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    Mondays with Mac: To Believe in the Impossible...

    March 29, 2010 2889 Views

    A few weeks ago, I found an unexpected letter and book from a Facebook fan of Simple Truths. Nicholas Dennen wrote to tell my team and me, "Thank you for believing and helping myself and others overcome seemingly 'impossible' situations. Blessings to you, your families, and Simple Truths." That was a touching letter...but what really touched me was Nick's amazing story! It was so amazing, in fact, that I invited him to share his amazing story of perseverance with you. Nick experienced trauma that he would not have overcome without the right attitude. Be encouraged by his life today:

    _DSC8258-Version2.jpg23Question: when you look back on your life, 10, 20, 30, even 50 years down the road, what do you think you'll remember most, the times you effortlessly moved forward without any bit of struggle or the times you found yourself wrestling against your deepest fears? I think Jim Rohn said it best, "we must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment." I would have surely regretted not giving 110% of my heart and soul to my rehabilitation.

    I had taken a 35-foot fall into a creek with a near drowning, suffering massive closed head trauma, with a collapsed lung. Miraculously, I survived that, yet alone surpassing an uncertain future plagued by insurmountable odds. It was those same impossible odds that set the scene for an amazing journey. The odds were definitely against me, and sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which according the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, affects 100,000 individuals just in Minnesota alone. The numbers are close to 1.4 million across the United States.

    And today, we have to also consider our brave troops overseas. It is estimated that nearly 20% of our returning troops will have some form of mild to severe traumatic brain injury, many from improvised explosive devises. This number is staggering, but I think is underestimated. I've learned, in my short time with my brain injury, prevention is the only known cure.

    Sept98nick.10.19I had a choice, to remain in the shadows or move forward, defining the moment, or letting the moment define me. I was hospitalized for months, September 27th of 1998 until early December of that year. After being discharged, after escaping death, I continued outpatient rehab at Sister Kenny, and continued moving forward. Moving home provided me with the comfort of family, but also the drive to continue walking my path with myself. My parent's and I were at the mall one Sunday afternoon and we walked by Successories and then I saw it. A poster of a runner with an inspiring quote. "Persevere: On the road to success, you can be sure of one thing…there is never a crowd on the extra mile." At times, it felt like I was running alone; the action had to be pushed forward by me.

    Seeing pictures of me in the hospital offer inspiration. I was totally unconscious on life-support laying there with my eyes open, but I was not there. I was semi-comatose. The difficulty in seeing myself in such a state has nothing to do with whether or not I thought I would make it back. The difficulty was knowing that my family, friends, and others were faced with the uncertainty and pain that I may never, ever return. I think it ultimately came down to faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these three being love, the love of my family, friends, and everybody else.

    I love motivation, particularly self-motivation, and not letting fear make my decisions. It took a near-death experience to open my eyes, to see a future serving others. My mom gave me a plaque from Successories during that first year as I was enduring an extensive rehabilitation, relearning how to walk, how to write, how to feed myself, how to live again. It was titled, New Beginnings, and it said, "In life what sometimes appears to be the end is really a new beginning."

    Yes, I had thought my life was over. I saw my friends and everyone else moving forward, and I was stuck in the past. I saw my glass as half-empty, not half-full. I had a bad attitude. I needed to visualize my new beginning. I needed to change my perspective. I needed to re-define my TBI. Rather than Traumatic Brain Injury, I think TBI really stands for, "To Believe in the Impossible," "To Baffle the Imagination," "To see Beyond the Individual," and "To Become Invincible." I needed to see my struggle as an opportunity to take me to the next level.

    Nearly 12 years post-TBI now, looking back, I can hardly imagine my life going any other way, without everything I have learned and every person I have met from this one experience. I was able to return to college, meeting people on the journey whom have shaped my life and transformed my future. I have been fortunate enough to get a job working at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, where I have worked since August of 2004. Working here has helped me go from being somewhat shy and introverted (qualities amplified after having a head injury) to becoming the opposite, outgoing and extroverted. It became my future.

    I never would have imagined such a meaningful purpose, serving others enduring the same trials and difficulties. I have found a place serving the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota on their Speaker's Bureau, as well as on their Board of Directors. I can use this experience to lift others up. Adversity can, in the end, strengthen character.

    And the best part, which I saved for last, was meeting my beautiful wife, Tina, whom I never would have met had I not been injured. She is my best friend and someone I can't see my life without.

    So, I'd like to ask you another question: would you ever take a journey if, before you even started, you knew you would face death, be overcome by fear, and feel as though the world would be better without you in it? Or think about it this way. If, walking that same path, you'd discover your potential, meet the person of your dreams, and find your true calling in life?

    Check out Nick's website:, or leave comments for him!

    Posted in: Guest BloggersMotivation

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