I first introduced in my blogs my middle son, Dante in March of 2013, when I wrote a blog about his mild brain injury sustained wrestling his freshman year of high school, at St. Joseph’s Prep. ( https://www.barattarussell.com/blog/the-diagnosis-of-traumatic-brain-injury-as-essential-first-step-to-recovery/#more-96). He is a senior now, playing on the varsity baseball team. But he does not play in the games. He is the bullpen catcher and warms up pitchers before the start of the inning while the starting catcher is putting on his gear. He is one of the more vocal kids rooting on his teammates. He never misses a game or practice. He never complains and continues to hold out hope that the coach will give him a chance to play. I am very proud that he has endured this personal set-back in a classy way.
But this is only what the outside world sees. To understand why his story is an inspirational one is to know that Dante has never, on any of his baseball teams, been a star. Although he has made the cut to be included in every elite team he has tried out for, he has almost always sat the bench, doing the dirty work, behind the scenes, to help make his teammates who were playing, better.
He does not have one skill that allows him to stand out, not speed, not strength, not size. The traits that remain consistent are heart, drive and hope. He has impressed coaches that he has talent that can help his teams win even when not playing. Meanwhile, he has maintained the hope that he would eventually play. He is one of the most vocal cheerleaders for his teammates, but only his parents can see the pain he has in watching. He has never given up. How he continually endures when success is so elusive is the real story.
Dante’s story reminds me of what many of my clients must go through in recovery from major injury or disease, the types that shorten lives, or guarantee that remaining life will be filled with pain and loss of function, or sadly, in some instances, both. I see my clients continue to try and live life to the fullest while working hard to recover what has been taken away, without allowing the anger for the bad hand life has dealt affect that.
What the outside world may see is my brain injured client who continues to make the nightly dinner for her family or my client with metastatic cancer who continues to work as a nurse, helping others with their pain, while enduring chemotherapy.
But I am privileged to see the inside story, the parts that are never seen by anyone other than family. The parts where the brain injured client spent gruelingly frustrating months learning to feed herself. The parts where the cancer patient takes twice as long to ready herself for work with a wig and extensive make-up to hide how sick she looks and feels and then does nothing but sleep after work to recover for the next day’s work.
My mother (the most avid reader of my blogs) recently suffered a devastating femur fracture, an injury substantially more serious because she has a knee replacement in that leg. She endured risky surgery, a long hospitalization, a lengthy in-patient rehabilitation and still, now at home, several months after the injury, is still not weight-bearing. Despite all of this it has not stopped “Mom-Mom” from seeing her grandchildren’s events. Throughout she has maintained a great sense of humor. Everyone who speaks to her comes away commenting about her great attitude.
But the outside world does not know how she endures the unremitting pain of rheumatoid arthritis without her regular Remicade infusions because it impedes bone healing. Or her helplessness she felt over the loss of control of a daily schedule, beholden instead to the randomness of medical care whenever convenient for those giving it.
Dante will be attending the University of South Carolina next year. The lessons he has learned in baseball about how to deal with the things that don’t go his way will serve him well and help define his character. He has a great role model in his grandmother who has overcome many obstacles and set-backs in her life, the one I have described being only the most recent one.
There are no overnight successes. Enduring pain and other type set-backs, similarly, is a lengthy journey. It is the journey which makes the story.
I am so privileged to be given the opportunity to tell my client’s stories. And I thank you for granting me that privilege.
Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured including due to medical mistakes. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and on the board for the Philadelphia VIP. Tony is a Nationally Certified Civil Trial Advocate, AV Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbel and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys and voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers 2008-2015