Like I said before, I was at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. Md., when I first returned. This was an interesting time; I was on enough pain medicine to tranquilize a small militia. I had some very creative hallucinations. When I was still in bad shape my nurse left on Univision while I was sleeping. The next morning I woke up speaking Spanish. One night the N.B.A. draft was left on T.V. for the evening. When I awoke the next morning, I hired my brother J.P. as my agent. When you are drafted in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks you need an agent. My first instructions to him were to get me a Rolex. I had to fire him, as it has been almost three years and he has not gotten me signed and I have still do not have my Rolex.

There was a trip I took to the Senate dining hall with some of the other wounded marines to have lunch as a guest of Sen. Ted Stevens from the great state of Alaska. On the van ride there I was convinced that to our left there was a river and traveling down that river was an aircraft carrier following us launching jets as air security. I remember thinking to myself that that was awfully nice of the Secretary of the Navy to take my safety so seriously. While I was at lunch I kept seeing large beautiful staircases that were crowded with antique brass candlesticks.

Within a few days of this trip I asked the anesthesiologist to take me off all that stuff because I could no longer handle the cloudy head. As my head got clearer, I was able to start concentrating on my rehabilitation. Just as a piece of advice, if you are ever hallucinating on pain medication, do not talk to Ted Kennedy — the man can be a buzz kill.

After recovering at the National Naval Medical Center I was transferred to the V.A. hospital in Tampa, Fla. There I was evaluated and treated for my traumatic brain injury. I was only there for a few weeks and then I was released. I was able to go on convalescent leave in St. Petersburg, which is my hometown. During this time I was doing occupational therapy for my injured hand at the V.A. in Tampa. This is when I noticed that things were not as good as I thought they were.

I was having trouble sleeping; I would sleep until late afternoon but would stay awake all night. I did not realize it but this is when I started to drop into a severe depression. It did not help that I had started drinking while taking all of my medication. I was having a very hard time trying to figure out what would happen to me now. Just a few months earlier I was a United States Marine serving in a war. I was a very physically fit and independent person but now I was dependent on my wife and family for everything that I needed to do. This was one of the hardest things that I had to deal with.

I went back to the naval hospital for more surgeries on two separate occasions. The second trip is when I had my acrylic plate put in my forehead. It is always a good feeling when you can get your dome back. Before this surgery I walked around with an enormous dent in my skull. It made sneezing a very traumatic event. During this trip I had an opportunity to meet the president of the United States. Unfortunately I was still suffering from depression and would not get out of bed to walk across the street to meet my Commander in Chief. Contributing to my depression was the fact that as I was going under anesthetic, my wife left to fly to Florida for a job interview. She was not there when I woke up and did not return until the next day. The life threatening seriousness of this surgery had brought my mom, stepdad, and dad, as well as good friends from Oklahoma, to be at my side for support.

The good news is it was also during this trip that I had decided to get counseling for all the problems I had. This was a large step in my life because before this time I felt there was nothing wrong. It takes a strong man to realize when there is something wrong with him; it takes an even stronger man to do something about the problems he has. Seeking out counseling and accepting the fact that I would never see again were two of the best things to happen to me at that time in my life.

After recovering from this surgery, I returned home to St. Pete to convalesce for a few weeks prior to going to the Blind Rehabilitation Program at the V.A. Hospital in Augusta, Ga. I’ll talk some more about what followed in my next post.