“Breaking Away”

My name is John Abbate.

I was a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I was a “good” student majoring in secondary education…and was very involved in the Little 500 bicycle race…maybe you have seen the movie “Breaking Away”…well,it is sooo worth seeing.
One night in late February of 2007 I was at the library late again (class & riding my bike…etc cut into my day) I was walking from my car to my apartment, slipped on ice fell backwards & hit the back of my head. I did not think much of this,I kind of laughed it off and was feeling concussion symptoms, but not at all what was really going on. Feeling a bit woozy or concussed,I did not go to bed right away.
Waking up the next morning was not too bad…I had a headache, but I went along with my day. Legend exists among some family & friends that I rode like 100 miles, but that is BS…I rode 30 miles & felt better actually. Slowly, but surely the headache came back. Friday turned to Saturday & I felt weak…too say the least…I tried riding the bike,usually that was a form of therapy for me,well I rode a bit & finished an easy 15 miles,but felt awful. So, I wake up Sunday, I am really struggling by now manage a shower then I drove myself to the E.R. (I did not tell my roomies…sorry guys)
I have a few tests ran on me & long story short they had found a low grade astrocytoma on my brain stem,some of the cerebellum that had been growing for 6 or so years.  (Dr’s always told me symptoms were sinus related) The walnut sized tumor was smack dab in my fourth ventricle. So, my brain was essentially drowning in CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) and I had two neurosurgeons saying if they did not operate within a week,I would possibly comatose & die. Anyway, the fluid that should have been draining was backing up because the fall had “jarred” the tumor blocking the CSF flow.
This is heavy stuff for a 22 year old.  Well, talk about a quick decision. I decided on a different Doctor @ Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.
March 2nd of 2007 I had surgery, stayed @ the R.I.C. (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) for almost 3 months. I came home June 15th of 2007 as an entirely different person…well, physically anyway. (be your own advocate, try not to be ignorant to warning signs, I kind of was) In August of 2008 I managed to get back to school @ a local campus…IU Northwest. Fast forward to December of 201, it has been a rough road to say the least,I am almost done with school and am already thinking about grad school(I am excepting donations…jj…ha) I have accomplished some pretty “cool” things in my wheelchair and I am just getting started/ trying to break away from stereotypes that disability is a “bad” word.
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