57: Impossible Is Nothing

57: Impossible Is Nothing

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles

Impossible Is Nothing

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.

~Jewish Proverb

I was a very athletic college student; so athletic, in fact, that I ran the Boston Marathon the first three years of college, and had every intention of running it for a final time my senior year. I would have run it every year I was in college.

I was just beginning my last year of college in Worcester, MA, which was very much a college town, and times were near perfect. I had a full-time academic career, a part-time job, and a very smart and beautiful full-time girlfriend.

My best pal Ben had just visited me. Our friendship had survived a lot: fights, girls, summers, and living states away made it difficult to maintain a friendship, but we did. Tonight, another friend, from home, was coming out to my school to check out my campus life, and then the rest of the weekend would be devoted to the young woman who had stolen my heart a little over a year before, Jenna.

I had recently celebrated my twenty-first birthday with a camp-fire in my backyard and a few friends back in the beginning of July, and I was excited about the proximity of my college dorm to all the local Worcester bars. I could walk the half-mile to the bars with my friends and not have to worry about a designated driver. But we were going to be walking from party to party, rather than bar to bar, tonight because my friend from home was still a few months away from his twenty-first birthday. In my rush to get the night started, I locked my keys in my dorm room. A few hours (and parties) later, when we were intoxicated, we noticed that we couldn’t get into my room. I, being the daredevil, just thought to myself “Okay, this is not a big deal. I’ll just climb from the hallway window to the big tree branch and into my room window.” An easy enough stunt, and I’d be able to show off for my fellow dorm residents who had begun to form an audience.

I climbed out the window a few minutes after it began to rain. I got from the hallway window to the tree branch without any problem, but as I attempted to climb from the branch to my window I felt the slippery bark begin to lose its traction....

That’s it. That’s all I remember from that point on for a few months. That night I was declared brain dead. My parents received “that call,” the telephone call that says your son has been in an accident under the influence of alcohol, and that you should come to the hospital as fast as you can. Upon my folks’ arrival at the hospital, I was confirmed legally brain dead. My parents refused to accept that I was gone. They pushed, prayed, and pleaded for surgeons to attempt an emergency neurosurgery. They did, and the surgery was miraculously successful despite the surgeon’s caveat that a successful surgery at best would mean a life in a vegetative state. What ensued was twenty-three days in a coma, four months in the hospital, and two years as an outpatient at numerous rehabilitation hospitals.

• • •

Now, for the good news — in less than three short years I have gone from being a marathon runner, to a label six on the coma scale (which is the point at which the hospital calls the coroner) to a college graduate, to a motivational speaker whose aim is to educate students about the consequences of the decisions that anyone can make under the influence of alcohol.

I awoke from the coma, the victim of a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), unable to speak, walk, talk, or even breathe on my own. I went through an unsuccessful surgery to amputate my right leg due to internal bleeding and what is known in the medical community as “tone” and “compartment syndrome.”

On April 16th, two years later, I proved a motto that I now live by to be true. I overcame the impossible. Doctors said it had only been done once, to their knowledge.

What happened on April 16th, you may ask? I ran the Boston Marathon for a fourth and (I think) final time. The year after the accident, I was in a wheelchair. The next year, I could hobble no more than a few steps. As soon as I was able, I attempted and completed the marathon in seven hours and fifty-one minutes flat.

The motto I live by?

Impossible is nothing.

~Scott Maloney

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