Despite how normal I am feeling right now, my head injury is actually a little more serious. In my crash I suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, resulting now in a subdural hematoma, which is basically a big bruise on the right frontal lobe of my brain. I spent last week going to Craig Hospital in Denver for cognitive and physical testing. The doctors I work with at Craig handle head trauma cases for Denver’s Avalanche NHL hockey team and the Broncos NFL football team, so they are very familiar with a head injury’s affect on elite athletes. They basically gave me the hardest tests they had in many departments, and planning on working backwards from there if I ran into any trouble. I was fine in every cognitive area except one, and that happens to correspond to the area of my brain that I had injured, however they were very confident it would heal and soon return to normal. Another area of concern was my balance, coordination and peripheral vision, obviously important to me descending in a race at 50 mph with 200 dudes 1 foot away. Fortunately I excelled in these tests as well. They started me out standing on one leg. Well, I mastered that pretty quick and soon I was standing on a balancing board while juggling and reciting every third word of the Pledge of Allegiance all at the same time. That was pretty much the end of the balance and coordination testing. The catch was my MRI scan of my brain didn’t look excellent. The subdural hematoma on my brain is still a good enough size to warrant a lot of extra caution for a while. It could be really bad if I were to hit my head again too soon because my body currently doesnt have the ability to absorb any extra blood from a new injury, or even anything that increases my blood pressure and therefore increases the bleeding in my brain. Extra bleeding here causes the brain to swell, and that is really not good. At the time of my accident when I was in the hospital, the bleeding in my brain brought my quite close to the red line in terms of the pressure on the brain. I was lucky that I quickly got dramatically better before the would have had to operate to relieve the pressure.So here is the bummer part. As of now, I’m pretty much out for the season. It is too much of a risk to hit my head again if I were to race and train normally in the next 2 or 3 months. So I’m hanging onto some hope that everything will heal perfect and quick and maybe I can race some in September and October, but only if I am at 100%. It all pretty much depends on if the hematoma is clearing up on the MRI’s that I will periodically take. My next one is in a week and a half, so I am hoping for some better news then.Now I am scheduling all sorts off doctor visits and rehab appointments. Im starting rehab for my broken clavicle/scapula at Boulder Sports Medicine Center tomorrow, but I think I wont be there long. I did some shoulder rehab at Craig Hospital last week. It took about an hour and a half total with the physical therapist and I went from around 50% range of motion to 100% range of motion in all areas but one. They were pretty astounded by that. I don’t think they ever saw somebody with so little pain and such great range of motion after s fracture like that. If it weren’t for my head, I’d be training away like normal already, only 3 weeks post crash! A big thanks to my doc at Athens for screwing the collarbone plate on well, he must have done a really good job. And if my brain heals as fast as my shoulder it will make me really happy! The other thing I am doing soon is some physiological testing. They will sit me on a bike hooked up to machines that will measure my blood pressure and everything else. Then we can tell what kind of exercise my body can handle without putting pressure on my brain. We will do this every week to monitor improvement. Right now I really cant do a whole lot, as I have to keep my heart rate below 120 and not hit my head on anything. So, that rules out everything I normally do except stretching and walking my dog. Hopefully this department will gradually improve and I will be able to train better an better every week. One thing I do know for sure is that when I get back to racing I will be hungrier and stronger and faster than I ever was before. Don’t be surprised! I have an amazing wife, a wonderful supportive circle of friends and family, and a cycling team that absolutely behind me for as long as it takes, so I have nothing but confidence in this situation. Ill just have to do some things different for a while.Thanks for checking in
The Final Verdict
The lessons learned, the obstacles overcome, the limits pushed, the goals attained…these things make up the spirit of sport. One must define success in sport based not on victories alone, but also ask the questions; did I push myself to the edge? Did I learn from my mistakes? How can I apply this to my life beyond sport? The Just Go Harder Foundation provides assistance to those pursuing the answer within themselves.
The Just Go Harder Foundation is a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organization that relies on fundraising and donations to offset the costs of sport and mentorship program fees.