Case Study – Day 6

Case Study with Palo – Day 6

I am feeling confident in my ability to remain disciplined and consistent with the CPMHA nutrition and supplement plan. Noticeable side effects have included a decline in my energy levels as well as excruciating, debilitating pain. As a result, I have not been able to complete a physical therapy session or a tailored workout.  Next week, I will work to push through and complete my scheduled regime. My body is experiencing withdrawal symptoms due to cutting out processed sugar from my diet. As a result, I am coping with extreme nausea and sweats. While other symptoms such as the migraine and fatigue may be attributed to my post TBI, it’s unclear if they could also be a factor of the new dietary restraints. Research has detailed that withdrawal from cutting out processed sugar will influence the body lasting anywhere from 7 to 10 days.

The blood labs results are not back yet. The technician took 12 vials of what looked to be red glue, as my blood slowly filled it to the top. The technician detailed that her previous role at a blood bank conducted a procedure where they would withdrawal a pint of blood to increase circulation and promote a thinner, healthier bloodstream. She had conducted the procedure on a few S.W.A.T team officers, and a fraction had noticeable differences in neck pain immediately following the process. Including claims of feeling “healthier” overall, which was further defined as increased energy and mental responsiveness, as well as heightened serotonin and endorphin levels. She then told me to contact my doctor first thing in the morning and request that he write a prescription to withdrawal a pint of blood to a blood bank. She elaborated that I could be a prime candidate for a stroke or a heart attack due to the thickness of hemoglobin in my blood count.

Unfortunately, my primary care doctor is on vacation for two weeks. I reached out to the covering doctor to see if he’d be able to follow through on the technician’s request. I sent several messages to him over the span of two days without any word back and even a visit in person. The only news I was given was that I would have to wait out the next two weeks until Dr. X returned from vacation.

Thanks to Medicaid, my conditions qualify me for some medical coverage and relief. But, if I would’ve had a better insurance plan, I would be able to see better doctors and get better care.

However, I am grateful for what I have because a lot of people that CPMHA could help don’t have insurance of any type.

The daily hurdles I have to go through in effort to get proper medical attention is incredibly lengthy and stressful. I have never been a hypochondriac, and I try to not be high maintenance.  I’ve always made an effort to show appreciation and kindness when dealing with the medical community. But honestly, I feel when you’re flagged with a mental illness of any kind, you’re treated different. When coming to a practice in an effort to express a medical request, it’s not uncommon to be looked down on me and told, “What do you expect? You have Medicaid not a PPO.” If I wasn’t so proactive, I would receive no treatment at all. I tell my family and friends how the system wears you out. If you have a mental health issue, they should make it easier to assist somebody and streamline the process. Hopefully one day the United States healthcare system will get their act together. If enough of us bring their situation to the people in charge or spread awareness like our campaigning and Oprah Winfrey’s up-and-coming documentary on mental illness.

We are trying to get on their radar. Anyone who comes across our platform, I would love for you to refer us to her staff. In closing I hope you all stay strong. Be kind to others, be productive today and tomorrow. And call your local politician and complain blow up their phones or vote them out of office until they make it easier on you and your family to get proper healthcare.

Case Study – Day 3

Day 3 with Paolo

Day 6, Feeling confident in my ability to remain disciplined and consistent with the CPMHA nutrition and supplement plan. Noticeable side effects include a decline in my energy levels as well as excruciating, debilitating pain. As a result, I have not been able to complete a physical therapy session or a tailored workout.  Next week, I will work to push through and complete my scheduled regime. My body is experiencing withdrawal symptoms due to cutting out processed sugar from my diet. As a result, I am coping with extreme nausea and sweats. While other symptoms such as the migraine and fatigue may be attributed to my post TBI, it’s unclear if they could also be a factor of the new dietary restraints. Research has detailed that withdrawal from cutting out processed sugar will have an effect on the body lasting anywhere from 7 to 10 days.

The blood labs results are not back yet.. The technician took 12 vials of what looked to be red glue, as it slowly filled to the top. The technician detailed that her previous role at a blood bank conducted a procedure where they would withdrawal a pint of blood to increase circulation, promoting a thinner, healthier bloodstream. She had conducted the procedure on a few S.W.A.T team officers, and a fraction had noticeable differences in neck pain immediately following the process, even with claims of feeling “healthier” overall, which was further defined as increased energy and mental responsiveness, as well as heightened serotonin and endorphin levels.

She then told me to contact my doctor first thing in the morning and request that he write a prescription to withdrawal a pint of blood to a blood bank. She elaborated that I could be a prime candidate for a stroke or a heart attack due to the thickness of hemoglobin in my blood count.

Unfortunately. my primary care doctor, is on vacation for two weeks. With that being said, I reached out to the covering doctor to see if he’d be able to follow through on the technician’s request. Several messages had been shared to him over the span of two days without any word back, and even a visit in person. The only news I was given was that I would have to wait out the next two weeks until Dr. X returned from vacation.

Thanks to Medicaid, my conditions qualify me for some medical coverage and relief. But, if I would’ve had a better insurance plan, I would be able to see better doctors and get better care.

However, I am grateful for what I have because a lot of people that CPMHA has the ability to help don’t have insurance of any type.

Daily hurdles I have to go through in effort to get proper medical attention is incredibly lengthy and stressful. I have never been a hypochondriac, and I try to not be high maintenance.  I’ve always made an effort to show appreciation and kindness when dealing with the medical community. But honestly, I feel when you’re flagged with the mental illness of any kind you’re treated different. The challenge is the misconstrued stereotypes and jaded, cataclysmically-elitist ideologies. When coming to a practice in an effort to express a medical request, it’s not uncommon to be looked down on me and told, “What do you expect? You have Medicaid not a PPO.” If I wasn’t so proactive, I would receive no treatment at all. I tell my family and friends how the system wears you out. If you have a mental health issue. They should make it easier to assist somebody and streamline the process. Hopefully one day the United States healthcare system will get their act together. If enough of us Bring their situation to the people in charge or spread awareness like our camping and Oprah Winfrey up-and-coming documentary on mental illness. (Note) We are trying to get on their radar. anyone who comes across our platform. I would love for you to refer us to her staff. In closing I hope you all stay strong. Be kind to others, be productive today and tomorrow. And call your local politician and complain blow up their phones or vote them out of office until they make it easier on you and your family to get proper healthcare.

 

Case Study – Day 1

Case Study with Paolo Dell Aquila – Day 1

Today, I started the CPMHA independent case study.

My goals:

  • To decrease the swelling in my brain and inflammation throughout my body and to reduce my chronic body pain and migraines,
  • Lose 100 pounds within the next nine months
  • I researched out of Europe and designed this program myself. This is all-natural and there should be no side effects. We want to point out that this is experimental and if anyone tries to follow it on their own, that they should consult their doctor and make sure they’re not allergic to any of the items or ingredients involved.

CPMHA FIRST DAY INDEPENDENT CASE STUDY

May 2015: – physically strong, Height: 5’10 ½ & Weight: 220 lbs. Started to notice small symptoms

As of today May 28, 2019

  • Weight: 327 lbs
    Ht 5ft 7.5(in)
    BMI 50.45 index
    BP 150/84(mm HG)
    HR 87(/min)
    Oxygen sat%97(%)
    Pain: 9 (1-10)

Migraines every day

My vision has been declining over the past month and a half. I had one episode where I went blind for approximately 3 minutes.
Memory is getting worse every day mostly short-term.
Last seizure was four months ago.
People can go to my symptoms page for more details: my coping strategies are changing as symptoms arise.

Medications

As of approximately two and a half months ago, I went cold turkey and stopped all pain medications/Opiates.

Currently, I am only taking:

Testosterone CYP injections 1.5 ML a week. I have been on the TRT for three months now. I am feeling a little better with more strength and endurance. A positive for sure! My original marker was 75 for my testosterone levels before I started my TRT.  I had an extremely low number for a man my age, 51. It’s probably due to all the concussions and pain meds over the years. My goal is to be in the range of 700 to 1,000 within the end-of-the-year. Based off of the latest research that is the right range for men my age to get maximum brain function and energy.

Xanax anywhere from one mg to 3 mg a day. I have been going through a very stressful and painful time. The Xanax is helping but my goal Is to come off it completely in September or October at the latest and switch to non-addictive anxiety medication.

I also take:

  • Cymbalta for pain and depression I take 60 mg of twice a day.
  • Zofran as needed for nausea.
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Clonidine 0.1 mg twice a day
  • Losartan 50mg 1 tab 2x daily
  • amlodipine,10mg once a day
  • Metoprolol 25mg 1 tab twice a day
  • Pantoprazole 40mg once a day

Organic medical marijuana 2 to 3 times a week (sometimes, side effects consist of the munchies and slight paranoia, but not always.

I prefer CBD.  All I need is one hit of a vape pen for pain unless I am nauseous and I am feeling the spins.

Nutritional intake Products and supplements

    • COQ10
    • FISH OIL
    • GREENS Capsules
    • CHROMIUM
    • B COMPLEX
    • TUMERIC
    • CINNAMON EXTRACT
    • GLUCOSAMINE
    • MSM
    • MAGNESIUM
    • Vitamin D3, 5,000

My physical therapy/exercise program 6 to 7 days a week.

  1. Whole Body Cryogenic Therapy
  2. Non-bearing weight cardio exercise, for example, treading water or swimming for a minimum of 30 minutes. After one month we might introduce lightweight functional Weight training exercises.
  3. Myofascial stretching therapy
  4. Sports & Aromatherapy massage
  5. Hot yoga
  6. Acupuncture
  7. Full body traction.
  8. IV vitamin therapy
  9. Cognitive-behavioral therapy treatment and plan created twice a month unless in crisis

Foods

  • Juices (1 a day)
    • Pineapple, Turmeric, Cucumber, and Cinnamon Juice
      • 1 pineapple
      • 2 cucumbers
      • 15 three-inch pieces of fresh turmeric root
      • 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
    • Kale, Grape, Ginger and Lemon Juice
      • 1 bunch kale
      • 1 cup grapes
      • 1 slice ginger, optional
      • Juice of a lemon wedge
    • Fennel and Apple Detox Juice
      • 10 ounces of spinach
      • 1 bunch of mint
      • 1 cucumber
      • 2 apples, cored
      • 1 fennel bulb
      • Half a lemon
    • Blueberry Green Juice
      • 2 cups of fresh blueberries
      • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves
      • 2 Fuji apples
    • Watermelon, Basil and Lime Juice
      • 1 small watermelon, rind and seeds removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
      • 6 Basil leaves
      • Juice of half a lime
    • Oils
      • Extra virgin olive oil
      • Avocado oil
      • Flaxseed oil
    • Herbs and Spices
      • Himalayan Salt
      • Cinnamon
      • Garlic
      • Sage
      • Peppermint
      • Turmeric
      • Holy Basil
      • Cayenne Pepper
      • Ginger
      • Fenugreek
      • Rosemary

Nuts and seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Raw almonds

Meals

  • 3 meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch, dinner) plus 2 snacks.
  • Only organic 70% Anti-inflammatory plant-based diet: vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds… 30% Chicken, Turkey, Grass-fed Beef, Bison, elk meat

No dairy

Eggs

BLOOD WORK

Lab technician said my blood was like glue meaning the hemoglobin is way too high. My doctor should’ve spotted it. I’m a prime candidate for a stroke or a heart attack. She recommended I get a prescription from the doctor, go to a blood bank and get a pint of blood taken out to thin the blood naturally. This is why we have to push hard with this awareness program.

 

Today’s doctors are not thorough (we will repeat the same blood panel/Work every 6 to 9 months to see if there are any positive or negative changes. I am fighting with the insurance company to see if we can get brain scans, but they will not approve of it. They will only do them for me one a year.

BLOOD WORK 5/28/19
• Lipid Panel – Measures cholesterol levels
• Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) – Measures 14 different components
• Routine Comprehensive Urinalysis With Microscopic Examination on positive results
• Iron and Total Iron-binding Capacity (TIBC)
• Thyroid Panel with TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
• Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential

  • Heart
    • Thyroid
    • Circulatory System
    • Liver
    • Kidneys
    • Glands
    • Nerves
    • Bones
    • Muscles
  • LP (lipid panel)
    • LDL – “Bad Cholesterol”
    • HDL – “Good Cholesterol”
    • Total Cholesterol
    • Triglycerides

CMP
• (ALT) Alanine aminotransferase
• Albumin
• (ALP) Alkaline phosphatase
• (AST) Aspartate aminotransferase
• (BUN) Blood urea nitrogen
• Calcium
• Carbon dioxide (Bicarbonate)
• Chloride
• Creatinine
• Glucose
• Potassium
• Sodium
• Total Protein
• Total Bilirubin
• BUN/Creatinine Ratio (calculated)
• Albumin/Globulin Ratio (calculated)
• Globulin (calculated)

Male Hormone Panel includes testing levels
• Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)
• Complete Blood Count (CBC)
• Total Testosterone
• IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor)
• Uric Acid
• Lipid Panel
• Thyroid Panel
• Human Growth Hormone (hGH)/Growth Hormone (GH)
• Estradiol, Sensitive

UA (urinalysis)
Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC) Test
Thyroid Test Panel with TSH

  • T3 uptake (Triiodothyronin)
    • T4 (Thyroxine)
    • T7 (Free-T4 Index)
    • TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)

CBC (Complete Blood Count)
• (RBC) Red Blood Cell Count
• (MCV) Mean Corpuscular Volume
• (RDW) Red Blood Cell Distribution Width
• (Hgb, Hb) Hemoglobin
• (MCHC) Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration
• (MCH) Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin
• (WBC) White Blood Cell Count
• Hematocrit
• Percentage and Absolute Differential Counts / White Blood Cell Differential
• Platelet Count
• • Red Blood Cell Count – This measures the complete amount of red blood cells in the blood.
• • White Blood Cell Count – Measures how many white blood cells are in the blood.
• • Platelet Count – Determines how many platelets are in your blood.
• • Percentage and Absolute White Blood Cell Differential Counts – This part of the test provides the relative percentage of each type of white blood cells to the total, as well as a count of each type of these white blood cells.

  • • Red Cell Distribution Width (RDW) –
    • • Hemoglobin –
    • • Hematocrit – • Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) – This portion of the CBC test
    • • Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH) –
    • • Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration (MCHC)
  • Testosterone Free and Total Test
    • Estradiol, Ultrasensitive Test
    • Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential & Platelets
    • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)
  • Estradiol, Ultrasensitive Test

Need to lower Cortisol levels as well so we can correlate any changes.
• Infection
• Injury
• Stress (Emotional or Physical)
• Strenuous Activity
• Steroid Medications
• Sleep
• Weight gain or loss
GGT Test (Gamma Glutamyl Transferase)
Renal (Kidney) Function Panel
Inflammation and blood proteins
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
C-reactive protein (CRP)
Plasma viscosity (PV)
The CRP test
ESR
PV test

 

Hello, my name is Alexander Dwork. My former coach, Paolo Dell Aquila, suffers from Post Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He was a football player, wrestler, and boxer, and is one of my favorite people in the world. Within the past few years, he has shown precursor signs of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).

It has become my mission to help understand how we as a community can improve the quality of life for those suffering from TBI and the pre-cursor signs of CTE.

Currently, I am learning a lot about our medical system and how it treats patients. Paolo was recently dropped from his pain management doctor and it has made it incredibly difficult for him to live comfortably. His pain is at a 10 out of 10, and now we are searching for other ways for him to improve his quality of life. Our goal right now is to get him stronger physically. His mental toughness is incredibly high. Anyone going through a similar situation understands. The pain is extremely high and it is hard to cope some days. We aim to slowly build his strength.

I personally am setting up the groundwork for the organization. We are planning events for this year and the future. One of our ideas is a viewing of the movie Concussion. This event will spread awareness and shed light on the pressing issues that we currently face in the world of athletes, veterans, and the general population. One of the most important things we can do for our suffering loved-ones is to be there for them and show them the good and fun things in life. Paolo always has done that for me and now I am doing my best to pass on the kindness. If anyone has any ideas or would like to help, feel free to reach out!

Paolo spoke to me on the phone today and told me:
“What drove me my whole life is that I am afraid to fail.”

He has been going through a tough time lately but what drives him to keep pushing and living is our mission. To improve quality of life, educate, and spread awareness about CTE/TBI.

Our goal is to educate and teach coping skills that will hopefully reduce physical, emotional and mental stress and pain that affects the “patients”- the athletes, veterans, and their families affected by CTE/ TBI.

Follow our story as we do our best to navigate this medical maze and improve lives.

If you know anybody suffering, do not hesitate to private message me or contact me on this page. If it is an emergency call 911, refer the person to http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/, or drive them to then nearest hospital.

The possible signs and symptoms of CTE include
Extreme mood changes, irritability, aggression, speech and language difficulties, loss of motor control (weakness) impulsivity, trouble swallowing, vision and focusing problems, trouble with sense of smell, difficulty thinking, depression or apathy, short-term memory loss, difficulty planning and carrying out tasks, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Source:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/…/c…/symptoms-causes/syc-20370921

Here’s Paolo in the ER from last week. He’s a fighter!

Dealing with CTE

If you are concerned that you or someone you care about has CTE, you are not alone. There is help. Many symptoms of CTE are treatable, and resources are available to help you find support and live a full life. It is also important to know that people who appeared to have CTE while alive have been found not to have CTE upon post-mortem examination of their brain.

CTE can pose challenges, but they are challenges that you have tools to fight. If you are concerned you have CTE, there is much you can do to help maintain a healthy and enjoyable life. 

If you are struggling to cope and would like some emotional support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to connect with a trained counselor. It’s free, confidential, and available to everyone in the United States. You do not have to be suicidal to call.

Tips for Daily Living

WRITE THINGS DOWN:

If you have concerns about your memory, writing things down can help you be more productive and maintain a sense of control over your life. Whether you keep a notebook, use voice memos or put in calendar reminders on your phone, a system can help.

DEVELOP A ROUTINE:

Creating structured environment, planning tasks to complete and goals to accomplish can help with creating sense of stability. Whether it’s sleep, cooking breakfast, or going for a nature walk, approaching one task can make life more manageable.

CONTROL IMPULSIVE BEHAVIORS:

Studies show CTE can damage parts of the brain that regulate impulsive behaviors. Be cognizant of unhealthy habits like gambling, overspending money, using alcohol, drugs, or other addictive substances to cope with problems. Avoid activities as needed or seek professional help.

SELF-REGULATION:

Managing emotion, anxiety, and stress is an important and learned skill. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or counting to 10 to help ensure your emotions don’t get the best of you. Seek professional help to find the right techniques for you.

BUILD A SUPPORT SYSTEM:

Reaching out to people you trust can help get you through moments of stress. Friends, family, colleagues, a church community, a hobby or sport club, or a crisis hotline like the Lifeline can all serve as sources of support. If you are concerned about your safety in a moment of crisis, you can make a safety plan to guide you through those especially difficult moments.

Life But No Cigar Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Family Background and Peewee Football:
First Concussion at age 7

My great-grandparents, Carmine and Lily Gonnelli, were the first to come to America from Italy, and Carmine was the first to be an entrepreneur in our family. He started his own successful barbershop right off the boat, setting up shop at Mitchell Field Military Base. His clientele was soldiers and coaches at Nassau Community College in Long Island, New York. Mitchell Field Military Base was a historical landmark. It was where Charles Lindberg, flew nonstop from and landed in Paris in 1927 at age 25. Also one of the most famous Hollywood scenes ever, the assassination scene of Sonny at the tollbooth from The Godfather, was filmed right near my greatgrandfather’s shop. At the shop as a young boy, my father, Lawrence Dell Aquila, swept hair before and after school. Both of my father’s parents, Big Mo and Louise, were uneducated.

From my memories as a little boy, my grandfather was very hardworking. He was a strong, tough guy, and kind-hearted just like my dad. He was always working two or three jobs, mostly in the sanitation industry to support the family of six who grew up extremely poor. They lived in Farmingdale, Long Island. Farmingdale was broken up into two segregated areas and my father’s family lived in the mixed area with mostly Italians, Irish, Spanish, and people of color. Sometimes my father’s brother and two sisters had to be separated and sent to the other family members for short periods of time to cut costs for food and shelter.

My dad was the oldest. He usually had to support himself from an early age for short periods of time, a true tough guy, and a natural street hustler. These are common traits in the Dell Aquila DNA. My grandfather passed away from a heart attack and diabetes when I was very young. My most vivid memory of him was his strong hands, strong hands just like my dad’s. We loved to go the movies, pay one ticket and sneak into the other one, and we’d see all of them at the multiplex and make a day of it. He was always working the backyard, trying to fix the lawnmower, or some piece of equipment someone threw away, or he found it on the job and he was trying to fix it. Y’know, to make a buck or two. He was a large man in size and always had a thick cigar that he chewed in his mouth. My grandmother was kind, always laughing, but she had problems with her teeth, so I always had a hard time kind of understanding her. My mother’s parents were middle-class. My grandfather, Marcel, came from France, and my grandmother, Caroline, came from Scotland, very conservative people.

They were always kind to people but behind closed doors it was kind of like the Archie Bunker Show. Their view on race and people was narrow- minded and stereotypical even for that time period. My mother’s family structure was the complete opposite from my dad’s. Her father always worked: he was an independent salesman who always made a good steady living. They never needed anything, but they were conservative and responsible with their money. My grandmother managed my grandfather’s books and stayed at home to raise the two children, one boy, and my mother, Caroline. They grew up on the good side of the tracks in Farmingdale, all upper-middle-white class, except when the occasional landscaper came on the weekends to cut the grass. At that time most of those types of jobs were for the manual laborers, you know, the Italians and the Spanish. This town was small, but extremely segregated.

My mother and father met in high school. My mother was beautiful and a good student. My mom was like Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton John) and my dad was like Danny Zuko (John Travolta) from Grease. My father excelled in athletics; that was his true passion. He was a high school all-star baseball player, football player, wrestler, a true triple threat, always breaking records, always in the local paper on a regular basis because of his achievements. He was never interested in academics, not because he couldn’t do the work, he just did the bare minimum to pass and graduate. His focus was sports and making a buck anyway he could.

My father’s dream was to play for the Yankees. After trying out and not making the team, he was devastated. He enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and finagled to have himself stationed in Philadelphia as a secretary. The Air Force realized his athletic ability and placed him on the top units’ athletic teams to represent them. He had freedom most soldiers did not have. Just as a leopard cannot change his spots, my father was trying to earn an extra buck any way he could. He went back to the survival street skills he developed over the years. He had an office on the base where he ran a small-sized black-market business, although it was not on the up and up. It was never anything big, you know, petty stuff. He started taking small bets, hustling pool games, selling typewriters, stationery, and office supplies to the local businesses at a discount. As the merchandise came in the front door, he sold it out the back door. Anything he could get his hands on to bring in additional money so he and my mother could get married. Once he was discharged from the Air Force, he came back home and cut hair for my great-grandfather.

By now, grandpa Gonnelli had most of his clients for the shop coming in from Nassau Community College. The college started expand and take over as the military base scaled down. Most of the professors and the coaches from the college would come in and get their hair cut, and remembered my dad being such an amazing athlete in high school. They encouraged him to go back to school and get his college degree and become a physical education teacher, with their help in the process. While taking on this challenge, my mother Caroline was raising my sister, who was two years old, and I was a newborn. We lived in Oakdale, two hours east of where my dad worked and went to college. Over the next couple of years, my dad went full-time to school and worked two jobs, cutting hair during the day, valet parking cars at Roosevelt Raceway at night to support our family and pay for his education. I never saw much of him in the early years. How he did it and when he found the time to sleep, I still don’t know, even to this day. I guess it was the Dell Aquila DNA again: never to give up.

To this day, my slogan is I’ll get enough sleep when I’m dead. Even though school was a challenge and did not come easily, my father ended up getting his Master’s and was four credits shy of his Doctorate. After receiving his degree, he was hired as a physical education teacher and assistant wrestling coach at Nassau Community College. Soon after that he was promoted to run the intramural department where he was finally making a decent living. So now he was able to give up cutting hair and parking cars, and strictly focus all of his time and energy into his job at the college. The time away from home was taking a toll on my mother, so my parents bought a small nice house at 145 Chestnut Street in Garden City, five minutes from the college in a wealthy, waspy area. I was in third grade at the time, I never really fit in with the kids at GC, you know most of their dads worked on Wall Street and were very wealthy. I had one close friend, Anthony B., and his father owned a Ford dealership. My sister on the other hand, loved the GC school. But I had learning problems and a short temper, the kids used to make fun of me when I had to read in front of the class, so I’d get into fights constantly after school. This was a sore spot for me and made me insecure. This negative behavior pattern due to my insecurity would resurface again throughout my life. At age 7, I was introduced to tackle football and played for the Garden City Rams. It was pee-wee football. I loved it.

Since my dad was a workaholic, I never really got to spend too much time with him except sometimes on Sundays. I loved watching the games on Sunday with my dad, especially when the Raiders and the Steelers played, old school hard hits. I tried to duplicate what I saw on Sunday as a third grader, throwing my body into tackles and running the ball with no regard for my body, trying to use my speed, catching ability, and my helmet as a weapon, dishing out as much punishment as I could to take out the other players. My second game playing I was knocked out cold because I lead with my head on a tackle. My mother was horrified. She said she was scared to death because her baby was this little guy laid out flat and didn’t even move for a while. The coaches ran out on the field quickly to attend to me; they me straight to Minneola hospital. The doctor said I had a slight concussion, but nothing was broken, and I would be okay and I was cleared and released right away.

Thanks to my dad winning an argument with my mom, I was back playing the next week, having a blast. You know, back in the day, they didn’t know any better. That was probably the first concussion I had. After the season was finished, I probably would’ve loved to keep playing, but it was the last time I played organized football until about tenth grade. Instead, I transitioned into soccer, because my dad started consulting with a new start-up major indoor pro soccer league. He consulted for the New York Arrows. I got to play and learn from the pros; it was pretty cool for a kid my age. I was a good athlete, but I never was going to be like Pele in the sport. I did get my head banged around a lot. I remember this one time; I was running as fast as I could looking back for the ball and fell headfirst right into the soccer wall. I saw stars, got up quickly on my feet, but I was like stumbling. When I got home, I had a really back headache and started to throw up all night. Probably another concussion I received, but really never went to the doctor for that one.

When I hit fifth grade, my father was making great strides at the college. He got promoted to the position of athletic director, where part of his incentive package included moving on campus and having a beautiful, large house for $700 per month, utilities included, and he was able to receive tenure. So, my parents sold our Garden City house. My dad invested the money from the sale of the house, then we moved on the campus. It was like a giant playground for me with athletic fields, large gymnasiums, weight rooms, but there were no other kids my age to play with. The good part was since we lived on campus I got to see a lot of my dad. When we moved, the school districts changed. I had to attend an all-black school, Uniondale, a very tough school. It was in between Hempstead and Roosevelt. Roosevelt is where Eddie Murphy, Howard Stern, and the iconic hip-hop group Public Enemy came from. They called this area “Strong Island.” It was okay for me to attend Uniondale; my dad told my mom it would give me a different outlook on life, what the world is really like for those that are not as privileged, and he was right.

I actually liked it at the time, most of the kids I hung out with were really good at sports, had learning disabilities, and if they did have a dad, they hardly saw their father, same as me. The kids I am describing that were in my circle were like me, but there was also a large percentage of honor roll kids that were fast tracking to college.. No one ever made fun of me for my reading and my writing problems. I felt pretty comfortable. As for my sister, she was daddy’s little girl, and there was no way she was going to that jungle. Not that my parents were the least bit racist, it was more that I was built like my dad and my sister was more like my mom, so she was sent to an all-girls private school, St. Mary’s; safe, structured, and high-performance academics. She loved it as well; we were complete opposites with our personalities and learning skills. Things were going good overall for the Dell Aquila clan.

Within three months of attending Uniondale and being in a completely different environment as a fifth grader, I started to notice that I had a special skill set developing, kind of like Spiderman’s “spidey senses.” I was able to read and size up people pretty quickly, whether it was a teacher, bus driver, or a fellow classmate. I was able to quickly feel out people’s agenda, good or bad. It always seemed like everyone had an angle, and this was only in fifth grade! Instead of being paranoid, I embraced this as a way of learning. I started to hone my skills by just looking into people’s eyes, just to see how they moved, and how they acted when they were talking to me. It’s a fact that if you’re talking to someone and their eyes move side-to-side, they’re most likely lying. So sometimes I’d just sit, silently watching their body language, or how they answered questions that I asked. Or I’d watch from afar at how they’d act with different people. No one ever taught me these skills, it just happened. These skills naturally improved over the years with different life situations and business experience.

I always thought I looked at the world differently, kind of like a game of chess. Those were some of the traits that made me interested in boxing, wrestling, and in business. To this day I do not know if this skill set is a blessing or a curse, it was just the way my mind worked to compensate for things I couldn’t learn in the classroom like other normal students. When I was labeled learning disabled, it hurt, and embarrassed me in the worst way. I didn’t want to be a dummy; I knew I wasn’t going to be a rocket scientist but I didn’t want to be Forrest Gump either. I always thought I had a different way of looking at life and learning the way they taught in school was very difficult for me. I couldn’t put it into words to get the right help; I was very embarrassed. And that seed was planted in my mind that I was dumb, and I would never amount to anything. And I buried those feelings for many years. I put on a big front as a fake narcissist at the time, being drawn to the shady crowd, you know the guys that were always looking for some kind of angle, or some kind of score. Learning disability programs in the Eighties, especially in my school, took all the troubled kids with anger issues, family issues, reading issues, writing issues, and threw us in a large classroom, which everyone called “the zoo.” In the LD class, the teacher tried to teach us a subject or two, and that was basically their job. But I think it was a no-win situation for that poor teacher. The classes were too big and there was no control. So, their agenda changed, and most of the time they passed us through if you just showed a minimal effort. Their main goal was to make sure that there were no fights and the class stayed busy with activities. Some of the true thugs loved it, especially on that rare occasion when we got a poor substitute teacher.