Brain Injury Survivor Story–Randy suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) after cycling 200 yards without a helmet
April 18th, 2015 I was at some neighbors house with my wife Ellen and my three kids, Davis, Parks and Lyla. We were having a great time with them and their kids and that led to our kids being invited to spend the night. We live maybe 200 yards from them so I told my then 8 year old son Davis I would ride his bike home. Well that wasn’t a great idea but I’ll get to that in a minute.
I’ve ridden bikes for as long as I can remember, BMXing, 1/4 pipes, half pipes, street craziness and anything else you can imagine. I’ve never had anything more than a few bruises and scrapes and all this riding was done back in the time of no helmets. Not that there weren’t helmets, there just wasn’t anyone wearing them or even telling us to wear them. So back to April 18th, I didn’t have a single thought that riding this small kids bike without a helmet 200 yards would cause ANY problems. Well it did.
SO the next part I have no memory of so I’m telling you what I’ve been told. I went down the road about 100 yards, turned left to head down a small road that was down hill and something sent me flying off that bike. Ellen and Parks were walking home but were far enough behind me that they couldn’t see it, but they heard it. They came down and I was in the middle of the hill, in the middle of the road and completely unconscious.
So out of all this I got a TBI (or Traumatic Brain Injury if you are like I was and had no idea what a TBI is) a broken clavicle and multiple broken ribs. The TBI came from 2 brain bleeds from me smacking my head on the road. One from a side hit on my brain and the other on the side of my brain that took the back and forth impact from the force of the road impact.
I spent the next week in ICU and then was moved to some other part of the hospital for another week. Apparently these two weeks (which I’m still in the timeframe I don’t have any memory of) weren’t very good. Apparently there is no good way to determine how your brain will recover, all brain injuries are different. But from what I’ve been told, I wasn’t very nice and I didn’t make a lot of sense.
The next couple weeks I started to come around and I was like “get me out of this hospital”. Well eventually they did and I spent the next couple of months in happy land.
My life was great (as far as my injured brain knew). So I returned to work, was doing what I had been doing the last 12 years and thought I was doing fine, great actually. I mean I had lots of headaches, some communicating issue and trouble with some of the parts of the job I loved. But I thought considering what had happened such a short period of time ago I would be okay. BUT apparently I wasn’t and I was fired by my boss. Who was my wife’s best friend and was living in my basement because of her divorce.
I was no longer in happy land. I was and still am crushed. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t think about anything else. How could this happen to me? On top of all this I lost a wonderful life long friend Sam Shelby to lung cancer. He’d never smoked and cigarette, ate the healthiest food of anyone I knew AND cared about animals like turtles and things like recycling so much. How could he be gone? He had just come and visited me in the hospital a few months ago.
After some time and with the help of Ellen, my friend and volunteer speech pathologist Tisha Shah I eventually joined an organization called Triangle Aphasia Project, Unlimited. This group gave me a purpose, gave me some help and made me realize again that I was lucky to be doing as well as I was. Because of them I was doing things to help my brain recover, not just sitting by waiting for it to recover which is what I thought I was supposed to do.
I started at a little temp company to try to ease my way back into working, which is what I should have done the first time but now I knew more. I knew I couldn’t handle the pressure of sales anymore like I had previously for 20 years. I knew I couldn’t process things like I had done my whole life. I knew that all the words I had known my whole life were still in my head, but they may never want to come out again. If they did, I would just have to be patient and realize I couldn’t respond with the speed or words as I did before.
My temp company lead to a great new opportunity with a great company Terramor Homes and a bunch of people I love. I’m not doing what I had done before but I’m using the knowledge of my past to try to help my new role in the industry. Thanks Michelle and Leslie.
I’m now in the process of getting a divorce, selling my home and trying to figure out how to live with 1/4 of the money I used to make. How to make my children the best people they can be and quite frankly, how to be a happy, glass half full person again.
My biggest problem is that people from the outside see me as good old Randy, but my issues and disabilities are still all there for sure. Hopefully getting better day by day but they are still an everyday part of my life.
So I’m spreading the word, no matter what you think you see when you talk to me, I do have a disability. Several actually.