For Dad



My father received an iamnotTedKing t-shirt for Christmas from me a few weeks back. Coincidentally, he is actually named Ted King, so he was slightly confused as to why his t-shirt advertises incorrectly. Such is life.

Ted (the senior) is the pillar of the King family. Dad is an orthopaedic surgeon, an athlete, and a brilliant and loving family man. He is the best father I could have ever asked for. On the morning of March 23, 2003 everything changed.

It was the first Sunday of spring vacation and I was eagerly driving home across New England after a successful collegiate race weekend. When I received a call from Mom telling me Dad was in the hospital, my immediate reaction was nothing was out of the ordinary – as a surgeon, Dad was perpetually on-call and therefore in the hospital repairing peoples’ injuries at all hours of the day and night. Despite remaining intrepidly calm on the phone, Mom’s voice wavered just the slightest bit indicating that something was in fact wrong. The right hemisphere of his brain experienced a blood clot early that morning, thereby changing our lives forever. Dad had suffered a stroke.

The human brain is an extraordinarily complex and delicate organ. So much of its intricate functions and complex mechanisms are still a mystery yet to be understood by science. What is unequivocally known, however, is that the left side of Dad’s body is virtually paralyzed. Dad was very active; he formerly ran up to twenty miles per week, was an accomplished international sailor, and avid skier. As a highly respected and well-known surgeon in our community, his job was to enable people who were crippled by orthopaedic maladies. The irony is that, although a hand surgeon, Dad is now unable to feel and use his left hand. He is now a prisoner in his own body. Additionally, he has difficulty thinking through complex tasks.

Approaching seven years after the stroke, our family’s lives have turned out to be startlingly different that we had expected - most notably the lives of Dad and Mom. Mom is effectively Dad’s caregiver, his provider, and his companion. Their vows “In sickness and in health” could not be put through a better test than this.

This brief summary does not even begin to explain how our lives are forever changed and in truth, I don’t want to delve into it here or now. Writing about this even now is still very tough for me – it brings back the same wave of emotions I experienced driving home in the spring of 2003.

This is the official introduction of the iamnotTedKing frame sticker/name badges. What started as an original title for my blog has turned into something larger. The iamtedking name now featured on t-shirts and stickers will be sold for an incredibly worthwhile cause. The Krempels Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with brain injury from trauma, tumor, or stroke.  In partnership with universities and community volunteers, the Krempels Center offers programs that engage members in meaningful and productive experiences and provides ongoing support and resources to those impacted by brain injury.  In addition, the organization’s community outreach initiative provides education to the public about brain injury and brain injury prevention.

Krempels

100% of the sticker profit and 50% of the t-shirt profit will be given to the Krempels Center. Additionally, all t-shirts already purchased will be retroactively credited towards Krempels. So while you don’t need to buy another shirt, maybe you should anyway… or at least a set of stickers.

Stickers. Buy a dozenframe shot1



Comments

  1. JJ

    Great blog… With a similar thing that has ripped through my family with my father I’m not sure I could have even written this without flooding my keyboard.

    Best of luck to you and your family…..

    Reply
  2. Karver

    I was 17 when my grandfather –a very active wheat farmer on the Canadian prairies– at the age of 79, suffered a stoke 3 years back that eventually got the best of him. Re-living his last days are incredibly tough when I realize how much potential he had for a longer, more fulfilling, life. Thank you for sharing your story and shining light on a great cause that needs support.

    Best wishes to your family.

    Reply
  3. Shannon Gilmartin (aka McDreamyBiker)

    Ted, my sympathies to you. My grandmother suffered a stroke many years ago and it was incredibly sad to watch her become a person so much unlike herself. Trapped in a body that betrayed her and a mind that never did regain the wit, spunk and humor that defined her.

    We have now purchased 3 shirts (one for each of us and another as a gift which I will hopefully document for you later), and I will purchase stickers as well.

    Best of luck to you in your new endeavor. Kudos for you for helping to make others’ lives better.

    Reply
  4. onthebikeuk

    Touching and insightful blog that really resonates with man of us. Power to you giving back and support!

    Reply
  5. Roddy Pattison

    Always be wary of a doctor/surgeon who has no life outside the office/ operating theatre. Sounds like Ted senior had a very fulfilling life prior to his stroke. I’ll bet he was a bloody good surgeon too. Your choice of charity is therefore a very good one- I will wear my T-shirt with pride. Thanks for sharing what is obviously a very personal story. God bless you all. I lost my own father to a diffuse traumatic brain injury six weeks before I started medical school. A very painful time for Mum and me as I’m sure you could imagine.

    Reply
  6. Kale Magness

    Reading your blog brings back a flood of memories of my Dad, Paul Magness, who was and will always be my Hero. The relationship that you share with your Father sounds every bit as deep as the one I had with mine. Also, the love and devotion described in how your Mother cares for your Father is also very familiar as my Mom cared for my Dad to the very end of their 62 year marriage. Dad died last August after battling cancer for 7 months and I have never witnessed such strength and love for family as he demonstrated. He never once complained and his thoughts were always on his family. I rode in the LIVESTRONG Challenge – Austin this past October in memory of my Dad and I can’t describe the emotions I felt when I past over the finish line. I know he was standing and cheering me on! My Dad taught me how to live, but more than that he was a living example of how to face adverstity with grace and humility. I just hope that I can live to be half the man that he was.

    I tell you this to say, take advantage of EVERY moment you have with your Dad. I know he is very proud of you and what you have accomplished. Use the platform that you have been given to be an ambassador to tell the story that your Dad is living out in front of you and your family. I’ll be buying one of your t-shirts to support your cause.

    Good luck this season. I’ll be watchhing for you!

    Kale Magness

    Reply
  7. caroseberryenh

    Krempels is a great cause. Great that you are doing this for them…

    Reply
  8. IamNOTTedKing

    My father had a stroke when he was 59. He too was very active and had forged a very successful career as a master carpenter. The parallels to your story are clear. I spent many long hours on the bike sorting through different emotions at a relatively young age. My IAMNOTTEDKING shirt has taken on new meaning and I wear it proudly for my family and yours.

    Reply
  9. StephanieSTL

    The more I read, the more I like you.

    Thank you!

    Love my new shirt btw!

    Reply
  10. Elaine S.W.

    Your blog summarizes so much in so little space – and already so many have identified with it. Best of luck in supporting the Krempels foundation, which does such great work. Your lives have all been redefined, so keep your love and faith as you work towards your goals. I will keep your family is in my heart and prayers, even though “IamnotTedKing” – just a friend!

    Reply
  11. Kate

    What a great post, thank you for sharing such a personal story. I love my shirt and am so glad to see the proceeds go to such a wonderful organization. God bless you & your family as you all continue down this road.

    Reply
  12. Derek

    I love that you are doing such a great thing and helping a worthwhile organization raise money. I pray that your family has the strength to continue to be there for each other, in every way needed. Good luck to you this season.

    Reply
  13. Xiane

    My mother lost her life to a massive brain aneurysm, a year later my father suffered an ischemic stroke. Needless to say, the devastation to my small family was almost crippling. I thought, how are we going to get through this? But we survived the hospitalizations, then the rehab, then the PT/OT, then learning how to function as best as possible in a world not designed for the disabled. I’ve been caring for my dad in my home for several years now. At first it felt like a crushing burden, but since that first day, we have adapted, and we’ve learned how to make the most of it… and we are doing great, actually. I am blessed to still have my dad in my life. I guess my roundabout point is that when something like this happens, you can just lay down and do nothing OR you can face it head on, fight it, and ultimately get on with living. I am very thankful to you, Ted, for doing something to not only help your family, but mine and countless others, too. And here’s to your mom for being such a strong, selfless, compassionate person.

    Reply
  14. Jason Schweitzer

    Great post. Great cause. I am touched and proud to see that something that started out as a fun contest has evolved into a vessel for philanthropy. As our brief dialogues proved that you, sir, are no wanker, I hereby volunteer my services to further the cause in any creative way we can. Give me a shout whenever your busy schedule allows. Best of luck this season and thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  15. Gia Schultz

    Thank you for sharing and for supporting this great cause. It would be pretty awesome if team Cervelo got on board and rocked the stickers on their bikes this year. Nothing like a little international notoriety.

    Reply
  16. Ashley

    Ted,

    Thank you for writing this and sharing your family’s story. I understand how difficult it is to write, speak, and often, even think about such a parent’s injury. 3 years ago, when I was in Europe studying abroad in college, my mom had a very serious cycling accident. While riding down a local mountain, she came around a turn too quickly (we think) and crashed. She put her arms out to break her fall and shattered both of her elbows, compound fractured her left and right wrist, and smashed her head, giving her a severe concussion. She was airlifted from the mountain and spent a week in the ICU, then 2 months in the hospital. The call from my step dad was the most difficult/terrifying conversation of my life, one that I never want to recall or experience again.
    Since that time, it has been a new life for my family, just as you described. She did not have the use of her arms for a number of months and has undergone 7 surgeries, however will never have full/complete use of her arms. In those early months I changed from a naive, happy-go-lucky 20 year old girl to a quasi-mom/wife/all around taker-carer (a role you may/may not have assumed yourself), as the head of my family was rendered nearly completely helpless; something that’s not easy for people to relate to, unless they’ve gone through a similar experience with a parent. Anyway, too much to say about this on someone else’s blog, and I don’t want to move away from what you’ve shared. So, I’ll end by saying thank you for sharing and supporting this cause which hits far too close to home. While it is cliched, it’s still very much true…difficult times really do make you realize what is important in life. In an instant I learned that, for me, it is family.

    Reply
  17. 3G

    Wow. Wonderful & touching story. I’m going to hook up a few stickers and a t-shirt for sure. Great cause too.

    Best of luck on a great season Ted!

    Reply
  18. Susan

    My Dad suffered a series of strokes in 2004. He was VERY lucky and has some great stories about relearning to ride a bike. My MTB was the bike he picked up to relearn. He gave it to me because he didn’t need it anymore and had 2 other bicycles anyway. He is riding happily and manages to get out a few times a week, usually.

    I recognize how fortunate I am and there is a shirt and a set of stickers in my future.

    Reply
  19. Padraig

    Well done. My father has suffered a series of TIA (mini-stroke) events in the last year. I live in constant fear that when I see their phone number on my phone it will mean he has had the big one. Thanks for taking up a worthy cause and sharing your experience.

    Reply
  20. Deirdre

    I think it speaks volumes about your parent’s character that they produced a son willing to go the extra mile to support such a great organization. Thanks for sharing your story, Ted.

    My mom has suffered a series of mini strokes over the last few years and it’s been very difficult to see her transform from strong and very independent to increasingly frail and confused. I’ll second Ashley’s comment that it’s hard to stop being your parent’s child and become your parent’s caregiver. I’m happy to do it since she’s given me so much over the years but honestly, sometimes I just want my mom back.

    Thanks for the retroactive t-shirt credit (bought mine about a month ago). I’m going to get one for my husband so he can be cool like me. Good luck this season, we’ll be rooting for you in NH.

    Reply
  21. boxhead

    Hi TK, I just read your post. Thanks for sharing some of your motivation for producing the t-shirts. I bought one a couple days ago and it’s in the mail to Australia right now. Hopefully there will be a “I am not Ted King” t wandering around Sydney in the near future.
    I am looking forward to getting the t and especially now that I know what it’s supporting.
    Cheers mate.

    Reply
  22. Pingback: Kill the headlights and put it in neutral… « eightplustwo.com

  23. Christina

    You should sell these at the Island this summer, then we can have an iamnottedking party :)

    Reply
  24. cmoons

    Check out the book, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, if you haven’t yet read it. Its an emotional read but an amazing memoir. Some really great messages in there.

    Best.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>