August 29, 2011

Catastrophe on Race Day

Catastrophe on Race Day - 8/26/11

30 days ago while competing in an amateur mountain bike race, (I was racing and feeling strong, holding a top five position) I crashed in a heap and knocked myself out.  I was in such bad shape after a crew of patrollers in Winter Park removed me from the forest etched race course strapped to a backboard,  I was evacuated to Denver via a Flight for Life aircraft.  I ended up surviving the crash, but endured a serious brain injury that left me loopy, finding it challenging to muster the right words to manage a conversation and, startlingly, leaving my right leg and lower right arm essentially paralyzed.

For the last 25 days a wheelchair has been my main mode of movement.  So I don't lay myself up with another head wound, the hospital requires that most of my travel is confined to rolling in a wheel chair.  I wheel it to every meal, and to all my therapy appointments.  I'm in the chair for the most part of the day.  I can walk but it's a halting gait with my weak right leg slowing me down and robbing of the steadiness that I once claimed.  When I have visited with my three young sons they saw me afflicted by the chair.  They always treated and greeted me with trendiness, glee, and respect but the chair must have changed their view of their dear old dad.

For the past five days or so, my PT has been working on the strength and coordination of my tangled legs. She has used part of the hour allotted to me on increasingly longer walks around campus and, encoring the doctors orders governing my campus movement,  let me walk in more situations around the hospital.

Yesterday, during frenetic rush hour traffic,  I went home for the first time in a month! I walked inside, catching the monkey crew by surprise.  Beckett instantly squealed "daddy" and ran froward for a full speed hug job of my knees. Rhys, a sep farther away, completed his "daddy" knee hug second with his delight of a belly laugh punctuating his hug.

I noticed Kelly eye me head to toe, rooted to the ground where he saw me walk through the front door.  Grinning, clearly noting my up right stance and at 6' 3" towering above my seated position he last saw me in the wheelchair,  he said "Daddy, are you ok now? Are you home from the hospital now?"

"I'm feeling better, lamb chop, but this is just a visit today - a long visit."

Catherine set the mode right by saying, "He's feeling good enough the doctors are letting him come home in a week.  Let's have some fun!"    

We played Frisbee in the front yard, alternating close rang soft tosses to the big guys while Beckett entrained himself running around the yard, twirling himself.  Then, Cath, concerned by my efforts playing with the crew, herded us in side to watch the Colorado based international  bike race happening in our vicinity this week.   At the beginning of the race, Kelly curled in my arms giving me a firm hug and said, "I love you dad."  Later, before fast forwarding to watch the race finally, Rhys, a notorious xl cuddle bug, sat snug in my lap watching the race.

I had the best day in 30, or more, spending sacred time with my family that day. The only problem: after dinner Cath had to take me back to Craig Hospital - a process that is now torturous, painful.  Leaving home is so hard but I only have to preform this cruel trick for one more week.  I'm going home to complete outpatient therapy on September 2!  I vow to remain affixed to a daily program to revive my body and mind like I have during my term at Craig but I am looking forward to preforming these exhaustions surrounded by my three wee beaming cheerleaders and my loving, supportive coach.


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  2. Andrew,
    I feel horrible that this has happened to you. As a recovering brain
    injury survivor, it brings tears to my eyes to read this. You are very
    lucky to have such a great family for support. I know I would have
    never made it without mine. The Brain is a wonderous mystery that will heal over time. Take your time with your healing. Sleep is still the best thing for you.
    We are very happy to hear that you will be back at home in just a few days. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.

    AKA: The TBI Guy ( this is what my kids call me )

  3. Dearest Andrew,
    I was crying as I read this, and then reading my man's post after really has me in tears. We know so well all these firsts and honestly it gives me comfort though I know this is a struggle, that you were able to write such a beautifully written document of the last 30.
    We love you Lot's,
    PS. Today is my 40th Bday knowing u are going hm to your family is gift enough for me. Xoxoxoxo