Recovering from a bicycle crash has been a difficult journey, much different from other crash injuries I’ve had. I didn’t wind up with any awful bodily damage this time but I did sustain a traumatic brain injury due to striking my head, on the ground I figure by the way my helmet looks. I’m not an authority on the recovery process so I try not to come off that way but I suppose that’s up for debate. Whether I act like it that is. Heh. I know I’m not an expert, but I am a survivor and this process continues to show me new things about living a different life. Anyway, these are my own experiences and observations as well as items I find that I see fit to show on this blog. And, considering all these cognitive issues I’m still wrestling with, you’ll find a few places where I could use the help of a good editor. Probably a lot of them. If you’re new to this blog I also hope you’ll read my second post that discusses more of what I’d like to do here. Hopefully it will be more than just telling tales.
I started this project on October 19th, 2014 and it was 5 months before that I was racing a duathlon in the Catskills near New Paltz, New York. It’s a race called American Zofingen and it is known for its mix of mountainside trails and a hilly bike course on the main roads in that area.
After the first 5 mile run loop and then the first bike leg I was feeling pretty good. Surprisingly good since all I kept hearing (and rightly so) about this race was how brutal it is. As I came in off the road I was looking forward to hitting the trail even harder than the first time because now the field would be thinned out. I actually ran the first loop easier than I planned because I started towards the back of the field and it got crowded once we entered the narrow trails.
Oh, yeah. I forgot to tell you. There was this gravel road coming in off the main road you had to ride over on your way to the place where you dropped off your bike. Uh huh. On road racing tires. I have no idea how my race ended but it did. Right there. Something happened that abruptly stopped my forward motion. Actually, I kept going; it was my bike that stopped. I just continued on without it. I guess I’m impatient that way. When I landed, my head struck the ground – HARD. No one saw the actual crash but it doesn’t matter. I did it all by my widdle self. No one was near me on that part of the course except a course marshall who saw me approaching on the road moments before.
On the very day I entered my 50’s I sustained a traumatic brain injury. If you didn’t already know, they aren’t fun and I don’t recommend having one. I wouldn’t even want my worst enemy to have one. It has been a long summer. I have all kinds of other adjectives to use before the word, summer, but those are better left for later posts. I am now working on something rehab-related almost every day but I have to face reality. It hasn’t been like coming back from a concussion. I’ve had those before and I know what that’s like.
This time was different. I went home from the rehab facility to deal with several problems stemming from the way I bashed my head in, to use a technical term. I very much want to get better and this process has shown me that it is going to take quite a while. I used to be a jack of all trades and before I understood what had happened to me I was sure I’d come back really soon. It would only be a couple of weeks until I was back on my Adamo saddle tucked into the aero position on my tri bike in some race. After about 2 months I lowered my expectations a little to a ten of all trades. Now I’m bargaining with God for maybe a nine of all trades.
Oh please… Such drammma! Maybe so, but the bottom line is that life is going to be different. What am I doing here? Just telling stories that well over a million new people each year could tell. In the first person. In America alone (823.7 per 100,000 US population). Funny thing about those stories though, they sound very much alike. In spite of the infinite ways the human mind can develop and the whole array of ways head trauma can affect those brains, I’ve been blown away by the similarity of the stories I’ve been hearing.
Great start to what promises to be a compelling blog about your journey and recovery. Getting the message out there about what it’s like to sustain and recover from a brain injury is a worthy mission! Your blog bursts with personality! Thanks for sharing it; I look forward to reading more.
Thank you, Ann. Despite what it looks like, I’m going to need some encouragement. It took a long time to get those words together.
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Peter … I’m going to follow you here, man. You may remember that I went through a prolonged recovery following my own bike accident 4 years ago. I had what amounted to a traumatic neck injury: sudden hyperextension, spinal cord injury, larynx crushed, tracheotomy, broken neck, yadda yadda. I put it all down in a blog, and re-read it from time to time. I offer empathy, and hope. Keep at it (the rehab, not necessarily the writing, but that may be part of the rehab, no?), every day, OK? – Al Truscott, (http://bikrutz.org/triblog/?p=498, and following)
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Al, I’m honored. I’m going to check out your blog. Yes, I’m trying not to get swept up in all the crummy feelings I sometimes get. As for your accident I had no idea. I joined EN in late 2012 and I don’t recall having heard about your ordeal. I hear stories like yours and it really puts me in my place.
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I enjoyed the tale, but here comes the big BUT! (One “t,” not two). You have a variety of emotions in telling this story–some comedic, others sarcastic, still others silly and serious. You should align with one or the others! I am an editor and would like to help you fine tune!