Greetings B/I Peeps:
Here is my story in a Nut shell (no pun intended). Note = This is a Bit of a read but with TBI Info on What I have learned by myself!
~Beginning~ I had a “Traumatic Life Change” (TLC) on June 29th 2010. This all happened on my daily 30 plus miles bicycle commute to and from work. At approximately 5:15pm on a residential neighborhood street where I have been bicycle commuting for the past eight years. The only conscious witness (the actual 24 year old male auto car driver) reported to the Portland Police that “I Just fell off my bike” and he could not avoid hitting me, running over me, and dragging me under his car for THIRTY FEET! I believe that he was phone texting while driving and that why I believe it took him 30 feet to stop and to date there has been no charges against the driver! The Portland Police filed this as a ‘No - Fault’ accident AS THERE WAS ONLY ONE conscious witness! This means no Legal charges , fines or compinsation! In this series of events left me with a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (S-TBI) with a Defused Axonal Injury (DAI). With this type of combination of Head Trauma there is only a 10% survivor rate nationally. I was in a coma for thirty two days with a very low Glasgow score and my Doctors didn’t think I would even make It through the first night. Also to include a spine fractures in five locations, skull in three, right leg in four and a broken hip and had thirteen titanium screws set in to hold it all back together. While I was in the Hospital for three months, I was asked to sign Foreclosure papers on my home that I had owned for the past six years as I could not make payments for that period of time, or even begin to know how to while recovering from such a severe trauma! The Losses are currently greater than the Wins but one win, is to be able to write this wee post and share it! For me, as TBI survivor this an education about myself and about my direct supporters (Family & Friends). Now finally after Seven LONG YEARS, I have just now finally have come to terms with my new self and to also understand & realize that I am Severally Disabled. Wow, I said it! I also have to comprehend that I may NEVER know what really happened in the accident and accept that the truth ‘MIGHT’ have been told? I have to understand my new self in that, my processing speed is no where close to where it was prior but I still enjoy pushing myself. I don’t think that people (in general) really truly understand what TBI isd about. If I do tell people about TBI, they ‘Kind Of’ step back to try and understand. Most times I try to keep my TBI disability quite just because the general public doesn’t REALY understand anything about it. TBI is called “The Invisible Disability” because an individual with a TBI may not be viewed as someone with a disability in common life. I believe that it is should be rename it to “The Invisible SUPPORTED Disability”!! It is very hard to get Support be that in all matters in my new life! My friends and family kind of treat my ‘TLC’ like I sprained my leg and not damaged my personal processor (Brain) forever! You look GREAT!?! 2 years after my TLC, I started to return to work on a program called ‘Work Trial’ after going through a Neurological Examination & Psychologist exam to work again back at Nike Inc. I had been working there for the past seven plus years as a Sr. Tech Designer ln Sportswear and then I was reorganization as Sr. Tech Designer Men’s and Women’s Tennis for the past three years prior to TLC. While on the ‘Work Trial’ my Nike HR contact told me that now, I was not up to the level that they could hold my position for me and they would NOT create a position for me. I would have to apply for a position that felt right for me post my departure of Work Trial. I applied for several (12) position and even a few Entry Level positions but with out ever getting any response from the Hiring contact! Post my unchosen working situation, I then contacted a Disability Employment Org that helps people with Disability find work. This Disability Org contact told me that “Nike NEVER would reinstate a Former employee post a TBI” so save yourself time & frustration and stop applying”!
~ Nutrition~ With TBI there is no ‘One Pill’ for returning yourself back to prior your own brain health but there are alternative ways that can help. So I research on TBI Brain Health as I wanted to do as much as possible as soon as I could to ensure the best results. This will now be my ongoing brain self-development forever and accepting my Life Change and working for progress and it does just not happen overnight. I tried to attend as many as possible seminars and research studies on brain health for TBI to gather more information. I did not receive any kind of information post leaving the Hospital about how to regain my brain strength back, so I set out to do it myself. I feel like the Scarecrow in the novel by Lewis Carroll entitled ALICE IN WONDERLAND; The Scarecrow is wanting a Brain, or in my case I Wanted My Brain Back! I went to a local NW University study on Nutrition for TBI individuals and this is where I had met a TBI survivor that told my about Neurofeedback. I went for four months period of time to a Naturopathic Physician, certified in Neurofeedback. My Naturopathic Physician also advised me on Herbs and Vitamins to support good brain health along with gargoyle exercises for speech strength and cerebellum exercises for balance. Wow, I got so much more information from my Naturopathic doctor then from my standard health care provider (Ritalin)!! On my 13th visit for Neurofeedback, My Doctor advised me to consider about becoming Probiotic, a balance between your gut and brain, along with a vegetarian Ketogenic Diet with pure MCT oil; so I did and I believe that this has made some improvements! Note: I have been a vegetarian for the past two thirds of my life. All my Neurofeedback sessions were straight out of my pocket because my SSDI or Medicare does not cover it! I personally feel like Neurofeedback was like turning on a switch within my brain! Here is a web site on Neurofeedback for your information: https://www.site.ochslabs.com/about I would highly recommended this to any TBI survivor but do your own research first! I also tried to work on receiving HBOT treatments (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) into my budget, but I could not afford it. The FDA has not approved HBOT for TBI, but I have found plenty of information on how it supports TBI & PTSD individuals in other countries. I am now an active participant in my local TBI Peer Support Group meetings inwhich I am working as a volunteer Web Master and Peer Meeting facillitator note taker. I have independently approached the Boards of Directors and have scheduled speakers from Nutrition, Neurofeedback and Speech Therapy and the series from BIAA called 2017 Brain Health Online Summit http://thebrainhealthonlinesummit.com/ . I am just trying to share information that I believe has been a crucial part of my own recovery with other TBI Peers. In April of 2017 I had the opportunity to meet Snowboarder Kevin Pearce whom sufered TBI wile Training from the Olymics and the team http://www.loveyourbrain.com/about/ , I chit chat with Kevin about his Life Change and what he found to be most helpful in his Brain recovery process. And to find out we are almost doing the same things. A pleasure to meet you Mate, Our group then went into their Airstream trailer and Meditated with my meditation instructure by Mr. Had W. In my case; TBI success is really about acceptance, self-determination, and Networking-connecting!
~ My Daily ‘TLC’ Routine~ Being a TBI survivor individual has taught me to Push Myself and Push the “System” each and every day. I am a TBI survivor living independently without a TBI life coach or any direct supporters and living on SSDI (barely). I have independently cultivated my own daily ‘TLC’ self-prescribed routine for brain health. This consists of: Daily Meditation, Cerebellum exercises, Consuming fresh organic juice from home made from fruits & vegetable with protein mix, Incorporating vegetarian holistic nutrition to my diet, becoming Probiotic, thirty minutes daily online brain games, exercise by bike commuting to my part time job (11 miles) in my chosen profession along with weekly Velo track time (June-Aug.), being sociable by volunteering in the bicycle community, and listen to music when I retire for the evening.
~ Therapy ~ Being an open minded and an optimistic individual (occasionally stubborn). I had a whopping three months of speech therapy post leaving the hospital and wanted to receive more but I hit my SSDI maximum time allowance for speech therapy. This really SUCKS for a TBI person to make ANY KIND OF IMPROVEMENTS in such a short time span!!! I received an email from my TBI Peer Support Network contact (Dr. R.L) about speech therapy performed by Grad Students at School of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Pacific University. My speech pattern has always been a wee bit at a fast pace and I believe that this is partially from my upbringing with my Mum and Pops being from upstate New York. I now have to set a counting strategy for each word that I speak along wth a rythemic finger tap with each word inorder to keep my pace at a low rate. I have to consciously pace myself when I am pronouncing multi syllable words while incorporating breathing exercises. Prior I was a very gregarious person and now I have to be less talkative as strangers sometimes think that I am intoxicated because of my speech pattern. Hey - TBI Peers, I would advise for you to look into your local University for Grad Students for Speech Therapy and or any other kinds of Therapy you may need!
~Exercise~ I thought that I would use one the attributes that was part my TLC and found out from several University Medical research studies on Physical Exercise for increasing cognition and found out the top three in descending order are: Ballet, Martial Arts and Riding a Bicycle. In all of these types of physical exercises, you’re asking your brain to multitask in so levels simultaneously (balance, near & far visual perception, reaction time and judgment). In this video from Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret says that we can, and she offers research and practical advice on how we can help our brains better perform neurogenesis—improving mood, increasing memory formation and preventing the decline associated with aging along the way.
( https://www.ted.com/talks/sandrine_thuret_you_can_grow_new_brain_cells_here_s_how ) So, In the past six years I have completed fifteen bike century (100 miles) rides. I wanted to push myself even farther, so I took up Velodrome Bicycle Track racing. Here is a little information on Velodrome Track Bikes and riding on a Velo track. With a single speed bike, it could be set up with either a rear cog gear set as “freewheel” meaning that you can coast or a “fixed gear” meaning you cannot coast because if the rear wheel turns so does the peddles/chain-ring, AKA Direct Drive. The bike must go around the track in counter clockwise manner. Velodrome rules are: (1) Must be fixed gear. (2) Bikes cannot have any brakes. (3) Must have dropped Handlebars (pista). (4) Locked/Clipped shoes into the peddle. This all means that one is really directly connected to their bike and it’s very challenging both mentally and physically. To be totally honest, this did take me a wee bit longer amount of time to get use to riding a Fixed Gear bike and I believe that this is largely due to being a TBI/DAI survivor but also due to the fact that I‘ve been riding a multi-speed ‘freewheel’ bike for the past decades. The Oval Velo Track that I go to has 43 degree banked corners and on the straight are 8 degrees with one lap being 286 meters (939 feet). I went to Velodrome Development Track classes for two summers for a 4 months period of time renting their Velo track bike. But I wanted to make my own track bike but to have it set it up with a different gearing ratio as the rental bikes had a higher gear ratio, and I believe that this is due to that they are intended for beginners to spin easier. I also wanted more time riding a fixed gear bike to and from work (Spinning Meditation) to get myself better at riding Fixed Gear. Building my own 100% custom track bike from the frame up all while living on a fixed income (SSDI) was a financial education. This would be my second frame up bike built but in a very different way, as I had to download the specifications for track bikes to ensure that I didn’t waste any coin ($). I researched for the highest number of teeth on a fixed rear cog and then applied the gearing ratio range that I felt comfortable with to find the right chain-ring size ratio using an App. On the average it would take me one full lap to come to a full stop. To do this, I would have to slowly apply back pressure to each peddle stroke while reducing my cadence while still on the track. Note, that in my first season I did have a few spills but also learned what not to do! I really crafted this bike building and Velo Track training to show myself and my three boys this person with a disability can still be creative, innovative and learn something new. Here is my Track Bike link that I hand built from the frame up that took me just over a year to assemble. I wrote this post in a Bike Design G+ post and so it might be a little bike Techie in details as I was writing this to a certain audience. Challenge yourself and read it? https://plus.google.com/115893960526187521638/posts/D7uFLiLDQeG
Here is my (1ST) first bike build post TBI and also a little info on my ‘TLC’ event; http://cyclingperspective.com/art-therapy-my-self-propelled-dream-machine/
Cheers>Karl aka Kaj’omo > Peace and Heal Wise!
Greetings B/I Peeps: