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Russell’s Sunday Sermon: I Do Not Accept Your Excuses


Russell’s Sunday Sermon: I Do Not Accept Your Excuses

I don’t accept your excuses. I take issue with your justifications. I refute the pretext of your assertions.

Trust me, I’ve had a traumatic brain injury. Everyone knows these kind of things give you superpowers.

There are reasons I am the way that I am.

Once upon a time, I was in a head-on collision with a Buick Park Avenue. I successfully totaled an automobile with a listed curb weight of 3,533 pounds, from the outside, with my body.

It was blue.

I know Trish drove me to see it, but I can’t remember.

If you hear me talk about it now, you’ll hear me say that I fought the Buick and won. Or something equally tongue-in-cheek about enjoying candlelit dinners, poetry, walks on the beach and jousting with Buicks. They totaled the Buick but they rebuilt the Russ.

My aluminum C-dale EXPLODED. The head-tube, handlebars, fork and front wheel were a unit. The top and down-tubes were each their own individual pieces. The entire rear triangle, seat tube, seat, bottom bracket and pedals were an intact section. One of the pedals ripped off the crank arm, still clipped into the shoe on my foot.

If you’re going for maximum pedal control, Speedplay Zeroes will literally rip the crank off before they come unclipped. This is desirable for a road pedal, but not so much for a mountain pedal. I highly recommend them. I digress.


I went for a training ride on my Cannondale and totaled a 1994 Buick Park Avenue from the outside.

With my body.

There is a portion of 2007 that I don’t remember at all, and many things that I forgot how to do for a little while. I forgot how to navigate a car. Like an 80 year old with dementia, I’d get lost driving around Great Falls. I’d end up somewhere and not know where I was, how to get where I was supposed to be or how to get home. I forgot how to do my job. I forgot my coworkers’ names. My short term memory was so annihilated that I lost the ability to effectively read because I would forget the beginning of a paragraph by the time I got to the end. I forgot how to alphabetize for a while. Phone books and indexes became pretty damned complicated.

My grandmother died sometime between my crash and summer of 2007 but I couldn’t/can’t remember it. One day, I had to ask my mother, “did grandma die? I feel like maybe she did, but I can’t remember.”


I thought long and hard about finishing the job that the Buick began.


There are reasons I am the way that I am.

I extubated myself and sat up in the Benefis ICU. **Days since last self-extubation, “0”.** I was discharged directly from the ICU on Christmas Day of 2006. The poor ICU nurses had to do their own discharge, which was undoubtedly the most challenging part of that shift. I suppose they may have called a med-surg nurse to walk them through it?

Radiology discovered 4 additional spinal fractures on a follow-up CT a week after discharge. And incidental note was made of a thyroid “nodule”. This was a fun period in my life.

I was on the recumbent bike in the Malmstrom Fitness Center immediately after my doctor said it wouldn’t kill me, maybe a week or 10 days after the accident.

“Just don’t go too hard.”

My neck stabilized in a cervical collar, blitzed out of my mind on Percocet, I went to the gym. My left eye stitched back together, swollen and black. Scratches and cuts everywhere. 10 spinal fractures. Right, AC-separation with the arm (dominant arm) in a sling. Frankenstein on the recumbent bike, the only exercise apparatus that didn’t exacerbate my full-body agony. My sprained back hurt if I did more than just idly spin the pedals, so I zoned out staring at the TV and listening to music.

I’m not sure how long those sessions would last, Trish may. I vaguely recall the strange looks I received (though this is likely a fabricated memory), but I was far too post-concussive and narc’d out to care.

Tucking into muscle memory and routine, I made it through 2007 because I had an awesome young family; a beautiful bride who did everything for me and a fat little toddler babbling and rolling around the house.

I didn’t finish the job because of them.

I don’t accept your excuses. I’m calling out your personal pity-party. It isn’t your knee, it isn’t your shoulder, it is your mind. It is your will. It is your motivation. It is your desire. You fabricate excuses to protect your broken super-ego. You live a life moving between the crumbling battlements of failed excuses. Which one has worked the best for you? Is it time? Is it money? Is it that old shoulder injury keeping you from getting off your ass? What is standing between you and progress?

You used to play soccer until a knee injury provided a convenient excuse to catch up on several years of couch time, while your waistline exploded and your justifications grew more elaborate. You used to run until you had to work a couple extra hours. You were going to be a doctor, but the time and money required were too hard, too much. Excuse after excuse, but you convince yourself that you have reasons.

The person you are going to call your boss probably lacks these failed rationalizations. The runner who just passed you probably did so because they didn’t grasp onto an injury as a free ticket to check out of their training. They cross-trained. They slowed down. They didn’t quit. The doctor traded sleep for study time because they looked at the balance on the scales and chose. They accepted the short-term sprint in a race that lasts a lifetime.

Do you? What do you accept? What can you live with? What have you chosen?

Have you chosen?

Have you put in the work to give yourself options and choices, or have you passively lived your life and played the cards dealt, blindly relying on luck alone?

How’s that working out for you?

When you look in the mirror – on the wall and in your soul, do you like what you see? Are you the product of choice, will and decision or are you just getting by?

Are you the product of choice and will? Or are you the result of a lifetime of excuses, strung one after the other – a prayer flag of excuses, justifications, failings and shortcomings, extending in a line from your birth to your death, having never truly lived at all?

**This blog has not been approved for weak-minded idiots.**

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