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Lee Capristo
Director of Publications
Anne Arundel 100

Book Describes Miraculous Recovery

Written by Barbara Geehan

ironheartIt is in Chapter 3 of Brian Boyle's book that you really get to feel what it is like to be awake in a coma: "Every time a nurse or doctor enters my room, I can only stare at them like a wax figure. Motionless as a corpse, I can't talk, nod, lift a finger, or blink....What I would give to have a simple conversation with these strangers. Instead, I'm lifeless, unmoving, unresponsive - a silent body trapped in a bed, with my arms spread out like a crucifixion on a mattress."

Five years ago, Boyle was anticipating starting his first year at St. Mary's College of Maryland when, July 6, 2004, a dump truck flattened his car and severely damaged most of his body. It was an arduous journey back. He was in an induced coma for the first two months - part of it conscious but paralyzed and unable to tell anyone - then came pneumonia, infections, seizures, and pain. These past five years, he would create goals; first simple ones, tie the shoe, stand up; then bigger ones, swim across the pool. There are still setbacks, but the now burly Boyle has successfully completed Ironman triathalons, he's a certifi ed personal trainer, he talks of swimming the English Channel , and he is a senior at St. Mary's, planning to graduate as an art major this coming spring. The book is a very personal account of those years.

Iron Heart, The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead, is out October 1, and available from national book sites and the college bookstore. So why revisit the tough times and write a book? "When I first got home the nurses told me to keep a journal, a log. It was a good idea, because it helped me to understand psychologically the emotional impact," Boyle answers.

The art major goes on to say that the pen became sort of like a paintbrush. "There were so many things I couldn't talk about then, not even to my parents. It was my escape, and it helped me gain perspective."

Part of the journal became his final paper for his "Introduction to Writing" class at St. Mary's, then the first chapter of this very powerful book. "I read the whole book to my parents, but it was tough for them. They had been helpless, I had been hopeless. But I hope people will get something positive, some hope, from this book."

As you can tell from the last sentence: "Life is to be lived. There are no bad days. Every day is a good day," he says.