BIP Brain Injured Person


 I discovered I felt my best when I was moving around. My balance and ability to move my right side sucked! I have no idea what possessed me to decide to ride my bike, but as usual, once I got the idea nothing would stand in my way, I would rather die trying than give in……

I grabbed my helmet and slowly made my way up the stairs from my basement suite. Once on the landing, I put the helmet on, I couldn’t figure out how to do it up, the straps wouldn’t reach. I took it off, looked at it and tried again. Same thing! FUCK…. I flung it off. About then my friend arrived. “I can’t get my helmet done up!!”  I dragged my leg over to the cement wall to pick up the helmet. I picked it up and put it on and said “see”. “It’s on backwards”, was stated in a choking back of laughter tone of voice. Get real what kind of freak puts a bike helmet on backward. Not me I’m not that stupid. I stomped off, nearly falling down the stairs as I went back to my place. Once I got to the door, I tried to rip the doorknob off, wasn’t successful so I slammed it for good measure.

I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I didn’t see anything wrong. I took the helmet off, I looked at it. I stared at the front sun visor and said that is the front. I put it back on, still couldn’t do it up. My frustration level was ready to burst into flames. I sat on the bathroom floor and bawled my eyes out. How can this be? I must have fallen asleep, as it was dark when I awoke. ( I now know that my losses of time were from time outs, my brain would just shut down) I looked at my helmet, looked around the room. What is going on I thought. Why am I in the bathroom with my bike helmet?

Eventually, I put tape on the front of my helmet with a big F on it, so I could get the stupid thing on and done up. Now I am ready to get on my bike. Here I am up on the cement landing above my suite (carport). I cannot get my leg over the bike, I keep falling down. I try and try. I lean up against the wall, nothing works. I cannot remember how many weeks it took before I actually managed to get my leg over the bike without falling down. I found my self-waking up all over the place during this period. So confusing.

Hallelujah! Not only was I astride the bike, I pushed off for my first journey. Holy shit, I couldn’t steer. I couldn’t remember how to stop. I was heading for the stairs. Terror filled ever cell in my body. Suddenly the bike lurched to a stop. “What the hell are you doing,?” the neighbour yelled. “I am trying to ride my bike,” I replied. I must have had a gazillion angels. One thing was for sure I wasn’t going to get training wheels!!!!

Next time, I take the bike up to the street, I am not going to do the stair thing again. Back on the bike, out of control again, crash into the curb. Get back on, muttering the whole time. Push off, wobble and vear towards a parked car, I actually turn the handlebars and ram into a hedge. I missed the car. Whoopee. I steered.!!!! I decided that if the bike was moving faster it would wobble less, so I walked to the top of a hill that led to a bridge across the river ( Old railway) Get on and push off. What a stupid idea! Down the hill I went across the bridge, everything was moving so fast I couldn’t think or steer. There was a sharp corner off the bridge. I didn’t turn, instead, I went off the road and slid down the bank to the river. The bank was covered with blackberry bushes. I was scratched and torn to bits. It was this virgin ride that ICBC captured on tape, omitting the crash part, of course. They did some fancy cut and paste as their version showed me going down the hill and crossing the bridge and going around the corner. I did go around the corner, but that was much later after I got myself up that steep bank, which was no easy feat considering the lack of mobility on my right side. I still find it hard to believe that they could watch me almost kill myself and use it to their advantage, and never come to help.

My bike riding prowess grew and soon I asked a friend to go with me. Bad idea, that lasted all of one ride. I went zooming down a hill and when they caught up I got an ear full. Needless to say they weren’t willing to watch me kill myself. I thought by this time that I was doing pretty well. WRONG!!!

I remember, going for a bike ride with another brain injured friend. We got about 10 km down the road and went to turn around to come home. The wind was really blowing and after a few minutes we decided that it was too hard peddling into the wind, so we turned around and went the other way. This procedure continued for most of the afternoon. It stopped because we ended up 40 km away and at the ocean. Do not let two brain injured people problem solve, is what I learned that day. It was well after dark before we got our sorry asses home.

Another time, we were feeling especially superior, king of the hill attitude. We were cool, and dam we were really fit and bike rider pros or so we thought. When his girlfriend decided to come for a spin with us. WE discussed the fact that she hasn’t ridden a bike since she was a kid, and that she is not a very fit person. The two of us decided, we would let her set the pace, so she would have fun. We both have expensive 21 speeds and she is on an old-fashioned banana bike.  Off we go….. within minutes we are having trouble keeping up. At this point I haven’t looked at my friend I am too busy pedaling. We come to a hill and she quits peddling and takes her feet off the peddles and sticks them out while screaming WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!! My head is down, I am giving her, she is down the hill and I am just halfway, I glance up and see the determined look on my friends face. We are side by side, I call to him. We look at each other and burst into laughter. So much for thinking we were top shit. I often think of this day and so glad I wasn’t in it alone. My ego would have been battered if I didn’t have someone else to share the commissary with. Another reminder that we were only legends in our own minds. Our recovery was still in its infancy.

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