Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I have vague memories from the 1980's of my mom being a firm believer in the "science" of biorhythms. Supposedly, every person on Earth goes through cycles of physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being. And if you can accurately determine a person's biorhythms, you can theoretically predict whether they're going to have a good or bad day based on these cycles.

It might be a big unproven pile of pseudoscience hocum, but it worked for my mom. I remember she actually owned a little device called a "biorhythm calculator." If memory serves, you entered your birthdate into this thing and it would spit back a sequence of numbers you could use to view where you were at on your physical, emotional, and intellectual biorhythms.

These cycles are said to overlap one another constantly, so if you happened to be in a timeframe where all your biorhythms were united at the lowest ebb of their cycles, the little calculator would make a terse little "boop" noise and warn you that were at a "physical- critical" juncture. Presumably, these are days when it's best to just stay under the covers and try your hardest not to die.

Well, all I can say is that 2014 should have come with a warning "boop." This year simply can't end fast enough. 2014 is the Year of Living Physically-Critically.

Everyone I know has been having an epically lousy year. Mine started in January when I fell on the ice and broke my ankle. Just as I was getting back on my feet, one of my best friends suffered an attack of diverticulitis that resulted in a lengthy hospital stay. The timing was great, too, because she ended up in the same hospital as my closest work colleague who needed emergency abdominal surgery. As soon as THEY were fine, my other best friend took a tumble off his bike and broke his collarbone in multiple places. I'm pretty sure the only people having a good 2014 are surgeons.

But nothing holds a candle to what happened to my friend Paul. 2014 just plain HATES him.

I've known Paul Legrand and his brother Chris for ages. If you've ever been to a rave, rock show, roller derby, or record store in town, you probably know one of them, too. Heck, all you have to be is from the Quad Cities and you likely know Paul. He's just about the most outgoing human being I know. I can't tell you the number of times we've all been out somewhere and one of us will realize, "Wait, where's Paul?"

Then we'll spot him, completely oblivious to his surroundings, chatting wildly with whatever stranger had the pleasure of standing next to him in line. Once or twice we've lost him entirely to the company of passersby. That's just the kind of guy he is -- big-hearted and willing to befriend just about anybody he bumps into. His best friend, though, is his 8-year-old daughter Cadence, the light of his life.

But even the biggest-hearted among us isn't safe from the Year of Living Physically-Critically. On July 4th, Paul was helping his girlfriend move an air mattress when he lost his footing and fell backwards down a flight of stairs, suffering a traumatic head injury. He had to be airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals, where he was placed in a medically induced coma and underwent a series of surgeries to stop the bleeding and swelling on his brain. For a while, it wasn't looking good.

I'll spare you the full sob story, because he's doing a LOT better now. He's awake, alert, and is now at a rehab facility in Ankeny where his motor skills are slowly but surely returning. He's wobbly but walking, and the last update I received came complete with pictures of his trademark grin while shooting hoops in the rehab gym. He's still having some problems forming words and speaking, but he can mimic the words of others and definitely lights up when he recognizes friends. Most importantly, he's still with us and living proof of the mind's miraculous ability to heal itself.

But here's the real jaw-dropper: This isn't the first time he's been through this. Fourteen years ago, Paul was in an automobile accident and suffered almost the identical brain injury. He was left in a deep coma and wasn't expected to survive, let alone make any kind of functional recovery. He proved his doctors wrong and rallied against impossible odds over a decade ago. This is a guy who's already had to re-learn to walk and talk once in his life, and now he has to do it again.

I like to think of Paul as my personal addiction specialist, in that he works at Co-Op Records and knows my credit card number by heart. Having a job at a record store is the dream gig for any music geek, but he doesn't earn a lot and he doesn't have insurance. As you'd expect, the cost of a lengthy hospital stay and subsequent rehabilitation is monumental.

That's why some friends of his -- myself included -- are trying our best to raise some funds and help offset the ever-growing pile of bills heading his way. On Friday, October 24th, we're going to hold a trivia night at The Rock in Coal Valley. Anyone can attend and bring a team of up to 8 players for some friendly competition and fundraising. Admission is $10 a person, plus we're putting together some truly great raffles and silent auctions generously donated by all kinds of area businesses.

Yours truly is cooking up some of the questions and I'll be on-hand to help emcee and make the night a fitting party for a great guy. So if you've ever yearned for an opportunity to meet a middle-aged chubby newspaper columnist with crippling social anxiety, now's your chance.

I realize that bad things can happen to good people, especially in this Year of Living Physically-Critically. There are always worthy benefits in town trying to raise money for any number of great causes. Is it a little unfair that I get to use my weekly platform to advertise an event to help one of MY friends in need? Probably -- but nowhere near as unfair as the hand that my friend Paul's been dealt, so please forgive me if I don't especially care about fairness right now.

If you can make your way out for some fun trivia and door prizes, I'd love to meet you. For more information or to sign up a team for the event, stop by or call Co-Op Records in Moline at 309-764-5888, or fire off an e-mail to If you can't make the trivia night but still want to contribute to Paul's Fund, the staff at Co-Op will be happy to accept your donation and ensure that it gets straight to Paul.

Thanks for caring, and for God's sake, be careful out there -- we've all still got 3 more months of 2014 to get through.

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