“Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living.” –Anonymous
The Old Murray Dies
Murray Dunlap says, “The old Murray was killed on 6-7-08 in a car wreck, so I’ve been forced to reinvent myself. I spent close to 3 months in a coma followed by about a year in a wheelchair (I can’t remember how long due to amnesia –it seemed like forever) and many months using a walker. I had 3 fractures in my pelvis, a broken clavicle, 9 sutures in my head, and 5 stitches in my ear. I also had 4th nerve palsy (double vision) which required surgery. Worst of all, I have a traumatic brain injury with amnesia. Brain injuries are a complex monster with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities.”
D.R. Dunlap says, “Brain injuries can be classified into mild, moderate, and severe categories. The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), the most commonly used system for classifying TBI severity, grades a person’s level of consciousness on a scale of 3–15 based on verbal, motor, and eye-opening reactions to stimuli. It is generally agreed that a TBI with a GCS of 13 or above is mild, 9–12 is moderate, and 8 or below is severe. In patients with a scale from 5 to 7, about half will die or remain in a vegetative state. My brother was a 6.”
Murray adds, “I was forced to relearn to walk, to drive, to stop speaking with a slur and crooked eyebrows, and the worst thing (to me personally), a smile that drooped on one side of my mouth. I speak clearly now with no slur, my eyebrows line up, and my smile is finally straight. I finished my first book (Bastard Blue) and wrote a second book (Fires). Wrote a book of poetry (Proof), another, more mature, book of poetry (A Beautiful Catastrophe), and also ran/walked a 5K. I was 3rd in my age group. But, there may well have only been three runners my age. That said, it was more than a little faster than in my wheelchair. Around the next corner, my sister-in-law introduced me to the love of my life: –an Episcopal priest. I am living proof that miracles exist.”
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
___________________________________________________________________________________. U.C. Davis. The extraordinary individuals Pam Houston, Michael Knight, and Fred Ashe taught him the art of writing. . .
In the revealing light of day, I stand with truth. This is remarkable. Not only for the simple fact that I had been wheelchair-bound, but more remarkable, I have lost valuable pieces of my mind. And they are irreplaceable. A fundamental truth of my brain injury is that it will remain for the rest of my life. Yes, that makes me angrier than you could possibly entertain. That said, it goes with the package deal. I had my brain thrown out but have now married the most beautiful human being on the face of the earth, inside and out. Better still, she is worth it. If the losses and gains are weighed side by side, the gains have it -by a landslide. I may have limped down the aisle, but with the Bishop’s blessing, I did just that and married the girl of my dreams. When it is all said and done, this is my truth.…