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Bret, Unbroken
May 13, 2013 4:51 PM   Subscribe

After a receiving a poor prognosis after suffering severe head/body trauma as a six-year-old, Bret Dunbar is now a 39-year-old who runs marathons.

Photo essay.

*Warning: Article is for no good reason written in the second person.*
posted by mudpuppie (19 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great piece, touching and well written.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to strap on my shoes and go for a run. Well, more of a trot. A very slow trot. With interludes of walking.
posted by ottereroticist at 5:23 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I found the second person style to be very effective at putting me there, in his shoes. That was really inspiring.
posted by hanoixan at 5:23 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


His mother is a piece of work, isn't she? Spanking a disabled child in public because he threw a tantrum? It . . . seems to have worked. I don't know what to think.

Her stance on refusal to sue the driver that hit her son is so problematic. So principled and humane -- but not her principle to stand on, when her son's needs were at stake.

I sincerely hope the "Romanian women [he] met online" is the same one that he is briefly already mentioned as having met, and not having a relationship with. If I heard that a friend was interested in a Romanian woman he met online, I would be sitting that friend down for an urgent talk.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:40 PM on May 13, 2013


She let you play horseshoes, and didn't let you see how that terrified her

There seems to be something in my eye.
posted by bilabial at 5:41 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wonderful and moving piece of writing. Just what I needed today. I've been getting back into shape after a herniated disk in my back, then I injured it again a couple of weeks ago; I was up all last night with sciatica pain. I need a little hope right now.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 5:48 PM on May 13, 2013


i did not enjoy the second person voice - made it a task to read through the article. but this story is really inspiring, and i am glad that i did read it all. i've been going through a rough patch in my own life, and this really does help keep things in perspective. thanks for posting.
posted by lapolla at 5:52 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thank you very much for posting this.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:55 PM on May 13, 2013


Great story, built off obviously patient, detailed and highly skilled interviews, if rather hammily written. Thanks for sharing it - I would not otherwise have encountered this.
posted by gingerest at 6:16 PM on May 13, 2013


I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for posting.
posted by cairnoflore at 7:06 PM on May 13, 2013


Someone's cutting onions in here...
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:24 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I *just* read that in my copy of the magazine. Inspiring story.
posted by gaspode at 7:54 PM on May 13, 2013


Maybe it is my personal history of serious illness and neurological problems hammering me again, but this piece moved me to join MeFi, after years of lurking, to join in the praise. Thank you, MeFi for the embarrassment of human riches you provide. Whatever narrative flaws stemming from the extended usage of the second person voice are present, the story rings truly of personal courage and the nuances only a person who has experienced such a life could provide. It is a service to see it written.
posted by cultcargo at 8:03 PM on May 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


Welcome to membership, cultcargo!

Great article and Brett is in excellent shape. I've been running for a few years (but only seriously for a few months) and I should be in such good shape! I know that's probably the wrong take away from the article, but after looking at his photos, that was my main thought.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:53 PM on May 13, 2013


Great article, and the second person format worked out far better than I expected it to.

And also, from towards the end:
Your mother is a hard woman who has no time for religion, not since she learned about the priest who refused to convert her Lutheran mother, who was pregnant, to Catholicism before she married her husband in the church. The priest told your grandfather that your grandmother was a whore and that her baby would be a bastard.
Christ, what an asshole.
posted by barnacles at 9:00 PM on May 13, 2013


Wow.
Your mother was poor, but she knew that education was important, and she knew what a comfort music could be, and she made your brothers take piano lessons, so she made you take them, too. Your right hand didn't work? Big deal, her brother had a boy with Down's syndrome, and when he was over, your mother gave him a saw and told him to go outside and get some wood for the fireplace.

If your cousin with Down's syndrome could saw wood, you could learn to play the piano. Your mother explained the situation to your brothers' music teacher, told her what she wanted. What she needed. And your brothers' music teacher found a composer—a veteran of the Crimean War who'd had his right hand blown off. He had composed music for the left hand only. You learned how to play the piano left-handed.
posted by maggieb at 9:13 PM on May 13, 2013


Great article and Brett is in excellent shape. I've been running for a few years (but only seriously for a few months) and I should be in such good shape! I know that's probably the wrong take away from the article, but after looking at his photos, that was my main thought.


Yeah, me, too. Dude is fuckin' JACKED.
posted by liketitanic at 9:24 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been going through some crazy emotional struggles these past few days. Something that I thought I had put away for good a long time ago has suddenly sprung up, blindsided me, knocked on my ass, and put me down for the count. I'm 43 years old and I feel like I'm back in high school, trying to deal with all the confusion of learning to understand personal relationships again, and unable to stop myself from doing stupid things that sabotage those relationships. It's weird and unexpected, and really disconcerting.

I've been running to cope, or at least or to escape -- to try to shut up the noise in my head for a little while. Six miles this morning before work, and another five miles this evening. It's probably not the most advisable coping strategy but it's working for now, and this too shall pass.

The article was a great read. I needed some perspective. My recent struggles are nothing compared to Bret Dunlap's entire life, but somehow I can relate and feel a certain kinship. Of course it's not difficult to find inspiration there. Strength in running, stubbornly persevering, running to heal. I enjoyed the writing style, I loved the story, and I really needed the smack upside the head. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:33 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have so much respect for Mr. Dunlap. Wow.
posted by flippant at 6:18 AM on May 14, 2013


Thanks for sharing. I will be sending this to my sis-in-law, who is a long-time arranger of services for brain-injury patients and a triathlete. She'll love this.
posted by Doohickie at 10:58 AM on May 14, 2013


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