I still believe in tomorrow

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I Still Believe in Tomorrow

Mike Patrick
Edited  by Debby Newman

Forward (sample below)
(sample below)

Table of Contents


Mike talking to students imposed over Mike's Accident

Chapter One: Sept. 3, 1971 – My One and Only Varsity Football Game (sample below)
Chapter Two: Reality with Six Weeks of Hospitalization
Chapter Three: How Communities Cope with Tragedy

Chapter Four: Recovery, Stereotypes and Driving
Chapter Five: Hospital Experiences and Motivation (sample includes a Health Challenges and Life Milestones Timeline)
Chapter Six: Complementing Western Medicine for My Own Well-being
Chapter Seven: An Obstacle Course Called Life
Chapter Eight: Using Assistive Technologies

Chapter Nine: Helping Others Find Meaning
Chapter Ten: Reaching Persons with Disabilities
Chapter Eleven: Problem Solving Through Role Playing: What are your priorities when dealing with a hardship?
Chapter Twelve: Keys to Overcoming Adversity
Quotes from people who have attended Mike’s presentations (sample below)


How does someone turn deep personal adversity into opportunity, even inspiration? I am honored to have been asked to write this introduction by the author, Michael Patrick, whom I consider much more than a personal acquaintance. He is constantly searching for ways to improve the lives not only of those with disabilities, but also all of us. After all, no one is without some incapability, some need for the love and assistance of others. We can devote our lives and attention to our personal needs and desires, but everything we do affects our families, our friends, and everyone we touch.

This writer intends for this book to be primarily for members of the medical profession. As a physician, I need to be reminded constantly that I am not just treating someone’s illness, but the whole person. Whatever I do, it affects more than just the anatomy and physiology of the patient in front of me.
* How will it change the life and the relationships of him or her?
* Can I teach enough about the problem at hand to enroll the patient into the care plan?
* How much does he understand?
* How much can I expect him or his caregivers to accomplish?
How can I begin to answer these questions without some personal knowledge of his life, his needs at home, his expectations, even his opinions and motivation?

Compassion and treatment go beyond the few minutes spent with one person before encountering the next. As stated by Hippocrates, “Life is short, and the Art long; the occasion fleeting; experience fallacious, and judgment difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.”

We live in hard economic times. The general media and even medical journals and papers tout the usefulness of group appointments with the doctor and establishment of accountable care organizations – in an effort to improve “efficiency” of practice. This may really be a euphemism for cheaper care, because the best way to reduce health care cost is not considered to be eliminating the administrators or bidding competitively for the lowest cost pharmaceuticals, to be politically expedient, but rather to ration the use of more expensive tests and procedures. Current accountability means reaching statistical perfection by making ‘guidelines’ into regulations and treating each problem without regard to the social and psychological needs of the patient.

Ironically, medical schools, including my own alma mater, are now requiring credits in the humanities. One course uses close-up magic to teach students to engage directly with their patients. Rather than teaching magic, I strongly recommend reading this book. Then spend time to learn the emotional status, physical and social needs of every patient in the context of his or her life and environment. The stories here are highly exemplary. As the author repeatedly contends, “The problem is not the issue. The issue is how you deal with the problem.”

There is a symbolic exercise Mr. Patrick describes in chapter eleven (and he uses in his presentations [ed]). He uses it to gain insight into the people he meets. For this purpose, my answer is lion, monkey, sheep, horse, and cow. I will leave it to him to interpret but think about societal predation and useful participation. So, how does someone turn personal adversity into opportunity, then inspiration? By sharing experiences and personalizing them to the psychological and emotional needs of everyone you meet, and most especially, those who are dependent upon you for care and compassion. Elliot Francke, MD


First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has read and commented at my blog, I Am Not Done Yet and kept in contact with me over the years. Your faith in my ability to get this published worked! I also want to thank Doctors Elliot Francke, Jason Reed and Mark Fallen, all of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A special shout out goes to Dr. Tom McIntosh, formerly of Abbott Northwestern Hospital. I could write a whole book on my relationship with him. He is something special and I miss him immensely since he left in 2009. I do not think I would be alive today if Dr. Tom had not been there through my many traumas these last twenty plus years. In addition, thank you Dr. Jeannine Speier of Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and her former colleague Dr. Marilyn Thompson. I want to extend a special thank you to Bob Decker, R.Ph., L.Ac., my acupuncturist since 2003 and Lori Knutson, RN, DSN, HN-BC, the Executive Director of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. Of course, I cannot forget the many doctors and nurses over the years who have helped me to have the best quality of life possible for someone with my multitude of medical issues. I would not be here today without the support of my friends and family, especially my mom Colleen Patrick. I greatly appreciate my editor Debby Newman. She helped me take over 20 years of journals and turn them into this book. Finally, I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to all of you and everyone who helped me with this book!

Chapter One
September 3, 1971 – My One and Only Varsity Football Game

“Your head bounced one time, just one time.”

Charlie Blackstead, community college instructor

In 1971, I was a junior in high school with a plan for my life. I knew where I was going. I was a good student with sports on the brain all the time. I played football in the fall, played basketball in the winter, ran track in the spring and played baseball all summer. I was my class vice-president, a member of the student council, and I had been named to the National Junior Honor Society in the ninth grade. School was easy for me. I was passionate about sports. My goal was to get a basketball scholarship for college. I had many friends and got along with everyone. The Vietnam War was raging, but it was on the other side of the world, and I really did not think much about it. It did not have anything to do with me.

My world mainly revolved around my life in Worthington, a small town in Southwestern Minnesota, and whatever sport was in season. I had just gotten my driver’s license that spring and was beginning to experience life with the freedom that comes through using the family car occasionally.

Friday, September 3, 1971, was not a typical day. I did not sleep well the night before, in anticipation of our first game. It was going to be the first time I was going to get to play in a varsity game. To say I was nervous would be a huge understatement. Not only was it the first game, but I had a first date that night as well. Becky Geisendorfer was a cute, blonde-haired sophomore who had caught my eye that summer. On the first day of school, I worked up the courage and nervously asked her to go out with me after the game.

I had an odd feeling all that day, which I just chalked up to nerves. I never imagined what was going to happen that night. Nothing was going to happen to me, I was a “hot shot.” School and sports were my life. Also, there were college scouts who had come to watch me play that night.

Football was fun. We worked hard that summer. It was supposed to be a “rebuilding year,” because we had lost so many of our starters to graduation and not many experienced guys showed up for practice. We all felt good about the coming season, but the local press did not give us a chance to win even half of our games. We only had two weeks of two–a day practices before school started, so we tried to show up in pretty good shape. We would get a few guys together and play touch football in the evenings, or some of us would get together and run wind sprints and pass patterns. But mostly, we dreamed. I would dream of making a big interception and running it back for the winning touchdown. Nobody had any idea how that first game was going to affect all of our lives so dramatically. All we knew was we had a better team than they were giving us credit for, and we were about to prove it.

We had a pep rally that afternoon. The coaches were introduced to the students, and then our head coach, Mr. Osterberg, introduced the co-captains. They each told the student body how we were going to have this great season and everyone should come to the game that night. The nerves were starting to get a little tense, and by this time, we had the gym full of students really getting noisy. Then Coach Osterberg started announcing the roster for the 1971 Trojans of Worthington High School. Now my heart was in my throat. He went down the list of seniors and made a humorous comment about each one … and then he got to the juniors. When he got to my name, he said, “Mike Patrick, five feet-nine inches tall and one hundred fifty-five pounds soaking wet.” I was so excited, as I went down the bleachers, I was afraid I was going to hit a bleacher step wrong and fall flat on my face. The whole experience was extremely exciting, and got everyone ready to go out there and run all over those guys from Owatonna.

Everybody finally left for the day, and we were still excited. This was going be the very first varsity game for many of us, and you could have cut the tension with a knife. I drove home and went down to my room to relax before mom made my pre-game meal of a steak and a baked potato. I lay down on my bed and listened to my stereo, but there was no way I was going to relax. It was so thrilling thinking about what was about to happen. I would close my eyes and imagine running the opening kick-off back for a touchdown. In each of our kick-offs, I made the tackle. However, those things were not going to happen, since I was not even on the special teams. Still, I went through all of our plays in my head. Everything was just perfect. I had us winning about 42-0. Mom finally called and said it was time to eat. I was so nervous I hardly touched my food.

It was about then I remember a strange, empty feeling starting to develop. It was different, a feeling I had only experienced one time before in a different situation. In the first situation the feeling which some call intuition caused me to change course.

However, this time I did not listen to my intuition. In the past seasons, before a game or a track meet, I would get nervous, but not like this. I did not say anything. I was sure it would go away. I kept telling myself I was just nervous because it was my first varsity game. To this day, I cannot explain that hollow feeling. I was almost nauseous. I could do nothing at home, and I left early for the game. Since it was early, I went for a drive around the lake before going to our school. The entire ride was like a dream. That empty feeling would not go away, even as the excitement was starting to build. When I arrived at the locker room, there was only one other guy there. He was Ben Horak, one of our co-captains. Ben was just as nervous as me.

As other people finally started showing up to be taped and get dressed, the adrenalin started to flow. It was getting really noisy as my teammates started to fill the room. All I could think about was getting out onto the field. I could not sit still. I chewed a couple of nails, one so far down it started to bleed. I looked at the first two fingers on my left hand and was proud they had no prints and the nails were rubbed down (I had been spinning a basketball on them for years). That is something I will always remember about that night.

Once I was all dressed, I put my helmet on the floor and laid down, using it as a pillow. While trying to relax, I still had that feeling, something was not quite right, but I could not figure out what it was.

Finally, the time came and the coaches came into the room where we were all making last minute preparations. Taping a thigh pad tight, knotting a shoelace, adjusting a chinstrap, tightening shoulder pads, or making sure a jersey was tucked in straight. We were all trying to relax. Some of us were lying down on that cold concrete floor. Others were sitting on benches and chairs that were scattered throughout the room.

I remember Coach Osterberg stepping over bodies as he headed for the chalkboard to go over final instructions before we went out to warm up. He went over the special teams assignments, and individually we all thought about our roles. He went over the offense. He discussed several defenses and explained the appropriate times to use each one.

There was so much nervous energy in the room, but as we ran out onto the field, I still had that peculiar feeling. There is no way to describe it; it just did not sit right. I remember seeing the cheerleaders, the fans in the stands and thinking about my first date that night, and I knew she was looking right at me. When I look back on the events of that night, it is almost like a Disney movie, until about half way into the second quarter, when the movie turned into a nightmare.

Owatonna was driving, and they were on our six-yard line. Our starting free safety, Jeff Sellberg, who was one of my best friends, sprained his ankle. As I saw him limping on the other side of the field, I attached my chinstrap – before Coach Osterberg could turn around and summon me into the game. This was IT! I was going into my first varsity game, and I was pumped!

As the free safety, I lined up right over their center and their quarterback. I was positioned between our left guard and inside linebacker as the play developed. Their center snapped the ball and double-teamed our guard, as the quarterback handed the ball to the fullback, in the I Formation. As we came closer, I got down, to tackle him low. I tried to get my left shoulder pad about at his knees. My shoulder pads never made it to his knees, because his kneepad caught in my facemask. That action pushed my head down, and drove my chin into my chest. As their fullback lunged for the end zone, I got shoved backwards and ended up on my back, right inside the goal line. I did not know it at the time, but I had just broken my neck.

As the Owatonna fullback lie on top of me, I realized something had gone wrong. My neck hurt terribly, and I tried to move but could not. My arms and legs would not move! I was terrified, in excruciating pain, and I remember this tingling sensation going over my entire body, right down to my toes. Once everyone got off the pile, one of my teammates reached over to pick me up, and I told him to leave me alone. Still, I could not move, and I was screaming in pain. One assistant coach was out there in a flash and crouched over me to see what was wrong. Luckily, there was a doctor at the game, and he came onto the field right away.

Coach standing over MP

Before Dr. Hallin got onto the field, my coach took my helmet off. We should not have done that. I think we panicked and mistakenly took it off. I was probably begging him to remove the helmet. I just do not remember. Once he removed my helmet, Coach Kuiper slowly let my head down to rest on the ground. There was considerable movement in the whole process. I have to tell myself it did not have much of an effect on my paralysis. I truly believe it did not affect my level of function much, if at all.

When Dr. Hallin came onto the field, he took charge. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was very careful in getting a stretcher under me and bracing me, so I could not move.

I remember the pain as if it was yesterday. The back of my neck just pounded, and my head felt like it wanted to blow right off. The throbbing was intense, and there was this very sharp tingling sensation over my whole body. It felt as if thousands of sharp needles were poking me all at once.

I remember I started to cry, because the pain was so intense. It hurt so badly, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Nobody could do anything to stop it. The looks on everyone’s faces were so scary. Everyone looked so serious, and I remember people saying everything was going to be all right. I must have heard that a hundred times those first few minutes.

“You are going to be just fine.” “Don’t worry, everything will be okay.” They wanted to believe that, but like me, they had no idea it was the end of my first life.

Others have told me how quiet everybody in the stands were during those first few minutes while Dr. Hallin directed what was going on, and we waited for the ambulance to get there. Later, one of the students, Carol Radke, not only spoke of the silence; she added that it was a very eerie feeling.

Charlie Blackstead, a math instructor at the community college with my dad at the time of my accident, along with two other instructors from the college, ran the game’s chains. Charlie ran the down marker for the game that night. He was right on the line of scrimmage, and he vividly remembers seeing me bounce one time, as I fell back into the end zone at the end of the play.

“Your head bounced one time, just one time,” he kept saying.

When they finally got me on a stretcher and carried me off the field to wait for the ambulance, everyone started to applaud. That has always bothered me to think I had just broken my neck and people were clapping about it. I know they were being polite and they meant well, but I have always felt as if I were a Christian being carried out of the Coliseum.

“What do I do now?” a friend later told me was my date’s response to her friend Melissa.

The ambulance attendants were carrying me off the field. Becky and I were supposed to go out to Michaels Restaurant. Michaels was where everyone went after home games. Inevitably, Becky just decided to go home after the game, since I had stood her up and left before the game was even over. The irony of that experience is I was thinking the same thing. I remember thinking during the ambulance ride to Sioux Falls, “What will Becky do now? How will she get to Michael’s?” Little did I know what would happen later that night and how my life would be changed forever because of an instant in time.

As they put me into the ambulance, I could feel a blast of warm air from the heater. It was very comforting to get in there and to be surrounded by all of that equipment. My dad came in with me for the ride to the hospital. He kept me from going into shock those first few minutes by talking to me and keeping me calm. He knew what was going on; yet he did not let me know he was very concerned about me. Dad stayed calm that whole time.

The lights started flashing and the sirens were blaring as we went through the streets of Worthington, Minnesota, on our way to Worthington Regional Hospital.

Excerpt from Chapter Five
Health Challenges and Life Milestones Timeline

Giving motivational presentations to young people helps my attitude and motivates me to heal faster when I have to be hospitalized. I have been hospitalized more times than I can count. Several friends simply call Abbott Northwestern Hospital if they have not heard from me for a while. They just assume I have taken up residency there again. I live with spinal cord injury and chronic illness. Together, they necessitate round the clock assistance and frequent clinic visits and hospitalizations. Look at this timeline and imagine how you would plan your life around a “hospital” schedule. Perhaps you will, but as a medical professional rather than a patient.

Health Challenges and Life Milestones Timeline

I lost 68 pounds (40% of my body weight) during my first hospitalization of ninety-nine days. Following stabilization and surgeries, I was transferred back to the Worthington Regional Hospital for fourteen weeks. Then, I spent four more weeks At Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis. I first got out of the hospital in April 1972.

I had three reconstructive surgeries during three hospitalizations, and six months of being bedridden with decubitis ulcers on my backside.

I attended the University of California at Berkeley, and learned to drive my first modified van using hand controls.

I obtained my teaching degree in School and Community Health Education from the University of Minnesota.

I was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Golden Valley Lutheran College in suburban Minneapolis.

I had surgery for insertion of an illeal loop (ileostomy), to replace the supra pubic catheter that had been placed directly into my bladder shortly after my accident. The ileostomy was necessary because of persistent severe urinary-tract infections.

On May tenth, the temporal occipital lobe in my brain went without oxygen for about six minutes, subsequently affecting the upper left quadrant which governs my field of vision and my short-term memory. I also had another to repair the 1980 surgery. Subsequent to the surgery, I have had a lifetime of urinary tract infections.

My health and my stamina were good, relatively speaking; hence, I was able to conduct approximately ninety, four-hour, Affirmative Action workshops for Honeywell’s Defense Systems.

The Special Education Division of the Minnesota Department of Education sponsored me to visit schools. I visited one hundred ninety schools in the 1987-88 one hundred eighty day school year.

I was hospitalized eight times. My left kidney was removed. My heart stopped twice, so a pacemaker was implanted. I received a sleep apnea diagnosis, which concluded I was waking up and falling back asleep one hundred twenty times an hour. Subsequently, I was fit with a Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (Bi PAP) machine with nose pillows. I had a decubitis ulcer on my left ischial tuberosity. Treatment included one hundred eighty staples, and a new butt (the incision went from my hip to the back of my knee). Dr. Leon Sullivan boosted my emotional stability when he gave a speech at the Native American OIC graduation. The speech continues to have major impact on my life.

I had a stroke. I had my first toe amputation (to-date, three toes have been amputated).

I broke my ankle, which led me to the hospital for surgery on Christmas Day.

I experienced violent body spasms. Treatment for them included Marinol, which has THC as its active ingredient. My father died in July.

From October sixth to November eighth, I was hospitalized for another toe amputation, caused by an orthopedic shoe that creased and put pressure on two toes. Now, I have only two toes on my right foot.

I was relatively healthy and able to honor most of my speaking engagements.

I was hospitalized and was treated with IV antibiotics several times for urinary tract infections.

I was hospitalized for severe autonomic dysreflexia (chills, sweating, and erratic blood pressure). Next, I was bedridden for several months due to decubitis ulcers. I was hospitalized six times for various issues related to two of the ulcers, including a bowel obstruction and two surgeries for the decubitis. To-date I have had ten surgeries for ulcers on my backside. I was hospitalized because my International Normalized Ratios (INR), which measure the intrinsic pathway of coagulation determining an individual’s blood clotting capacity, were well outside of the normal range, causing me to experience pulmonary emboli.

The longer I live, the more I encounter varied complications; thus bringing new members to the medical team. The team is constantly evolving. If a medical professional did not bother to look at my history and talk to other team members, but simply read a short summary stating, “complicated medical history,” on my file, I may not be alive today. It is critical for professionals to understand all of the variables that enter into every patient’s experience.

End of this sample; to buy now at e-bookit, visit “I Still Believe in Tomorrow”

To continue the discussion in this book, please visit Mike’s blog, ” I Am Not Done Yet.” Or to have Mike speak to your group, visit Patrick Comunications, Inc.

The following are quotes from people who have met Mike or attended his presentations.

  • “I think the reason I met you and the special gift you gave me that day was I met you because you are supposed to help me deal with my cancer!” Jody
  • “Here it comes! He’s getting it! Watch this!” The audience buzz was about Dr. Leon Sullivan, also known as The Lion from Zion and one of the biggest activists of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. “My BROTHER MARTIN!” Dr. Sullivan shouted, slamming his fist onto the podium, while the rest of us sat, feeling the presence of God.
  • “Holy mackerel!!! That surgeon needs a woodworking course – I could have done that with some dovetail joints and a little Elmer’s glue!!” Roger, MN Dept of Corrections Administrator
  • “…I wish you die and go to hell” (High School Student) Name withheld
  • “Mikey could have given into fright at any time … He told my mom that when the doctors said he would never do certain things he had to empower himself. I have no doubt that he was frightened for his life. Instead of giving into fear, Mikey rose above it so to save himself. He did not give in to fear and surrender his battle for life.”Jenna Wright, 7th grade
  • “I don’t know if you’ll remember me or not; but I was the girl with the shiny silver walker in the front row of your presentation … I was just writing to say thanks. I have a condition called cerebral palsy that I was born with and I’ve had to deal with the problems of being disabled all my life. Lately-because of high school-it’s been really hard to deal, and some of the things that you mentioned really hit home. I was so moved that I was brought to tears. For a couple minutes there, I was incredibly close to just breaking down and bawling.” Melanie Ann Larson, Freshman
  • “I’m getting help. It’s working too. THANKS, I think you saved my life.” Dairy Queen Server

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