts and information. There is an Army’s worth of people who will be glad that you had the courage to stand up and tell your story.





English: Sand trap, Kilspindie Small, perfectl...

English: Sand trap, Kilspindie Small, perfectly formed and hungry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever been to the golf course and hit a screaming long drive of of the tee? What usually comes next is the beginning of the downfall. You look at your buddies, puff out your chest and say “Beat that S***!” Wrong move

It turns out that the awesome tee shot that you think you just hit ends up in the sand trap. that sand trap is not hard to get out of, but it really puts a damper on your overall score. All I am trying to say is that when you do something AWESOME in life stay grounded and keep your chest at normal puffiness. What follows that puffed out chest can be bad on your overall score as a human being. Be proud of what you have accomplished but always remember that there is a long way to go and always room for improvement. STAY OUT OF THAT BUNKER by being humble!!