Stronger Than Death - My Journey Back To Life Through Powerlifting By Brian Boyle of Team-Boyle.com
I started lifting weights back in middle school, competed in powerlifting events in high school, and was always a big fan of the sport so I did that as a hobby while also throwing discus and swimming. A month after I graduated high school in 2004, I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a near fatal car accident with a dump truck. The impact of the crash violently ripped my heart across my chest, shattering my ribs/clavicle/pelvis, collapsing my lungs, damage to every single organ and failure of my kidneys and liver, removal of spleen and gallbladder, losing 60% of my blood, severe nerve damage to my left shoulder, and in a coma where I was on life support for over two months at Prince Georges Hospital Center in Cheverly, MD.
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. The doctors told me that the initial reason that I survived the impact of the collision was because of the large amount of muscle that my body had acquired over the years of lifting and working out.
The day that they knew that I would live, was the day that I either left my room in a wheelchair or a body bag. As far 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.
After spending two months in a coma, 14 operations, 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments, I lost a total of 100 pounds and had to go to a rehabilitation center in Baltimore. I had to learn how to talk, eat, walk, shower, and live independently again. After that agonizing experience, I had to go to outpatient therapy in Waldorf, MD. After spending a few months in a wheelchair, I took baby steps to walk on my own. As far as strength training and lifting weights, I could only do bicep curls with 2.5 lbs. and I bench pressed with a wooden stick because the severe nerve damage in my left shoulder wouldn't allow me to raise my arm.
Fast forward until the present moment, the month is December and the year is 2007, which is a little over three years passed the day of my near fatal accident. Since then, I have gained back all the weight (currently 190 lbs. and 7% body fat) with the help of weight gainer powders and protein supplements from my sponsors, 4EverFit. The hardest part was learning how to lift weights again with the severe nerve damage in my left shoulder but I overcame the pain and numb sensation, and was able to bench 375 lbs. last year and I didn't have 100% full activity yet.
As for strength training and athletics, I was able to get back in the pool and swim at the collegiate level two years ago. Last year I decided that I would take a break from the team because I wanted to gain some more strength and muscle back so I started powerlifting back up as a hobby. With help and motivational support from 4EverFit, a few champion powerlifters, and my bodybuilding hero and friend, Jay Cutler, I was able to do this. I told Jay my story and how I always looked up to him as a bodybuilder and was a huge fan. He sent me out a care package and put me on this strength training program where I ended up beefing up to 240 lbs. of all muscle, which was so much different and better than being the skeleton that I was after getting out of the hospital.
It wasn't until this past may that I started competing in triathlons when the Ironman triathlon corporation contacted me about being the inspirational athlete media slot for this years Ironman show, so since then I started training for that, finished the world championship race in October, and was the main feature of the ironman show on NBC on Dec. 1st. I think I was the biggest triathlete out in the race to compete but I like the combination between powerlifting and ironman triathlons because not only are you physically strong, but your body is in good health (cardiovascular/respiratory, etc.) which are two things that I take very seriously especially after all that I have been through. Powerlifting is in my blood and I plan on continuing it while also training for ironman triathlons.
My story is about the recovery and the comeback, but I want to make it much more than that, I want to make a positive impact on the world for both athletes and non-athletes. I am just trying to live each day to the fullest and motivate and hopefully inspire other people through my endeavors to never give up on their dreams, and to never stop believing no matter how bad a situation is. I remember when I was still in my hospital bed in ICU, I would have my mom and dad push me around in my wheelchair to the other rooms in the unit to see the other patients and talk to them and their families; it didn't matter if the other patients were unconscious or comatose because I just wanted to talk to them, especially since there was always that possibility that they could hear me. I wanted to let them know that everything was going to be okay, somehow things would work out for the best. I prayed with them, I said prayers for them, I tried to give them hope. I believe that my purpose in life is to bring hope to those who need it most and through my past accomplishments, I have been able to have the positive mindset to keep pushing through over all these obstacles.
With all that I have been through over the years and with my background in health, fitness, and athletics, I thought the best thing that I could do in order to help people would be to become a personal trainer, which is something that I have always wanted to do since I started lifting weights back in sixth grade. I got certified through the American Council on Exercise last May and worked at a local gym over the summer as a personal trainer and loved every second of it. NBC did a news segment on my personal training career last month. Helping people achieve their health and life goals is a very rewarding experience for me.