From almost the moment I suffered my MTBI until to day, why have I had such a difficult time in admitting that my braining is not functioning properly? Although I am consistently getting better, why is it so hard for me to accept that I am still struggling in some areas and to come to grips with that reality? Denial doesn’t help me heal. All it does is hide my reality from those who are around me. And as one can imagine, that isn’t the best course of action.
At this point, my only goal for 2022, is to accept the fact that my recovery is taking longer than expected and go give myself the time and space to fully recover. No matter how long that takes.
Looking back to the day of my injury, I can recall these words going through my my mind:
“Thank goodness its only a “mild” concussion and I don’t have any broken bones.”
At the time it seemed like a reasonable thought. But now, almost 3 months after being struck by the car, I would probably look at things a bit differently. At the time, I was not very familiar with concussions, concussion symptoms and the recovery journey. My limited experience was based on a concussion my 20-year old son experienced when he was 11, a concussion my 31-year old daughter experienced at 21 and a concussion I experienced nearly 30-years ago. My son and I recovered rapidly and were back to our “usual” selves in a week or so. But with my daughter’s concussion, the affects lingered for months and had a profound impact on her senior year of college. But as I am won’t to do, I figured if the Doctor told me my concussion is “mild” my reaction is to think, “how bad can this be?” and to believe that I will be fully recovered in a week to ten days. My biggest concern at the time was how long it was going to take for the swelling in my leg to subside.
“A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”
“Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.”
Think about that for a moment, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury and is only defined as a mild because the symptoms are not life threatening. Concussions may not be life threatening, but they can be life altering so from that perspective should they be considered as mild? The final sentence of the paragraph sums it up, “the effects of a concussion can be serious.” Based on what I now know and what I am experiencing, all concussions are serious and need to be treated as such.
I know my perspective on concussions have changed over the course of the last 3-months. But, this has all been for the better as I have educated myself and embarked on my healing journey.
September 7th 2021 started out like just like any other warm September day. The sun was out, the temperature was not too warm and there was a gentle breeze to really keep things comfortable.
As I was finishing up my workday, I looked out the window and asked myself:
“What do you want to do today, ride or run?”
Since I had not been running much recently, I decided that today was a good day for a run. Looking back with 20-20 hindsight, it was NOT A GOOD Day for a run.
I went upstairs got changed into my running gear, came downstairs, pulled on my running shoes and headed out the door. The first 2-1/2 miles of the run were uneventful. I passed some people on my local trail and was thoroughly enjoying the run. In a matter of moments, things would go completely off the rails.
The last thing I remember from the run was passing a lady who was out walking her dog and thinking “That is a cute little dog!” which is completely out of character for me.
The next thing I know, I am flat on my back in the middle of the road, with blood dripping out of my head and have EMT’s and the police asking me what seemed like a million questions. Since I had no idea what happened, they shared with me that as I was crossing through an intersection a car came around the corner in the wrong lane and hit me. Fortunately for me, there was a witness who gave a description of how the crash occurred to the police while they were on scene. To this day I still don’t know if my head wound was from hitting the windshield of the car or from hitting the ground, but in the long run it really doesn’t matter.
As I got some awareness of what was going on, I tried my best to figure out how badly I was hurt. I quickly determined that I could move all of my extremities, so I wasn’t paralyzed. That was a relief. I also concluded that since I could think and speak, my brain was reasonably intact as well. That turned out to be not quite so correct, but there will be more on that later. I could see the cuts, scrapes and a big bruise forming on my leg, but since there were no bones sticking out, I guessed it wasn’t too badly hurt. However, I found out later, the injury was a bit more significant than I originally believed.
The Riverdale Park, MD EMTs did a great job in caring for me. They responded to the call in a matter of minutes, and then had me prepped for transport and delivered to the Washington Hospital Center Trauma Unit in less than 25 minutes. One of the EMTs was even kind enough to turn off my Garmin when I asked her. Great customer service.
The first thing that happened at the hospital was the ceremonial “Cutting Off of the Clothes”. Before they started, I asked: “Do you really have to cut my clothes? Can’t you just slide them off?” I knew they couldn’t do that, but I figured it didn’t hurt to ask. Anyway, replacing my running gear wasn’t a big concern at the time.
Then they proceeded to do a concussion screening and the normal battery of tests, x-rays and CT scans. All of these came back clean with no broken bones or bleeding in my brain which was a great relief. While I was waiting for the all this to start one of the Doctor’s asked: “Is there anyone you want me to call?”
I said to him: “No, but if you can hand me my phone, I would like to call my wife, if that is OK. I would prefer to call her myself, it would be better?” With that he was relieved and handed me the phone saying: “Thanks. I really don’t like making those kind of calls.”
The phone call to my wife went something like this:
Hi honey are you home?
No, I’m not. Are you?
No, I am in the hospital. I was hit by a car while I was out on my run, but everything seems to be OK. I am about to go for X-rays and a CT scan.
What? Hit by a car? Are you OK?
Yes, I seem to be fine. I have a big laceration on the back of my head and a bunch of cuts and scrapes on my leg, but other than that I think I am OK.
I have no idea. I am missing about 5 minutes of my life. From what they told me as I was crossing the street, a car hit me.
Wow! That doesn’t seem good. Is there anything I can do?
Not really. Because of COVID only patients are allowed in the hospital. So I can call you when I am done. I love you and will talk to you later.
About four hours later I called my wife to come pick me up with five shiny new staples in my head and diagnosis of a “mild” concussion. I was shocked that they didn’t even give me a wheelchair ride to the door, they had me walk myself out to the waiting room. Not good customer service.
As COVID-19 spreads throughout the nation, this picture is what it looks like to be an Emergency Room doctor in New York. This is what our son is dealing with every day. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and everyone else on the front lines in the healthcare system. But what is also a problem, is trying to take care of the patients who are not sick enough to stay in the hospital, but expected to go home and self-quarantine for 14 days.
What happens when that person is the financial support for their family? They have a decision to make. Do I stay home with no income or do I go to work and feed my family? Going to work brings the risks spreading the virus to others and staying home guarantees that their family has no food. Neither is a good choice.
What can be done to make a difference? One of the hospitals in New York has begun a grocery gift card drive to make it easier for people who need to stay home. But what they missing are the gift cards. By purchasing an E-gift card to a local store that delivers (Target or Whole Foods) or on-line delivery through Amazon which will be sent home with someone who desperately needs it you can play a vital part in “flattening the curve”.
Please consider joining in and sending an E-gift card of any size to the Social Work Department at the NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn NY. The email address to send it to is below.
As I experience pain and suffering in my racing and training, I can make it stop anytime I want. As a result of mental illnesses some people as they experience life don’t have that option, their pain and suffering goes on 24 hour a day, 7 days a week. Let’s help to bring a message of hope to these people. Click of the photo or here for the donation link.
I have seen first hand the devastating effects that mental illness can have on people and the loved ones that surround them. The time has come for us to stop ignoring theses issues and to take real steps to get people the help that they need.
Once again, I want to use my racing and training as an opportunity to raise money for To Write Love on Her Arms a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
I will be participating in the Toughest Mudder East on May 18th-19th. A 12-hour race that begins at 8pm and ends at 8am. The vast majority of the event will be taking place in the darkness of the night. I believe that this is an interesting metaphor for the darkness associated with depression and other mental illnesses. While this might be a demanding race, it is not nearly as difficult as living with the effects of mental illness. I have the option to stop and withdrawn from the pain any time I want, others don’t have that luxury.