Bullet Head

Back in the 1970's during the running craze, a twenty something young man was running a marathon in Wisconsin with the hope to finish under 3 hours in order to qualify for the Boston marathon.   He was running fine, meeting his time goals when around mile 16 he felt something hit the top of his head.  He thought it might be a stone or something and when he felt the top of his head, he felt an "egg" type swollen area.  He didn't give it too much thought but just kept plugging along.   As he advanced along the course, he felt like he was running slower and slower and just didn't feel right but he plugged along and finally finished.  When his wife saw him at the finish line she was concerned because he didn't finish in the time they had thought.  Only when she questioned him did he mention the thing that hit him on the head.  She convinced him to see the race doctor who said that he saw something shiny in his skull and needed to go to the local ER.  While there, the doctors determined that he had a bullet in his brain and very carefully dislodged it. It was in a position that was just right for removal- any other place- either deeper or shallower would've created considerable health problems. 

It was only a couple days later that he received a call from a gentleman who wanted to know what the he, the runner looked like.  The caller was supposed to run in that Wisconsin marathon but didn't since he knew that "bad people" were after him.  Turns out the runner was shot in a misidentification mishap. 

What struck me was the humor and fortitude of this guy.  He eventually did run in the Boston marathon as well as many other marathons and extreme marathons.  For a time he even wore a running shirt with his nick name "Bullet Man" on it and was once on the show "To Tell the Truth".

 Dennis Rainer was shot in the head while running a marathon in Michigan. He kept running, finishing the race in just over three hours. (Courtesy of Dennis Rainear)

Dennis Rainer was shot in the head while running a marathon in Michigan. He kept running, finishing the race in just over three hours. (Courtesy of Dennis Rainear)

 

He said that having the bullet in his head was a blessing and curse.  Of course, no one wants to be shot- the curse. But, he said anything after that incident pales by comparison:  at times when he wanted to give up running he would think, "I ran and finished a race with a bullet in my head.  How can I stop this time just because I am tired?"  He applied that fortitude to other areas in his life. 

It made me think of things that have happened to me that, at the time I found were a pain (literally or figuratively) and could be seen as a curse.  Yet, because I could press on through the incident and "survived", I can use that milestone as a reminder to keep going:  If I could get through in the past, I can get through in the present. 

What about you?  Any "bullets in your head"? What did you learn from that experience?  Are you still learning?  How can you reframe your bad experience into one that has shaped you in a better way?