On the morning of July 1, 2008 I kissed my wife goodbye, and got on my bike to ride to work. Things were getting busy at work, so getting in early would allow me to get started on some things I needed to do. But things didn’t go according to plan …
A week later, I woke up in the ICU at Harborview Hospital in Seattle, and learned that I’d been in a serious bicycle accident. You can read about the days immediately following the accident here (the caring bridge site that Kris used to share the news with everyone).
The accident occurred on a fairly busy street about 2 or 3 miles from our house. I was going along at a pretty good clip (about 25 mph), when a driver who was lost and late for a job interview cut me off. I hit his Ford F150 truck just behind the passenger door, and then rolled under the vehicle. His right rear wheel rolled over my head. Apparently I was conscious for a short time following the accident, but I recall nothing. You can read a little about what I remember from the day of the accident, or check out my reading the police report from the accident.
My injuries included a collapsed lung, many broken facial bones, broken ribs, broken scapula and collarbone, and lost vision in my left eye. More seriously, I’d incurred a Traumatic Brain Injury. I’d damaged an artery on the left side of my head, which then started to bleed into the gap between my skull and dura. I required a Craniotomy to stop the bleeding and save my life. A portion of my skull was removed to permit my injured brain to swell and then heal. I was placed into an medically-induced coma for about a week to permit this healing to begin.
I’m very lucky to be here. And I had lots of help along the way. My friends spent lots of time watching over me in the hospital and at home. My colleagues at work demonstrated lots of support. My brother spent a large portion of the summer up here in the Seattle area, spending time with me. My parents spent hours with me, and with the kids. My children were big helps around the house, and showed much strength in dealing with their dad’s serious accident. And my wife was amazing as a medical advocate, caregiver, and a single parent while I was waylaid for months.
Through this amazing combination of excellent medical care, good fortune, and wonderful love and support, I’ve been able to recover a good deal from this. Today, I’m able to work, swim, run, drive, and to be a loving parent and spouse.
While recovering, I looked for ways to build my physical, cognitive and emotional health as well as re-establish my independence. When I was able to walk, I began walking everywhere I could. Nine months and three days after my accident, I completed the Yakima River Canyon Marathon. I completed a total of ten marathons and ultra events between April and November of 2009.
I do ride my bicycle occasionally – the same bicycle that I was riding at the time of the accident. In May of 2009, I rode my bicycle to work along the same route I’d traveled ten months earlier. I feel apprehension riding in traffic, or while going fast down hills, but don’t want to be defined or limited by what happened to me on July 1, 2008.
I’ve been given a rare gift. I’ve seen and felt how much love I have present in my life. Someday, I hope to have the strength and perspective to look at this as a positive experience. Working towards recovery has not been easy, but it is an opportunity to appreciate life for all it is.
Following are some links to things detailing the journey through recovery :
- Kris’ caring bridge blog from the days following the accident. Check out the Journal and the Guestbook Entries – they’re worthwhile and inspiring to read. What I do is to click on each of these and sort by date, oldest entries first (that takes you through the events in chronological order).
- Blog posts for the first three months following the accident.
- Blog posts on recovery, dating from late October of 2008 until now.
- My first blog post following the accident. I wrote this from my hospital room at Harborview Medical Center, two days before going home.
- Happy Father’s Day, 2009
- Marking the first anniversary of the accident, and the day I woke up afterwards.
- Saying “thank you for everything” to the folks in the Harborview Medical Center Neuro ICU in December 2009 and 2010.
- Marking the two-year anniversary by visiting some of the first responders who handled the call for my accident.
- A talk on survival that I collaborated on in January of 2011.
- Working to change laws about negligent driving – I testified before the Washington State Legislature in the 2011 session in support of the Vulnerable User Bill.