The Day The Earth Stood Still
am fading away. Slowly but surely. Like the sailor who watches the
home shore gradually disappear, I watch my past recede. My old life
still burns within me, but more and more of it is reduced to the ashes
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
November 11, 2010 was a day like most others. Little did I realize
that by the time the day wound to a close, I would be rushed by
ambulance to the nearest trauma center with injuries that would impact
me for the rest of my life. There was no sense of impending doom, no
feeling of dread, nothing to foretell what the day would bring.
was more on top of my game than I had ever been. Weeks earlier, I
celebrated my one year wedding anniversary to my best friend. Though
my wife Sarah and I had been a dedicated and loving couple for over a
decade, raising eight children between us made living in a single home
impractical. We had finally hit the point in our lives where most of
the children had moved into adulthood. We were both happily and
excitedly looking forward to this next chapter of our lives - our time
Professionally, my writing career was progressing with recent national
publication of my work, my business was strong, our family was healthy
and life was good.
Living the dream, I was at one of those places in my life that I have
now come to cherish. You know the place... nothing significant is
happening and you bask in the ebb and flow of a stunningly normal
day's end however, I would be forever changed. My very soul would be
autographed by the grit and asphalt of Main Street. There is nothing
pretty about a cycling accident with severe and life-changing
injuries. My blood, the very source of life coursing through my veins,
was destined to stain Main Street in an odd parody of modern art.
Many people with a traumatic brain injury have little or no recall of
the event that changed their life. I, on the other hand, recall the
accident with stunning clarity.
Over the year, the memory of that day remains crystal clear. From the
voices and concerned faces of the first-responders to the nervous
chatter my the members to the trauma center team, I can describe the
day as if it were just yesterday.
There is a bit of an irony as the lasting effects of my head injury on
my memory have been among the most challenging. To share the details
of a day now years past comes easy. To remember what I had for
breakfast on any given day, or to recall a conversation just yesterday
with a loved one - now that becomes problematic.
beginning of the new chapter of my life as a TBI survivor actually
predates my brain injury by many years. It's a bit odd to think that
my brain injury actually has its roots in diabetes. Never have I read
about diabetes being a cause of brain injury. In fact, you might just
be privy to what amounts to a medical miracle, but I'll let you
Also worth noting is my propensity to be a bit A.D.D. A month or so
after my accident, a speech therapist charged with my care said
something that caught my ear. She shared that those with A.D.D. who
have had brain injuries very often jump into the realm of what she
called "Super A.D.D." Suffice to say she was quite correct.
Both in my writing as well as conversationally, I jump around more
than I ever have. Luckily, most all of the time I am able to get the
proverbial train back on the tracks and move forward.
roots of this tale can be traced back to 2007 when I was diagnosed
with Type 2 Diabetes. Weighing in at 260 pounds and more comfortable
with a Twinkie and a Coke than just about anything else, a trip to my
primary care physician confirmed that I was a full blown diabetic. My
blood sugar was off the charts, my vision was failing, and I had a
veritable wellspring of other symptoms that all pointed to Diabetes.
"David, take a good look at your feet," my primary care physician
said. "You have a choice, either use them or lose them." Knowing that
amputation from untreated diabetes is not uncommon and having an
affinity to remain solidly two-footed, I did something not many do.
It's a pretty simple concept. I did what many choose not to do: I
actually listened to my doctor.
Through the first half of 2007, I got healthy - very healthy. I am a
chronic overcomer. Over the years, time has shown that little can or
has kept me down for long. Some call it resiliency. I call it
stubbornness. I would learn later that this stubbornness would become
one of my greatest allies and aids to my ongoing recovery.
months after my diabetes diagnosis, my weight down close to 80 pounds.
I was in the best shape of my life and very much on top of my game.
Cycling thirty miles or so daily gave me back my life. I was always
fond of cycling as a child. My diabetes gave me back the gift of
loving the ride simply for the sake of the ride. With the wind in my
face and the winding road in front of me, cycling remains my undying
passion to this day. My story of victory over Diabetes was published
nationally and I became a bit of a local poster child for wellness.
was in better shape at forty-nine than I was at twenty-nine. You could
bounce a coin off my calf. Over 40,000 miles of cycling in the short
span of a few years does tend to tighten you up a bit.
life changed abruptly in two ticks of a clock.
driver who hit me was only 16. I met him and his mom a couple of weeks
after the accident, but that is a tale for later. It was quite a
meeting. This same young man makes what amounts to a cameo appearance
toward the end of this tale, our lives yet again coming together at
unexpected and unasked for times.
Local police estimated he was cruising along on Main Street at between
30-40 MPH when he broadsided me. He never hit the brakes. My traumatic
brain injury was of the double-dipping variety. When I was hit from
the right, my helmeted head went directly through the young driver's
windshield. As the laws of physics are not to be broken, the momentum
of his car catapulted me 50' down Main Street where my head impacted
the pavement on the left side.
Brains are like Jell-O in a Tupperware container. When my head went
through his windshield, my brain impacted the inside of my skull in a
millisecond, only to bounce back to the other side of my skull. That
same dance was repeated when I hit the street giving me the benefit of
four internal brain impacts. Medical professionals call this type of
injury a coup contrecoup injury where my brain essentially hit both
sides of the inside of my skull..
Permanent damage to my frontal lobes was diagnosed at a much later
date. In fact, a well-intentioned doctor, an expert in the diagnosis
and treatment of traumatic brain injury called me "permanently
disabled." You'll meet him a bit later.
impact from the accident was so violent that my helmet literally
sheared hair off my head. My helmet suddenly became the catcher's mitt
for two odd and unexpected items: newly shorn hair and broken
windshield glass. In fact, my wife Sarah spent several days following
my accident pulling small shards of glass from my head.
There is nothing even remotely attractive about this type of accident.
it all happened in two ticks of a clock.
Happily cycling on a near picture-perfect November day…
Outstretched on Main Street with broken bones, a broken bike,
shattered helmet and completely unable to move, I awaited certain
death. Oddly, as I lay there on the blacktop, pain coursing through my
broken body, I was at complete peace, content with my life. My
children would be in good hands. Those close to me knew they were
loved. My last words to my wife Sarah were "I love you." If it was
going to be my time to explore the Next Realm, so be it. Mind you, I
was not happy about this possibility but I did have a stunning level
mere forty-eight hours after my accident, while the events were still
fresh, I wrote about my accident.
I was casted from a broken elbow, I painfully and methodically penned
my experience, one slow keystroke at a time, using a single finger.
Driven by some power within me, some need to chronicle from the start,
a journey I didn't even know I was about to embark upon, I did what
I've done for years. I put my thoughts on paper. Looking back with the
benefit of several years as a survivor, this was the first step in my
new march, my first attempt to sort through all that was unfolding in
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