Magoo Moments: A Walk for Sunshine

First, let’s get some administrative details out of the way. I was informed today by my oldest and most trusted friend in the world that I misspelled Taya Kyle’s name. To Mrs. Kyle, I sincerely apologize for this. I would love to blame this on blindness and an inordinate amount of brain damage. But I must confess that I am a Marine and a Cop, and the well-known issues both professions have with grammar and spelling probably have more to do with this problem. Marines and Cops tend to rely heavily on the phonetic alphabet. Again, I am sorry and will try to do better.

As I have detailed in my book, “Officer Down, Man Up,” there are many times when my blindness leads to a funny moment. In my house these are commonly referred to as ‘Magoo Moments.’ Here is the example of just one.

Yesterday was the beginning of the yearly ritual called the Dance Recital. My daughter Sam has been participating in this weekend-long event for nearly thirteen years now. Since my injury I have cut down my attendance to only the rehearsal the Friday before said event. This year I was reminded of a funny moment that took place last year.

A good friend, who I will refer to as “Princess,” was selling t-shirts for the dance studio as I was engaging her in intermittent conversation. At some point, she became busy and I stood back from the table. As I did so I found myself standing next to a slender figure in what appeared to me as dance clothes. Short shorts, t-shirt, etc. Not wanting this to be one of those uncomfortable moments, I decided to strike up a conversation with this person. After a few niceties which were noticeably not returned, I assumed that this person was lacking in manners. That is until I suddenly became aware that this person had not moved. This is when I became aware that I was trying to talk, heck, not trying but actually talking to a mannequin. A classic Magoo Moment. I laughed pretty hard at myself and when I shared this with my wife and daughter, well, let’s just say, I have not heard the end of this. Even this year when we approached the table where Princess was selling t-shirts, Alison couldn’t help herself. She said to me, “Looks like your girlfriend isn’t here this year.” The mannequin was left back at the dance studio.

For this week’s audio book review: “A Walk for Sunshine,” by Jeff Alt. Jeff takes the reader on his six- month adventure of walking the Appalachian Trail. He through-hikes from Georgia to Maine, completing the 2160-mile journey as a labor of love. Jeff’s brother was born with Cerebral Palsy and is mentally handicapped. As a result he lives in a facility that is properly able to care for him. Jeff, after stints in the Army and college, decides to hike to raise money for this facility. He raised over $16,000 dollars!

It is said that nearly two thousand people attempt to through-hike this trail every year, but eighty-five percent don’t finish. To complete this journey is truly remarkable and Jeff documents it in an informative and entertaining manner. He covers the characters he meets with trail names such as “pack rat” and the “vegetarians”. Some people were enjoyable and others were not. The weather, terrain and simplicity of worrying about very little (except for eating and sleeping) all hold weird sorts of attractiveness. They did to me and I suspect they might do for others. If hiking the trail is something you have ever thought of or are thinking of now, “A Walk for Sunshine” is a must read. Enjoy.


Magoo Moments


Alright people,

This will be the beginning of a new endeavor and a foray into the unknown, for me, that is. Some of you will be familiar with blogging but it is all new to me and therefore, sort of an adventure. I will cover a few items, such as reviews of audio books and various experiences that only a guy who is legally blind can have. Well, that is not entirely true, now that I think about it. Some of these misadventures could have easily been had by a person who may have consumed too many adult beverages.

Recently I listened to the book, American Wife, by Tia Kyle. For those of you who don’t know about Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, it will be an especially poignant must-read. For those who have suffered through the years of deployments or the sleepless nights of your spouse patrolling the streets of your town, you will connect with this story and the courageous woman who wrote it.

Over the last few years, I have come to realize that an audio book will be judged by the quality of the narrator and let me tell you, Tia hit this one out of the park. It can’t be easy to record an audio book (in fact, the authors themselves rarely do it), but Tia really did a great job. I couldn’t help but think while listening that no other person could have narrated this book any better. This story needed to be told in her own voice.

This is the first of hopefully many more moments from Magoo. Later.

Police Officer tells story of Recovery, Faith

By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – No one would tell the East Hartford police officer he was blind. After all, he was supposed to be dead.
Todd Lentocha told this personal story – and signed copies of his just-published book – May 6 at the Divine Mercy Medicine, Bioethics & Spirituality Conference at the College of the Holy Cross.
He talked about what happened after a pickup truck traveling 73 miles per hour slammed into his parked cruiser. The cover of his self-published book, “Officer Down, Man Up,” features a photo of that mangled car.
His nurse Marie Romagnano, her voice breaking, showed the photo of the accident – and one of how he looked when she first saw him in the Hartford Hospital. She told listeners what most impressed her was how his wife, Alison, said, “No matter how he is, we want him.”
“I got the first draft of this book,” said Ms. Romagnano, conference organizer, a member of St. Joseph Basilica in Webster and a catastrophic injury registered nurse for her company, Med-Link Inc.
“And I got, ‘You’ve got to clean that up,’” Mr. Lentocha said of her response to his rough language.
Mrs. Lentocha, a registered nurse in ambulatory surgery at Manchester Hospital in Connecticut, spoke about the spiritual efforts made for her husband.
He introduced himself as a 45-year-old, married nearly 21 years, with three children, a former Marine, and, as of April 30, a published author.
Mr. Lentocha said his story started Jan. 4, 2012 when he was working overtime, looking for a burglary suspect. Hit by a speeding truck, he was knocked unconscious.
Mr. Lentocha said more than 90 percent of people with head injuries like his die. He was taken to surgery and for the next 30 days his wife didn’t leave the hospital.
Then he awoke and asked his wife what happened. She was shocked; as a nurse she understood the extent of his injuries. The next day he was sent to a rehabilitation hospital.
His short-term memory was horrible and he didn’t know he was blind, he said. He could distinguish shapes and colors and figured that, once off medication, he’d regain his sight.
Seventeen days after he started rehabilitation he went home, but didn’t recover his sight. Exams revealed his eyes and optic nerve were fine but a big piece of his brain was missing, he said, joking, “In the police business we call that a clue.”
But “I kept hope alive,” thinking, “Maybe the vision rehabilitation will get me to the point where I can do some things,” he said. A doctor told him, “Most people with this injury don’t make it; those who do are not like you.”
Mr. Lentocha said that statement “removed the burden of hope.” He’d been hoping his old life would return. He realized he had to move on.
He turned to writing, with help from a program that taught him to type, and listened to audio books by people who’d suffered adversity. Years before, he’d written a novel he never published. He found writing about his recovery therapeutic and wanted to show his children he didn’t quit when knocked down.
Mrs. Lentocha said the first person to reach her husband after the accident was passerby Rev. Mark Santostefano, pastor of The Worship Center in Hebron, Conn. He prayed for her husband there and visited daily at the hospital, praying in the room and waiting room.
Someone gave her a “Mary medal” which she wore, and each day she blessed her husband with holy oil. Sometimes she’d say, “I don’t know if you believe in this, but I do.” She said he was not religious, but they were raising their children Catholic.
At her church, a friend lit all the prayer candles for him, she said. And people gave her prayer shawls.
At a Mass that their priest said for her husband at the hospital, she thought about how to plan his funeral; his body was shutting down from medications used to keep him in a coma to rest his brain.
When the coma-inducing medications were stopped, he wiggled a toe. When she brought their children in, he started to cry, she said, adding, “I saw he was inside there.”
Now, she says, she’s sad for his losses and the losses she and their children have suffered.
“The good news is he’ll always see me as 39 years old,” she quipped, adding that she’s grateful they still have him. She also expressed gratitude for others’ support, mentioning cards, gifts, money and food.
“My faith in God … people … was restored” through this accident, she said.
Ms. Romagnano concluded the presentation, holding up the Divine Mercy image and saying, “This is what we had in the ICU.”

Police officer shares story of surviving trauma


Link to Video from WFSB


Trauma is the leading cause of death and disability for those ages 18 to 25, which is why doctors recognized those who have survived with National Trauma Survivors Day.

On Wednesday, doctors recognized those who have survived the life-changing events, such as an East Hartford police officer who survived the unimaginable.

It was a crash that almost took the life of East Hartford Police Officer Todd Lentocha, when his police cruiser was hit by a pickup truck over two years ago.

“Bad things happen to people all over the world. Some more traumatic than others. And when they do happen it tends to close off your world,” Lentocha said.

He suffered severe brain injuries and was in a coma, and many people, including his own doctor didn’t think he would live.

“Dr. (Inam) Kureshi didn’t expect me to make it. My wife didn’t expect me to make it,” Lentocha said.

But he beat the odds at the only level one trauma center in the Hartford area, which is at Hartford Hospital.

“He is very fortunate. Not everyone has the same outcome as he would have,” said Kureshi, who is the chief of Neurosurgery.

The crash happened on Route 2 in East Hartford, where officers were staking out the area trying to catch a suspect involved in a string of burglaries.

The cruiser was parked on the shoulder of the highway when it was hit.

“I never saw it coming and I woke up 33 days later,” Lentocha said.

After a long road of recovery and losing his eyesight, Lentocha managed to turn his loss into a gain.

He wrote a book, which is not on store shelves, and has advice for those who are fighting the good fight.

“That handicapped is something no one ever wishes upon themselves, or others and you don’t know how to deal with it. But know it will get better if you want it to but you have to figure out a way to do that,” Lentocha said.

Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Former East Hartford cop speaks out for trauma survivors

FOX News

Fox News CT – Video Segment

Posted 6:33 PM, May 18, 2015, by

TOLLAND– Wednesday, May 20 is National Trauma Survivors Day, an initiative geared to draw inspiration and support for survivors of traumatic injuries and to elicit support for their caregivers.

In Tolland, former East Hartford Police Officer Todd Lentocha is helping to amplify the message of trauma survivors.

Lentocha, a seven-year veteran of the East Hartford force, had his career cut short in January 2012 when an out-of-control driver slammed into his cruiser on Route 2. He was working a burglary case when the incident happened.

Lentocha ended up in a coma for a month and suffered, among other things, a depressed skull fracture. With the help of the neurosurgical team at Hartford Hospital, Lentocha survived, but he is legally blind.

However, he continues to count his blessings. “I’m still around enjoying my children,” the father of three said. “Everybody goes through bad things in their lives, some more serious than others,” Lentocha said. “The question is what are you going to do about it. For me it’s all about staying positive for my family.”

Lentocha has recently written a book titled, “Officer Down, Man Up,” which he hopes will enlighten others who are effected by traumatic injury.

“What is important for people to know is that serious trauma in your life isn’t the end of your life,” he added.

Dr. Inam Kureshi, director of Neurosurgery at Hartford Hospital and Lentocha’s doctor, said, “He had such a severe injury that we didn’t expect him to survive, much less if he did survive for him to have the function that he enjoys. It is these rare miracles that keep us doing the best we can everyday.”

Letocha is busy promoting his book and also is involved with a first responders group called “In the Line of Duty”.