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It has been over three months since I crashed in a race and hit my head so hard it knocked me out for about a minute.  I remember laying there face down in the road, confused where I was and thinking what is this guy doing talking to me and what language is he speaking.  He rolls me over and I understand now I was bike racing and they now are trying to get me out of the middle of the road so the cars can pass.  I have a lot of people speaking to me but to be honest it is all a foggy haze and I really don’t know at the time what was going on.

Bo, the DS, put into the ambulance and then they decide to put me in the ambulance car to take me to the hospital.  I look down and see my foot is sticking out of the side of my shoe, I think to myself that’s a little weird.  I take other innovatory on my body and nothing is too scraped up or for sure nothing broken.  I have a small amount of road rash on the top of my shoulder.  Still pretty dazed I am now feeling sick, really sick and I need to lay down.  I lay down in the back seat and ask if I can have a blanket because I am getting uncontrollable bouts of chills and shakes.  This isn’t good I think… I get to the hospital and onto a bed and they wheel me into an exam room. They start the exam when, Herman our soigneur walks into the room and tears immediately start streaming down my face.  Did this really happen?  He calms me down and need to leave to the finish but assures me things will be okay and Christophe is coming with my stuff.

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I have to pee and I ask the staff if I can go to the bathroom and they tell me no as they are strapping my head to a neck brace.  Really? Now?  How about that I have traveled here without anything!  I just need to go, BAD!  Nope, you have to pee in a bed pan.  What?  Really?  I think it’s a joke, but it’s not…I have never done this before…Okay and go! I hear some talking and in walks Christophe, wait, wait, wait, you have to go back out I’m peeing.  Oh how embracing. Good thing my head was too messed up to realized how embraced I actually was.  Christophe was great and acted like nothing happened.

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Once they were finished doing scan and X-rays they let me go back to the hotel where I thought to myself okay I’m fine.  Then I realized I was not fine as I met the girls at dinner.  Trying to keep focused on conversation, I’m sure they could see the vacancy in my eyes they suggested I go back to my room and Herman can bring me food.  This is where I started to sleep… I think I slept for two day and the third day was a bit better but not much.  That following Friday I was to leave to go back to America to get proper help with my head.  It was a long day but I made back to Durango Successful and thankfully the smoothest travel I have ever had coming from Europe.

This is wear this epic journey begins… For 6 weeks I dealt with vertigo which made me feel like I had the most wicked hangover of my life.  Day after Day I was dizzy, sick, headache, and just an overall feeling of not being well.  Week six I headed up to Colorado Springs to see some specialist.  Thankfully the team of Doctors at the Olympic Training Center took me in and help me.  I found relief both mentally and physically.  The vertigo went away and other symptoms started to subside.  All that is left now is this headaches!

I have had a headache for over three months.  Everyday I wake up I think to myself, is it gone?  As I slowly come back to life from a nights sleep, nope it’s still there.  In the mornings and evening it’s the worst but during the day it comes and goes but never completely gone.  The days that it is really bad I can feel like someone is stabbing me in the eye, sometimes it’s like vice grips on my temples, sometimes it’s in my teeth (so bad I want to pull them out) and sometimes its just a dull ache.

We don’t talk about concussions enough.  The problem is, I look fine on the outside but I am not fine.  Not even close to being fine.  I ride and try to stay active because it makes me mentally better.  The 8 weeks being absent from life I experience depression and an overall feeling of helplessness.  A small piece of me felt completely irrelevant and I was beginning to feel pretty hopeless of leading a “normal” life again.  Never mind trying to race again, I was just focused on being able to go to the store, or out to dinner.  As time passed I got better and better and started to be able to train again daily and that helped my mental stability.  The depression sneaks back in there as the headaches increase in severity or frequency and I start to spiral out.  I literally started to go crazy and questioning if I had these headaches before the crash.  I honestly don’t remember the time I didn’t have a headache.  What was that like?  For sure I didn’t have a headache before but I questions myself about that.

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Through all of this I have learned a lesson.  Well, at least two lessons, maybe three, let’s call it two and a half.  I remembered that I feeling of love for the bike and remember why I started in the first place.  Being without that freedom to ride for two months was really hard on me mentally.  I love the outdoors and I love the feeling of just being out there for hours and hours exploring.  I love riding with people and sharing that passion for the bike.  This was completely absent for two months and I realized that passion was in my just buried deep deep inside.  I started to hate the bike the past few years of racing and only did it for the end goal, the olympics.  Now I enjoy riding just for riding and love the feeling of being out there like a kid again.

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The second thing I learned was my mental stability was very fragile and I needed to understand how to make it healthy again.  As an athlete I alway knew it was important but you tent to put it aside and focus on your physical body first.  I did a lot of “mental” coaching with Blair Wiles the past couple of years preparing for the olympics so I understood the importance of it, but until now I have never really experience depression.  I really need to take time for myself.  This was a hug injury and a lot of times we just dismiss it and you will be fine and get over it and get back to training.  But.. It’s not that easy and the mental side of things really took a tole.  I’m in a better place then I was months ago, but this will also take time.  Feeling relevant and participating in life again is helpful.  You get really down on yourself and it’s hard to climb out of that hole at times.  Moving forward I need to be a little bit more tender with myself and treat myself better, give myself a brake sometimes from the pressure that is self imposed.

The “half” thing I learned was I am not a patient person.  I kind of understood this about myself but not fully until this crash.  I know I like to be doing thing all the time, even if I was “resting” I was working on my coaching or AAC (athlete advisory council) stuff or what ever I could get my hands on.  Being home is not that restful because I always find something to do.  I learned this years ago but I never really thought of it as not being patient.  With this concussion I need to be patient.  It’s a long healing process and even though I feel better then I did a month ago, I still am healing.  I get overwhelmed quickly and have a hard time concentrating and then my head starts to really hurt.  I still have a hard time in social situations when I have too much stimulation.  I am not patient with myself and this is a learning process and it is getting better that is why I am calling it my “half.”

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