On August 6th, 2016 I had the worst accident to date. 18 months on the effects of that crash are still present and have become a part of every day life. I wrote about the accident itself here.
I still have no recollection of what happened, but somehow I came off the bike. Apparently I was talking about hitting a cow to the paramedics, but I think that is unlikely (they are quite big and quite slow!). I don’t think I will ever know what happened.
Physical injuries were quite minimal, a slightly bad shoulder lasted a few months, but otherwise cuts, bruising and all swelling had died down by the time my memories starts to rebuild itself from around 2 weeks after the crash. But while the physical injuries soon healed, the extent and the effects of the injury have lingered and is something that I am sure many others who have suffered head injuries can relate to.
I looked normal, felt physically fine, what was going on and will things ever return to “normal”?
The body is quite incredible in the way it can rebuild and even become stronger after injuries and what happened to me was no different. Somehow, even though I have a very minimal memory of organising the event itself, thanks to an enormous help from friends and family, we organised the British Marathon Championships within 4 weeks of the accident. Nia in particular was incredible, who initially had just a newborn baby to worry about and look after, but now had 2 people to look after and I’m told I was the more difficult! Just a few weeks later, I was in Switzerland racing the Swiss Epic MTB Stage race with Sophie Halhead, which is another week where I have pretty vague memory. I couldn’t tell you much about the race, except for having puncture issues on day 1 and then a really fun section on Stage 2. Otherwise, almost nothing. I could tell you more about the two previous Swiss Epic events and even go into fine detail, recounting each stage and the high and low points.
When I think of the effect of just one head injury, I can’t help but think of other contact sports and rugby in particular and wonder how the contact and often big head impacts must surely having a lasting effect on people.
18 months on and the biggest issues that I find are still present are remembering names and words. I might have known someone all my life, speak to them on a regular basis but can not remember their name. The same goes for finding words to fit into a sentence and I have found myself on several occasions being not able to finish a relatively simple sentence because I can not think of the word, or a way to phrase it. While I have never been the most outgoing of people, it has had a noticeable effect, although not something I was aware of myself at first. I will now look to avoid interaction with other people and especially busy areas. Going to a busy shopping centre used to be just boring, but now I will avoid it on purpose. Even the quietest of times, such as walking Willow if I see someone ahead, without even knowing who it is I will often turn to go a different way just to avoid meeting them.
The brain, the mind and the body are incredible in so many ways and so little is really understood. Head injuries and mental issues in particular seem to be a subject that we simply don’t talk about and yet the issues that are hidden are the ones we know least about and ones that we need to discuss more to learn more about.
So I’d like to apologise in advance if we meet and I don’t greet you by your name, I’m not trying to be rude.