In May 2018, I was to race my bicycle in the South Carolina Masters 10-mile Time Trial. I expected to be competitive: I knew my times and knew they were fast. I figured that if I had a good day, I should land in the top five. If I vomited across the finish line, I could probably win. That’s what I called a great day, but I never found out.
On the night before, to stretch my legs and pump oxygen through me, I hopped on my bike for an easy 25 miler. Three miles from home, I was hit by a four thousand pound piece of steel doing 65 mph. Machines breathed for me for a week, and I woke up in a month, not knowing if I was married and not remembering that my parents died. Family and friends came to see me in the hospital, and I don’t remember one of them. Surgeons put me back together, but my accident left me with a bleeding brain, and no one would or could predict how this traumatic brain injury would reveal itself. After a week of testing in Atlanta, therapists and doctors made their assessment: he might walk in two or three years. Let’s talk about going back to work after he walks.
I walked in four weeks, ran in six, and returned to work in five months.
At home again, with a hundred questions, my wife and I wished for a book that would tell us what to expect and help guide us through the swamp we were in. Hopefully, the writer had been in our place and had the same experiences. We couldn’t find one, so I did what any writer does: I wrote it.
Can I Fix My Brain is the result of that effort.
In the book, I describe, in more detail, just what happened to me and how I came to be known by my therapists as The Miracle Man. My goal in writing this is to put my arm around your shoulders and, not to preach, but to encourage you to seek your own answers. You have your own experiences, and your own body, and your own family. Somewhere inside that milieu is the answer to questions like should I drive? or what kind of exercise is best for me?
You should know – and I will remind you often in the book – I’m not a medical doctor, but am a scientist and former medical researcher. But it makes little difference: my doctor told me the truth I grab hold of every day. “Dennis,” he said, “the brain is a black box. Look at you. The best people in the world said you might walk in three years and you walked a month. Why? Someone else falls down at Walmart and is wheelchair-bound for life. Again. Why?”
Can I Fix My Brain looks at the gamut of TBI issues and how they relate to the patient, the caregiver, and to their family. I promise to always tell the truth with love, mercy, and forgiveness. There are chapters on eating and nutrition, exercise, spirituality and meditation, organization, medicine, and even about having sex. Don’t worry: it’s a short chapter.
I end with three chapters, wrapping up my advice and encouragement with, The New Me, Final Thoughts, and Mottos To Live By and list resources for continued recovery.
Thanks for reading. Next Wednesday, I’ll post the chapter titled The Black Box.