“Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living.” –Anonymous
The old Murray dies…
Murray Dunlap says, “The old Murray died 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 five 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 put myself back together and jog/walk most days (as a former distance runner, this is now a slow, strange gait –but I’m out there!), and I lost the 50 pounds I had gained as a common side effect of a sleeping pill (Seroquel). I speak clearly with very little slur, my eyebrows line up, and my smile is finally straight. I finished my first book (Bastard Blue) and second book (Fires). Wrote a book of poetry (Proof), completed another book of poetry (A Beautiful Catastrophe), wrote a children’s book, and 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.”
The new Murray says, “From nearly dead to newly wed, I’m making the most of it. Life is hard… but, NEVER GIVE UP!“
Non-fiction: What it Feels Like… (Stories of surviving the unimaginable) B-Metro
Non-fiction: The Girl with the Red Scarf (…the Dunlap wedding) Germ magazine
Non-fiction: “This I Believe” This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives.
Non-fiction: We Weren’t Born here, but it Feels like Home The Pilot
Non-fiction: Author finds a second life, writes book after crash Mufreesboro Post
Non-fiction: “Times I Nearly Died” Fried Chicken and Coffee
Non-fiction poetry: “In an Instant” Vox Poetica
Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Ability Magazine
“My brother still has issues with memory, balance, and anxiety, but based on where he came from, this is nothing short of miraculous. I believe, with God’s help, he will run again.”
“Five years after a near-death, and life altering, experience, he can walk and talk and exercise and write and laugh. It’s as if his eyes are opened for the first time to who he is and what his life means to him and others. And it is a new life. Remarkably, he is a better person after having gone through his extremely difficult ordeal. An ordeal, recovery, and awakening, that was in my mind so clearly God driven.”
D.R. Dunlap –the best, and most supportive, brother ever.
“Every life can change in an instant. You will never see it coming. It is what you do with the pieces of your wreckage and how you reinvent yourself that will define who you are.”
Dunlap thanks God & VW for the safety of his Jetta (seen above).
Contact: murraydunlap (at) gmail (dot) com
“And I wanna have friends that I can trust, that love me for the man I’ve become, not the man I was.”
— THE AVETT BROTHERS