Chapter 1: Introduction to the Past
Life is difficult
I believe this statement represents one of the best ways me and my “mafia” have learned how to overcome the challenges life brings in a way that is helping us to move forward with an increasingly optimistic view of life - like rejoining life already in progress.
To briefly wrap up events prior to 2014:
§ In 2012, I completed my Ph.D (see photo, below).
§ In 2013, Danette took a mission to travel to München (pronounced “M’yoon chin” for you Texas types), Germany. I stayed at home for a year while she helped her sister and family return to the US (I went there three different times to make a week-long visit with the soon to be “mafia” - see photo, below).
§ In 2014, her sister and two kids came home and lived with us. With them I played baseball, soccer, basketball, and went for bike rides. We dug for hidden fossils in the back yard. We also went on a summer vacation to Manistee, MI prior to the kids’ start of school.
Chapter 2: “The Worst Day”
On August 1, 2014, while finishing the vacation with a brief visit to Danette’s aunt’s house, I had an event that is reported vaguley as “fainting” which caused me to fall and hit my head on concrete. (Lesson 1: don’t let your cranium hit the concrete). I was sent by helicopter to a hospital in Grand Rapids. I stayed there for four weeks (which included a medically induced COMA), and then transported back to Indianapolis for a stay at a specialty hospital and then at a rehabilitation hospital. I was finally taken home by mafia leader “Tenacious D” (uh, yeah, Danette) on Sept 19. Fifty-one days. I have little memory of about the last 15 of the 51 days. After leaving the hospital, I had out-patient therapy, new kinds of medication I’ve never heard of, and even drivers training to prove “I still got it”. August 1st included an emergency surgery that HAD to be followed up by a second surgery in November.
Given my perspective at the time, I reported to the doctors and my boss that I was ready to return to work. Before the year 2014 was over, I had started back half-time and progressed back to full time. The day I started full-time was a day before I could have selected long-term disability. This was a proverbial, and literal, fork in the road. I chose work.
Chapter 3: “Saga Continues”
After three weeks of being back to work full-time, I had the first of three seizures (“CZ’s” in my parlance). I believe this was referred to as “Grand Mal” (“pretty bad” in my lingua franca). I was at work. A colleague two doors down had the capacity to handle the situation given his son has lived with seizures for years. Immediately, medication restarted and no driving for 90 days. About two months later was a second “CZ” so I had to restart my no driving “prison” to zero. Given the difficulty of returning to a high level position after a traumatic brain injury meant I had to stop working and continue the road to recovery (I was told that in no uncertain terms). Today, I’m officially on long-term disability, but it is rewarding as I am earnestly working hard on recovering from an injury I hope to never have again. I own six helmets.
Chapter 4: “How to Brew Coffee”
Given the challenges the early chapters in this book present, I embark on a different perspective. I have pursued a lot of dreams and desires in my life such as: becoming a professor, visiting Paris, running the NYC Marathon, climbing Mt. Everest, and achieving world peace. Being a professor, visiting Paris, and six times being a 26.2 mile completer have been accomplished – more than once – and I am working on the remaining two. Until then I am making sure I take the medicine I’ve been ordered to take daily, continue running as far as I can, and continue to plan another trip to Paris. I’ll give up Mt. Everest if I can achieve world peace across the planet (the continuing fight between Michigan and Michigan State may be unsolvable for eternity).
Chapter 5: Learn to Take a Chance Again
I have realized it was futile continuing to refer to this change in life as a burden. Having any changes and events that seem unfair in life may strike you as a reason to yell at God regardless of whether you also howl at the moon. I don’t want new drugs (I don't want the current ones, either), I don’t want a roster of doctors to visit, and I hope I’m done with hospitals. Yet, these are not setbacks, but rather a transforming way to experience and grow from a change in life. I love life. I love my family, my friends, my cat, Nike (my running shoes), and I still love coffee. Most importantly, I love Danette. In the nearly 28 years we’ve been married (our next anniversary a few months after reading this letter), I do not recall a single day, hour, minute, second, or nanosecond or anything in life we don’t see the same way (possible exception - “Red Wings hockey”). Eh hem, I apologize for the distraction.
Changes. Having been born before we humans set foot on the moon, I have learned that life is involved with mistakes, accidents, bad choices, good choices (known as love), and laughter (also known as love). For everyone, changes in life are regular, consistent, and almost always unexpected events. They also happen to everyone, so everyone reading this should take it to heart. Let everyone you know learn that life is full of changes - expect them - but know that it is not – should not – be your role alone to decide the best path to Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. these changes. Use them to make life for you and those who love you a better place to exist.
Prior to the injury, I was serving on the president’s cabinet of a small university here in Indy. Danette had finished her Fine Arts degree in ceramics and was developing her expertise and building her own creative art empire for sale and display at art shows (also, while in Germany, she spent time as a volunteer for a ceramic fine art production company). That has changed. It had to change for reasons highlighted above. I now work from home as an apprentice in the “domestic engineer” industry while Danette recently joined the Indiana Repertory Theatre as the Assistant Controller. She’s enjoying the job that combines her degree and experience in Accounting with her love and passion in art.
Epilogue #1 (more chapters and updates expected)
I have learned that life is difficult because it changes. People, places, governments, economies, climates, landscapes and more all change regularly. These further cause people and all the other experiences in life to change.That was something contemplated when I initially read "The Road Less Traveled and I believe in that concept even more today. Everything changes but right now, as when I was a child, the one thing that should also change is our love of life and how we should continue to love one another even though life changes.
Prior to the injury, I was serving on the president's cabinet of a small university. That has changed. I had to change for reasons highlighted above. I now work from home as an apprentice in the "domestic engineering" industry. I am also studying for medical degrees in neurology, rheumatology, cardiology, and some dabbling in pulmonology. In the mix of all that, I have learned the inner workings of the pharmaceutical and health care industries. I thought going to college to be a meteorologist was the best dream ever, but now realize what I'm studying is much more challenging. Yet, in some ways far more beneficial.
Viva La Vida!
|I became a doctor just in time to travel and see the minions||I became a doctor just in time to travel and see the minions Max and Maggie study my psyche while Danette and Diana enjoy the cool fall scene.|
 The opening line to the enduring favorite book by M. Scott Peck “The Road Less Traveled” (1978). A book I read early in college and have read it several times since.
 München is also home to a plant that was the location for the filming of the Gene Wilder classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.