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At a reception the night before last year's Pikes Peak Challenge, an organizer asked survivors of traumatic brain injuries to stand. I stayed seated. It felt foolish to claim survivor status when others still struggle with the effects of their injuries.

Mine is easily forgotten, a freak childhood event requiring surgery to remove a blood clot under my skull. I started seventh grade late that year and did poorly in school for a while. But my hair grew back, and soon there was no sign of what had happened.

Now, TBIs are a hot topic in the news. Bomb blasts are rattling the brains of U.S. troops, causing what some are calling an epidemic among returning soldiers. Many, dizzied or briefly knocked out, keep right on going, and the effects don't become obvious until later: personality changes, irritability or even problems speaking and thinking.

Having talked with a brain-injured soldier for this week's cover story, I'd like to say I can relate to what he's going through. But it seems easier for a kid. Many soldiers are facing, in the words of one TBI expert, the "loss of their expected future."

This year, at the Pikes Peak Challenge again, I will be thinking of them.

  • It feels foolish to claim survivor status when others have had it much tougher.

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