SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury
Paige Matis (caregiver for her boyfriend, Bryan Carpenter)
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!
It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.
The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.
On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.
The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.
If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.
In honor of this recent Memorial Day, I want tell you about my Marine and my hero – and my better half, Bryan.
Bryan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2004. He went to fight for our country in the war in Iraq in 2006. Luckily, that year he survived not one, but two IEDs (improvised explosive devices often used as roadside bombs).
In the second incident, Bryan was the driver of the Humvee he was in. He suffered the worst injuries of the four Marines involved in the explosion. Bryan was knocked unconscious from the impact of the bomb. In the field, a military doctor did an emergency tracheotomy, but he nicked Bryan’s artery. Bryan also had a shattered pelvis, which cut his abdomen and caused him to bleed internally. Bryan only had moments to live. He underwent a transfusion with six units of blood. Nobody thought Bryan would make it out of his medically induced coma.
Two and a half weeks later, Bryan woke up. He was told by doctors that his dream of serving in the military as his lifelong career was over. The chances of Bryan’s ever walking “normally” again were close to zero. He was also told that he would suffer from this explosion for the rest of his life. Bryan said his dreams literally shattered right before his eyes.
Bryan never gave up. He was determined to beat the odds the doctors gave him. So far, he has done his best to achieve that goal. I know he still struggles every day with his PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), his traumatic brain injury, and the pain from his physical injuries. But, he still pushes forward. Bryan learned to walk again on his own. He has dedicated his life to physical therapy, and he never misses a day at the gym. After the incident, Bryan was a 120-pound man and was barely able to stand on his own two feet. He is currently walking independently, and he weighs 230 pounds (all healthy body mass and muscle).
Bryan strives every day to help others. He has been an inspirational speaker, speaking to school-shooting victims, middle-school students, open events, etc. He is a gym trainer and an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) coach. He was a bouncer at night clubs; he went to the Fire Academy; he threw out the ceremonial Opening Pitch in 2012 for the Cleveland Indians; he was even the Grand Marshall in his hometown parade. I know Bryan tries to accomplish everything he puts his mind to, especially when he knows that it will benefit someone. He is trying his hardest to help people achieve their goals after suffering pain like the pain he has gone through. Although he may struggle with the effects of his injuries from the explosion, he never lets them limit him.
Bryan has put all his focus and attention into his new dream and reality – his book. He wrote the book not only as therapy, but also to inspire others that the unbelievable is always possible. In his book, Bryan talks about his dream to be in the military – from when he enlisted and went through boot camp to being deployed and injured. He has written about his recovery and the inspirational things he has done with his life as of now.
Holidays, like Memorial Day, remind me of what Bryan has overcome. Thankfully, and miraculously, he has beaten death. He has gone on to beat the odds. He wrote a book on his recovery to continue to serve and better his country.
Many people have paid the ultimate price in the military. Those men and women will never be forgotten. … I am very thankful to have the chance to hug my Miracle a little tighter and a little longer on Memorial Day.
To learn more about Bryan Carpenter, please visit his website, Battle After Iraq.
You can also see Bryan’s book about his recovery. “Never Ending Battle After Iraq: A Marine’s Road to Recovery.”
Thank you to Paige Matis for sharing this story about her boyfriend, Bryan.
(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
(Photos compliments of contributor.)
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