“Iron Man” Brian Boyle Recounts his Struggle

Iron Heart

It’s hard to appreciate what we have until we lose it. None can relate to this sentiment more fully than senior Brian Boyle, who has gone through the experience of losing the most precious thing possible: his life.

On Oct. 1, 2009, the world will have an opportunity to read about Boyle’s experience of surviving a deadly accident first-hand in his book Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead. Published by Skyhorse Publishing, the book will soon be available in national bookstores like Barnes and Noble, online sites like Amazon.com, and at the campus bookstore. Running at about 250 pages, Iron Heart covers this survivor’s tale of going from being bed-ridden and expected to never be able to walk again to becoming an accomplished triathlon iron man.

“Brian’s story of courage and recovery was so compelling it didn’t take much convincing at all to agree to publish his memoir. When you know his story, and how lucky he is to be alive, you can’t help but be amazed and be thankful that good things do happen to good people,” said Thomas Semosh of Skyhorse Publishing.

His surreal story began on July 6, 2004, when, on his way home from swim practice, Boyle’s car was plowed into by a dump truck on the driver’s side. The impact resulted in major bones breaking, major organs sliding out of place, including his heart, and a loss of six percent of his blood.
At Prince George’s Hospital, Boyle underwent fourteen operations, including 36 blood transfusions and three open-chest procedures. The pain of the injuries and the extent of the operations was such that doctors had no choice but to induce a coma. When Boyle woke up a month and a half later, he was paralyzed, weighed one hundred pounds less, and was unable to communicate for weeks.

“The doctors said I died several times while in the hospital, but I don’t remember any of it,” said Boyle. What he does remember is having continuous hallucinations and nightmares during the coma. As an art major, Boyle has been able to use his art as an outlet for expressing his thoughts about the ordeal.
“For awhile the only colors I used for my artwork were white, black and red, which kind of represented life, death, and blood, or the in-between stage, for me. It was my outlet for all the grief and anguish I felt that I couldn’t express in words, and it allowed me to confront the situation, gain understanding, and move on,” said Brian.

Another outlet for expressing his confusion and frustration during the ordeal was through writing in a journal. After returning to the hospital in November 2004 after a couple months of re-learning how to walk and do other necessary skills like eat, his doctors suggested starting a log-book of his thoughts to make sure his mental therapy was keeping up with the physical therapy. The journal consequently morphed into Iron Heart during the course of about half a year with the help of editor and mentor Bill Katovsky.

“While I occasionally guided his pen, his heart and soul are at the core of his memoir, making it remarkable and one-of-a-kind. I did push Brian to dig deeper at times since I felt that the trauma of the accident and hospitalization still affected him, but he came through like a real Ironman,” said Katovsky.
Unlike his dreams of the future after the accident, which were essentially nonexistent, Boyle is now expecting to graduate in May with a degree in Art and go on to work in graphic design and marketing. Competing and training in triathlons has also taken a spot in his everyday life now. Having competed in 14 tournaments, Boyle has successfully come out of the experience with a positive outlook on life.

“I remember thinking while sitting in a wheelchair in the hospital that a lot of the people there were never going to be able to leave, but I was, so I should use my recovery as a way to give them a boost, or hope. This book has been a way for me to spread my positivity to others, give thanks, and give credit where credit’s due.”

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