Scott Bolzan went to work on December 17, 2008, like any other Wednesday. By that afternoon, he’d lost every memory of his past.
Awakening in a hospital with no memory of who he was or how he got there, the forty-six-year-old didn’t know that the petite blonde at his side was his wife of twenty-four years, Joan—or even what a wife was. He couldn’t remember the births of his two young-adult children, the daughter he’d lost, his time as an offensive lineman for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, or his flourishing aviation career.
Scott’s life and the lives of everyone who loved him were forever changed when he slipped, hit his head, and lost consciousness in his office bathroom, suffering one of the most severe cases of permanent retrograde amnesia on record. With heartrending honesty and no shortage of humor, the Bolzans share their remarkable journey as Scott navigates his way through a now-unfamiliar world. The challenges are initially overwhelming: Scott’s debilitating headaches, his relearning of social etiquette (taking cues from The Sopranos!), Joan’s grief over the loss of the man she married and their shared history, the financial burden of Scott’s lost income, his mounting medical bills, and the agony of their twenty-year-old son’s struggles with drug addiction.
But remarkably, My Life, Deleted is above all else a celebration of extraordinary perseverance, and of the enduring love that emerges when we are most tested. Scott learns to trust his intuition in a way few people ever will, while Joan taps into a well of patience and resourcefulness she didn’t know she had. Throughout it all, what unfolds—against all odds—is an enviable romance as Scott and Joan fall in love all over again.
Both gut-wrenching and brimming with optimism, the Bolzans’ captivating story makes a powerful statement about commitment—and the possibility of finding extraordinary opportunity in life’s greatest challenges.
On a recent flight to Florida, I opened my guilty pleasure for my in-flight entertainment. Yep, I was ready to go armed with the latest edition of People magazine. One of my favorite sections of People has always been the Book Reviews and that is where I discovered My Life, Deleted. Once on the ground, it wasn’t long before I made my way to the nearest bookstore to purchase my copy because I was too impatient to wait until I got home to get to the library and I figured I’d have that in-flight time on my return trip to relish this story that fascinated me for some reason.
Can you EVEN imagine? To lose ALL of your memories– both happy and sad, painful and exhilirating, times of growth and times of weeping. To forget what you do for a living, what you’ve done in the past, who your family is and how you fell in love to begin with, where you live, historical events, your role as a human. That’s where Bolzan finds himself after a mere accident of slipping, falling, and suffering a severe brain injury. What is most endearing (in my humble opinion) in this story is Bolzan’s DRIVE, his desire to remember himself, to relearn what he knew and to make a comeback, if you will. In a situation where it could be so easy to become bitter and suffer through your pain, both physical and emotional, Bolzan has a will to not only survive, but to thrive.
Once a successful business owner, Bolzan was enjoying a luxurious lifestyle prior to the accident. It’s refreshing to read of his selling big-ticket items, such as numerous watches that earned the family over $20,000 to apply toward medical bills. Frugal at my core, I rolled my eyes at some of the name dropping such as labels, brands of cars, and other expensive frocks the family had. I kept looking for the epiphany where Bolzan would mention how his brain injury made him realize the important things in life rather than the collection of material goods. While glimpses of that realization were apparent in the story, it seemed more out of necessity rather than a change of heart.
Then can you even imagine on the OTHER side of the story? Joan, Taylor and Grant. Wife, daughter and son, respectively. Joan is an amazing woman who stood by her husband, familiarized herself with his situation and medicines, and talk about the patience of a saint! What an incredible load she carried as the matriarch of her family during this world-flipped-upside-down season. Thank goodness she had the support of a loving, courageous and faithful daughter, Taylor, who baked Christmas cookies with her dad and taught him all over again how to share in one of their holiday traditions.
A heartbreaking twist in this story is the drug addiction their son Grant battles, before and through his dad’s recovery. How frustrating for the family! Grant exhausts his resources: financially, emotionally, physically, while he seeks out his next high and drains his parents’ strength one by one. Understandably, Bolzan is beyond frustrated because not only is he fighting his own battle, he doesn’t remember the stress of Grant’s addiction and can’t share in Joan’s pain, and now he is dealing with it firsthand. And Joan…words can’t even express how phenomenal she is to stand by her husband, support her son, and stick with her family.
My favorite part is when Joan and Scott take Taylor to college to begin pursuing her dream. I won’t even dive into the details but let’s just say this is a heartwarming scene that would be impossible to read without a smile on one’s face and maybe a tear falling down your cheek. This family is an incredible example of unconditional love and one who believes their marriage vows through thick and thin, for better or for worse.
Thanks to Scott for opening up and sharing his story. And you know what? I don’t feel guilty anymore for buying this book rather than waiting patiently for the library. Why not? Because at the end of the book it says “A portion of the authors’ earned royalties from sales of this book will be donated to the Brain Injury Association of Arizona and the Phoenix Children’s Hospital: Neuro-NICU Department.” And what good are these life experiences if they can’t be used together for good and to benefit others?