Peter Laboy perched on a step stool in the Alexandria Police Department, the simple task of inventorying uniform shirts vexing him. He stared for a while at a row of boxes — never opening any to perform a count — then keyed in a number on his computer. His figures were close, but often wrong. Minutes in, focus was lost.
“You got some breakfast?” he yelled out suddenly, jumping down to greet a man at the property room window.
Peter used to be a swashbuckler in these hallways, a 46-year-old father of four who flirted with becoming a fighter pilot but figured “you can’t have it more dangerous than riding a police motorcycle.” He was aggressive and dedicated, known among colleagues for pulling a lot of people over and writing a lot of tickets.
Then, a little more than a year ago, he was shot in the head.
His recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. He makes breakfast for his kids some mornings, casually jokes about his injury with other officers. Some even ask when he’ll be back up on his bike. Meet him briefly, and you would never know anything was wrong.
But his return to real police work, at least now, seems doubtful. There are seizures, therapy, and frustration that can be worse than physical pain. He grows impatient quickly and can’t always persuade his body to carry out tasks he’s set on doing. Sometimes, just getting up in the morning is difficult.
Surviving, it seems, was the easy part. Now Peter must wrestle the expectations that come with life.
“They say, ‘You look great,’ ” Peter said, “But then, they don’t understand what’s going on inside my brain.”