Friday, November 23, 2007

Giro di Vittoria

I coined the title-phrase Giro di Vittoria, meaning "tour of victory" and we proceeded in appropriate spirit.

We completed a 26 day trip to Italia, about which, I will post more detail and photos. Stay tuned!!

To begin the epic sory, here is an excerpt from an email that we sent to our Italian friends on September 5, 2007, before we left on our trip.
We arrive in Italia on 10, ottobre. We will be staying at a Bed and Breakfast called
Parteno .
The address is Lungomare Partenope 1
The phone # is (+39)
We remain there until 18, ottobre

We hope to visit with all our friends in Napoli during the 9 days we are there. We will have access to the internet while we are at the B&B. I have an old Italian cell phone and I hope to have that working while we are in Italy. I'm not sure if the old number will work. We will let you know.

We continue on to Minori, on the Amalfi coast for the weekend (19-21, ottobre)
We will then drive to Foggia on Monday, 22,ottobre and stay until Wednesday,
24, ottobre. It would be great to visit Joe's friends at Alenia while we are there.

We continue our journey to Chieti on 24, ottobre until Friday, 26 and we will stay with Lillian and Ernesto Orsini, who own the farmhouse that Paul and I stayed at while Joe was in the hospital at Villa Pini.

We then travel to Volterra and arrive on Saturday 27 and stay at our friend's Massimo and Inger, who own a farmhouse called Podere Fraggina, where we have stayed many times in the past.

Thursday, 1 novembre , we drive to Finale Ligure to visit Antonio Assereto and his family. His father, Roberto, hired Joe to work in Italy in 2004.

Monday, 5 novembre, we drive back to Roma and fly back to the USA on the 6th.

Ciao tutti, a presto!
Lynn and Joe

We saw our good friends, Oreste and Cristiana who live(d) below us in our home (palazzo) for the 2 years that we lived in Napoli. They live(d) on the ground floor (which, in Italia, they refer to as “piano terra” and we lived on what the Italians refer to as “piano quattro”). They have 2 daughters, Giulia, who is now 4, and Laura, who is now 2. I had never before met Laura. Oreste is an engineer, who has begun his own firm, designing wind generators, to economically produce energy. Oreste just patented the design of his wind generators.

We also met Rosario, who I knew as a manager at the train-producer, Ansaldo Breda, which was one of my clients, and his wife, MariStella, and their sons, Rafaello and Marcello. Rosario had recently been promoted to the manufacturing chief (capo) of the Napoli factory.

To sum up the trip in a single word, BITTERSWEET. It was a VERY emotional experience, to say the least.

At the last minute, our son, Paul, also, was able to join us, too. Paul needed closure from his massive task of caring for me. Lynn and I seriously needed closure to this chapter of our lives.

We enjoyed a very relaxing stay recently at the Parteno B&B, along the bay in Napoli. We reserved the front (sea-side) room and we could easily walk or take the local city bus to nearly any Napoli location. Here is a wonderful photo (by my sweetheart, Lynn Damon) of a fresh-delivered morning capucino & breakfast (cafe e prima colazione pronto nel mattino) to make your mouth drool, with a view of the Bay of Napoli in the background.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Saul Raisin also suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury

If you know me personally or based on the content of my BLOG, such as the photo of me and Lappie riding my exercise bike in my basement, or from my BLOG posting “About Me”, or from the photo of me on my FatWheels training wheels, I am, obviously, a bicycling enthusiast. I am captivated by the story of Saul Raisin, featured in the October 2007 issue of Bicycling magazine, entitled "Yes, You are looking at a Miracle".

Saul was a 26 year old identified as a hopeful bicycling future-professional, but he endured a terrible crash and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. First, I strongly suggest that you find a copy of the Bicycling magazine and article noted above and read it. Second, I highly recommend that you visit Saul's website and read about how the TBI affected his life. The magazine is a one-time snapshot of his accident and his recovery. However, his website is an ongoing chronicle of the events of his life.

Or look at Dave shields website for Dave and Saul's book, Tour de Life. I received a Dave Shields' autographed copy of Tour de Life and a "Celebration of Life" bracelet (like the ones popularized by Lance Armstrong) as Christmas presents from dear friends of mine.

I've been reading Tour de Life and I've learned some astounding information about brain injury. Here is an excerpt that demonstrates this:

"Slow down Saul. Your manners are embarrassing," Yvonne said.
"The brain uses huge amounts of energy," Pat explained. "Repairing it requires lots of fuel. Metabolism can more than double for brain-injured patients. It's good that his appetite is so big."
Metabolism doubles? Saul normally ate three to four thousand calories a day. Could he really start putting away eight thousand calories every twenty-four hours. She put her hand on Pat's. "I can't tell you how refreshing it is to have someone explain simple things to me. For weeks I've been confused and terrified by my son's behavior. It makes a huge difference to know he's doing what should be expected."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Easter Seals' Medical Rehabilitation Patient of the year (2007)

I was awarded the 2007 Medical Rehabilitation Patient on Tuesday, September 13, 2007. I attended a Board of Directors meeting at Easter Seals, at the Windsor campus. It was quite formal. I was one of a few annual awards presented by John Longo, the chairman and the past president of Lynn’s (my wife’s) High School class (where she was, simultaneously, the Class Treasurer). Other awards were made to the “business partner” of the year, volunteer of the year, etc. We were individually presented with a wooden plaque and a floral arrangement (of mums) and we were treated to refreshments. Each honoree’s accomplishments were personalized and photographs, capturing the moment, were taken.

You have just read the culmination of a (far too long) story. The process began back ~September, 2007. I attach an email from

Mr. Bruce Wassung, BS, PTA
Director of Medical Rehabilitation
Easter Seals Greater Hartford Rehabilitation Center

that I received on Aug 31, 2007 @ 9:53 AM

We cordially invite you to an Easter Seals staff meeting honoring staff members and patients we have had the privilege of working with this past year. You have been nominated as our "Patient of the Year". The meeting is at 4:00 p.m. on September 11th. Allen Gouse and I would also like to discuss volunteer options per your previous email after the meeting. Allen is very interested in utilizing your engineering background.

I'm ecstatic and so very honored.
I only wish that my entire family could be co-honorees.

On the Road, Again

Some people, who know me well, may be curious about my ability to “re-learn” how to ride a bicycle again, with my impacted balance issues, but I have found the solution. I recently visited a favorite bike shop (from my old life), Pig Iron Sports in Glastonbury, and my buddy Billy (also the shop owner) recommended that I evaluate the product pictured here. I researched and purchased a set at . I installed it and I am in the process of executing a tiered plan for, again “feeling the wind in my face”. Below is an extract from the website……………

Safety in bicycle riding should be a priority when choosing your equipment. Riders who have not yet developed an adequate sense of balance may choose to utilize training wheels to provide stability. During the learning process, and in some cases, throughout life, Fatwheels training wheels can make the difference between an active life and a sedentary one.
Fatwheels "Outriggers" for 24", 26", 27" and 700c bikes. Made in USA of Laser cut, TIG welded, aircraft quality aluminum mounting brackets, and "Skyway" brand fiberglass reinforced nylon wheels, this product mounts to the bike's frame and will carry heavy (up to 250LB) riders. Very strong and light. Price: $179.95 per pair with 12.5" wheels, $199.95 per pair with 16" wheels (plus shipping) ALL OUTRIGGER BRACKETS ARE NOW POWDER COATED BLACK. IT IS A VERY TOUGH, ATTRACTIVE (AND EXPENSIVE) FINISH!

In mid-September, my close friend, Lappie (pictured in this BLOG, below), installed my “training wheels” (the Outrigger product) on my Klein, ex-tri bike, and I went for a ride. It was so liberating!! I now have more freedom! I continue to utilize my carbon-fiber framed, Scott, on my trainer.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cutting the Lawn : Feeling like a Real Man

As of this moment, I'm a Contributing Member of Society . Believe it or not, I just cut the grass, with my heavy-duty, walk-behind, 48", Giant-Vac mower. Before I cut the grass, I checked & topped-off the oil and I checked the gas level. Afterward, I hosed the grass-clippings from the mower and I washed the air-cleaner element with a water and detergent solution. Now, I'm going to take a nap. Buona Notte.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Documentary Premiere

We had a very successful event, Friday, July 27, 2007, on the lawn, at our home, commemorating the premiere of a documentary, chronicling the life of a TBI patient (me, in this case). According to the forecast, there was the threat of a thunderstorm, but good luck prevailed and the weather remained perfect all night, highlighted by the moonrise of a nearly-full moon. With approximately 80 people in attendance, the film lasted about 20 minutes. Preceding the documentary, we showed Joe’s Progress, which Lynn had compiled of photos that she had taken, or, that she found in her collection, and following the documentary we viewed another documentary, also filmed by Silas Hagerty, chronicling the struggles of a paraplegic named Zack.

Adventure with Al 7-29-07

I gave Lynn the day-off from being my care-giver and spent the day, rekindling large segments of my former life, with the help of my dear friend, Al, who was (unknown to me) celebrating his Birthday. Lynn exchanged me, into Al’s care, in Durham, CT, and we proceeded to his home in Madison, picked up some gear, and went to the town marina, where he docks his NEW boat. We loaded our gear into his canoe, then, began the first mini-adventure, an on-the-water transfer to his new boat, then, we topped-off the fuel tanks and ate some fabulous lobster-rolls at…… Then we headed out to some of my old, favorite, fishing grounds. We fished, somewhat successfully. We geared-up with plugs (poppers and swimmers) and I was able to place my casts where I intended. I hooked and landed 2 striped bass. Then I was trusted to navigate his boat back to the marina, where we unloaded the gear, cleaned the boat, cleaned ourselves up, and loaded the gear into his car. He, then, proceeded to Hammonassett State Park, where I was allowed to drive his car through the parking lots and on the Park roads. I did quite well, but I was surprised at how much more difficult it was than I had imagined, mostly due to the reduced, fine-motor, skills of my left side (especially my left arm).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Construction/Renovations on our House and Property

I want to congratulate my son, Paul, who completed the design and build of our patio. He was patient and methodical. Lynn, actively photographed the evolution.
The design is comprised of 2 sections, a rectangle outside the existing sun-room, attached, via a small rectangular section, to a larger square section that contains the fire-bowl and a set of Adirondack chairs He prepared the entire base layer (removed the (previous) grass and soil, leveled the foundation, installed a paver retainer) and finished a large rectangle just outside the kitchen window and the sun-porch, laid the connecting segment to the outer (fire-pit) square and he finished that rectangle, too. We bought a NEW gas grill, some new cushions, a chase lounge, and a fire bowl with a removable, copper base and a ceramic-tiled lip. We cleaned the sun porch up a bit and assembled some Adirondack chairs and placed them on our new terrace and we installed a new water fountain in the sun porch. It's quite ZEN!!!

Further, my brother’s friend, Ryan, finished faux-painting the sun-porch and we completed the installation of a “lava-stone”, Sicilian style, table-top, which we brought back from Italy and mounted it to a (locally) custom-built wrought-iron base.

On Sunday night, 7/8, we christened our new patio and fire-bowl. It went real well! Our friends, Tim and Deb; and Susy and John were very impressed!
We thoroughly enjoy sitting on our terrace, having a cup of Java, and a bowl of frosted mini wheats.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Adventure III .... Riding my Bike on my Trainer

Today was the first time, since my knee (meniscus clean-up) surgery (on 6-11), that included a ride on my bike (a carbon-fiber Scott, 30-speed (a hub of 10 gears on the rear derailleur and 3 larger, drive-gears) on a trainer, instead of riding on my recumbent bike. I pedaled so vigorously (22 minutes) that I worked up quite a sweat. This (sweating) was a bit novel, not having worked up a sweat in more than a year.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Adventure II .... Camping in VT

We went “cushy-camping” in Groton, VT, with a group of photography comrades of my wife, Lynn’s, who have made this event an annual “happening” 2 weeks before July 4th. The terrain was a bit difficult with many tree-roots and loose stones. I survived the “challenge” and I appropriately nicknamed myself with the acronym ODMF (One Determined M@@**&F$$).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Adventure Log!! Fishing in ACK (Nantucket)!

We flew out to Nantucket (ACK) Friday morning, instead of Thursday night, due to the local Thunderstorms. The flight was great, - very picturesque. We flew from Brainard Airport in Hartford to ACK, then we got picked up by our friend's parents and we drove to their great, modest, house on the South end of the island, Madaket. Saturday, we caught (raked) many clams and we had some great meals; linguine with clams, clam chowder. We went fishing Monday (though we got shut-out the previous two days). Casting with the right hand is strong, but reeling with the left hand has poor feel (lousy motor skills). I look forward to trying to perfect my fishing touch, in my old stomping grounds (Hammonasett, Duck Island, Kelsy Point)!!!

Monday, I caught 3 bluefish, from shore, alone (except Lynn clung to my shorts so that I would not loose my balance and fall in). We cooked up (Cajun) some fillets and served them as sandwiches!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thanked the NKC church congregation for their prayers and support

On Sunday, June 17, 2007, I attended church service at North Kingston (RI) Congregational Church, near the home of my brother-in-law, Scott, his wife Sharon and their 3 boys (my nephews). S&S, some 1,5 years ago, had asked their congregation for their spiritual support. I attended church to allow the parishioners to meet me, the evidence of their thoughts and prayers.
The below text was prepared for delivery, but the portion I presented was limited to the BOLD, text.

…… Introduction by Scott Alemany, then I spoke….

There are many people here to whom I am indebted. Thanks to your generosity, having been requested by Scott & Sharon, to say prayers for me, their brother-in-law, whom many of you had never met. I am thrilled to get this opportunity to, personally, say "Thank-you". I can never express my gratitude. I can never say "thank-you" enough- for your thoughts and concerns. I am one fortunate soul to be standing here in front of you, today.

The remainder was prepared, but, not presented……

Back in the days much closer to the accident, that caused my Traumatic Brain Injury, it felt as if I was in a dream state and I have a very poor memory of the details of those days. But, now, being somewhat recovered, I am much more aware of my surroundings and the reality of what actually occurred to me has taken-hold. I realize that the time will not come, when I awake from "this nightmare", but, everyday, I am, actually, living in "REALITY". Recovery has become a "double-edged sword", because I realize that I will "someday, but, not immediately" regain the "unfortunately superior" intelligence, that I can still remember, so well, that I can almost taste it. And the same can be said of my past athletic successes and my past ability to earn money.
Today, while I would like to maintain memories of the enjoyable times from my past, the same memories are also too painful because they haunt and terrorize me about how different life is today relative to "life before TBI".

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Documentary Premiere (Planned for Release)

We have decided to host the documentary premiere (see Archived article, "Filming of A Documentary") here, on our lawn. We have scheduled a rain date in consideration of potential rainfall (inclement weather). We plan to hold the premiere at dusk, inviting attendees to bring their own picnic dinner and their own lawn chairs. The video will be projected onto a large screen, typically used for presentations. At this point the date has been set for Friday, July 27, with the rain date set for Sat. July 28. We plan to mail/email formal invitations, but if you do not hear from us, please contact me here!!!

We plan to return to Italia (to properly say "Ciao")

We plan to refresh our Italian language before we return to Italy in the Fall. We evaluated the programs offered by 2 language schools, Inlingua, and Berlitz. While I was employed at P&WA, I successfully took language lessons from Inlingua and my language skills progressed until I was nearly fluent, so I am a bit biased. We selected Inlingua over Berlitz based, mostly, on price. The Berlitz price was nearly double that of Inlingua, and the difference in the service and the quality of instruction does not warrant that discrepancy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Do I Need More Suffering?

I had a knee arthroscopy surgery scheduled for Monday, June 11, 2007, to “clean-up” some “floating bodies”, such as cartilage and bone fragments. I hope that this surgery eliminates some of the intense pain I have been experiencing in that joint. I have had 2 previous arthroscopic surgeries on the same (left) knee. My training partner and triathlete friend, Dr. Dan Veltri, is doing this surgery and did one previously (about 2.5 years ago, although my memory is blank on this particular event) and he (Dr. Dan), having seen it, first-hand, before, is convinced that the current damage was exacerbated by the traffic accident that caused my TBI.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Living with a TBI - Updated 5/07/09

Here are some notes on what it’s like to be me.

-My "motor-skills" have noticeably SLOWED, especially on the "impacted" side /areas affected impacted during the TBI-causing accident (Left Side)
-My past life returns to me in flashbacks
-There are definite moments when my intelligence returns
-I’m frequently cold
-I have a memory of about 10 seconds in duration
-I have very little patience
-I behave as though one who experiences O.C.D. might (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
-I’m very irritable
-It feels as if I always have food stuck in my teeth
-I feel as though I’m experiencing life on the outside of a fishbowl, looking in
-I can't eat hard foods, such as crusty bread
-I can't eat "hot" food, both in temperature and spiciness
-I prefer to have food heated up in the microwave, not in the toaster
-It's quite easy for food to "go down the wrong pipe", making me cough
-My existence seems surreal
-I aggravate my friends/family and they, fortunately, tolerate me
-”Healing” is a double-edged sword; realizing my enormous improvements is marvelous, but realizing how much further that I can improve is overwhelming. I realize the differences between the “before TBI state” and the “after TBI state” and it's quite saddening.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Walking at the Race in the Park for Breast Cancer (Updated 6/21/07)

The day before Mothers Day, 5-12-07, the Race in the Park was held in New Britain. I over-trained to participate in the race (running laps at the track, entirely on my own) and I re-injured my left knee, so I had to compromise my goal of completing the 5K run and settling for the 1M walk, which I am very happy with. My friend, Al, has played such an active role in my running rehabilitation. I hope that this is not too shallow, but I owe him a big THANK-YOU. Also, Al struck my emotions when he made the presentation of his “week 600” plaque. I remember, so well, helping him to celebrate the 500th. In fact, I recently found photos commemorating that occasion, also with Al.!!! I cherish and value him as a friend who always sacrifices his own conditioning to be a part of mine.
In the previous week, I successfully ran a lap at the MHS running track with my friend, Al, who has been my buddy since our college days. We completed a lap, holding his arm to give me stability, in just 3 minutes, 55 seconds, after completing a lap just prior, completely solo, in just 4: 24. I was actually running, not merely walking fast, and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. It was especially significant to complete this milestone in the presence of Al, who has been my camping buddy since our UConn days and who credits me with introducing him to many competitive individual sports. In fact, one year ago, when Lynn heard about my serious accident, she called Al to inform him about my condition and he dissolved his sorrows while completing a run at Hammonasett State

You see, it was also significant to accomplish this milestone with Al, because we have shared a dream to commemorate our first, in 199x, road race together at the 5K Race for The Cure, in New Britain.

Another valuable thing happened Saturday. We (Lynn and I) met up with the race director, Beth Shluger, who knows me well, and she invited me to volunteer at the Glastonbury (Shamrock) Duathlon on Sunday, 5-20-07. This type of activity (giving back to the sport) has been a goal of mine. Last year, 2006, I volunteered at the Hartford Marathon, also directed by Beth, and I value the opportunities she provides me. I hope to see you out there!! Buona Fortuna!!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Quote of the week

Updated 3/26/08
"You must give up the life you had planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you."
......... Joseph Campbell

Updated 6/29/07
“I run because I’ve never been much of a car guy. I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary.
“I run to honor my sister and unite my family. I run because it keeps me humble. I run for the finish line and to savor the trip along the way. I run to help those who can’t. I run because walking takes too long and I’d like to get a few things done this lifetime.
“I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go.”

......... excerpted from the Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Filming of a Documentary

My son’s friend, Silas, visited with us from Monday, April 23, until Monday, April 30 to record a documentary film, about my injury, and, mostly, about the progress of my recovery. My hope is that the documentary serves the purpose of answering "what it’s like for me and my family to live with a Traumatic Brain Injury", to raise awareness of the severity of TBI, and to the under-diagnosis of potentially-serious injuries.
Silas is a graduate of the University of Vermont, attended a year of film school at the Maine Photographic Workshop, has worked professionally at MTV, and has recorded many non-profit film documentaries. His website can be viewed at He will make several copies of the documentary on DVD and it will be more widely available on his website. We are planning to host a premier of the documentary, when it is released, and to donate all proceeds to a deserving charity.
Silas has also created a BLOG, where he has placed a preview of the documentary he is producing about my recovery. Check it out, at your leisure!!
Please note the pointers to Silas’ web sites at the end of my BLOG under the section named, “Silas's film making website info”.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Participating in Yoga Class

We (Lynn and I) survived two Yoga classes at the town recreation department and I did well. My balance is a bit of a challenge and the routines certainly bring one’s flexibility to new heights.

Visit to Maryland for Easter

We went to visit Lynn’s sister’s family (Beth, Tom and 2 fine young adult children, Tommy and Annie), in Kensington, MD, for Easter from Friday, May 6 to Tuesday, May 10. We decided to fly down and back, instead of driving, as we have done many times before. We took advantage of my condition to utilize the benefits available to the disabled, such as use of a wheel chair in the airports and special rights for disabled visitors to the Smithsonian’s’. We had a great time. We visited both the air & space museum, near Dulles airport (not the more common one in the Smithsonian) and to one of the art exhibits. As part of our weekend, we partook in the religious service, at Beth’s church, Easter morning, we drove through nice neighborhoods to enjoy the famous Cherry blossoms, we played therapeutic games of Scrabble and of Ping-Pong and we attempted a run on the track around a nearby park.
When we were in a café during a lay-over in NJ, we met a nice gentleman, from Texas, who had overheard our conversation and was intrigued by the mention of my accident and had lived in Italy. He had, coincidently, served in the U.S. forces and had been stationed in Napoli. He was familiar with many of our old haunts and he went on to tell us that he has just 3 children, but now is the grandfather of some 14 grandchildren. At this point, the airline pilot we had met, Cameron, came back to our gate to provide to me his email address. I accepted it and I gave him the address of my BLOG, suggested that he check it out in the future, and said it was nice to meet him. When I had met Cameron, he had noticed the Triathlon Florida Ironman T-shirt that I was wearing, and he had struck up a conversation about competing in triathlon and had told me that he was in training to compete in the Lake Placid Ironman, in June of this year. I had told Cameron that I actually did not complete the Florida Ironman, but had a friend who had completed the event several times and had done Lake Placid several times. Thus, we agreed to share a common interest in Lake Placid. Cameron commented how remarkable my recovery was and commented that if I could possibly complete an Ironman in the future, that ABC might want to document my tale in one of their human-interest stories.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Veterans of Dance Class

We completed a continuing-education sponsored class in dance at the Bev Burton Dance Studio, and studied the Cha-Cha, the Waltz, the Foxtrot, and the Swing. It was a very big challenge of my mental capacity and of my balance ability. Completing this class has given me a new appreciation for the burden I am to my wife, Lynn. Sometimes I rely on her to support my balance troubles and to refresh the dance steps as we progressed. I hate to be such a burden to her, especially when I consider how simply I would have managed the same exercise in the past (prior to my accident).

Running a Maiden lap on The Track

Within the past week, I successfully ran a lap at the MHS running track with my friend, Al, who has been my buddy since our college days. We completed a lap, holding his arm to give me stability, in just 3 minutes, 55 seconds, after completing a lap prior, completely solo, in just 4: 24. I was actually running, not merely walking fast, and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. It was especially significant to complete this milestone in the presence of Al, who has been my camping buddy since our UConn days and who credits me with introducing him to many competitive individual sports. In fact, one year ago, when Lynn heard about my serious accident, she called Al to inform him about my condition and he dissolved his sorrows while completing a run at Hammonasett State

Our daughter, Kate, has quit smoking and has targeted the same race, The Race for The Cure 2007, to commence her formal running career. We hope to make The Race for The Cure 2007 a joint running event.

Swimming in Florida

We went to Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, March 24 and returned on Sunday, April 1. We stayed at a time-share condo of our friend(s)Susy (& John) Roberts, with the main focus being “to reacquaint myself with swimming”. It was certainly a success. The condo unit had a nice 25 meter pool, with lane lines, and we swam every day for early morning (freestyle) laps before the pool got crowded with kids. I brought my wetsuit to improve my flotation and to keep me warm (and my goggles and Lycra cap). I first did laps on Saturday, March 24, and only completed 1.5 laps, without a stop. On the second day, Sunday, March 25, I swam 11 laps. On Monday, March 26, the result was 20 laps. By Tuesday, March 27, my accomplishment was 30 laps, and by Saturday, April 1, I was up to 40 laps, or 1000 yards.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Graduation from Easter Seals

They graduated me from rehabilitation at Easter Seals, yesterday, 3/14/07, and I earned a gold star, only the third person they have commenced with such high honors. It was a very melancholy day. I should have been thrilled to move on to the next chapter of my rehab, but I will sorely miss the connection I have established with my friends on the staff at Easter Seals. They not only rehab one’s physical bruises but their emotional ones, as well.

The therapists Easter Seals have enriched my life, beyond words. The Easter Seals’ therapists are consistently very professional, always providing feedback that is so positive and uplifting yet, never, even marginally, discouraging. It will be very difficult to say “goodbye” to Jocelyn, my speech therapist, to Susan and Marie, my physical therapists, and to Chris, my occupational therapist. I will forever benefit from my experience at Easter Seals, the one positive aspect from a likewise very bad chapter in my life.

We had a celebration, 4/14/07, for my therapists and my personal coach, Paul Lapierre, and his wife, Sheila. "Lappie" often prefaced a new exercise he is introducing, joking “this aint no Easter Seals”, implying that what he is about to instruct me on is “very vigorous”. They (both, Lappie and my Easter Seals therapists) developed a mutual appreciation for each other’s trades. My son, Paul, prepared a fabulous meal and we shared a viewing of the video of "Joe's Progress" and some of the image shows Lynn has, documenting our life in Italia.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

My Typical Week

At Easter Seals rehab center, my therapy is 2 to 3 hours. I have just been reduced to 1 time per week, but I was previously at 2 times per week. Each day consists of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, each lasting 1/2 hour. My last session was on March 14th. I see an ophthalmologist 1/2 hour each week. I perform a workout with my personal coach/trainer, Paul LaPierre, twice per week. Each workout lasts 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours. I try to get an extra workout in each week, usually with my son, Paul, or with my wife, Lynn, or with a friend or relative. Paul (Lappie) has written down my workout regimen on a white board, posted in my basement. His workouts begin with a warm-up of 15 - 20 minutes, split between a walk on my treadmill, and a spin on my 18 speed road bicycle that is mounted on my trainer. In addition, we perform a variety of strength (Weight training) and balance exercises. With my wife, Lynn, we also attend an aerobic swim workout, 3 times each week, for about 45 minutes of vigorous exercise. We also started a ballroom dance class. I’m working hard not to step on Lynn’s toes. Weather permitting; I try to either snowshoe or X-country ski in the nearby trails. I go to a massage therapist, who works on the muscular difficulties on my left arm and another therapist who specializes in cranial sacral massage treatments. I have attended private tutoring of computer skills, with a neighbor and friend of my Mom's, Judy Tassistro, a nurturing, retired teacher. I start a yoga class in April with my daughter, Kate. I look forward to Spring, when I can get outside more.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

TBI special on ABC

Last night, 2/27/2007, there was a TV special on ABC, while it was very educational about the magnitude of TBI, it was a bit too clinical. I can, likewise, suggest an old movie, Regarding Henry, for it’s portrayal of the personal impact of brain injury. There is now, 8:00 Wednesday, an interview with Lee Woodruff, on ABC. Lee is the wife of Bob Woodruff, and she has written a book about his TBI, and recovery, called In an Instant. You can see replays on

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Silk City Striders Running Club

I have been a member of the SCS (Silk City Striders) running club for the past 20+ years. I've run races of all distances, from 1 Mile to full Marathons. I competed for the club, in individual races and in team events. It was nice to have fellow running comrades and a full suite of running teammates. In January, 2007, the club presented me with an award, the Honorary Comeback of the Year for 2006. The presentation was made at the SCS meeting on Friday, Feb. 23, 2007.

Monday, February 12, 2007

living with a TBI - V2

Living with a TBI
Here are some notes on what it’s like to be me.

-It seems that my past life returns to me in flashbacks
-There are defining moments when it seems that my intelligence returns
-I’m always cold
-I have a memory of about 10 seconds in length
-I have very little patience
-I behave as if one who experiences O.C.D. might
-I’m very irritable
-It feels as if I always have food stuck in my teeth
-I feel as though I’m experiencing life on the outside of a fishbowl, while, looking in
-I can't eat hard foods, such as crusty bread
-I can't eat "hot" food, both in temperature and spiciness
-I prefer to have food heated up in the microwave, not in the toaster
-It's quite easy for food to "go down the wrong pipe", making me cough

Friday, February 9, 2007

Snowshoeing Version II

On Feb 7-10, 2008 we (Lynn, myself, and my son Paul) made our second consecutive annual trip to Jay Peak, VT with Dr. Dan and Jen Veltri, their 5 kids (Kyle, Luke, Emily, Katie, and baby Grace) and Paul and Sheila LaPierre. Jay Peak had received quite a bit of snow just prior and it snowed non-stop Saturday and Sunday. Lynn and I (and Jen) did a load of snowshoeing in fresh powder. We shoed on Sunday (in new powder) then we drove home. It snowed crazily the entire drive home.

Dan is my tri- friend of many years. Paul LaPierre is a tri-friend from P&W and a workout buddy. We are also long-time fellow-bicyclysts. Paul is much more competitive than I can ever hope to be. Paul is also a serious mountain-climber and he's a valuable friend in camping situations.

We went to VT because Dr. Dan was to attend a conference (orthopedic surgery) both years. Dan performed left knee meniscus surgery some 10 years ago. He repeated the left knee meniscus surgery in June 2007 to repair some damage aggravated during my TBI-causing accident in 2006. He has provided many other orthopedic treatments on me. I’m very fortunate to have such a talented, generous, and sympathetic friend. In 2007 we borrowed snow shoe equipment from Dan and Jen, and then we bought our own from EMS.

In 2007, at Jay Peak, we shoed twice per day and I took a nap late in the day. In 2008, at Jay Peak, we shoed daily for a longer duration. In 2008 it snowed recently in CT. For the first time (Feb. 2008), I snowshoed alone on the MCC golf course.