Friday, December 28, 2007

Don't Stop Believing

If Terri Hatcher’s character on Desperate Housewives ever slips and falls on Wisteria Lane and breaks her spinal column, she would be fortunate to be sent to the Memorial Hermann Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) at the University of Texas Hospital in Houston for treatment. If she’s really lucky, she would be treated by Dr. Teodoro Castillo, the attending physician of the TIRR Spinal Cord Injury Program and a graduate of “…some med school in the Philippines”.

Last week, on the Sunday morning before Christmas, Dr. Castillo was interviewed on ABC about Buffalo Bills football player Kevin Everett who suffered a life-threatening dislocation and fracture of his cervical spine during a home game with the Denver Broncos on September 27. After surgeons operated and repaired a break between the third and fourth vertebrae of his spinal cord, they announced that chances were slim that Everett would ever walk again.

But to everyone's surprise, on December 23, Everett appeared at the locker room of the Buffalo Bills players to greet them and wish them luck just before they were to play the New York Giants. The players were absolutely stunned that Everett was even able to stand up. That he was walking without any assistance was a miracle, they said.

Everett gave credit to his spinal cord physician at TIRR, Dr. Teodoro Castillo, for his recovery from an injury that would have otherwise rendered him a quadriplegic.

ABC News' TV reporter Dan Harris asked Dr. Castillo whether he thought Everett would ever walk again. Dr Castillo responded: “When I first met him, I knew he had the movement in the legs, and he showed me he had good recovery just from the time he had the surgery to the time he got to our facility, so I knew he was going to walk again. But the type of walking, the quality of walking, that remained to be seen.”

When asked about Everett’s determination, Dr. Castillo said that Everett’s mother told him that “he's always followed a rigorous training schedule and with that attitude, with his determination, family support, which he really has, and the team of clinicians he has to guide him and optimize his recovery, I think he will be successful… The key to Kevin's success is the determination he's had, and the family support and a team of clinicians to guide him through - he has all the necessary ingredients to guide him to a good outcome.”

Dr. Castillo received his medical degree from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center in the Philippines. He completed his transitional year medicine internship at the Seton Hall Program in St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey. He is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Spinal Cord Injury Medicine. He is concurrently a Clinical Assistant Professor at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and Adjunct Assistant Professor of PM&R, Baylor College of Medicine.

Kevin Everett never stopped believing in himself and Dr. Castillo never stopped believing in him.


"Don’t stop believing", the title of the hit song of 70s era rock band Journey, was played at the last scene of the final episode of the HBO hit, The Sopranos. The airplay revived interest in the band which had been performing without its frontman, Steve Perry, since the mid-90s when he quit. Journey’s journey back to the big time would be complete if they could only find a new lead singer.

It was difficult for the band to find a replacement for Steve Perry. “Those anthemic Journey power ballads, sung by Perry in his operatic tenor, have been known to shred vocal chords, and it takes an extraordinary talent to be able to sing them,” reported Paul Liberatore from Medianews.

After months of auditioning prospects without any luck, Journey’s Neal Schon tried the Internet. “I went on YouTube for a couple of days and just sat on it for hours. I was starting to think I was never going to find anybody.” That is until he chanced upon a video of Filipino singer Arnel Pineda singing Journey’s hit “Faithfully” with a Filipino cover band called the Zoo.

“After watching the videos over and over again, I had to walk away from the computer and let what I’d heard sink in because it sounded too good to be true,” he said. “I thought, ‘He can’t be that good.’”

He was that good. Before Pineda knew it, Journey had obtained a work visa for him and had flown him in to San Francisco to audition with the band in Marin. After a few songs, the band members were unanimous that they had found their lead singer at long last. The official announcement was made on December 5 after Pineda returned to record 11 new songs of Journey that will be released in the spring of 2008.

In his blog, Journey record producer Kevin Shirley wrote "Just got back from Vegas last night, after mixing seven new Journey songs. They are outstanding... For the record, I think Arnel is 'the business!' - the guy can really sing! He handles the ballads with SO much heart, and belts the rockers as hard, and melodically, as anyone I have heard. The songs are sensational - wonderfully crafted and deep, and so focused, you may wonder where they all came from."

A news article about Pineda reported that since English is his second language, he was provided with an accent reduction coach to work on his phrasing and diction. This was no problem for Arnel but he also had to deal with racism. “When there were rumors about me joining Journey, there was a lot of that,” Pineda told Liberatore. “One of the worst things I read on a fan message board said that Journey is an all-American band and it should stay like that. But I don’t care. I just say, ‘Hey, grow up.’”

“We’ve become a world band,” Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain said in reply. “We’re international now. We’re not about one color. I kind of like the whole idea of having a singer like him. It’s exotic.”

Don't stop believing in yourself. Have a happy exotic new year.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

I came by your post via Good News dot com, who mentioned this post in an article about Arnel Pineda. He's awesome, he's the perfect successor to Steve Perry—and that's coming from a diehard "Perry Purist".

I found the concept that people were making racist comment about Pineda to be quite upsetting. They say it should remain an All-American band? Do they not realize that Steve Perry, while technically "American", is first generation, and that his parents were 100% Portuguese?

Seems to me if they want an authentic all-American band, they should listen to Carlos Nakai. *ahem*