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For Sizemore, marathon a symbolic step in rehab
Michael Sizemore (right) lifts weights at the Martinsville-Henry County YMCA with his girlfriend, Nicky Zamostny. Sizemore and Zamostny go to the YMCA several times a week for “our own physical therapy,” Sizemore said. Sizemore also plans to participate in the Martinsville Half Marathon and 5K on March 23. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
Bulletin Staff Writer
Michael Sizemore will enter the Martinsville Half Marathon and 5K on March 23. He has no intention of winning the event but, he said, participating in it is part of the process of reclaiming his life.
The 28-year-old Collinsville resident was struck by a car while walking in Arlington on Sept. 28. He spent three weeks in a medically induced coma in George Washington University Hospital after suffering a fractured skull. He also lost 40 pounds during the ordeal, which included two broken legs, a broken arm, numerous lacerations and other health issues.
He later was transferred to the Sticht Center, a traumatic brain rehab unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., and in December, he returned home, where he has continued regular physical, occupational and speech therapy.
His plan for the Martinsville Half Marathon and 5K is to participate and “do as well as he can,” according to his mother, Susan Sizemore. The event is important, she said, because Sizemore was training for the Richmond marathon before the accident.
Although he will not run and likely will not finish, about 30 of his friends and co-workers — from as far as the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Richmond, Lynchburg and several from the Collinsville area — will run as a show of support, his mother said.
His father, Mark Sizemore, also will participate in the 5K, said Susan Sizemore, who will spend that day with her son and his girlfriend, Nicky Zamostny, who has been by Michael’s side since the accident that nearly claimed his life.
Michael Sizemore said he continues with speech therapy at Martinsville hospital, but he “has graduated” from both physical and occupational therapy.
He and Zamostny go to the YMCA several times each week for “our own physical therapy. One of my therapists came there and showed me” different routines and exercises to help him continue to strengthen and rebuild, he said.
But there are some physical limitations, according to his mother, who explained there are some issues with flexibility.
Sizemore added that he continues to suffer with displaced shoulder pain, “but we don’t know if there’s a surgery” in the future to address that.
But “obviously there are some frustrations” due to the limitations that “are mainly with my memory,” he said.
For instance, Sizemore does not recall the crash or much of his time in the hospital.
“I’ve had a lot of discussion about it with my family and Nicky. I ask them about what it was like to see me in my coma and the severity of my injuries” as a way of “just trying to relate myself to that incident,” he said.
He also does not recall buying a new truck shortly before he was injured.
Occasionally though, “he does get random flashes (of memory) sometimes, and we jump up and down a lot” then, Zamostny said.
Sizemore’s speech is “slower and more deliberate now, but we’ve seen a huge improvement,” Susan Sizemore said. “Michael has always had a gift for gab. People were always telling us that all he needed was an audience.”
When comparing “where he is now,” with his condition after the crash, Zamostny said Sizemore’s progress “is amazing and incredible, but compared to how he was before” the accident, progress is “taking longer than he would like.”
“I think it’s hard sometimes for him to see how far he’s come because thankfully, he doesn’t remember any of it,” Zamostny said. “I think that makes it harder for him when we say ‘Holy cow. You did what?’ when he first ran on the treadmill” or overcame another obstacle.
Sizemore’s doctors have said that improvements will continue for at least a year and then possibly level off. “We won’t know for a year how much” will or will not come back, his mother said.
“We haven’t had the happy, happy ending yet but we’ve had lots of little happy endings,” she added.
Sizemore said many people have helped him get to the point where he is today.
“My mom has been, all my life, the sweetest woman I have ever known,” he said. His parents also show their concern by “just asking me how I’m doing and if I need anything, even when they are at work. Just being there for me the whole time” has helped in so many ways. “Both my mom and my dad are remarkable people.”
“Nicky had changed her whole life around to be there for me. She was getting her masters degree at Virginia Commonwealth” University, and “put that on hold to be there for me the whole time,” Sizemore said.
One thing that has not changed is Sizemore’s sense of humor, according to Zamostny. “Even when he first woke up in the hospital,” he was joking around and making faces, she said.
Sizemore takes the successes in stride, and is determined there will be more.
His next goal is to return to work in Richmond, where he is a lobbyist with the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards (VACSB) Inc.
“I’m ready to get back to work and get reacquainted with my field and put in the long hours,” he said.
“We plan to go down for a day, let him sit at his desk, check emails and talk to everyone,” Zamostny said.
The office manager there told Susan Sizemore that co-workers turn on the light in his office each day.
“I just miss working,” Michael Sizemore said, “and I’m going (to visit) in about two weeks.”