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The Road to Recovery

by jim moran

My skiing career came to a quick halt on February 20th of 1999. I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury competing at the U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado. I was in a coma for three weeks and in the hospital for seven months. Since then I have had to re-learn everythingóto move my finger, to blink, to talk and to walk.

Letís start at the beginning of my memory. I remember waking up and seeing nothing but the ceiling. I thought to myself, ďI wonder where I am skiing today?Ē I sat up and immediately felt the weakness of my right side from the atrophy of paralization. Then I looked around me and saw that the room was completely padded, and there was no way out. I instantly knew that something was wrong. Then my mind made the connection: there is too much blue and whiteóIím in a hospital. That was the first day of my conscious recovery.

In the days before, I had been talking to my mom, my dad, my brother and sister, and a few very good friends. How much of that do I remember? Zero, nada, none of it.

Do me a favor and wiggle your finger; now realize that your brain has as much to do with that as your muscle. You donít realize it until you donít have it, but your brain literally does everything.

My first lessons were the simplest of lifeís chores: speech, movement, writing. It may seem easy, but trust me it wasnít. There are two things that helped me incredibly: 1) Physically I was in great shape when the accident happened, 2) Most importantly, I already knew the secret of success!!!! What is the secret of success? Well ask yourself this. What do all the best in the world have in common? Letís take Picabo for example; do you think that she had a goal? Do you think that she had the desire to win - true desire? The kind that combines your heart and your mind. Now letís take the best teacher in the world. Do you think that they have set a goal, and really truly desired that goal? I know the answer, do you?

When I realized that I was in the hospital and I was very seriously injured, do you think I used the secret of success? It took me about a second to use it. My goal was to recover totally, and my desire was about a half second behind. I still work on that goal today.

I took my roommateís dog for a walk yesterday and tried to throw the ball for him. I threw it about 15 feet and it went totally a different way than I wanted it to go. For your knowledge, I used to be a pitcher so this disgusted me. Now I throw the ball all the time and I will until I get better. Like anything in life, your goals and desires are more important than you think.

Why is it that we only use approximately 7% of our brain? Do you know that we donít fully understand traumatic brain injuries? It is kind of the same statement in the form of a question. What will happen in the future? It is easy to look into the past. How much did we know about the brain in 1950 compared to 2000? How much will we know about the brain in the year 3000? Our brains are growing, how do I know that?

I think a lot about my brain these days, but only the things that we use it for. Can you imagine what that is? Everything! Do you use your brain to write a speech? Well how about something more physical like walking? Reading? Cooking? Smelling? My point is that we use our brain for literally everything. Again, you donít realize it until you donít have it.

What do you write about when you write about the brain? I figured that I would do some research first, but all I could find was which part performs which function. Nobody in the whole world knows anything else.

I am still the same guy I was before the injury. What is it that I have gained, or lost from my injury? Well letís talk about the physical side for a moment. I used to jump on my skis a lot, and now with the risk of injury, I canít jump the way I used to. The second part that has changed is my realization of how close we all are to death. Does it really make a difference to the whole world if you die? Do me a favor and ask your brain that question for a few dayís. It is a simple question, but I canít answer it. The answer for humans and animals is evolution over long periods of time. It is the only thing that matters. Do you think we are evolving, trying to learn about something that we donít know about?

I survived a traumatic brain injury from the sport of skiing. The only reason that I am alive today is because I was wearing a helmet!!!!!

Thank you all for giving me a piece of your brain.