Not that anyone has honestly noticed, because, let’s be real, we’re all just on social media for ourselves, not really for other people, but some of you might have observed that I’ve been absent from things like Instagram and Strava for the last 6 weeks. [Edited to add: I’ve gotten back on Strava. Not Instagram though!] Unfortunately, on June 14th, I suffered a mild traumatic brain injury from a mountain bike accident.
In a nutshell, I crashed while working on my sick jumps at Ruby Hill Bike Park, which is still an awesome park and I hold no grudges towards it. It was about 7:45 on a Thursday before work, and I was with a couple of awesome, radical lady bikers who were coaching me on clearing small jumps. After sending probably 100 jumps, better than I ever have before, I guess I landed on my head during what was supposed to be my final lap through the Small line. I can’t say for certain since I don’t actually have any memory of the accident, and genuinely thought I had said goodbye and headed to my car to go to work. Guess not.
Apparently I was knocked unconscious for a few minutes, an ambulance was called and I was taken to Denver Health. I woke up there several hours later with a painful IV in my wrist wearing a hospital gown. I remember seeing Garrett and asking him why I was in the hospital – he told me I’d suffered a bike accident. A CT scan showed bleeding on my brain. I was surprised to see him – he had been up in the mountains for a work trip that morning. Hours had passed.
The next few days were rough. I don’t really remember them despite being semi-lucid. I ended up going home that night and proceeded to sleep for pretty much the next 5 days. It was worse for Garrett than it was for me, he tells me, not knowing if I would regain feeling in my feet or get my personality back. I’m lucky to have missed all of this, honestly. I slept through the worst of it!
What I feel today is that I’m closer to normal than not, thank God, and I’ve been getting better every day. I’m medically restricted to a part time schedule at work (which is being super flexible and helpful, thank god), I’m only allowed to walk 30 minutes a day (but I will eventually have my exercise limits increased, thank god) and I can’t drink this summer (but should be able to again, eventually, thank god). Emotionally I’m kind of a wreck – I get overwhelmed and stressed out over little things, I’ve been crying way too easily, I feel down about the reduced status of my life this summer, and while that all sucks it’s comforting to know that these are really common symptoms for TBI patients and I’m not alone or weird for feeling unstable and all over the place.
The Healing Process
My research into my concussion has sparked what I imagine will be a lifelong interest in the brain. Which, I’ve learned, we know basically nothing about.
Regardless, I am obsessed with healing, with getting better, with coming out the other side of this even healthier and happier than I was before, so I am learning. I want the fact that I didn’t die, that my neck isn’t broken, that I am walking and talking, to not be for nothing. I am grateful to be alive and I want to take this second chance seriously. This blog is what I hope will be the first of many posts, as well as the the first of other healing endeavors that maybe will launch me into the next chapter of my life.
As I’ve deep dived into an array of blogs, podcasts, primary research, Reddit forums, conversations with random TBI survivors (have you had a brain injury? I want to know EVERYTHING) what I’ve learned is that some in the medical community think brain injuries should really be considered diseases, since the symptoms can last a rather long time, much longer than a normal accident-related injury. My neurologist told me his patients see him on average for 9 months.
That is not okay. I want to ski again this winter.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to try ALL. THE. THINGS. Sensory deprivation float therapy (highly recommend, it is incredible), vibration acoustic therapy, binaural beats, cranial-sacral therapy, YIN yoga, you name it, I’ve tried it all (well, except for HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment), and I have to say, they WORK. Each therapy has offered me something different and unique as I’ve traveled along my healing journey, and I’m genuinely grateful for the healing boost I’ve received from them all.
Above all, I credit the therapies, particularly float therapy, paired with a keto and an alcohol-abstaining diet, for my fast-ish road to recovery. My neurologist said he was impressed to see how well I was doing so quickly. Basically, if someone somewhere says it works wonders for TBI healing, I’ve tried it. And you know what? I think they work.
So here’s to wrapping up the summer with a newfound gratitude for my life and capabilities after having spent most of the summer taking it easy and tapping into a slower and beautiful way of living. I’m excited to get back on my bike (which I admittedly have dived back into despite the consternation of my doctors) and see where the rest of this interesting and changeful 2018 will take me!