Saturday, January 31, 2015

The litany of a Brain Injured Warrior's life;

When I was 5 years old I turned over in bed. It was the unblocked top bunk of a bunk bed. As I fell I landed on my the corner of my toy box striking my left temple. For a day I was blind.

     - But I will go on.

When I was about 12, I got a clue that my brother was not my friend. We were traipsing, at a run, through South Philly's Italian Market to return to our parents. My brother led, Tommy & I followed. I remember one moment where we ran over some ground laying pallets and then a few moments later my Mom was screaming.

A police officer snatched me aside while she screamed and proceed to inspect my gaping scalp wound. I then realized that my face and chest were being covered by blood. Apparently, just over the laying pallets was an iron weight holding down an awning of a section of the market. My brother, being about 4 inches shorter than me (Tommy too), took us that way - perhaps with the nefarious hopes that paid off.

     - But I will go on.

A female friend of mine approached me between classes to tell me that Big Fred, a gargantuan fattie of ill repute, wanted to talk to me to bury any hatchets that we may have. Seeing Big Fred behind her I told her I had none and little time between classes to chit chat. I then turned back to my actual girlfriend, who was getting some of my books out of her locker, when Big Fred struck me from behind.

His fist slammed into my skull from behind, striking me just under the left ear. My head then proceeded to rudely introduce itself to the nearby locker causing the lock to strike me around the right ear. Sudden unconsciousness ensued that lasted about half an hour.

- A common flaw the average person makes is thinking that my body requires conscious thought to engage in physical activity. IT DOES NOT! -

As I arose from the School Nurse's bed my girlfriend grabbed my arm to stop me. She told me that I turned to her and said, "Let go" with such a blank face that she thought I might be dead. I then proceeded to respond to Big Fred. All of my friends were outside the nurse's office, waiting for news, and my closest one realized my mission. He shouted, "Grab him!!" 20 guys tried to restrain me and failed. None were wounded but all of them were quite embarrassed at how effectively I avoided restraint without seriously hurting a single one of them.

Using my arms and hands to block restraint or divert tackles I then proceeded down the hall until the Vice Principal, with good thought, locked my hands in his arm pits and clenched down with his arms then shouted in my face, "Stop!" Having a moment to thinking about stopping, I then returned to an unconscious state.

Big Fred was an awesome trumpeter in the school's band and I was the most skilled IT geek in a 1985 Ghetto school. Big Fred got a week of detention for his actions. I got suspended for a week for the hooplah "I" created afterwards. No wonder I have issues with Authority.

     - But I will go on.

Military service. Then Combat service. The injuries are numerous and brain injuries common.

     - But I will go on.

I returned home from Combat service and found that the backyard to my apartment had become a shuck and jive point for a local teenage gang. I proceeded to tell them that they could no longer use my yard as a drinking party spot which they, at that time, left without any display.

The next night there was a knock on my door. The oldest gang member, surrounded by a dozen other ones, was shouting and screaming for me to come out and answer for my ignorance. Since I had a girlfriend over at the time, I could not just let them trash the outside of my apartment (as they were starting to do) so I stepped out into the street.

The gang started circling me as the leader took a boxing stance facing me. I did not take one. The leader tossed a jab (which missed) and I just looked like a country bumpkin (which they let my Kentucky accent mislead them) and they teased me about not even knowing how to box. "Nah, my pah-pah just taught me how to wrestle the cows down while he branded them," was my response.

The leader did not realize he had a bad boxing habit. He let his feet cross as he moved sideways... and he'd do that when jabbing. One time he jabbed while his feet were cross and I struck. The jab lined him up for my Tyson-like upper cut. I felt his jaw break but as he fell he shouted, "I'm down!" Then the gang member who stayed lined up behind me hit me in the back of the head with a golf club.

The common flaw engaged: The look of terror on my attacker's face when I turned around and struck back was phenomenal. I then had 8 more teenagers try to put me down with fists and feet. I gently cleaned my street with them. I then had a close neighbor offer to help me. I got into his car and said, "Mom". He started driving to my mom's while I lost consciousness. I have flitting memories of being transported from his car into a Temple Police car. My first firm memory was of a Temple ER Doctor flashing a light into my eyes.

There is more I could share on this but the important thing to note: The attack and lack of conscious event happened within a 20 minute time frame. That is Philly for you. You can be thinking about what you are about to do to your Girlfriend's fine body and 20 minutes later be unconscious after having to spank almost a dozen kids.

     - But I will go on.

September 2013 I join Boston's Hub on Wheels event. Sign up to do 20 miles and something happened around 15 miles. That is all I know and that is mostly second hand information. My first conscious thought was when I was strapped into a device that had me on my stomach, with my arms (which were mangled) outstretched and restrained, being cleaned - even in some quite personal areas.

On and on, on and on, ... ....

     - But I will go on.

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