Friday, March 27, 2015

Spoke at the annual meeting of a Brain Injury survivor group

This meeting was hosted by the Mount Sinai Rehab Hospital in September, 2014. I initially agreed to speak for 15 minutes, however they asked me to speak longer, so it went about 25 minutes. I was given a generous thank-you gift as well as the posted endorsement letter.

Was on a panel at the 2015 NEURON conference

NEURON is the North East Undergraduate Research On Neuroscience. When I was asked to be on the panel, I was told the panel was loosely entitled "What pre-health students should know about brain injury." The 2/22/2015 conference was held at Quinnipiac University. Before the panel began fielding questions I gave a 10 minute overview of my TBI, along the lines for which the panel was formed. The questions fielded from the audience, which also included educators, were insightful and thought provoking.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A pictoral of my transition

Then - about 5 weeks after I went into a coma in 2006; intubated with a serious scar on the temple of my head! ..... and now -skulling in the Hartford Regatta in October, 2014.

I have a cycling friend whose wife is a graphic designer. She took these two images and created this image merge that I hope you find interesting.

..... thanks Christine Waite!!

I was presented an honorarium for speaking at CCSU

I’ve delivered my talk about surviving with a brain injury more than a dozen times for several different psychology subjects for professor Andreoletti at Central Connecticut State University. As well, I’ve presented to other psychology classes for other profs at CCSU. The more significant thing about this presentation was that Carrie advocated an honorarium for my talk.

I presented at STCC; could lead to future talks

On Nov. 17th, 2014 I presented to a combination of 3 classes at STCC (Springfield Tech Community College). Julie, whom I know from her PT job, arranged this talk. I knew she was taking neurology, which I thought was a perfect fit for my material, however Julie had invited both a P/T and an O/T course's students. I presented for an hour and a half an answered questions for another 45 minutes. Many of the students e-mailed with their comments and appreciation. One of the 3 classes mailed to me a collective, hand-written thank-you note.
The O/T program director emailed me with her reaction that my presentation was well organized and orchestrated. She also paper-mailed a formal letter of appreciation on school stationary.
This same O/T program director recommended me to speak to her colleagues’ students at Springfield College. Stay tuned for a post about such talk.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Acquired Brain Injury; Advanced Forum training; in support of BIAC - on Nov. 12, 2014

I provided training for the Allied Group with/for BIAC on Nov. 12, 2014. Allied provides training for the supervisors of ILSTs (Independent Life Skill Trainers). ILSTs provide 1-on-1 coaching for brain injury survivors. I provided the perspective of the client who gets coached - TBI survivors. So, I was training the supervisors of Life Skills coaches, and those ILSTs work directly with clients.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Instructions for donating to BIAC

A newspaper article about me appeared in the Glastonbury Citizen on June 23, 2011. It mentions that I'd like to solicit funds for the Brain Injury Association of CT (BIAC). If you are comfortable using a secure website, my page on the site BIAC has engaged as a platform for the fundraising effort is:

If you are uncomfortable performing financial transactions over the web, the address for BIAC is:
200 Day Hill Road, Suite 250, Windsor, CT 06095. Their phone number is (860)219-0291. Please note "Bike-A-Thon/Joe Damon" in the memo section of your check.

Thank you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

an OVERDUE return to BLOGging

I almost forgot my address and password to log-on to Blogger!! ... because it's been so long since I've posted.

I begin by making a list of subjects that I must/will expand on. I will continue posting, but if you are anxious about any particular item please post a comment to that effect and push me to get going.

I can't recall the way to create an orderly table (which I figured) so I'll just make a running list!

We vacationed in Falmouth on Cape Cod in August/September 2010, I was awarded the 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award in September, I've helped Gaylord Hospital raise funds for the past year, I presented at a local Boy Scout troop Court of Honor ceremony in October, I helped organize the 2011 BIAC Bike-A-Thon, in May I completed the metric century bike ride at the 2011 BIAC Bike-A-Thon, in April I addressed 5 university psych classes at CCSU in New Britian, in early May I spoke to a psych class at ESCU in Willimantic, and on 6/23 the Glastonbury Citizen newspaper released an article about my recovery from my TBI.

++++++++++++++++++ Update on 7/14/11 +++++++++++++++++++

My daughter, Kate and her wonderful husband, Dan Okun, produced the most beautiful baby girl, Gianna Lynn, on May 20, 2011. Gianna is my first grandchild!

Rather than expose folks to my poor photography, please see my wife's website/BLOG for many remarkable photos of Gianna. Please visit

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The 2010 BIAC Bike-A-Thon was a Success.

Photos courtesy of Bill McEwen

I am pleased to announce that BIAC raised over $8000 (after expenses) from Saturday’s Bike-A-Thon. The BIAC Bike-A-Thon raised awareness of brain injury. Attorney Tony Sheffy will return as the named sponsor in 2011. The BIAC Bike-A-Thon is now an annual fund raising tradition. Thank you for supporting the Bike-A-Thon.

The photo immediately above displays a group of riders on the BIAC Bike-A-Thon course with a lighthouse in the background. Above it is a photo of my son and I. The leftmost photo shows me in the process of riding the metric century.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Zack on "Glee" episode

On 7/27/07 we viewed Silas’ documentary on Zack Weinstein after we viewed Silas’ documentary on me. On 5/11/10 Lynn was watching “Glee” and she called me to see an actor whom she thought was Zack. Lynn and I watched the full episode of “Glee” but we missed the credits. I did a Google search on Zack & Glee and I found this article about the episode of “Glee.”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Annual BIAC Bike-A-Thon

I have been helping organize a bike ride to benefit the Brain Injury Association of Connecticut. We are now accepting registrations for the May 15th Bike-A-Thon.

** The following text is excerpted from the event flyer: **

Take the road with fellow cyclists in the Brain Injury Association of Connecticut’s First Annual Bike-A-Thon, and you’ll not only share spectacular views of the six historic lighthouses set between Avery Point in Groton and Westerly, Rhode Island, but one very important common goal: raising the funds BIAC needs to go on providing critical brain injury prevention and resource services throughout Connecticut.

• 62 mile ride $125
• 25 mile ride $50

All participants will receive a Bike-A-Thon t-shirt, water bottle, food at the event, and the gratification of knowing that 100% of everything raised will go directly to support BIAC services.

To learn more about the ride or to register online, please visit

Click here to view the Hartford Courant iTowns (Groton) press release

Click here to view the New London Day press release

Click here to view the full Bike-A-Thon flyer

The photo of me in the newspaper Bike-A-Thon articles also appears in my blog posting dated Thursday, May 14, 2009, titled "My first (post-TBI) road bike climb up a big nearby hill". The photograph was taken after my TBI yet before my knee replacement surgery.

***** Appended 4/25/2010 ********

I have been preparing to complete the BIAC bike-a-thon metric century. On 4/18 I made a rolling ~40 mile bike ride with a local bike shop club and I rode in a group. That was quite an accomplishment. My friend, Peter, joined me for the club ride. I met a few of Peter’s friends there.

We rode back roads thru central CT and took a break for coffee and a pastry at a local fruit orchard with the apple trees beginning to bloom. The weather was sunny but chilly – a typical Spring day.

***** Appended 5/7/2010 ********

I recently made a bike tour of ~40 miles, but most importantly, I climbed a hill (approximately 420 vertical feet) that I hadn’t conquered since before my accident.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lynn was on the FOX 61 TV news on 3/5/10

My wife, Lynn, was on the FOX61 morning news with Joe Furey.
Lynn did the weather with Joe and she talked about her artistic portraits.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lynn's Photography Profession Comeback

I’m extremely proud of my wife’s professional photographic comeback. On February 5, Lynn entered the Connecticut Professional Photographers annual print competition. She performed very well. Lynn hadn’t competed in 7 years while we lived in Italy and because she was committed to my recovery from an auto accident.
Lynn earned her tenth Kodak Gallery Award for Photographic Excellence for her image entitled ‘Day Dreamer’, which was also a Judges Choice award. Lynn’s combined print total was in the top 3 in the competition field.

During the convention Lynn was Chairman of the day on 2/6/10. She is a past president of CPPA.

Lynn has been in business for over 20 years in the area. Last year, she opened a studio/gallery in the town that we recently relocated to. Lynn is a Master Photographic Craftsman. She earned these degrees through the Professional Photographers of America.

Lynn recently released to her website a video documenting a family’s photo shoot and the interaction of the product delivery. Her Kodak Gallery Award, ‘Day Dreamer’, is also visible at Lynn's website. You will find that both the full video and the ‘Day Dreamer’ image are available on Lynn's website. There is a "trailer" of the video that appears when you enter Lynn's website.

In October Lynn began displaying her photographic images at the TRUNK SHOWcase, which is a unique boutique that features Connecticut’s most inventive artisans and designers. At the store, located on Main Street in the historical district of Glastonbury, Connecticut, one can find various items that celebrate the creativity of the designers that make them. The products include apparel, accessories, handbags, jewelry, art, pottery, and home decor.

TRUNK SHOWcase features a rotation of local artisans. Visitors can expect to see different products in the store on a regular basis. The artists’ work continues to be updated in the boutique.

Congratulations Lynn.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I celebrated the 4 year anniversary of life reborn.

Yesterday, 1/31, was the 4 year anniversary of my TBI. I haven't posted to my BLOG in a long while so I break the dry spell with a memorable occasion. Lynn and I got up on Sunday morning and we went to church. When we returned I whipped up a batch of pancakes with honey, oatmeal, and yogurt. I topped the pancakes with bananas and warm, real maple syrup, and I served fresh-brewed coffee with them. My son was home from NYC for Saturday night and Sunday to join me in celebrating the occassion. It is nice (and dolce-sweet) to be alive! Thanks to everyone who has helped me over the past 4 years and more.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Joe, Peter, and Salem's Great Adventure

I went mountain biking with 2 friends, Salem and Peter. Salem was a professional mountain biker until 2006. Our adventure was over uneven terrain, in the woods, and, as we saw in the distance we were equally as high in elevation as Old Maids Lane. I’ve made other postings about the hill of Old Maids Lane. The next morning I received emails from both Peter and Salem:

“Joe, I told my wife about the adventure, thinking that she might be upset for subjecting you to such difficulties, but she said that as long as it was fairly safe and slow it was probably good for your experience and confidence. It was admittedly, "a bit much" and obviously was not planned, but you rose to the occasion! - Peter”

“Hi Joe, I enjoyed getting to meet and ride with you, and when I watch you have to work carefully through what I'm sure was once easy, I am impressed by your steady will power and your good attitude through it all. You are taking these challenges with absolute grace, and I'm happy to be along for that ride. Cheers, Salem”

Thanks for the support of my friends. I look forward to many more adventures!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vacation at Falmouth

We vacationed at Falmouth on the Cape (for 3 full weeks). We stayed at a cottage where we've stayed many times before and it is owned by a relative. The cottage abuts a Salt pond and is @ 1/2 mile from the beach on Martha's Vineyard Sound.

The cottage is set back ~200 yds from the paved road and has a shared unpaved driveway. We brought our mountain bikes on vacation and I frequently rode the unpaved driveway. These were my first real bike rides since my knee was resurfaced. I snapped a few photos to record that bike-ride moment.

There was construction of homes on a neighboring cul-de-sac. I gradually biked up the shared unpaved driveway, then down the neighboring cul-de-sac. Eventually I worked up to solo bike rides to the beach.

We had many vacation guests. My son stayed with us for a week centered around Labor Day. Paul has recently taken up surfing. He is naturally athletic and a proficient skate-boarder. We went to the National Seashore and I sunned on the beach until the tide was best for surfing. We then went back to a surf shop and he rented a board.

One day Paul and I made a longer bike ride to Woods Hole and I snapped these fotos:

We took a day trip to Provincetown with Paul. Here's a few photos:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chris' TBI Research Paper

My nephew, Chris, completed a report on TBI, with particular interviews of (t)his uncle. Mrs. Garcia was Chris’ teacher who graded his research paper. He surely learned how to research a topic and cite a paper.

I sent this email to Chris on the night when he presented me a graded copy of his research paper:

Chris, great job!

I'm proud of you. It's really sobering and upsetting to observe how you perceive my injury effects and its detriments.

Chris’ librarian is the wife of my brother-in-law’s good friend. She guided Chris’ paper topic research. There were a few post-it notes from her that you may not be clear enough to read. She says .......

----> "Chris, I can't believe this! As I was reading this paper I kept thinking Joe's story sounded so familiar. Then I thought, how could this exact thing have happened to two people? When you mentioned Lynn in the paper I had to find you! I am calling Scott tonight to tell them this story
( ;^)) Mrs. Metheny

It has certainly been a long, hard journey for your uncle. He has such a supportive family. Did you let him read your paper?"

Click here to access Chris' full, graded research paper.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I met Trisha Meili at Gaylord Hospital

My mom, my daughter, my wife, my nephew, and I attended the campaign conclusion event at Gaylord Hospital. Trisha Meili, The Central Park Jogger, was the highlighted speaker. Trisha now lives in CT and she is surely the best known Gaylord patient, ever.

Trisha is a fine person with a heart of gold. Trisha and I became better acquainted over the course of the night. We have many similar experiences and we share much of the same history. She has a tremendous passion to see that Gaylord Rehab Hospital receives the recognition that it deserves.

Trisha sincerely wants to stay in touch with me. She remarked that when I have fully recovered from my knee re-surfacing surgery, possibly we can run together. That would be so cool.

My good friend, Robert, did a great job with the event. He paid particular attention to detail, e.g. fresh-cut Peonies flowers, fine Italian dolce, invitations, name tags, etc.

As the night progressed, during a conversation with Trisha, it dawned on us that 6/16/09 was the 3 year anniversary that I left Gaylord as an in-patient. When I discovered this fact I began sobbing.

Before the event Robert had spoken to Trisha about me and Trisha had previously watched “Joe’s Progress” documentary. If we had gotten well acquainted before-hand and if I was in the room when she was formally introduced, I believe that Trisha would have mentioned me by name in her spoken presentation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Knee Resurfacing (Replacement) Surgery

I was in Manchester Memorial Hospital (MMH) for 4 days. My knee resurfacing surgery was was a great success, but the process is every bit as uncomfortable as I had been warned about. I received a "nerve block" (the block) to avoid general anesthesia and, in fact, my orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Veltri (who is also my friend) told me that it was a successful strategy, permitting him to perform the surgery nearly without anesthesia, which was very positive.

I migrated from Vicodin to Dilaudid for pain. I then weaned to only extra strength Tylenol. By 7/23 I wasn't even taking Tylenol. I learned, the tough way, that RX drugs and a TBI don't go together well. It was a tough battle.

I have experienced some strange effects from meds in my recent past, due to my TBI. I am blessed to have a very conscientious physiatrist, Dr Feingold, who prescribed two pain meds for me to evaluate prior to my surgery. I was fortunate to discover that I almost hallucinated on the weaker med and I dealt better with the stronger. However, not being in severe pain, I couldn’t really judge the pain relief effect of the RX meds.

The effects of the block were quite strange. I virtually had no feeling below the waist in my left leg (where I had the knee resurfacing surgery). I had been advised, by Dr. Dan, to stay ahead of the pain by beginning to take more pain medication when it was offered in an effort to stay ahead of the pain as the block began to wear off. I tried my best to follow his advice but it's not easy to accept pain meds when the block still has its numbing effect. However it was quite significant when the block no longer had its numbing effect.

My friend Lappie spoke with Dr. Dan after the surgery and Dr. Dan remarked that "it's a good thing that I did the surgery when I did it". When Dr. Dan saw the inside of my knee he was surprised that I'd been able to complete any recent bicycling activities. I feel that I am a very fortunate man. Thank you Dr. Dan.

**** 7/3/09 Modification start ****

After my stay at MMH, I transferred to a local rehabilitation facility, Glastonbury Health Care Center in Glastonbury, CT. on Hebron Avenue, for 6 days. The GHCC staff professionally referred to my surgery as knee re-surfacing. I became friendly with director (David Sones) of the facility and I shared my website and the documentary film, "Joe's Progress" with him. David then shared the documentary with his staff.

I enjoyed my stay at GHCC. I was fortunate to have had many nice visits and diversions while I was there. My wife even brought Stella along to visit me for 5 consecutive dinner times. We had picnic dinners of take-out restaurant food. We enjoyed the on-site gazebo and at other outside common areas.

My good friend Al brought me out in a wheel chair and we jokingly did some off-road riding, on some uneven gravel paths. Surprisingly, within 2 days my rehab PT’s brought me on the same paths, first with a walker, then they graduated me to use of only a cane. In fact my PT, Karen, brought me for a cane walk on the same path to evaluate my use of only a cane on uneven surfaces.

I did at-home rehab from 6/5 to 6/12. I watched VCR tapes of the Giro d'Italia, a professional, multi-day bike race in Italy (thanks to my brother-in-law, Dave) while I recovered at home. I can't wait to be back on my bike but I will exercise patience.

I watched all of the VCR tapes of the Giro d’Italia ’09. It was a very exciting Giro. None of the marquee names stood out. Several of the stages were a little too close to my cycling past in Italia of 2004, 2005, and 2006. I frequently bicycled on some of the same roads that were used in the stage on the Amalfi coast and the stage began in Napoli, very close to the U.S. embassy and passed directly in front of our palazzo/apartment. That was too much nostalgia of a wonderful, care-free time in my life that I may never experience again.

**** 7/3/09 Modification end *****

I had an appointment with doc Dan 6/8 and I had the staples removed. Dr. Dan then looked at the remaining bow in my right leg and he cracked “when should we schedule the other knee?”

<-----Here is a photograph of my legs before the surgery : note my left leg before the knee resurfacing surgery. When I have fully healed I intend to duplicate this shot to produce a before and after comparison photograph.
The left knee was the subject of the resurfacing surgery. I have more after-surgery photographs, but they are not for the faint at heart; please request.

Interim Healthcare provided in-home rehab services to me. My Interim Healthcare nurse and PT came nearly every day. They were wonderful and they helped me make rehab progress. I began more rehab with Integrated Physical Therapy at their facility on 6/15.

Here is a photograph of the home-grown Peonie flowers, that were given to me by my neighbor when I returned from the hospital. <-----
Unfortunately, I snapped this photograph when the flowers were past their peak. <-----

I've attached another photograph of a beautiful floral bouquet given to me by a friend. The beautiful bouquet is arranged in a fine glass vase, next to an empty plastic water pitcher. When my friend presented me with the beautiful bouquet, I had quickly placed it in the plastic water pitcher. The wonderful staff at GHCC noticed my bouquet in the plastic water pitcher and they arranged the beautiful bouquet in the fine glass vase, as pictured. Thanks, GHCC.

***** Appended 6/29/09 ******

I now go to outpatient physical therapy with a good friend, Eric. My surgeon and friend, Dr. Dan, and Eric have both confirmed that my body is getting accustomed to my corrected, normal gait and that I may take some time to adjust.

I now have to concentrate on my every step. Over many years, as the arthritis in my knee progressed, I stepped (limped) heel-to-heel and now I'm able to step and roll heel-to-toe, but I must consciously make it a habit to do so. Getting better is hard work.

One must consciously think about taking a step up/down to/from a curb or stairs. At GHCC they taught me the mental trick “the good go to heaven and the bad go to hell", meaning when you’re about to take a step up, lead off with the good or strong foot/leg and when you’re about to take a step down, begin with the bad or weak foot/leg. After many years of walking it became natural to walk. It's difficult to plan every single step.

Similarly, after naturally taking stairs “one foot over the other” but suddenly one must take ½ steps (i.e. first step right foot up, then step left foot up to meet the right), one must consciously think about climbing or descending stairs.

One only makes the mistake of attempting to support the body’s full weight on the bad leg/foot to learn that one should plan-ahead every step.

**** 08/07/09 - Knee surgery conditioning prep. ***

I attended a knee and hip replacement class at Rockville Hospital, put on by ECHN. I was by far the youngest class member. In my ignorant opinion, I was the only participant who was having a joint replaced due to past athletic activities. Many of the class attendees were older people who were physically unconditioned. It’s hard to imagine how difficult this surgery would be for a physically unconditioned patient. I am real happy that I was well conditioned and prepared for my knee resurfacing surgery!! The hospital personnel explained the procedure. I confronted the reality of my surgery. Even before I attended this class I had anticipated my serious surgery. I was already in the midst of a physical conditioning regimen. In preparation for our house-to-condo relocation I had down-sized my weight training equipment. Before we moved I’d given my weight disks, my leg weight bench, my chest and back weight bench, and various weight barbell configurations to my nephew who planned to use many of them to condition for high school athletics (baseball). Many members of my family joked that I merely “Indian-gave” my weight equipment to Chris.
Shortly after we moved into our condo I designated a section of our basement as an exercise area. I installed my triathlon bike onto my Minoura Mag850 bike trainer and I habitually pedaled my bike. I accepted the challenge of improving my physical conditioning quite seriously.

I exercised my legs and built up the muscles by repeatedly riding my bicycle up the hill from Rt17 to the top of our condo community. This hill is ~100 feet in elevation. To begin, I had a drink of water and started my stop-watch, and then I rode to the top of the hill, clicked my stop watch and had a drink of water. Then I descended the hill to the parking lot behind South Mill Tavern (on Rt17) and immediately repeated the hill climb, a minimum of 5 times. My best performance was 8 consecutive hill repeats. I look forward to completing a single hill repeat after my knee resurfacing surgery.

My worst and most common recovery problem was that my leg muscles weren't stable enough to support my weight. Better weight conditioning would have helped to avoid that issue.
One night, I got up to use the bathroom and I fell down and bruised my “sit bones”. My left leg wasn’t strong enough to support me and my 'TBI wobbles' are compounded by the knee surgery.

**** 08/14/09 - Left Quad muscle atrophy ***
I went to see Dr. Dan for a follow-up appointment the other day. Regardless of my pre-surgery conditioning he noted the obvious difference in the quality/strength of my left (surgery affected) and right quadriceps muscles. I am now hitting the leg weight bench press to strengthen that quad muscle. I realize that I have so much further to go until I can (if ever) resume my previous activity!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mountain Biking on the Air Line Trail

My friend Peter Waite and I drove to East Hampton and we mountain biked the Air Line Trail for 2-3 hrs. I was previously a competent mountain biker. I never competed in a mountain bike race but I completed the mountain bike leg in several multi-sport team events. In the past I made some very technical mountain bike rides but the Air Line Trail ride was not, by any means, technical. Yet, while recovering from a TBI, a bike ride like the Air Line Trail was very challenging. I’ll put it into perspective; things that athletically challenge me today would have been a “walk-in-the-park” in my former life. None-the-less, I'm pleased. It's wild rediscovering my old/former life.

Peter snapped some photos. Here they are:

I found a very complete brochure about the Air Line Trail on GOOGLE;

The Air Line Trail is the site of the former Air Line Railroad, built to connect Boston with New York City in the shortest route possible - as if by a “line” drawn through the “air” via the city of New Haven. The Air Line Railroad was a controversial project because of such obstacles as the Connecticut River and countless ridges, along with its exclusion of the capitol city of Hartford.

Nevertheless, by 1873, this railroad was functioning from New Haven to Willimantic. At these points, the Air Line was able to link with other rail lines to connect New York and Boston in the shortest way then possible. The freight and passenger trains utilizing the Air Line became quite numerous. By 1877, Colchester center was linked to the Air Line at Turnerville (now Amston) via the Colchester Railroad. As the weight of freight trains increased over the years, the Air Line’s weight restricting viaducts, numerous curves, and high grades eventually led to its decline.

The Air Line Rail Trail is located in eastern Connecticut, and stretches more than 50 miles from near the Connecticut River to the Massachusetts border. It is divided into two sections. The South Section starts in East Hampton and ends in Willimantic, with the Colchester Spur branching into the center of the town of Colchester. The North Section continues from Willimantic to Thompson, and connects with the Massachusetts Southern New England Trunk Line trail. Portions of the trail are still undeveloped, but under the management of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the local municipalities that the trail passes through, the trail is an important link with the past and preserves open space for the future.

The trail is highlighted by panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Two dramatic viaducts tower 150 feet above the rivers that iron trestle bridges once crossed. New footbridges cross high over the Blackledge and Jeremy Rivers, allowing hikers and bikers to marvel at the expansive views of the scenery below. Scenic views of the Goodwin State Forest and Conservation Center, Beaver Brook State Park, the Hampton reservoir, the Salmon River State Forest, and Grayville Falls Park make the Air Line Rail Trail one of the best greenways in Connecticut.

The surface is stone dust in East Hampton, Colchester, and Hebron. The trail is appropriate for walking, horseback riding, biking, cross country skiing, and mountain biking.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My first (post-TBI) road bike climb up a big nearby hill

On 5/12/2009, I road-biked with my friend Peter Waite. We first went to the CT river ferry, then along the river to where it ends in a cul-de-sac. Then I made my first (post-TBI) road bike climb up Old Maids Lane hill. I carried my digital camera in my fanny-pouch for the bike ride. Here are the photos (thanks to Peter Waite); turning from River road onto Old Maids lane just before the hill climb,

a panoramic view from the top of Old Maids Lane as I began the hill climb,

and a close-up as I approached the top of the hill climb. One can just make out the CT river in the background,

then I triumphantly posed at Naubug school at the top of Old Maids Lane,

and I descended the hill quickly.

There you have it - officially recorded. We returned to the ferry, crossed Rt17, and we pedaled to the very top of our condo hill

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Celebrating a SERIOUS Accomplishment with Al

I joined my good friend Al as he completed a streak of 700 consecutive weeks running at least 3 days a week, AND at least 10 miles a week. On this particular day, 4/23/2009, I merely rode my mountain bike while Al ran along the same roads. He began his streak in October of 1995. 700 weeks may not seem like a remarkable feat, but one must put that accomplishment in perspective. Seven hundred consecutive weeks exceeds 13 years. While 10 miles per week doesn't seem exceptional, there are countless reasons to end such a streak, such as weather, injury, vacation, business trips, etc. Seven hundred consecutive weeks is simply astounding. I also joined Al to celebrate his 100, 500, and 600 week milestones.

Al and I holding his handmade “700” banner
I cherish and value Al as a friend. Al has been my camping buddy since our UConn days. Al has sacrificed his own conditioning to be a part of my recovery. Al credits me with introducing him to many competitive individual sports, such as triathlon. When we were living in Italy, Lynn came to join me at the hospital after my serious accident and Lynn called Al to inform him about my condition. Al dissolved his sorrows while completing a run at Hammonasett State Park, near his home.

Friday, May 8, 2009


On April 19 I was listening to National Public Radio and I was surprised when NPR reported that 4/20/2009 would be both the 20-year anniversary of the Central Park Jogger incident and the 10-year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.

I have read the book I Am the Central Park Jogger and the author, Trisha Meili, is an inspiration to me. Trisha will soon be the guest speaker at the Gaylord hospital new wing opening celebration. I hope to have the chance to meet Trisha. I regularly volunteer my time at Gaylord hospital.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Seals Crystal Ball 2009

Here I am nearly ready for the annual Easter Seals Crystal Ball, 2-27-2009.







<------- I'm completely ready for the annual Easter Seals Crystal Ball, 2009.

Easter Seals is a wonderful organization.

Easter Seals was pivotal in rehabilitation of my Traumatic Brain Injury.

Lynn and I attended the annual Crystal Ball for Easter Seals at the Hartford Marriott. I had my personal tux tailored. I looked good (please excuse me while I boast).

The tux jacket didn't need to be altered at all. I had the pant waist let out a bit. I already owned a bow tie so I bought a tux shirt. My appearance paled in comparison to Lynn. Look at her!!!!! Wow!!!

Many years had passed since I had worn my tux. I remember that I previously attempted to have my tux altered at a local men’s store . For many years I had bought my entire wardrobe there. A couple of years ago (after my accident) I was overweight. I was preparing to attend a formal event and I went to the same men's clothes store. The gracious store owner had sympathy and he comped a rental tux to me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Welcome 2009

On 12/29/08 I drove a standard shift car when my long-time swimming friend, Bob (Mr. C), brought me out to lunch. It had been many years since I last drove a standard transmission car, and I did quite well (yet I did stall once).

Mr. C., has an interesting story related to the New Years date and I extract this from a recent email from him;

Here is the story of friend who provides Will Shortz with list of names new to news during each year. The program on which Shortz gives the quiz is the Sunday morning news on National Pub Radio... on a Sunday near end of year.

Anyway, about fifteen years ago, Will Shortz introduced an end-of-year news quiz in which he listed the names of people of whom most people hadn't heard the previous year. It struck me as being a good way to break the ice with my students upon returning after the Christmas holidays. Then it struck me that the faculty members might also enjoy it, so I ran off enough copies and put it in their mail slots. Pretty soon it grew into a tradition and my colleagues would tell me how much they enjoyed it, were embarrassed by how little they could remember, and looked forward to it every January.

Ten years ago I was all set with my cassette recorder and Will Shortz came up and ... horror of horrors, no people-puzzle, just a stupid game of categories. I went back to school with no quiz, and was almost lynched. I dashed off an SOS to Will Shortz and, bless him, he sent a list that he had been tinkering with but hadn't got round to broadcasting. My colleagues' appetites were satisfied, and we got on with the rest of the school year.

But at the back of my mind, I thought, if he can miss one year, he can miss another, and then where will I be? My solution was to collect names which I thought likely candidates and send them to him every year and see if he liked them. So I did. I waited by the radio late December 1989 and sure enough; the people-puzzle came on, and with it, on-air credit to me for compiling the names. I nearly fell out of bed!

In the last decade, he's only failed to use my list of names once, I suspect, because my email didn't get through. My friends and neighbors, who know I do this, sometimes suggest names for inclusion in the list, though I've usually beaten them to the punch.

So there you have it. A few seconds at a time, I'm gaining my fifteen minutes of fame. It's rather fun, actually.

1/18/09: Marley and Me (movie reviewed)
Last night we went to the theater and saw the movie ‘Marley and Me’. It is a fabulous, emotional movie. I read the book (see within Blog posting, "Comments about our recent move/Acknowledging how far I’ve come"). The movie did not deviate from the book. I cannot understand how this movie received any negative reviews. I have written before that I have difficulty getting emotional as a result of my TBI, yet I sobbed, embarrassing my family colleagues. Marley and me is the story of a Labrador mut, who's "The World's Worst Dog". Marley brings a family together, then ultimately dies. It's especially emotional for a dog owner/lover, that I am.

1/21/09 John (from New Jersey):
I wish I knew your e.m. address to have a discussion with you. I hope that I can give you encouragement and I wish you and your son the best. If you feel comfortable with having an email discussion with me, make another comment to my BLOG with your e.m. address included in it. I will not "publish" your comment, but, simply contact you via email.

John, let me clarify that if you make a comment with your email account in it, your comment will go directly to my email address. I will not publish your comment. Only I will see your email address.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inauguration Day - Ballot Over the Bullet

A good friend went to D.C. for this truly memorable occasion. He photographed this scene, first-hand.

I volunteered at Gaylord hospital on Inauguration Day, 1/20/09. We watched some of the televised proceedings. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) delivered the following welcome remarks during the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.

..... “Those who doubt the supremacy of the ballot over the bullet can never diminish the power engendered by nonviolent struggles for justice and equality like the one that made this day possible.” .....

I believe that Dianne Feinstein's comment is a statement of strength in peaceful strategies. I did research on the WWW to acquire her quote, upon which, I was surprised at the widespread public attention directed at Dianne's remark.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

TBI Recovery / Bicycling Progression Together

It helps me to stand back and put my recovery progress into perspective. These photos of me riding a bike accentuate my progress.

On July 25, 2007 I first rode a tandem bike with my friend, Phil, at Elizabeth Park, in West Hartford. On 9/19/2007 I was riding my bike with Fatwheels and by 5/19/2008 I rode a bike (alone) with my friend Al at the beach.

I welcome you to make a side-by-side comparison of the 7/25/2007 and 12/3/2008 photos and join me in the rediscovery of my life. The top photo is of me with Phil, taken recently on a bike ride along the CT river (and we climbed the infamous hill at Old Maids lane). If you wish to, please parse thru my BLOG to review the details of each posting. (Notice how chubby I was back in July 2007. It's difficult to comprehend that I was a competitive trathlete and marathoner in the past.)

I have donated my Fatwheels to Gaylord Hospital so that someone else can take advantage of them, as I did.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our 27th anniversary: I exercised independance.

The entire day felt like old times, again. I acted independently. I planned and exercised time management skills. I researched the menu, bought the groceries, prepped the meal, cooked it, set the table, showered, and got all dressed up. I woke up and drove down to (the local) Gardiners market, where I bought a center-cut pork roast, the correct apples to make applesauce, and an anniversary card.

I swung by the local bakery for a couple of cinnamon buns, which we ate with the coffee that I made before I departed for the market. I brought Stella to run free at the Gazebo, and then I put on my apron and I became a chef. I prepared the applesauce, pork roast, potatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts with walnuts. I even made a peanut butter passion desert.

Lynn cleaned out the fireplace and prepared the lumber. She left it ready to simply strike a match. After dinner I made a fire in the fireplace.

I've included a photo of the meal. (Notice Stella's head, in the background, below the platter.)

****** Appended 12/09/08 ********

We spent the weekend visiting our long-time friends and co-swimmers, John and Susy, who’ve bought (and relocated to) a lake house in Lee NH. We had a wonderful time. We let Stella run-free in their front yard, took a rugged hike at College Woods, visited the Christmas Dove shop, attended an open-house at an organic homeopathic shop, played card games, watched a UNH women’s hockey game, and swam at UNH. I’ve included some photos that document our weekend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Easter Seals appreciation dinner

Lynn and I attended the Easter Seals appreciation dinner on Wednesday, November, 19, 2008. Lynn and I were the evening's speakers. I was the Easter Seals patient of the year, 2007. We did really well. I truly believe (and many attendees remarked) that we brought a personal aspect to the otherwise sterile fund raising activity.

When we arrived I spoke to the Easter Seals director of development. She asked me to make my address as personable as I could (i.e. to expose myself to the audience) and she warned me that not everyone had received a letter that I had previously penned to the donor community. That letter had some details about my history so I wrote the first paragraph during the cocktail hour before dinner. We spoke after dinner. Below is my prepared address, which I delivered mostly from memory.

I've been extremely nervous preparing to address you. In my past life, this event would have been nothing. I'll tell you what I mean by that. I've created a BLOG. For those of you who aren't familiar with a BLOG; a BLOG is a website. On my BLOG, there is a documentary film about me and my accident. In the documentary film, there is a scene of me addressing an audience, speaking Italian. Now, that is something to get nervous about. ......Avanti.....

I'm standing in front of you tonight
• as proof of the benefits provided by Easter Seals,
• to thank you for your past donations,
• and to reinforce the need to continue raising funds for Easter Seals.

In January, 2006, while working and living in Italy, I was in a serious car accident. That event changed my life forever. After three months in Italian hospitals, I took a stretcher flight back to the United States. I went directly to Gaylord Hospital. After seven weeks I returned home and I continued therapy as an out-patient at Easter Seals. I entered Easter Seals in a wheel chair and after nine months I was walking with only a cane. Today, I don't even use a cane. My progress was slow but steady due to the professional, dedicated therapists that worked with me.

My memory is poor but I fondly recall the outings we took that helped us regain normal lives, such as bowling, going out to lunch, and shopping. Easter Seals helped me to re-learn basic-but critical tasks, like following a recipe, placing a food order, dividing the bill, collecting money, and making change. Just this past March, Easter Seals helped me to reacquire my driver's license. I successfully passed on my first attempt and I now have my driver license which has helped me recover more of my independence.

As much as Easter Seals has helped my recovery from a traumatic brain injury, family support has been critical to my success. I'd like to introduce you to my number one care-giver, my best friend, my wife, Lynn.

At this point Lynn took over. She spoke from her heart, connected with the audience, and made a true impact. Lynn filled in the gaps about my career at United Technologies Corp., being persuaded to accept the consulting job in Italy, our life in Italy, the night of my accident, how I awoke from my coma in the Italian hospital and could no longer speak Italian, etc.

Lynn did an outstanding job.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Life at Our New Condo; Enjoying our dancing Cockapoo Run Free

Stella thoroughly enjoys running free at the condo and it gives me the opportunity to give her exercise when I might not otherwise be able to adequately exercise her, considering my physical disabilities. I've been bringing Stella to a community-shared area with a gazebo that's become an informal dog park, where various pet owners bring their pups to play together. Stella has many friends at the condo, some small like Stella (note Tucker and Abby) and others quite large (Haley). I have my method of being cautious while letting Stella run free; I keep her leash attached (notice Stella on the run with Haley laying next to her), but I let her run free, yet, I can easily secure Stella.

Stella now has many friends at our new condo. For a brain-injured person, these new, short-term, situations are challenging. For example, I have difficulty differentiating one dog’s appearance from another’s, but my limits are stretched to accurately remember the pets/owners names' and their related stories.
Stella gives us joy living here at our condo. There are so many reasons that we are thankful to have made the relocation from our large house to our condo, but that may be the subject of an entire novel.

****** Appended 11-30-08 *******

Haley Replaced Stella's Rubber Ball

Yesterday we received a note and a package in the mail. I opened the package and read the note,
---- Stella,
------ Sorry I ate your ball.
---- Hope to see you soon.
---- Haley

Haley is the large dog in the photo, eating Stella's rubber ball. I've added a photo of Stella with the large rubber ball / gift from Haley.

My daughter has encouraged me to create a BLOG just for Stella, but I object. My reasoning is that a dog cannot type (yet).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My progress continues

The other day, I made a bike ride with my long-time exercise friend, Lappie. In the past, Paul and I competed in triathlons and we biked/toured together. Riding with Paul again was special for me. We went to the ferry landing, climbed a serious hill (Old Maids lane) and back down, returned to the ferry landing again, then back up(hill) to the condo.

Paul sent an email to me the next day and he wrote that I am a regular guy and our bike ride felt like old times to him. I’m quite flattered.

Paul’s quite a character. He is in his mid-40’s. His wife’s in her early 40’s. Any day, they are expecting their first child. They have traveled quite a bit in the past. Paul is an avid mountain climber. In fact, this past Spring, he climbed Mount Denali in Alaska. I wish them the best in raising their baby.

****** Appended 11/30/08 ********

Complimenti, Sheila e Paulo Laps. Avete fate bene.
Chase Callahan LaPierre was born this morning at 6:15 a.m.
Chase weighed in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces. The whole family is doing well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today Stella is one year old.

Today is the first birthday for our puppy, Stella.
I first wrote about her when we got her last Christmas.
Do a search for Stella or Cockapoo and read more about her.

Buon compleanno cane.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comments about our recent move/Acknowledging how far I’ve come

The new location that we live in is very quaint and picturesque. Lynn and I often take a bike ride on the back roads, along the CT river, and we include a demanding hill climb.

I have become very frustrated because I live with my progress on a daily basis versus getting a long perspective. It’s difficult for me to be patient. I prefer immediate results.

Children are so innocent and honest. We have to listen to their comments and appreciate what they are telling us.
We recently hosted the family of a friend, Eric, who provides massage on my left shoulder and also does cranial sacral massage.
In preparation for their visit, Eric had told his young son, Ethan, “Joe had an accident and Joe might not seem just right – you know his speech or how he walks”.
On the way home from dinner, Ethan said to Eric, “Dad, you know all that stuff you said about Joe? Well, I thought he looks totally normal”.

I am very self-conscious of my speech. I recently saw Gen, an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen since my accident. Afterward, she wrote, in an email to me, that she has no problem understanding me, which gave me confidence about my speech.

Posted 9/21
On Saturday, 9/20, Lynn and I again biked to the ferry landing, we crossed the CT river and we split a cup of ice cream at a shop in Old Wethersfield, then we retraced our journey.

For the first time since I had my TBI I successfully completed a novel. I've had difficulty tracking the printed lines of text, but I found myself so captivated and interested by the story-line that I finished the novel, "Marley & Me", by John Grogan.

Another (post-TBI) first: I cried as I read this book. Crying is uncommon for me. A short time ago, it seemed that my tear ducts dried up, regardless of how sad that I felt.

I have also re-experienced the ability to break a sweat (and smelly at that) when I work out (e.g. ride my exercise bike). For a long time (~18 months) I could not exercise hard enough to break a sweat.

Recently, I went biking on the picturesque rural road that runs alongside the CT river while my friend Jeff rollerbladed. Jeff and I previously played volleyball together. Jeff is a mutual friend of Phil and we tried to arrange this bike ride together, as Jeff rollerbladed. In this instance we could not arrange a joint event. I hope that in the future we can arrange a joint ride because Phil is the very friend who brought me on my first (post-TBI) bike ride (on a tandem). I suspect that Phil will feel quite satisfied to visualize my progress since that tandem bike ride that we made some 5 months ago.

Appended 10/21/08

We recently when went to Hammonasett State park and I biked alone on the park road. Reading my BLOG helps me to keep a perspective on my progress. I rode a bike there with my friend Al, on May 19, 2008 for the first time since my TBI.

Before the TBI, I was a very good, passionate chef. Recently I’ve regained my interest in cooking food. I've been cooking pasta with sauces such as home-grown garden fresh basil and tomatoes with roasted peppers, and home made pizzas. Here’s some pizza photos:

When Lynn was on an errand out of the house and I was home alone, I took an 8 mile bike ride on a nearby country lane, that has a serious hill climb >80 ft of elevation that has become my tour mid-point. I repeated that ride 3 days in a row. Cautiously, I carried my cell phone in my bike jersey pocket. I called Lynn before I left, when I was putting my bike shoes on, and I called Lynn when I was safely back at home.

I have a good friend whom I previously did triathlons with. He owns a bike shop. He has offered me an opportunity to repair bikes in his shop. Relative to my previous career, this work may seem trivial, but I continue to make progress and I'm excited.