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Comeback of the Year

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As the season is ending, the ATP and WTA choose the winners of their yearly awards. While “Best Player” is the most prestigious, the categroy that always impressed me the most is “Comeback of the Year”. The winners of that category all tell the same story. How though it is to start learning things you so long took for granted all over again. How challenging it is not to get desperate, when progress is slow. How an injury makes you appreciate the little things in life. Comebacks in sports are hard. But I dare to say that comebacks from injuries that not only threaten your ability to play, but your ability to lead an independent life are much harder.

Some days, they say, can change your life. For my brother, that day came three years ago, on Oct. 13th 2004. On his way back from work, his car got hit by a truck at a crossroad.
His fight for recovery started with a two weeks struggle to simply open his eyes. He says, it wasn’t until Christmas that he really woke up. Until then, everything felt like a dream to him. It took him another 3 months to be able to walk again. One year to be able to speak properly. More than two years to be able to focus. Tomorrow, he will start working full-time again.

When I think about the accident, I see two images of my brother. The first is from the intensive care unit in the hospital. My older brother, who has always been so vital, athletic and strong was lying there depending on high tech machines to keep him alive. The second one is one year later, at 6 o’oclock in the morning. My brother is doing his yoga excersises, the doctor told him to do. He then would do his spelling and focus assignments. There was not one day in three years, my brother didnt follow the doctor’s schedule, not one assignment he failed to hand it to his therapists, not one single task he refused to do. And he got better. But recovery isn’t exactly a linear process and it certainly is not a very fast one. Even as his sister, I can only guess the psychological impact of the accident. What he must have felt, when he realized that there is a possibility he might never be mentally able to work again, when people didn’t undertstand the words or sense of what he wanted to say, when new physical damages were discovered, months and years after the accident.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. His friends have been amazing. They invited him to all they did, no pity, no special treatment. His work was just incredible, too. He works as an insurance counselor, a job that requires him to work on the phone and to make quick decisions. Since focus and clear language have remained his biggest problems, there were great doubts if he would be able to work again. They not only saved his job, but in cooperation with his therapists, they created a rehabilitation program, allowing him to work two hours a day and then slowly increasing the number of hours.
On Valentin’s day, he met his new girlfriend. She and her daughter moved in with him this summer. Our family has always been very close and ready to do whatever it takes to help oneanother. But the decision to fight, not to give in to despair and fear, he had to make himself.
We have been so incredibly lucky.Words are not enough to describe it. So many people don’t survive an accident like this. Others won’t ever fully recover because they were too serverly injured. My brother was granted a chance to fight. And he took it. For a very personal "Comeback of the Year".

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  1. GVGirl's Avatar
    Great blog! My best to your brother!

    We all sometimes take things for granted, this puts things in persective.
  2. nelslus's Avatar
    This all is just so beautiful. God bless your brother, you, and your family and loved ones.
  3. tinamarie's Avatar
    thank you both so much for your good wishes. I really appreciate them very much.
    Updated 11-11-2007 at 03:33 PM by tinamarie
  4. Moose's Avatar
    That's a simply outstanding story, tinamarie. Thanks for allowing us to read it. And please extend all of our best wishes to your brother for his incredible spirit.
  5. mmmm8's Avatar
    Thank you for sharing, tinamarie! Best wishes to him!
  6. Danielle's Avatar
    Am just now reading this...what a tremendous story tinamarie! Thanks for sharing it. What a remarkable man your brother is.
  7. mrjiggyfly2's Avatar
    That is very inspiratinal tinamarie . Good for him and all his family and friends!!!