Saturday, July 20, 2013

Inspiring Story, number 2: Rolf Benirschke

I read about his story when I was in high school.  I never forgot about it, but I hadn't remembered too much of the details, except that he had lost a tremendous amount of weight, and suffered some form of IBD.

Recently, I came across a book he had written in 1996.  He was the place-kicker for the San Diego Chargers during the mid-70's to the mid-80's.  He fell gravely ill during a cross-country flight after a game.

To make a long story short, eventually, he would have ostomy surgery and would have to discard body waste through a pouch attached to his body.  And within a year of this operation, was back playing NFL football.

I read this, and I thought, geez, I only had incomplete spinal cord injury, along with a temporary disfunction of urinary and bowel functions, and now at the mal-function stage, but improving little by little each week. I'm probably about 80% recovered for bowel and bladder issues, but that means 20% of the times I still have issues, usually translated into 3 hours of the day where I'm prone to having some sort of bladder or bowel (usually bladder) accident due to lack of control.

I am grateful because I am confident that I am continuing to improve and will improve further, but I'll take the 80% recovery in bladder, bowel and walking over what he experienced. I would hate to have had my colon and/or intestines removed and have to discharge into an external pouch for the rest of my life.

The fact that he had to live through all the pain he did before the operation, then wake up to find out he had to learn to maitain his discharges through a pouch - and then to get back to the point of playing professional football again - it is a very inspiring story.

In the book he makes reference about he feels lucky that he went through this rather than spinal cord injury, but I feel the opposite.  But that is a commentary for another post.

Benirschke's book is called, "Alive and Kicking."

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