Cavin Balaster, our December Teach Believe Inspire award winner, is a true renaissance man who has devoted his talents to solving the puzzle of brain injury in new ways. We were able to speak in more depth with him this month about the details of his recovery from TBI, his current research into nutrition therapy, and his upcoming memoir (due out in 2017).
I actually have no recollection of climbing the water tower. In fact, I do not remember a single moment of this entire day, or about a month following my fall. I wish that I could tell you what thoughts went through my mind. Perhaps I was scared. Perhaps my life flashed before my eyes as I crashed from one steel beam to the next. But the truth is, I do not remember a thing.
The most defining moment of my life has been wiped away, and I am really only able to tell this part of my story based on information that has been relayed to me by others.
During your first months of therapy, what made the biggest difference in helping you toward recovery?
This is a great question, and one that I get a lot. There were several aspects of my recovery that I didn’t expect would make such a positive impact. In fact, I’m in the process of writing an eBook about this very subject.
I had incredible social support, which makes a world of difference no matter what we’re going through. And of course, I am very thankful that I was fortunate enough to receive the initial treatments and surgeries that saved my life.
Honestly, probably played the biggest role in my recovery. I had been in a brain fog throughout much of my recovery and was very emaciated and underweight. Not only was I relearning to talk, walk, and eat again, I was also healing and rewiring my brain. I was putting serious work into repairing my body and learning to adapt, and I couldn’t progress without making sure I was adequately fueling all that work.
Had you written much before your injury?
I had not done a tremendous amount of writing before my injury, but I’ve been a songwriter and musician all of my life. I was a bartender in NYC for years, and storytelling is a forte of any good bartender. The craft of songwriting and storytelling is about conveying a feeling, and that is what I try to do in my writing.
The Will to OvercomePicture flying down a mountain at nearly 60 miles per hour on a bicycle, leaning into turns, watching the road like a hawk for obstacles and loose gravel as objects on the side of the road whiz by in a blur. Other bicyclists surround you, sometimes mere inches away.You’re wearing spandex shorts and a form-fitting shirt, shoes fastened tightly to the pedals as you rely on instinct and a lifetime of practice to keep you upright as your wheels spin like a propeller.All of a sudden, in a fraction of a second and without warning, you see the rider in front of you going down. Your heart sinks as you begin to feel impending terror and pain rushing towards you like a midnight train.Then everything goes black. (more…)
“It’s just what I loved to do… be a soldier.” —SFC (Ret.) Victor L. MedinaSgt. 1st Class (Ret.) Victor L. Medina was always going to be a soldier. He grew up in a military academy and joined the reserves at age 18. He attended college, but in the same way that an eight-year-old boy opens the envelope attached to a wrapped present. College wasn’t the prize. Instead, joining the army after college was the excitement for Medina. (more…)