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A Champion Beneath the Bandages

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

A Champion Beneath the Bandages

The explosion that fueled a burning desire to live.
Dan  Caro
Mar 30, 2010 at 10:00 AM

After my miraculous feat of surviving the first 72 hours after the explosion, I showed little signs of improvement for the next six weeks. Each day my mother would sit at my bedside from early morning until visiting hours were over. She’d stare at my listless body, lying as still as death inside the plastic tent, but she’d keep talking to me as though I could hear every word she uttered.

Mom would tell me over and over that she loved me; fill me in on the news from home, including what my big brothers were doing at school; and encourage me to keep fighting because the sooner I got better, the sooner I could be playing outside in the Louisiana sunshine again. She would stroke my face over my bandages, sing lullabies, and read my favorite children’s stories to me. Although I don’t recall much of her bedside vigil, I credit it with keeping me going all those weeks.

Nevertheless, for the better part of two months it seemed to both my family and the hospital staff that even if I beat the odds and stayed alive, I might never again be the irrepressibly energetic and mischievous little boy I’d been before. But after my father brought me a special treat one weekend, my spirits and my prospects for a full recovery suddenly soared. I’m not saying that Rocky Balboa saved my life, but he definitely made me want to get out of bed and fight to get better.

For as long as I can remember, Rocky II, starring Sylvester Stallone as the wannabe comeback champ, has always been my favorite movie. My brothers loved it, too, and played it over and over again on the VCR. I’m sure I’d seen the movie a dozen times before I began speaking, and I was throwing jabs and uppercuts before I took my first step. For some reason, it resonated with me in every way: the simple story of the underdog never giving up on a dream; the unrelenting urge to be the best you can be despite all odds; the craggy trainer, Mickey, who never cut Rocky any slack; the goose bump-raising scene where a couple hundred schoolchildren join Rocky as he runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and most of all, the rousing musical score by Bill Conti that still makes me want to climb into the ring whenever I hear it.

Knowing my passion for this movie, Dad brought an audio recording of it with him during one of his visits. I don’t know what he expected, but as soon as he turned on the cassette player and I heard the theme song crackling out of the tiny speaker, my entire near-comatose body started to shake and twitch. Within minutes, my bandaged foot was tapping the air along with the beat of the music—and I was struggling to sit up in bed, crawl out of my tent, and start running across the floor of the burn ward.

My parents were overjoyed by my reaction to the tape. They began to see that behind the plastic and beneath the bandages, the high-spirited little Danny they loved was alive and kicking. They’d just witnessed me taking my first tentative steps on the very long road of recovery.

I think they realized that, like the character of Rocky whom I admired so much, I wasn’t going to let anyone throw in the towel or stop me from going the entire 15 rounds.

About Author
Dan  Caro
Dan Caro was born and raised in Southern Louisiana and grew up surrounded by the sounds of the New Orleans jazz scene. He vowed at a young age that, despite the childhood fire that robbed him of his hands, he would become a professional drummer. His Continue reading