Empowered Through Tragedy
It was April 18, 2009, and Bob Vossoughi had just finished Pat’s Run, a 4.2 mile event commemorating his friend Pat Tillman who lost his life in 2004 while serving his country in Afghanistan
Friends and family were raising a pint in Tillman’s honor when Bob stepped outside the bar to take a phone call. It was there that he became the random victim of an assault which left him lying on the ground with a fractured skull and internal brain bleeding.
He doesn’t remember much about the attack or the hours that followed, but he does remember watching his beloved Lakers in game one of the NBA Finals as he drifted in and out of consciousness in the ICU. It was that memory, along with the love and support of his wife, Tiffany; their daughter, Ellie; his in-laws who flew to Phoenix from Omaha, Nebraska; and all of his family and friends that gave him the strength to fight the battle that awaited him.
Bob was treated by Dr. Joseph Zabramski, a neurosurgeon at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center, who told him that he was “centimeters away from not being here.” Although surgery wasn’t necessary, the 36 year-old was unable to return to his job as director of development for the College of Public Programs at ASU for more than three months. He began a program of rest and rehabilitation led by his speech therapist Chris Henderson.
“Chris was empathetic, practical and supportive,” Bob said. “She was truly a blessing to me and I always felt better after seeing her. She helped me so much during a fragile point in my life. I still think about her every day. I view her as my angel.”
Throughout his recovery, simple conversations, recollections and even walking from the bedroom to the couch were difficult tasks. He had massive headaches non-stop for three months. Bob’s three dogs proved to be therapeutic as they all began a walking routine twice a day. As a veteran runner of three marathons before his injury, this competitor knew he would run again. In November 2009, Bob ran a 5.6 mile race, which he called the most empowering experience of his life.
He’s not sure what to say when people ask him if he’s 100 percent. He does know that he’s a changed person. He worked on himself during his rehabilitation and now views life very differently. He’s grateful for everything he has and says “thank you” now more than ever before.
Bob’s advice to anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation, “Trust your neurosurgeon and listen to your speech therapist. Try to appreciate every little thing your doctors, nurses, family and friends do for you. Pick yourself up and don’t be a victim. Everything you have can be taken away so quickly. Be grateful for what you have.”