September 30, 2013

RUNNING: McCool makes long journey to marathon

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Peter Broderick remembers more than his wife, Maureen McCool, does about those moments. They both remember Maureen's faint call of "Hello?" and then "Help."

"I did all that I could to yell, and it seemed like a whisper," Maureen said. "I did catch his attention, and he came up and got me. And then I don't remember anything."

That was eight years ago, and Maureen had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. Now 56, she'll be competing this Sunday in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., as one of the Medtronic Global Heroes.

"The prognosis was gruesome," Peter said, "and she's just beaten all the odds -- which doesn't surprise me, because that's what impressed me about her. I've seen her in some rough spots, and if there's anybody who's not going to quit, it'll be Maureen."

According to the Global Heroes website, "The Global Heroes program recognizes runners from around the world who have a medical device to treat conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain and spinal and neurological disorders."

Maureen never qualified for this or even ran long distances. She loved to hike and still does. She and Peter would go bushwhacking, and for a while during their courtship, the only photo Peter had of Maureen was one where she had a black eye, from a branch flying back into her face.

Maureen moved to Farmington in 1999, working in database development. The only warning sign was a piece of paper she had in a drawer, charting her headaches over two weeks.

On Sept. 10, 2005, both Peter and Maureen were working at their home in Farmington. Peter was in the shop and Maureen was doing yardwork when she realized something was wrong. Suddenly unable to walk or shout, she had to figure out how to get Peter's attention.

"I was weeding," she said. "There's a retaining wall and then a garage door down below. I remember doing that crab walk you learned in third-grade gym across the yard. That's the only way I could get across."

"So ran I up there," Peter said, "and she had crawled from there down to where I could hear her. I started asking her questions and I think she vomited. I could see things were just -- her eyes were crossed. I said, 'I'll get you in the car.' "

On the drive, Maureen vomited again and began having a seizure. Peter pulled over at a gas station and asked for help and for someone to call 911. Peter remembers rescue arriving and taking Maureen to the hospital. After a few hours, he said, they decided to LifeFlight her to Portland.

Peter wasn't allowed on the helicopter, so he drove there himself. Because Maureen had to land at the Jetport first -- and because Peter was driving so frantically -- he arrived at the hospital before they did.

"I didn't get a speeding ticket," Peter said, "but if they were there, they would have given me one."

Maureen knows the numbers now -- that one in 50 people have an aneurysm, and that of the people who have a ruptured aneurysm, only 6.5 percent recover enough to live independently.

Yet at that time, the focus was on survival. Maureen was on and off a respirator, Peter said, because there were complications whenever doctors tried to take her off the respirator.

"I was one of those people, 'Should you take them off life support?' " Maureen said.

"I um... I thought she was gone," Peter said, his voice breaking and eyes watering at the memory. "We hadn't been dating that long, but I was married in the past, and that didn't work out. I thought I found the woman I want to be with, and it looked like I was going to lose her, right off the bat."

(Continued on page 2)

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