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.