Five years ago, we’d just gotten back from a nice trip to Minnesota, where we’d spent a week visiting Kris’ family. We’d spent time with our friends just east of the Twin Cities, and the kids played together a bunch. Our younger daughter learned to ride a bike on this trip. We celebrated our eldest daughter’s 11th birthday. We took a family picture outside Kris’ parents’ cabin that I have up on my office wall.
visiting the northern woods of Wisconsin, the week before our lives changed.
Memories are funny things. I remember these things very well five years on, probably because of what happened next.
At about 8:30 on the morning of July 1, 2008, I was hit by a pickup truck while riding my bicycle to work. Reading the police report tells me that I’m probably the luckiest person on the planet.
two days after the accident – it would be another four or five days before I’d wake up.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what happened five years ago. The first few months were very tough. Beyond the physical pain, it was very hard to reset my own goals and expectations. Within a few seconds, I’d gone from being a marathoner who earned his living (with his brain) as a software engineer, to needing help doing the most basic of tasks. With recovery, there’s often no clear roadmap. That’s hard to wrap your mind around.
Taking one step at a time, so much is possible. I had the benefit of good health and a runner’s mindset before the accident. Most importantly, I have family and friends who gave me the great gift of hope. They seemed to believe in me – which made it much easier to believe in myself. This gift of hope is the most powerful thing we can give each other.
visiting Harborview’s Neuro ICU in December of 2009
Last week I was at Harborview Hospital, visiting a friend who had been hit a car up in Woodinville last week while commuting on bicycle to work. While I was there, I dropped by the Neuro ICU, where I’d been taken immediately after my accident. I told these people working at the premier trauma center in the Pacific Northwest just how much it meant to me that I’m around to see my kids’ cello recitals, and school musicals.
visiting Redmond Fire Station #12 back in 2010
And on July 1st I stopped by Redmond Fire Station #12, the first responders who answered the call. I rode the same bicycle, along the same route I’d taken five years before. I thanked all of them for what they do. I told them how blessed I feel to be able watch my kids grow. The lieutenant looked up the accident report from 2008. The language was succinct : “bicycle v. pickup truck”. He was thoughtful enough to look up the crew members who answered the call, and let them know that I’d come by.
The quick response and care I received saved my life, and prevented more profound damage to my brain. It’s an amazing experience to visit these people, and say “thanks for everything” and to really mean everything.