As a Catholic and an Ironman Triathlon finisher, I am truly inspired by the Story of Brian Boyle. This young man of faith overcame disaster to accomplish his dream and that is only the beginning. Brian tells his story at the Catholic Herald.
My name is Brian Boyle. I am 21 years old, and I live in Maryland in the United States. I am a Catholic collegiate swimmer and Ironman triathlete. I hope my story will inspire and motivate those out in the world who need it, anyone who is trying to overcome tragedy, or who just needs that little boost in their faith in God to get back into life again. My parents and I only wish we could have had somebody to talk to while we were going through our ordeal three years ago.
A month after I graduated from high school in 2004, I was coming home from swimming practice when I was involved in a near-fatal car accident with a truck. The impact of the crash violently ripped my heart across my chest, shattered my ribs, clavicle and pelvis, collapsed my lungs, caused damage to every single organ and the failure of my kidneys and liver, the removal of spleen and gallbladder. I lost 60 per cent of my blood, suffered severe nerve damage to my left shoulder, and lay in a coma on life support for over two months at Prince Georges Hospital in Cheverly, Maryland.
I don’t have any memory of the crash, or the few days before the day of the accident. The first thing that I remember after the collision, which is still so vivid in my mind even today, is being in this very large white tube. In this tube was a boy sitting to my left, and many other boys and girls on my right (I use the term “boys and girls” because they appeared to be my age). I didn’t know why I was there or how I even got there in the first place. The more I sat there, the more I was able to visualise my surroundings. The boy to my left had a mobile phone, and he asked me if I needed him to call anyone for me. I told him: “Yes, can you call my parents and tell them that I love them.”
The next thing that I remember is waking up in a hospital bed, chemically paralysed and hooked up to all these machines. Through all the buzzes and beeps going off from the medical equipment that was saving my life at that instant, I could hear my mom and dad telling me in between dramatic pauses of crying hysterically that I was going to be okay. Only seconds before, I believe, I was waiting in line to meet my final judgment, but it must have not been my time. Moments later I came back to life. But this was just the beginning of my suffering.
I died eight times while I was in the intensive care unit, and even when I woke up from my coma I couldn’t talk or communicate.
As far as anyone knew, the day I left would be the day I exited my room in a wheelchair or a body bag. As for as the future, it didn’t exist. Walking was never going to happen again, due to all the extreme injuries and because of the shattered pelvis. The thought of swimming was just that – only a thought. Just like my body, my dreams were shattered. But I didn’t give up because I knew that God had a plan for me.