Photo Credit: Courtesy or Ian Stewart, Justin Constantine, Michael Segal
Don’t Lose Hope
All Michael Segal wanted was to buy $2 in gas to drive his girlfriend back to her dorm. Instead, he found himself in the middle of an armed robbery. Led to the convenience store’s freezer, he was ordered on his knees and shot in the back of the head -- the bullet hitting the left side of the brain (as it did, according to reports, in the attack on Rep. Giffords).
“The neurosurgeon thought I’d be dead by morning,” says Segal, now 49 and a husband, father and social worker specializing in traumatic brain injury cases in Houston. “But my family never lost hope. Nobody knows the future. And my family was right.”
At the time of the shooting, Segal was a 19-year-old pre-med student planning to become a surgeon. The bullet changed all that. Similar to a stroke, the bullet affected Segal’s ability to move the right side of his body. He can hardly move his right arm and walks with a stilted gait. He speaks slowly, but otherwise didn’t suffer any major cognitive problems. Just 18 months after being shot, Segal returned to the University of Texas and went on to earn his bachelor’s and then master’s degrees in social work. He also travels the country as an inspirational speaker.
“Coming to terms with the fact that life is difficult was the hardest part of my recovery,” says Segal. “Before I was shot I could do 500 things really well. Now I can only do 200 things really well. I had been constantly dwelling on those 300 things I couldn’t do. But over time I learned to focus on what I could do instead of what I couldn’t.”
Segal wants Giffords to know the importance of maintaining her hope in the future. “A trauma like this changes your perspective,” Segal says. “I’d tell Congresswoman Giffords to keep hoping for a good life. Hope is key and it can be miraculous.”