Hi All,

I just wanted to add a final note of thanks to all of you who have supported me in my recovery - financially and otherwise. My words cannot express the immense gratitude I have for every single way that people showed up to support Kate and I at this time in my life. You have changed me forever.

My recovery is "complete." I have slight double vision on the right periphery, and when my eyes are tired, I have "drunk vision" with things about 12"-24" from my face. That is, I cannot focus well at that distance under those conditions. I blow my nose more frequently I think...especially in cold weather. Finally, I will always have the risk of infection with me, but I rarely think about that. I will continue to have check ups every 6-12 months until the surgeons are satisfied that they can live without me. In the meantime, I have resumed living my "rough and tumble" life - still playing sports and staying active - with the protective mask in place, of course.

Financially, I have been incredibly blessed by donors and the hospitals alike. I put my faith in God that things would work out monetarily, and they continue to do so in a way that I could not have foreseen. I am simply amazed...and yet I can honestly say that I am not surprised at all. God really loves softball players I guess.

As of March 2, 2009, I will not longer post to this blog. If, for some reason, something related to this incident happens, I will re-open the blog...but don't count on it. I'm certainly not. :-)

Thanks again for...everything.

All my best,


4/11/08 - Six Months Later...

As the weather improves, I am anticipating another softball season. I already returned to the basketball court with a protective mask (see photo at left) about a month ago. The mask is amazing. I'm fearless. I haven't yet taken a shot to the face, but I don't even think about it. I've tested the mask at home with a few smacks to the face, and I anticipate it will work very well. It's made of hard plastic and custom fitted to my face. It wasn't cheap, but it has allowed me to return to my active life in competitive sports.

Anyhow, tonight I take the field for the first time since the accident...and yes, it's the same field at Brightbill Park where my accident occurred. I don't expect anyone to make a big deal out of it. To them, I think, it's just something that happened long enough ago to be forgotten. I can't say I feel apprehensive myself; I just haven't yet tried to catch or hit a ball since September. Slightly uneasy may be a better description. I think that, given the challenges with my vision not quite being 100%, the prospect of catching is of most concern for me.

In the end, I'll probably arrive early so I can be there by myself, stretch a little and reflect on how truly fortunate I am to have lived to play another day...another season. No matter how cold or windy or hot it may be on any given day, I know I will be much more deliberate this season in stopping for a brief moment to "take it all in" every time I step on a field.

You think you'll live forever...but I'm much more connected now to the notion that I'm closer to the end of my athletic prime than I am to the beginning. My days are numbered. I can't compete at a competitive level with younger guys forever. Still, I love playing. Always have. I'll do it as long as I can.

People questioned whether I'd be back. To me, it's a no brainer. I'll quit on my terms. Otherwise, the accident wins...and that just isn't going to happen. :-)

Donations: How you can Help

Since the day of the accident, people have talked about fundraising. The whole idea of asking for and accepting financial help feels awkward to me, and I really wrestled with the idea. Some people will think the whole idea is tacky, but the amount I now owe seems daunting to me.

As the days after the accident passed, I started thinking..."What if 150,000 people were willing to donate $1?" I couldn't shake that thought. How amazing would that be? I like to think that it might be possible...especially with the power of the Internet. Eventually, I concluded that there was no harm in asking for help.

We decided the easiest way to go was to add a Paypal "Donation" button as the seeds of a money tree. If you'd like to donate financially, great; if not, that's ok too. I promise that I won't think any more or less of anyone. While no amount is necessary, ANY AMOUNT is appreciated - even $1 donations will add up. ALL OF THE MONEY WILL GO TO PAY THE MEDICAL BILLS associated with my facial reconstruction.

If you don't have Paypal, you can still donate via major credit card. Simply click the "Donate" button and follow the instructions at the bottom of the pop up window.

If you want to donate but not online, please mail donations to:

1137 Summerwood Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17111

Thank you sincerely to those who've chosen to donate. I truly appreciate your help.


Why are Donations Needed?

As a self-employed professional who relocated to Harrisburg only one year ago, my focus in 2007 has been on building business relationships and networks. Until a network of clients is established, cash flow is limited. Credit cards have bridged the gaps, but the budget was not ready for this major expenditure! The post-surgery layoff is just one more financial complication that isn't helping.

Given that the softball didn't kill me or cause any significant permanent damage, it's very difficult to be bothered by the money. Still, the reality is that both hospitals expect to be paid.

The irony of this whole situation is that I was in the process of getting health insurance just prior to the accident! With my active lifestyle and another birthday approaching, I had decided to find some catastrophic coverage despite my tight budget. I met with an agent at the beginning of September. In fact, I had the insurance quotes in my hand during the afternoon of 9/13 - the day of the accident. Timing is everything...

Without health insurance, the quoted cost of the surgeries is currently $150,000. I'm working with Pinnacle and HMC to get the amount reduced, but after receiving some bills already, I can see I'm well on my way to financing the equivalent of a small house.

I realize that my choices have created this predicament for me. However, I'm hoping that the compassion and generosity of friends and strangers will help me overcome this unexpected financial burden. Again, I am grateful for all of the help and support - no matter how big or small - that I've been receiving from all of you. This truly has been - and continues to be - a humbling experience.

TV News Coverage

For those wishing to see a local TV news report about my story (WGAL News 8 - Harrisburg, PA) that aired on 10/11/07, please click on the youtube.com video link:


10/17/07 - The Big Reveal (23 days after surgery)

Kate and I met with Dr. Fedok, the person overseeing my facial reconstruction, yesterday. In brief, he seemed pleasantly surprised and amazed at his own handiwork and at my progress in healing. He removed the stents from both nostrils, and I can FINALLY breathe through my nose easily again! He again reminded me of my good fortune, telling me in effect that the force of the throw was great enough to kill me. It could have been "lights out" for me right there on that softball field. He said the injury was more consistent with someone being hit by a bat rather than a ball. I guess that was my near-death experience. (After arriving home, I thought a lot about that statement. The notion of dying on that field finally really impacted me when I heard it again from him on Tuesday. It really can all end "just like that.")

The next milestone for me will be to freely blow my nose, which isn't permitted until one month from now. I also cannot get a haircut until my incision heals completely. I did learn that there are many things I now can do: use my regular shampoo, conditioner and hair gel instead of the Johnson's baby shampoo I've used for the last month; work out gently, which should help me regain the 10-15 lbs. I've lost (vigorous workouts have to wait 2 months); have a beer...or several; fly without carrying a special card (the titanium won't be an issue); get future CT and MRI exams if needed (let's hope not); and visit my dentist, for which I am long overdue.

As for the nose - generally, I am pleased with the outcome. I expected a bumpier look, and it's really not at all. It seems harder and less flexible than before, which makes sense since the structure is now bone and not cartiledge. I also think the bridge is too wide, the height from the surface of my face is too short and the nostrils are too small. It's defintely different than what I had before, but it will still change as the swelling decreases. Still, Dr. Fedok told me again that in 3 months time, I will most likely want to have further surgery on the nose. I'll find out what his thoughts are on the whole thing when I see him in 3 weeks (11/13/07).

I miss the way I looked, but that's a normal psychological reaction. I'm not dead. No matter what I've experienced since the accident...no matter how pissed off or frustrated I am or whatever I may be feeling at any given moment, it all changes when I think of that notion: "Well, I'm not dead." There are a lot of things to do...changes to make. I've re-learned that no matter what life hands you, as long as you aren't dead, you're still "in the game." You still have life until the last breath leaves. So shut up. Quit bitching about your problems, and take an action. Do something about it. ANYTHING. If it's the wrong action, try another one. That's life. That's the game. You get one, timed chance to play, so PLAY...and have fun doing it. Poker players play even when the cards they may have aren't good. It isn't the about the cards you have; it's about the way you play the cards. And, in the end, it is a game. Enjoy it. Laugh through it. Have a great time playing it...no matter what the cards are.

One last thing for those reading - I'm not in any pain. I haven't been since a few days after the accident, which was a surprise. I wanted to mention that since so many of you have talked about it in your phone calls and emails. During the pre-op meeting with the surgeons, I asked how much pain I'd be in. After all, they were going to cut me across my head from ear to ear and peel my face down. There has to be pain involved, right? I wanted to be mentally ready for it. To my surprise, Dr. Fedok told me there would be very little pain - only swelling and discomfort. He was right. After leaving the hospital after the surgery, I never took any pain meds.

Also, for those who are wondering or inquiring - I'm not suffering in any way. Suffering isn't really my style. I guess I got really good at struggling earlier in my life, and I learned how hard it is to live that way. I just don't see life like that any more. This freak accident happened, and I survived it. I may be struggling (that's a better word) in some small ways - especially financially - but we're all working on helping that situation (me talking with the hospitals and all of you helping the fundraising campaign by donating and telling other people about my situation). The bills will be paid one day. I saw suffering when I spent 5 weeks on the Gulf Coast two years ago with the Red Cross after Katrina. Soldiers come home disfigured or without limbs or with burned bodies and faces...There are tons of people worse off than me. With that perspective, and the fact that, again, I'm not dead, it seems silly to hang on to the notion of me suffering. It is what it is, and that's all it is. Nothing more. Nothing less.

To me, this whole affair is a reminder that life is time limited. Stop wasting it. Live with passion. Appreciate every single moment. Inhale it. Suck all the meat off of every moment (sorry to the vegans and vegetarians). Get all the juice out of it...like those Campbells soup commercials where the guy can't get enough soup out of the can. Stop being afraid that you can't handle things because you can handle anything if you dig deep enough or open yourself up enough to let other people help you achieve your goals. Leave your mark by doing whatever it is you feel you were meant to do. See things with more understanding, more compassion, more vibrancy and color. Notice the details but understand the big picture too. Really, really "get" it. Practice. And don't forget how really fortunate you are to have a life, no matter what it's handing you at any given moment.

...my philosophy...and it took a smack in the head to remember...I hope you don't need one of those. :-)

1 comment:

Newsgirl said...

Your nose looks amazing! Now if you can just do something about the REST of your face! Hee hee. Just kidding. Seriously, it looks slightly different than before, but not worse by any means, at least from what I can tell in the photos.

Sorry I've been out of touch. Ridiculously busy with work, including on weekends lately. Sorry. I'll come out from under my rock soon and then I'll help you catch up on all those Woodchucks you've been deprived of for the last month.

9/30/07 - My Humble Thanks

I continue to be humbled by all of you who have supported me in any way throughout this major facial reconstruction adventure. While the cost of surgery for me will be substantial (no health insurance), I am most grateful to be alive, to be recovering rather quickly and to have people around me who want to help in any way they can.

I apologize for not personally getting back to all who have called, emailed, written and text messaged about how I'm doing. Given my limited energy and lack of an audible voice, it has been difficult to update everyone personally. A friend and I figured technology might be the best way to reach all of you with my story. I'll post often with photos and updates. I think it will help me IMMENSELY in reaching all of you.

Anyhow, people have asked repeatedly if I need anything. My response? A time machine or a money tree. :-) My new face has a $150,000 price tag at this point. Somehow the amazing people who worked on me will receive what I owe them financially - even if it takes the rest of my life.

A side note - the patient satisfaction surveys came the day AFTER I left the hospital and the day BEFORE the bills started coming. I laughed at that.

As I continue my recovery, I want to sincerely thank all of you for your prayers, thoughts, cards, well wishes, donations and playing advice. I have a lot of faith. Things happen...but things also come together and find a way to work themselves out. Life has given me an interesting experience to learn from and laugh through.

Thanks to all of you for every little way in which you've reached out. As I mentioned, I am...humbled and grateful for all of it.

Best Wishes,