Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Brain Injury, Run to Homebase and the Boston Bombing

Anne and Barbi
at 5:30am we were on the MBTA
In 1986, or there about, I flipped over on a bicycle at 35mph, and hit my head.  Fortunately, I was wearing a really good helmet.  Unfortunately, it was 1986 and the insurance world and medical world had no clue about brain injuries.  They discovered that my left shoulder was messed up really bad, but never though of my brain.  I am told that 6 months later I tried to kill myself.  I don't remember anymore, but that started the process that lead me to a neuropsychiatrist who diagnosed me with TBI and a bunch of other really cool things, all of which led them to tell me that I would be permanently hospitalized and divorced within a year.  They were wrong.  I still have depression (organic affective disorder) 24/7. I still have giant issues with loud noises I don't expect, bright lights, stress, changes in almost anything, groups of people who know who I am, groups of people I can control or avoid, loss of impulse control and any social situation.  There is more, but I just wanted you to get the picture.  This is what my insurance company called recovered.  Sense of humor huh.  

Yet, the picture above is of my wife Anne and my daughter Barbi. (I'm still married.) They got up at 3am and drove to the Boston metro-plex on Saturday May 4, 2013 so Anne could run in her 4th annual and the 4th annual Run to Home Base. Why, you may be asking, is she running to help others who are family members of people with TBI and PTSD?  Because we are still married; in spite of the fact that my insurance company stole from me through their corporate stupidity or brilliance, depending on your point of view, in spite of the prediction of our doctors; in spite of the very real issues of TBI.  She wants to help other who are not so fortunate to have a God and a family who supports them with this condition. So she runs.

Fenway Park when we arrived at 6:30am
Well, there is another pretty big reason.  When you run this race, if you finish in time, you get to cross HOME BASE at Fenway Park.  If you're a baseball fan you might begin to understand how cool that is, but it takes a Red Sox fan to understand the enormity of the lure.  You get to touch THE Home Base ...  and if your quick, you get to touch the grass too, but you have to be quick, because they guard it like a hawk.  

I only bring this up to underscore how awesome the event is.  TBI is a killer.  It kills the people with it; it kills their families and their friends.  Literally sometimes, figuratively all the time.  Yet, in Boston, the Mass General Hospital, a major player in dealing with TBI, and the Boston Red Sox, along with a list of corporate sponsors too large to list in the blog, (but you can see if you click the picture of Fenway Park above,) got together to raise over 10 million dollars to support veterens and their families who suffer from TBI and/or PTSD.  Pretty cool.

My wife, Anne, has donated over $3000 from her business to this event, with the other $1000
Anne is Wearing the Blue Cap right under Red Sox
being donated by friends, over the last 4 years.  I am telling you this because her business and our family can not afford to give that much, yet she does it anyway.  Every year, she runs the race, crosses the line, and finds a way to donate $1000, because TBI is really that bad.

If you would like to help her by donating for the race she just ran, please click the donate button; or check out the run to home base site for next years race.

If you look at her left wrist, you will see two bracelets.  The gold one is from McCoy's Action Karate, and is her commitment bracelet to from their "I Must" program, where she committed to her intention to raise $1000 and run in her 4th "Run to Home Base," race to help others not as fortunate us we are, with respect to suffering from TBI.  If you want more information on the "I Must" program, and it is free for anyone to use, click Here. The blue bracelet was sent to her by one of her karate instructors, who donated $1000 to last years race, Grand Master Greg Silva, from United Professionals.  It says "I Will."  Mr. Silva, she did!  Thank you.

Just in case you are thing, "How Sweet," I want you to know what was going on during this same time, in my mind, the one with TBI.  The one we consider fortunate to have suffered so little and the one who the insurance company decided really did not have anything wrong with them, (or an attorney that could sue them, not really sure which.)  

USA Ret - General
Run to homebase wanted to let us, and the runners know, how their money was being spent, and how much good it was doing, so they had a General in the United States Army tell us some real life stories about TBI and PTSD.  He started out letting us know that 1% of the population of the United States wore a uniform, and put themselves in harms way, serving in the military, and that 2/3 of them come home from combat deployment with TBI or PTSD.  By this time, I was so lost in depression, thinking about how little I contributed to my and my families safety, that I had to hang my head and pretend I was not crying.  These people give so much, and I can do so little.  Gratitude mixed with massive self doubt.

Then he started talking about all great progress these soldiers are making.  How, in one case, 12 months after his diagnoses, which required huge courage on his part to even seek help, much less accept, he was reentering the work force. They listed what symptoms he had conquered, and which they were still working on. I really don't know what happened much after that until they honor guard presented the colors.  Why?  Because my injury is well over 20 years old. The long and short term memory loss is permanent.  The symptoms are permanent.  I live in a time where they can prevent and cure much of what happened to me, though not all, if they catch it soon enough.  That did not exist when I was injured.  I got lost in what could have been.  I was dragged into a life I could never have.  I was reminded of all that I had lost, and would never find again.  I was shaking it effected me so much.  And I lost track of time. Sound like a pity party.  All you Zig Ziggler people are thinking, pull yourself up. Go make something of yourself.  It is that type of ignorance that this event is trying to fight.  Look up the stats on how many people with TBI kill themselves.  It's scary.  This race really saves lives.  (If you're still thinking that you could hack it with slogans or self help CD's, you don't get it.)

Barbi Getting an Autograph
Then the race started.  Anne ran it in 90 minutes last year.  She had probably only run 5 miles this time, from last race to this race, though for 3 months she has been working out doing bag work for 90 minutes a day, taking cardio classes in preparation and doing tai chi.  She was in far better shape this year than last.  However, because of how TBI works, the only thing I could think about was her safety.  I know we watched her leave, as the picture above shows, and I know we got an autograph from a Red Sox Legend, but  I have no idea when or how we did any of that. 
Anne Crossing the Finish Line

 I was consumed with the safety of my wife.  Every siren I heard, every cop I saw, every official that came near us I though was there to tell me my wife was hurt, damaged or in the hospital.  I was terrified.  At some point we sat down near the finish line to wait for my wife to run into Fenway.  At the appointed time, she did in fact run in, and I began to feel my heart beat again.  I mean that literally.  The panic attack subsided, and my breath and blood performed as designed.  Then we spent 10 minutes waiting for her to navigate from the finish line to the place where they crossed home plate.  There were hundreds of people in front of her and behind her.  It had been taking nearly 15 minutes to move from the finish line to homebase, so we waited, secure in the knowledge that Anne was safe.

Did it tell you how much TBI sucks?  At about 8 minutes, we stated looking at every face crossing homebase, to get a picture.  For the next 10 minutes, we got closer and closer, and began to worry.  Even my daughter began to worry, and she is not prone to panic.  But I am.  I freaked out.  I assumed they took her away to a hospital.  I couldn't breath, swallow and the migraine that is always there telescoped my vision and nearly made be fall down.  The right side of my body went numb, and the chest pain was unbelievable.

Then we found her.  Turns out she did not want to stop running until she got to homebase, and the other runners were all just hanging out, so she run to the base, and then went to sit down.  Her conditioning really was much better.  

Boston Marathon Finish Line 2 Weeks After the Bombing
Then, we decided to walk into Boston, to see the site of the terriorist attack on the runner of the Boston Maraton a few weeks earlier.  My daughter had been to Israel, and had learned that when bombings happened there, they repaired the area right away, so that the bad memories would be gone.  We wanted to see with out own eyes, what Boston had done.  So we walked the 2 miles to the finish line of the Boston marathon.

Copley Square - After the Bombinb
Did I tell you how for TBI patients, everything is emotional to the extreme?  Wow.  When we got there, the picture above, there were people who were not allowed to finish the race, because of the bomb, but who could see the finish line as it went off.  They were crossing it on this day.  People were cheering, flowers were being passed out.  The only eveidence of the bomb going off was that they were replacing some glass next to the finish line.  Everything else was repaired.  Go Boston.  Just like Israel.  Cleaned it all up.

Wrong again.  Boston is nothing like Israel.  Boston Strong does not involve covering it up, but rather mutual support.  The next 30 mintues was constant crying, head ache, and confussion.  I lost my family in Copley Square, I was so turned around and confussed.  We found each other, but I don't remember how.

This picture is just a tiny bit of the citizen made memorials all over Copley Square.  1000's of people have left stuff, written messages, brought things, and as you can see, the American flag is everywhere.  

As I came out of the back side of the memorials, around some trees, right into the face of a
Boston Will Not Die
bunch of TV vans which for some reason were still there, on Saturday May 4th, 2013, I looked down, and saw this hand lettered brick.  Boston will not Die.

No freaking matter how bad TBI is, it was not that bad.  Those people who were there, those who live there, those who had family there, they are strong enough to write that; to live that.

There is only one way out of trouble this big, and that is other people.  It caused me to look around and see that I was, in fact, alive.  Messed up for sure, but alive, because of other people.  In my life, that is because God directed me toward my wife and directed her toward keeping our marriage alive.  God brought me my daughter, who is even closer to him than I could ever be.  But, all that is useless, unless I do my part.  Reach out to PEOPLE.  

Boston will not die, and neither will I.

Thank you Boston.  Thank you Run to Home Base.  Thank you Anne.  Thank you Barbi and thank You God.


  1. Thanks Paul for letting us see just a tiny bit of what you and Anne have had to face! THank you Anne for running this race for the 4th time! You guys continue to be a wonderful couple!

    1. Forward is the only direction we know how to go.
      thank you.

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