Fix Dale's Brain

$10,000 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 120 people in 30 months
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In November of 2011, my father, Dale Thistle, was the victim of a head on collision by an uninsured drunk driver.  The accident totaled his Chevy pickup but he was able to get out of his vehicle in order to check on the condition of the other driver.  He was the first responder.  The emergency personnel at the scene recommended that he go to the ER.  He was cleared by doctors and a few days later flew to England to spend Thanksgiving with my sister, Sarah.  During his stay in England, we discovered that all was not well with my father, as the symptoms of delayed onset concussion became clear.  We now know that the accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury that he has been suffering with ever since.  Until recently, we all thought that the affects were irreversible and he would have to learn to live with them.  We would have to learn to live with this new person.  Today, we have new found hope and he needs our help to fix his brain.

This is his story.




Some of you know him, or maybe you saw him in the paper some time, or maybe you've eaten his food. Maybe you heard him cheering from the bleachers or he taught your class.  Maybe you worked together.  Maybe you happened to be sitting in the same restaurant at the same time and even in that tiny sliver of the universe he captured your attention.  Maybe you have had the misfortune of never having met him at all.  But if you have known my dad for even the smallest amount of time you know that he's joyful, caring, generous, interested, intelligent, and full of life in the truest sense.

My dad has never been content being still.  He has always had a thirst to learn something, do something, meet someone, try something, or just go, go, go.  He's really a jack of all trades, never being content to settle into one path in life.  Once upon a time, he was a teacher at Maine Central Institute.  Later, my dad became a chef and restauranteur, a legislator, a lobbyist, worked in a paper mill, and as a painter, and this all before going to law school when he finally found what would be part of his identity for the last two decades.




His interests are just as varied.  His greatest passion is by far the outdoors, especially in his beloved Maine where he taught me and my siblings to hunt and fish and how to pitch a tent and start a camp fire. He loves poetry and art and history.  He loves to travel and I envy his trips across Europe and the US that he took as a young man.

My dad has always had the kind of charisma that everyone secretly wishes they possessed.  He can effortlessly own the room and at the same time make you feel like you're the only one in it.  He could do that because he genuinely cared.  He was sincerely interested in you, what you had to say, and what you were about.  His passion for learning included the people around him.  I can recall how often I would see him, wide-eyed and grinning at total strangers in a restaurant or hallway, just enthralled in how they went about their time in this world or imagining what their story might be.  My dad has his faults too, but despite them, you just can’t help but love him.

And that’s why I’m opening this campaign.  Because I love him, he deserves it, and I want the man I just described to grace us all with his joyfulness once again.

 

Dale no longer shines.  He is suffering.  He has lost his law practice because the injury has impacted his cognitive functioning.  He cannot make decisions.  He cannot remember commitments.  He forgets his words. He cannot follow directions.  He is overwhelmed by daily tasks.  He cannot focus his attention.  He is depressed.  He is lonely.  He is humiliated.  He has no identity or sense of self.  And he has no outward indication that anything is wrong with him.  So, everyone expects him to be the normal Dale, but, sadly, that person no longer exists.
 
A few weeks ago he discovered hope!  He walked into a book store and in front of him was a book entitled “The Ghost In My Brain” by Dr. Clark Elliott, a DePaul University professor of artificial intelligence.  Dad picked it up and discovered that he was not alone.  This book describes Dr. Elliott’s decade long journey through traumatic brain injury to complete recovery.  The "Ghost" in the context of the title refers to the shadow of the person he was before his accident, always aware that he was capable of more at one time, but incapable now and unsure why.  Dr. Elliott describes in the book how he came to discover two doctors who work in the field of brain plasticity.  Their names are Dr. Donalee Markus and Dr. Deborah Zelinksy.  These Chicago based doctors work together combining therapeutic neuro-optometry with cognitive psychology and have begun to help patients with TBIs heal, a proposition no doctors believed possible, both for Dr. Elliott and for my dad.  

My father has made contact with these doctors and they will treat him but he must go to Chicago.  All of the costs will be out of pocket and most will be upfront.  With no income, it is beyond my father’s means.  He is attempting to reach a settlement with his insurance company but the process is being delayed.  In the meantime he intends to sell much of what he owns to cover his expenses.  We are seeking help to fund his treatment, the only hope that he has left. 

Here is some of what we need to fund:

Initial consultation with Dr. Markus, $950

6-10 follow on sessions with Dr. Markus, $750 ($4500-$7500)

Exam with Dr. Zelinksy, $1300

Specialized glasses, $200-$600 each (treatment may require several pairs as he progresses)

Flights, ~ $400 

Hotels, ~ $1500


These expenses could just be the beginning but there is hope here, and to not try would be, to my dad, giving up.  If we can regain even a fraction of the Dale we knew it would be worth any cost.  My dad’s family is contributing what we can, and anything you can give will be a huge help.

Our initial goal for this campaign is $10,000 to begin this treatment and see where it goes.  We have been told that costs could be as high as $30,000.  If there is any amount remaining after expenses are paid and treatment has ended we will donate the remainder to a deserving research charity for brain injuries.

Thanks for reading and thank you for your contribution.

 

- Peter Thistle on behalf of my siblings Sarah Connell, Leah Brackett, Eric Thistle, and Nathan Thistle as well as my dad, Dale, his grandchildren, his friends, his neighbors, and his future acquaintances.


More information:
Dr. Markus -  http://www.designsforstrongminds.com/index.html
Dr. Zelinsky -  http://mindeyeconnection.com/
Dr. Clark Elliott -  http://clarkelliott.com/
The Ghost in My Brain -  http://amzn.com/0525426566

Here is a presentation by Dr. Elliott describing his injury, affliction, therapy, and recovery.  His symptoms very closely resemble my dad's, and his recovery is what we hope for.  Three weeks!!! for a noticeable difference.
https://nora.cc/testimonials.html
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I have been meaning to write a much longer update now that my dad has returned from his first round of treatment in Chicago, and I will get to it very soon but I first wanted to quickly post this message.

In the last few days I have received a number of letters with donations from some of my dad's oldest friends. Many of you would like to contact my dad and pass on your thoughts. I had given my dad's cell phone number to a friend to pass on and it turned out that it no longer works! I have a new working number for him so if anyone would like it please contact me through the link on the right of this page and I will send it to you.

All of these messages, and words of encouragement posted here are a great reminder for my dad and his family of just how loved he is, and how far and wide his impact has been over his life. It means a lot to me personally and I want to thank you all for sharing your words and memories.

More posts to come.
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I have been talking to my dad every day and he is absolutely thrilled with how his treatment has been going. He is working very hard at exercises he takes home every night after his sessions but despite the mental exhaustion he comes across the phone with lots of energy and enthusiasm. It has been a treat to hear him have such optimism after so much time in despair.

As far back as I can remember, every incarnation of my parents' restaurants always featured a dessert tray that was paraded through the dining room to entice each guest to choose something to finish their meal. They rotated through many options but there were a few staples that could always be found. One stood taller than all the others, literally like a beacon, beckoning you to succumb and indulge your sweet tooth. The chocolate mousse was always served in a champagne flute, echoing its decadence with a touch of elegance.

For your enjoyment, I am happy to share the recipe with you.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BziUOevIxD_OSjJqa1dPLTN6dm00ZjgxN1FzS2hjRzV4WFFr/view?usp=sharing
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My dad had an amazing day yesterday meeting with his doctors for the first time. I spoke to him a bit last night and he was in the middle of his homework doing cognitive brain puzzles. He told me it was an exhausting day but that everything is very positive.
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I'm happy to let everyone know that my dad has confirmed appointments beginning next week, on the 24th, and continuing until October 2nd. Dr. Markus will see my dad every day, including weekends, during that time. My dad is very excited to begin this next step and we want to thank all of you for helping to make it happen.

To see previous updates including some of our cherished family recipes, click Show More at the bottom of this post.
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Read a Previous Update
Juli A Kimball
29 months ago

Today I myself understood I was not alone I this uprooting demoralizing state of post concussive syndrome with many many other mental diagnosis. I know Dale and never knew this story. See I grew up in good old Dover-Foxcroft, Maine and remember Thisles Resteraunt, I remember Lawyer Thistle I have always know who he was, not personally as a close friend or acquaintance but as a member , an upstanding outstanding member of my community. I was in a mva my self on my birthday in January 2014 and have been suffering, feeling alone, worthless, like a different person like someone stole my brain in the night and put someone else's in there. Things that I could do like run the town of Garland, run my husbands business, be active in. Y community, do things with my friends, go on light house excursions, cruises, road trips, concerts even simple things like going out to dinner or dancing are now gone. Anxiety, panic attacks, inability to concentrate or remember, to be able deal with people who are positive rude or in need of help are gone. I hate this new me, I look fine but I am not. I go to doctors all the time and they just don't know what to do with me except treat my symptoms. It's terrible, I hate it I love. Y family, my friends but I hate who I am today an unpredictable mess. This morning friends of Dales and my own community members whom I have always enjoyed came to see me before my doctors appointment , James and Angela Tyvoll. Angela had called and left a message explaining they had a book they wanted me to have, they had a friend who was in the same sinking boat I am in but that he had found hope, a chance a chance to get his life back. They wanted me to call them so they could come over. I was scared, I was embarrassed of them seeing the me that I am now but I pray all the time for something to get better if it can't be fixed could something just be better well I got an answer in the form of courage. Enough courage to pick up the phone and call the Tyvolls back. They came right over with the book and told me again about Dale but this time I understood I was t alone that there is hope and that I knew who they were talking about. They delivered the book, asked me to go check out this page and read Dales story as his son Peter had started this page to help Raise money to fix Dales brain. Dale and the Tyvolls are headed to Chicago tomorrow for 10 days of classes. As I sit here crying using the microphone on my iPad to write this I feel there is some hope out there. This is so so very hard I don't think anyone could understand It with out living it. Thank you my angels for giving me some hope and a bright spot in my day and a book to read or have someone read to me as I have problems tracking and the headaches often don't allow me to read things. I pray for safe travels and a cure for Dale. I pray that I too may some day have a cure and I will be awaiting their return to tell me all about it. God bless you Peter for putting this out there and helping your dad. You have no idea how this is impacting me. I am emotional, I am sad, I feel useless and like a crazy freak who can't do regular things but today I feel I found someone who would completely understand and whom in the future I may be able to talk with. God bless you all and pray these cures to come true.

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$10,000 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 120 people in 30 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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Created September 2, 2015
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$213
Anonymous
24 months ago
$100
Anonymous
26 months ago
$50
Anonymous
28 months ago
$100
Anonymous
28 months ago (Offline Donation)
$100
Anonymous
28 months ago (Offline Donation)
$75
Anonymous
28 months ago (Offline Donation)
$150
Anonymous
28 months ago (Offline Donation)
LC
$150
Linda Russell Costello
28 months ago

Wishing you all the best with your treatments, Dale!

$100
Mike Ouellette
28 months ago

To a former and fellow teacher from MCI class of 81.

$75
Anonymous
29 months ago
Juli A Kimball
29 months ago

Today I myself understood I was not alone I this uprooting demoralizing state of post concussive syndrome with many many other mental diagnosis. I know Dale and never knew this story. See I grew up in good old Dover-Foxcroft, Maine and remember Thisles Resteraunt, I remember Lawyer Thistle I have always know who he was, not personally as a close friend or acquaintance but as a member , an upstanding outstanding member of my community. I was in a mva my self on my birthday in January 2014 and have been suffering, feeling alone, worthless, like a different person like someone stole my brain in the night and put someone else's in there. Things that I could do like run the town of Garland, run my husbands business, be active in. Y community, do things with my friends, go on light house excursions, cruises, road trips, concerts even simple things like going out to dinner or dancing are now gone. Anxiety, panic attacks, inability to concentrate or remember, to be able deal with people who are positive rude or in need of help are gone. I hate this new me, I look fine but I am not. I go to doctors all the time and they just don't know what to do with me except treat my symptoms. It's terrible, I hate it I love. Y family, my friends but I hate who I am today an unpredictable mess. This morning friends of Dales and my own community members whom I have always enjoyed came to see me before my doctors appointment , James and Angela Tyvoll. Angela had called and left a message explaining they had a book they wanted me to have, they had a friend who was in the same sinking boat I am in but that he had found hope, a chance a chance to get his life back. They wanted me to call them so they could come over. I was scared, I was embarrassed of them seeing the me that I am now but I pray all the time for something to get better if it can't be fixed could something just be better well I got an answer in the form of courage. Enough courage to pick up the phone and call the Tyvolls back. They came right over with the book and told me again about Dale but this time I understood I was t alone that there is hope and that I knew who they were talking about. They delivered the book, asked me to go check out this page and read Dales story as his son Peter had started this page to help Raise money to fix Dales brain. Dale and the Tyvolls are headed to Chicago tomorrow for 10 days of classes. As I sit here crying using the microphone on my iPad to write this I feel there is some hope out there. This is so so very hard I don't think anyone could understand It with out living it. Thank you my angels for giving me some hope and a bright spot in my day and a book to read or have someone read to me as I have problems tracking and the headaches often don't allow me to read things. I pray for safe travels and a cure for Dale. I pray that I too may some day have a cure and I will be awaiting their return to tell me all about it. God bless you Peter for putting this out there and helping your dad. You have no idea how this is impacting me. I am emotional, I am sad, I feel useless and like a crazy freak who can't do regular things but today I feel I found someone who would completely understand and whom in the future I may be able to talk with. God bless you all and pray these cures to come true.

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