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!!!



Still no memory

I am still writing here today mostly from stories told to me after I was at home and recovering. They may not be in the best of order, but what can I say. I had a small conversation with my family today who still has a hard time talking about these things with me, but they do it to help me write this blog. Most of it I have been told before today and I remember some, but a lot of it still escapes my memory. The last post I said that my first words were about losing my job. turns out that I cried like a baby when I said it. I have been corrected since my last post. My wife had left the hospital to return home to make sure that my 2 girls were ok with food and that they did not need anything. With the neighbors and friends that we have as well as the family we were ok in that regard. She was not in there when I woke up and I was very angry at her for that. When she walked into the room is when I told her that I was worried that I would not return to work. At some point on this day I was laying in the bed with a towel on my head. I looked out from under the towel and told my family “man my hair is so powerful.” I have a head that is shaved bald. I have shaved it like this since 2003. Where that quote came from I do not know. The neurologist that works at UPMC in my hometown was heading out of state for vacation which has nothing to do with this story other than the fact that he had given my wife his cell phone number and told her to call if she needed anything. He is one of the best in the business and has more qualifications than any man would ever need. I used that to my advantage, or so I thought. Where this comes into play was every time I was taken away for testing or the Dr. said something that I did not agree with I would either tell the Dr. or my wife that I was going to call Dr. M. I do recall two situations that I did say this to a Dr. The first one is when they had me sitting on a table in a freezing cold room and laid me down rather quickly with my head tilted to the side. The dizziness that I felt was something that I did not know was possible for the body to feel. I was not too happy. Wondering why in the hell they would do that to me I told them that I was calling Dr. M on them. It is pretty funny looking back on it. The other time was during the second admission when I was given a lumbar puncture. Damn did that hurt. When I said that I was calling Dr. M the Dr. looked up from what he was doing like he knew I meant business. In retrospect he was surely thinking I was crazy and my threats were not doing me any good. My daughter tells me how excited I would get when my friends would come down to see me but I have no memory of them being there ever. The only thing that I would eat while I was there was chocolate snack pack and fruit cups. I would pick the pineapple and grapes out of the fruit cup and that is it. The rest may as well have been poison to me. I apparently was very good at trying to get the nurses to allow me to home. Since my wife works on a telemetry unit and we are friends with cardiologists, neurologists and a neurosurgeon I thought that it would be ok. On more than one occasion when I was trying to get myself released I had told my wife that her and I were a team and if she did not agree with what i said she could go the hell home. I also said that to my mother when she had told me not to speak to my wife like that. Being a former airborne paratrooper in the US Army and a firefighter now i can say a few choice words. I do not speak to women that way ever. I was quite ashamed of myself when I was told that I had talked to them that way. So far this TBI ( traumatic brain injury ) was not working out well for me.  My Fall to Life was off to a rough start.