Traumatic Brain Injury
In September 2009 I had an accident with my racing bike when I was doing a training ride together with my partner. The accident was caused by a hare which hit the road from the fields. The hare walked on in a panic because he felt enclosed between us and a running person on the other side of the road. He wanted to jump between the two of us to escape. The hare jumped to me with considerable force and by this I flew over the handlebars, ended up with my head on the ground and suffered brain damage although I was wearing a helmet.
I was in a coma for about five weeks. After two and a half months in the hospital I was transferred to a rehabilitation center and there I learned to take care of myself again, learned to walk and ride my bike.
Later on, when I was back home, I read an article about the accident on the website of a local newspaper. The article made clear that I was in a coma, so I had brain injury. Some reactions to the article were quite painful. People made jokes about it. Others wondered why the article did not indicate what happened to the hare. Such reactions show that many people have no idea what it means to have brain injury. It made me feel good that these reactions called outraged responses from other readers, including a reaction from a good friend of ours.
In October 2010 I started the reintegration at work. Now I am fully back to work and I am able to ride my bike. Lucky me! The consequences for me are not very bad. I have to use anticonvulsants. I have some problems with balance and with orientation. Learning something new takes me more time than it used to do. However, I am able to work a full day and I can do the things that I like.
Before this happened to me I did not know anything about the consequences of brain injury. I think it is important that the general public becomes more aware of what having brain injury can mean for the daily life of people affected by it. It is also important to note that the consequences of brain injury are different for everyone. So please stop generalising!
I am happy that I can contribute to increasing the awareness of brain injury and to stimulating the development of tools for people with brain injury. Increasing awareness I also try to get done by being an ambassador of the Raisin Hope Foundation Nederland.