Approximately three weeks ago I received an email from a reader of this website who works in the Duke University Institute for Brain Sciences. She knows me through her cousin; a wonderful woman who once worked for me a few years ago. She told me they are holding a conference in January, entitled “Finding Consciousness”, that she though I might be very interested in. Perhaps even attending.
Right away I visited some hyperlinks she sent to me. I wanted to know more about this and who were atending. Here is a summary of the event:
Neuroscientists have recently developed ways to detect consciousness in patients with severe brain injury who show little or no outward sign of consciousness. These new methods raise a host of questions for scientists, philosophers, lawyers, ethicists and medical practitioners. The workshop “Finding Consciousness” discusses these interdisciplinary issues. This interdisciplinary workshop brings together doctors, neuroscientists, philosophers, and ethicists to share their perspectives on the detection of consciousness in patients with traumatic brain injury. This intensive workshop will explore the ethical, legal, and clinical implications of recent scientific discoveries in the detection of consciousness in brain damaged patients.
You bet I’m interested!
My Benefit to the Event
More than that, I want to take part because there will clearly be a strong focus on bioethics and the law, as well as advances in finding consciousness. Immediately, I knew how I fit in. I am, more than any other, the commonality among disciplines. I have the knowledge (and opinion) to speak to all, granted not at their level of expertise (maybe). I tie them all together and have the smarts to make sense of and articulate it. Who would know, better than I, the cause-and-effect, consequences, and dilemmas across disciplines? Not that I would strut in to this all highfalutin — that is inappropriate and conceded — but I would humbly and respectfully make myself approachable. The potential is there for me, yet I would be careful not to impose myself upon them.
Hey, I knew the schedule was already full with neurologists, philosophers, lawyers, and medically related professionals, but I felt I would be quite valuable if these experts see the benefit in tapping into my knowledge. I asked her if she’d consider including me. My role? Well, I’ll let it be defined by those in attendance. I’m fine with sitting quietly and speaking only when spoken to. On the other hand, I have no problem with whooping it up with them at the local watering hole after the day’s events.
As it turned out, all this was already being discussed (excluding whooping it up). Now I was really excited.
The Benefit to Me
Don’t get me wrong, I was on-board with participating even before I thought about how it could help Ryan. It’s an opportunity to give back to society… something you have taught me. Granted, it’s nothing more than my knowledge and insight, but that’s the exact purpose of the event. A perfect match. It was actually a conversation I had one morning with Dr. Hinkle (Ryan’s eye doctor who visits him weekly) that got me thinking. He made some excellent points and I worked to some by myself:
- Connecting with influential people in disciplines that involve Ryan’s care and treatment,
- Building my credentials for future events/speaking,
- Tapping directly into any promising advances in brain treatment,
- Potentially being considered for experimental treatment,
- Insight into current thinking on brain and consciousness,
- Fit nicely into my plans to “take Ryan to work” and office space.
I was up again
early at my regular time this morning, before four o’clock. The first thing I did was check my email. I was elated with a message that came in overnight from the Associate Director with the Duke Institute of Brain Sciences!
Dear Mr. Diviney,
My colleague, Diane, suggested you as a possible participant in the upcoming workshop entitled, “Finding Consciousness,” that will be held in January at Duke University (http://www.findingconsciousnessworkshop.org/). We would be extremely pleased if you would come and participate in the workshop, in particular, to be part of a panel that will include physicians and caretakers. We think your knowledge, perspective and experiences will be an incredibly valuable contribution. This panel is scheduled to be from 4:00-5:15pm on Thursday, January 24th, but it would be great to have you for the whole workshop if that is possible (Wednesday afternoon through lunch on Friday: Jan. 23-25). I don’t yet know who else will be on your panel, but we will get you more details as soon as I can. We will, of course, cover the cost of your travel, hotel, and meals during the workshop.
Happy New Year,
Not only do I get to attend and take part, but it will not cost me to do so. What great news!
I actually considered driving down to road test and break-in the new van donated to us by Koons Automotive. I decided against it and will fly instead. For one, I would have needed to make sure Ryan’s Trust allowed for it (I’m almost certain it does). Second, it’s a five hour trip one-way. The obvious advantage is that I can get home if needed and not be waiting on the next available flight. I guess if this were to happen I’d just get a rental car.
Unless something comes up with Ryan, I’m doing it!
On a side note, this is a big football weekend in our home. WVU plays tonight in their bowl game and the Redskins play tomorrow night for the division championship. I’m hopeful for both, but the Redskins are masters of disappointment. We’ll see how it all plays out. Anyhow, there’s a good chance I won’t be writing tomorrow because it might interfere with me putting on my game face…
Donna Z says
The good news keeps rolling in…
Wow. What an excellent opportunity this provides. As I see it, you will be able to benefit, and so will the workshop panel. Obviously, this will be a great opportunity for networking and could lead to long term benefits through this association. I think it’s an excellent thing to happen to start out the New Year and I am very happy for you and your family. I thank God as I see His hand in this to help Ryan. God Bless you.
Will N. says
The field of neuroscience and neurobiology has been growing sinc late 1990’s and new discoveries are constantly being made and there is vast new knowledge in nerve biology. I know what I learned in college back in the 1970’s has completely changed with in the field. We also have much work being done at Upstate Medical Hospital Medical School and Research Center in Syracuse, NY.
You could bring valuable insight in the realm of consciousness and might find some surprises. Glad you are invited and footing the entire bill for you to attend. That is how much they want you there.
Have a Happy New Year and may God continue to bless you and your family.
Nyrka Olivo Segura via Facebook says
fatastic opportunity:-) happy new year guys:-)
How wonderful! You will be great. So nice to hear about this.
Hi Ken, I can finally sit down and write an inteligible response — WOW!!! When I read your blog earlier today, I was shell shocked!! How often does an opportunity arise to participate in, much less speak at, a seminar at Duke University?!! Ken, I’m sure you will benefit from what you learn there, but — I’m just sitting here thinking about all the people who are going to benefit with what you’re about to share with them. This is the beginning of what will probably ultimately be a global exchange of state of the art knowledge about TBI treatment. Can you tell I’m excited??
What an incredibly wonderful note on which to walk into the new year. It’s just amazing to me. I look back on this past year, and I see so many extraordinary moments in the life of Team Diviney — and every one of them starts and continues with a commitment to and love for Ryan, and for your whole family.
My mind is on hyperdrive now just thinking about what’s going to happen at this conference. Thank you so much to the person who was involved in making this happen. You have our full gratitude for doing this for Ryan. You’ve given Ken an opportunity to finally share the full spectrum of knowledge he has developed through the blood, sweat and tears of the last three years. And — one never knows who might be at this conference — someone who will learn about Ryan, and say, “I can help this remarkable young man!”
Ken — you rock!!!
Please give Ryan a big hug for me. I’m sending my love, hugs, and continuing prayers, filled with so much hope and gratitude.
WOW! This is great and incredible. Another way to bring attention to Ryan and his cause.
Jaimi Dean Franus via Facebook says
And the wealth of knowledge you’ve built up begins to spread and help others. Ryan will be so proud!
Phenomenal news!!! I have a feeling you will be helping Duke every bit as much as they are helping you. 🙂 Keeping Ryan relevant? Ain’t no doubt baby!!!!
This is perfect and so incredibly exciting! Way to go Ken, I’m thrilled for you! Much love to all!
How exciting! I have a feeling this is the beginning of a new chapter in your life! Very happy for you!
Sandy Martin says
That is wonderful! You will fit right in with all your knowledge. Have a great trip and a wonderful learning experience.
Gail Doyle says
Ken ,That conference sounds so informative for what you may learn and what you can give to them from your experience .So glad you get to go.There are many good people in this world.
Hard to say, but good luck to you and Ryan’s Redskins!! And hoping WV wins
Jo Hobbs via Facebook says
How very exciting! Such good news and great way to begin the new year!
Jane H says
Wow, this is awesome news! So happy her cousin shared Ryan’s story because this is a fantastic opportunity. Congrats!
Jamie Weese Bennett via Facebook says
Oh WOW!! How awesome! I cannot wait to hear all about it once you attend!
Fabulous opportunity! Your plan to ‘take Ryan to work’….oustanding!
Grey Hubler via Facebook says
I’ve just become a Duke fan. Never thought I’d say that.
Diane Masters says
So glad we connected the dots! Looking forward to meeting you, Ken!
Wow, what an amazing opportunity for you on Ryan’s behalf! We know you’ll wow ’em (as Krystal Koons likes to say 🙂 And I’ll make sure my little cousins wear the Redskins gear I gave them for Christmas as a good-luck charm for tomorrow night.