The Brian Boyle Story
I awake to the sound of screaming, crying, and the loss of all reality. I then come to realize that I am in a white room all by myself. I have only been asleep for a short while. I blink my eyes a couple times, and wait for them to adjust to the blinding light shining all around me. Nothing happens.
My heart is racing, and I am sweating profusely. I am completely numb all over, and I cannot move. I feel like I am spontaneously combusting, and I am waiting for my body to just burst into flames. I try to move my fingers, but they seem to be in some kind of mitten that covers my hands completely.
I am so uncomfortable; the pain feels like a thousand needles stabbing me over all over. I feel like sandpaper has scraped my skin off. My arms are tied down as well, but why? What is going on, and what am I doing here?
I really cannot see straight, nor can I sense anything other than the fan to my right by the wall. The slight breeze that is coming from it does not cool my skin at all. I am extremely hot, and I can just feel beads of sweat coming from my forehead. When the beads of sweat touch my chapped lips, it feels really good because they are so unbelievably dry.
My throat is sore and irritated. Everything is a blur; I am motionless and alone. I feel as if I am at the Dentist, getting a cavity fixed, and they have put me on a high dose of laughing air. If I could scream I would. I would scream from down deep until my vocal chords couldn't take it anymore.
The night before remains nothing but a mystery to me (continuous tossing and turning, minute after minute, hour after hour), and there is a faint buzzing noise throughout the room from the fan being on.
I have been residing within this room for I don't know how long. I am starting to become mentally and physically weak. Am I dying or am I dreaming this? The people who come in the room tell me that I was in a serious car accident, but that does not make any bit of sense to me. How could I of been in an accident? Huh? It just doesn't make sense.
As I think about it, I come to the conclusion that I had to have been a passenger because surely I was not the one driving. I am a safe and cautious driver, how could something like this happen to me.
My eyes wander, trying to find sense into what is going on. The walls within this 12 ft. x 12 ft. room are crowded with these electrical monitors and medical instruments. This must be pretty serious. There is an opening in the front of my bed that brings in this blinding light from the large room in front of me. There are also windows behind me that show the intimidating moon and garish sun.
There is a clock above the opening in front of me, and a chair to the right of me. There is no form of entertainment like cards or board games that I could possibly occupy myself with. In truth, it would not even matter if I did because I can't move. I do see a small T.V. in the upper left corner of my room, but it is turned off. What use is that? It as if I am in some kind of dark dungeon, but why am I here?
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Several people come in everyday in white coats (they must be Doctors) to give me a specific dosage of medicine that will possibly cure me? Cure me of what though? A lot of other people come in to check on me and see how I am doing, but I cannot respond back. I feel like a zombie because I just stare at everyone who comes in and walks by. I have some kind of a tube going down my throat and it hurts to swallow. All I can think about is having something to drink.
I do not know which Hospital I am at, and that kind of feeling is not a good one to have. The days go by in an instant; the sun rises and falls upon the hour of my own insanity. The clothing that I wear was given by the hospital; a loose blue gown that covers me in the front, and is tied in the back.
My wavy blonde hair has grown down to my shoulders, my skin feels very dry, and my teeth are beginning to feel very gritty. What I would do to just take a nice shower and brush my teeth. My ectomorphic body is withering away ever so slowly. I am fed with some sort of liquid that goes into the tube that is down my throat. I would pull this aggravating tube out, but my arms are strapped down.
I have lost the will to do anything but lie here upon my back; that is how I continue my existence in the world for the time being. I stare at the light that is in front of me, and try to figure out the situation that I am in at the moment.
Anything But Lie Here Upon My Back."
What have I done to get in here? I don't remember anything happening to me so what is the reason for me staying here? The last I remember was the Fourth of July party for my dad's work that my family and I went to. Other than that, my mind is blank to what may have happened.
A month after I graduated high school in 2004, I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a very serious car accident where I was slammed on my driver's side door by a dump truck while crossing a local intersection.
The impact of the crash knocked my heart across my chest, breaking most of my ribs/clavicle/pelvis, collapsing my lungs, losing 60% of my blood, severe nerve damage to my left shoulder, and in a coma where I was on life support for over two months at Prince Georges Hospital Center in Cheverly, MD.
The doctors later told me that the initial reason that I survived the actual impact is because of how healthy my body was and the large amount of muscle that I had from previous years of weight training and powerlifting. I always ate healthy, exercised everyday for my competitive sports, and never got caught up with smoking or drinking which is a tough thing to overcome for teenagers these days and I have always been proud of that.
My heart surgeon told me that when he held my heart in his hands, usually the heart will stop beating because it can't handle the stress, but he said that my heart was so strong and healthy that it kept beating even when he had to re-position it back to the original side of my chest.
I died eight-times while I was in the intensive care unit and even when I woke up from my coma, I couldn't talk or communicate. The day that they knew that I would live, was the day that I either left my room in a wheelchair or a body bag. When I was in my coma, I was conscious enough to realize how serious the situation was, and I knew that it must have been pretty bad when the nurses were talking to my parents about possibly having to move me into a nursing home for future care.
Day That I Either Left In A Wheelchair Or A Body Bag."
As far as the future, it didn't exist. Walking was never going to happen again due to all the extreme injuries and because of the shattered pelvis. The thought of swimming was just that, only a thought. Just like my body, my dreams were shattered. But, the one thing that kept me alive from the beginning is what keeps me going today, and that is help and support from family and friends and all those people out there who helped me come back to life (blood donors, nurses, doctors, and the big guy upstairs), they never gave up on me and I can't give up on them. Everything that I do and try and accomplish is for them and because of them.
After spending two months in a coma, 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments, I lost a total of 100 pounds and had to go to a rehabilitation center in Baltimore. I had to learn how to talk, eat, walk, shower, and live independently again.
Lifting Spirits & Weights: The Beginning
I was waiting in my wheelchair and a tall woman came walking around the door and came into my room. A crazy feeling told me that this was my physical therapist and it was. Even though she had a big smile on her face, she was very intimidating. She talked to my parents and I for a few minutes and then she wheeled me into this big room that was down the hall.
This room was full of young and old people. It was comforting to see other people doing physical therapy, and it inspired me to get things started. Everybody was looking at me and smiling, and everyone was so nice. I never expected physical therapy to be like this.
The first thing that my physical therapist and I did was plop me onto a mat where she was measuring my flexibility. She would tell me to raise one leg and then the other, and to do the same with my arms. She used some type of medical instrument to measure how flexible I was.
I had to turn over onto my stomach and do all of the same movements that I had already completed. After she recorded the results, she wheeled me over to a table and asked me a few questions about what was hurting and a little bit about my background.
After the questions, she gave me this piece of plastic with wheels on it that looked like a child's toy. I was supposed to push this toy forward and backward. I could do it with my right hand but the severe nerve damage in my left shoulder kept me from moving it a few inches. It was so weird to not be able to have strength in my left arm, but that's how it was.
My therapist told me not to worry about that because I would have full recovery in about two to three years. What was supposed to be good news actually put me down. There was nothing I could do about that so I stopped worrying about it. I was just happy to still have my life and to come as far as I already had.
Once I regained my senses, the first session was over and I was brought back to my room. A few hours later I had to do a session of occupational therapy, which is a kind of therapy that involves improving your skills that help you independently on a daily basis.
And To Come As Far As I Already Had."
I liked my occupational therapist a lot. She measured my strength and had me do some bicep curls with two and a half pounds of weight. This was a huge blow to my ego and self-esteem because three months before I was able to curl over fifty pounds. I got over that obstacle and stayed positive throughout the whole thing and I used laughter as my tool for self-improvement. I laughed and joked around a lot to keep my spirits up and it really worked.
Laughter is truly the best medicine there is. All the worrying that I did before all this was a waste of time, and I celebrated by eating as much as I could that night. My whole life has been spent watching my weight, but being one hundred pounds lighter, I could eat anything I wanted.
I hated being a skeleton and wanted my muscles back as soon as possible. I knew when I got home that I would have no problem putting on weight because I was used to changing my weight in high school. However, I wasn't home yet so all I had was the food that was in the hospital.
The days that followed went pretty quick and I was learning how to do a lot of the things that I knew how to do before the accident. I still needed a lot of help and support with everything that I did, but I was making progress; the amount of determination that I had was the reason that I was able to show progress in what I was doing.
I always had the factor of determination in my life, whether I was playing in sports or trying to do well in school. I would still have been in my deathbed at Prince Georges Hospital Center, if not worse, because the doctors could only do so much. It was up to me to make that final push to recovery, and that push would not have been possible without a determined mindset.
After five days at the Kernan Rehabilitation center, I was able to use the restroom, take a shower, tie my shoes, put on clothes by myself, and was able to continue in the path for continued progress.
I was able to accomplish all of these things, but I needed an extreme amount of help with all of these. For instance, I needed to be carried into the shower and then sit on a shower bench to take my showers. My occupational therapist had to stay in the restroom the entire time that I was in there and that was not easy, but it had to be done.
I had to start going to Physical and Occupational therapy at a local rehab center that was about thirty minutes from my house. I knew it was going to be hard, and it was. I had to go twice a week for two sessions each (one for Physical and another for Occupational).
Physical therapy was comprised of stretching, and building strength in my legs mainly. The leg strength would help me start walking much more efficiently again, hopefully, walking at all would have been good enough. I was off to a slow start because I had to first regain my balance. Occupational therapy was comprised of the E-Stem.
E-Stim is a noninvasive therapy that uses controlled neuromuscular electrical stimulation to strengthen the muscles of the throat used for swallowing. The technique involves applying tiny pulses of electricity through the skin to the pharyngeal muscles.
The E-Stem is based on getting electric shocks in my left arm to develop the bruised nerves in my shoulder. The nerve damage was so severe that the Doctors said that it would take up to two to three years for full recovery. I was not supposed to even have feeling in my fingers but I did somehow. After the accident I thought that my swimming days were over because of the damage in my left arm, but I thought wrong.
During the week I would go to the gym with my Uncle Joe. Usually after Physical therapy my mom would drop me off at the Sport and Health Club which was only two minutes away. Uncle Joe would go there several times a week, and he said whenever I wanted to start coming up to work out with him I could. I was glad to hear that, and I remember him telling me the same thing when I was in the hospital too.
When I was in the hospital I never thought I would be able to do the things I used to, especially go to the gym. I was thrilled the first day I went with him, and he got me in there using his guest pass. He gave me a tour of all the different equipment that was in there, which was a heck of a lot. There were racquet ball courts, basketball courts, a powerlifting room, cardio room, strength training room, spinning room, saunas, and etc. We worked out for about an hour and a half, and I will have to admit that it was very refreshing to be back in a gym again.
Before the accident happened, I used to spend all my time working out for swimming and track. To get more muscular for track I would do bench press, pushups, dumbbell workouts, and a lot of powerlifting to build mass. Swimming on the other hand was all cardio work. I would ride the stationary bike, run on the treadmills, and do hundreds of crunches. That was my workout regime, but I would do it over and over for hours at a time.
I only got to go to the gym a couple times with my Uncle Joe, but the times I did I enjoyed it a lot. I stopped going to Physical/Occupational therapy after about two months. I was able to do almost everything I was able to do before the accident, but just at a slower pace.
I would have continued to go there until the end of the year, but I ended up back in Prince Georges Hospital. This time I was not in ICU, but in the Cardiology department. This was a little scary though because my pulse was an average of about 129, and I had trouble breathing.
I could not get a full breath of air, and I was panting for about three days straight. I could not lie down, and I had to sleep sitting up. For some reason when I laid down, I could not breathe at all. I couldn't even imagine the trouble that would ensue if I waited any longer to see what was happening to me.
Strength & Positivity
Fast forward until the present moment, the month is November and the year is 2007, which is a little over three years passed the day of my near fatal accident. Since then, I have gained back all the weight (currently 180 lbs. and 7% body fat) with the help of weight gainer powders and protein supplements from my sponsors, 4EverFit. These guys are the greatest, they really are, and they have been so good to my family and I over the months.
As for strength training and athletics, I was able to get back in the pool and swim at the collegiate level two years ago. Last year I decided that I would take a break from the team because I wanted to gain some more strength and muscle back so I pursued an amateur career in bodybuilding, which is something that I always wanted to do.
With help and motivational support from 4EverFit and my bodybuilder hero and friend, Jay Cutler, I was able to do this. I told Jay my story last year and how I always looked up to him as a bodybuilder and was a huge fan. He sent me out a care package and put me on this strength training program where I ended up beefing up to 240 lbs. of all muscle, which was so much different and better than being the skeleton that I was after getting out of the hospital.
I loved everything about the sport of bodybuilding and I have been a big fan of it since I was little, watching all the movies that Arnold was in, especially Pumping Iron. It's a sport that really gave me that confidence boost that I needed at the time because I was still a little out of sorts with everything that had taken place before it.
It wasn't until this past May that I started competing in triathlons when the Ironman triathlon corporation contacted me about being the inspirational athlete media slot for this years show, so since then I started training for that, but I still have a very serious weight training program within my endurance workouts.
I plan on continuing my triathlon training as well as my amateur bodybuilding career and with the 50 year life expectancy I was given from the doctors, I am just trying to live each day to the fullest, promote a healthy lifestyle, and motivate and hopefully inspire other people to never give up on their dreams and to never stop believing no matter how bad a situation is.
I remember when I was still in my hospital bed in ICU, I would have my mom and dad push me around in my wheelchair to the other rooms in the unit to see the other patients and talk to them and their families; it didn't matter if the other patients were unconscious or comatose because I just wanted to talk to them, especially since there was always that possibility that they could hear me. I wanted to let them know that everything was going to be alright, somehow things would work out for the best. I prayed with them, I said prayers for them, I tried to give them and their families hope. I believe that my purpose in life is to bring hope to those who need it most.
My name is Brian Boyle and I am living proof that miracles happen to those who believe, thank you for believing in me.
To learn more about Brian and his journey back to life, he can be reached at
Bjboyle@smcm.edu and his website is
www.Team-Boyle.com. He has recently completed the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and his story and race footage will be broadcasted on the Ironman show on Dec. 1 on NBC between 4:30-6:00pm Eastern Time Zone.