Hello out there! To start this off, I will tell you what I was doing at this time four years ago.  At 2030 hours, my partner Joel Karz were finishing up Chipotle burritos. Steak  burritos, mild and corn salsa, cheese, sour cream, black beans,  and guacamole. We can't forget about the chips and salsa. We ate at the Savage lunch room, with our new partner Eric Jech.

Following our dinners, we did some random patrolling. At ~ 2330 hours, Joel Kanz and I went to a house we were both very familiar with. When we arrived, the female caller informed us that she "lost" her husband. 

So Officer Kanz stayed in the kitchen, while I searched in the house for the husband. The house was a two level home. After I called out the second time, the husband walked out of the bathroom. I pointed the male out to the wife, and informed her that her husband was in the lower level, and asked her if she needed any further assistance. She replied that she didn't, and we left the house.

This is the last memory I had for almost 6 weeks. I have the squad camera footage of the drive to our next call of a prowler. Apparently, a mother found a male trying to break into her daughters bedroom window. Joey told me that he went north on Highway 13, and I went East on Egan Drive. 

My squad camera begins recording as I pass McColl Drive. I activate my lights and siren at ~Connelly Parkway. While on 42 (Egan Drive)  reach speeds of 90+ MPH, because the first officer on scene to the prowler call got on the radio and said that he saw someone running.  I made a left turn onto Glendale Ave., and it appears on my squad video that my squad fish tails a bit. I slowly begin to ease up on the speed. As I approach the Junior High, a tow truck had pulled over to allow me to pass, my Crown Vic begins to fishtail to the driver's side. I quickly tried to correct for this, but I must have over corrected. My squad spin 180• to the passenger side, and I slid completely across the roadway, jumped over the curb, and slammed into a tree at the B pillar of my squad.

The rest I've seen hundreds of times, because we have the squad car video from Officer Kanzs' squad. Unfortunately, Joey forgot to activate his body mic, and we have no audio until Officer Jech arrives on scene. 

We have ~45 minutes of video for Joeys' squad, audio from Eric Jechs' body mic, and video/audio from a SavageFire Fighters' helmet cam.

Throughout the video's the only evidence that I am alive is the fact I was still breathing, and at one point, I am able to squeeze one of my partners hand at request.

After I am extricated from the mangled squad, Joey promptly goes behind a squad and extricates his Chipotle I talked about us having for lunch.

Following my extrication, I am airlifted to North Memorial Hospital, where I spent the next 84 days.

I look forward to sharing my brain damaged experiences with everyone who takes the time out of there busy schedules to read this blog about my TBI.

Change is a constant - many of us spend our lives waiting for change, hoping for changing, trying to make a change, or praying for a change.

Change happens whether we want it to or not - life is not a linear path, but a continuum of breaks, stops, hitches, do-overs and mistakes. Life often does not follow the path that we envisioned, instead, it covers terrain and obstacles that we never thought were possible. Events and experiences that you never dreamed of launch themselves into your life without notice - and most of us are not prepared.

I wasn't prepared, four years ago today, for life to shift so hard in an unexpected direction. Today, for the fourth time, we mark the date of the before - those frozen moments in time that you wish you could grab back and say "make another choice" or "just slow down." We have gone through those thoughts so many times, it seems like a chore now to even think about that time, because you can never go back.

And truly, what would going back look like?

I have no idea, and no one ever does.  Going back might fix one thing, but what about other things?  What about all of the things that have happened since that day that were good things?  Things that one wouldn't want to lose in a do-over?

I know that for me, looking back is hard. But looking forward is hard too. Marking things off  day-to-day does not work  when living life - no plans, no goals and no focus create an unsettled, frustrating way to move through a lifetime.

What this means for me is a change in a new direction, and a shift in where my energy is focused.

Today will be my last blog post.  I have been writing for almost four years - writing stream of thought, unedited and painful views of a journey that at times almost smothered me with the weight of the words and thoughts that it produced. Nights of unending tears written in ghastly moments of heartbreak and pain. Shadows of hope, windows of time littered with the prayers of strangers and the touch of blue hearts.

I can no longer carry the torch of these thoughts, although plenty of them are waiting in the wings of my mind. This journey for me comes to a crossroads, with my path leading away from this road to another place - and that place is a new home and project called Blue Watch.

Blue Watch (www.bluewatchus.org) is a combined effort of some amazing local law enforcement officers that believe that health and wellness should be a priority for officers, instead of an after-thought. In a cooperative partnership with Regions Hospital and HealthPartners, our goal is to create an easy pathway for our officers to seek help when they need medical, mental health or wellness resources.

For me, creating a pathway for law enforcement to access these resources is a priority - for my partners, their challenge will be engaging their peers in dialogue of change focused on caring for themselves first, so that they can then help others.

This opportunity is a gift, and one that needs personal attention.

I am leaving you in good hands - as I transition out of this blog, a new writer takes the helm. This writer has first hand knowledge of the impact brain injury has had on not just our life, but the lives of so many others in this world that we call friends.

Please welcome Frank Mackall as the new window into the world of brain injury.

God Bless you all - and tonight at 12:59 AM, we click into our New Year, again.

It is you know - it is okay to be different.

It is Thanksgiving, and for many people that brings great joy and happiness when gathering together with friends and family.  Having time to cook all day, watch football, eat, play and be merry is what many families get to do today.

For families that live with someone with a brain injury, any holiday can be a recipe for disaster - any day that breaks the routine of life that is put together purposely to ensure structure and normalcy can cause panic and worry. Days like today can cause extreme stress for caregivers that have to decide if trying to have a regular holiday like very one else is worth the stress - why have a day that could erupt into a meltdown.

Sometimes people just need to hear that it is okay - okay to be different from everyone else.  Knowing that a day filled with noise, changes in routine, delayed meals, and too any people could be a disaster is a GOOD thing.  It means that you understand that there are limits to tolerance of things, and that you can try to plan around those triggers to have a successful holiday.

  1. It is okay to have a meal at the time you would normally eat - don't feel pressured to change the time of eating if it will cause your loved one to feel distressed.
  2. If lots of people and noise cause brain fatigue, reduce the number of people at your meal, or keep the time together short.  Balancing time spent together vs. noise of people is important - if needed, break up time hanging out in the kitchen with some quiet in another room.
  3. Don't feel that you have to accept every invitation to visit.  Going from place to place to visit multiple people in one day is hard on anyone.  If you have multiple invitations for Thanksgiving meals, let everyone know that it might be best to limit dinner to just one place.
  4. Sometimes plans will change at the last minute - headaches, brain fatigue, irritability or exhaustion can happen even before the day begins.  When this happens, don't be afraid to change the plans for the day. Things happen, and rather than try to push through the day and make things worse, trying again tomorrow may be a better choice.
  5. Always feel free to say no - no to another 30 minutes, no to another visit, no to more people wanting to come over. Knowing where to set limits can create enough stability to ensure that the day stays fun for everyone.

Do not be afraid to protect the structure that is in place to make days successful and fun.  The goal of Thanksgiving is to "give thanks", not create a day of anger and irritability that ends with a ruined meal and sadness. Setting boundaries, planning ahead, and being different may all help in getting to the end of this day, and being THANKFUL for another day together as a family.