Happy New Year and live YOUR LIFE!
I had a “Traumatic Life Change” (TLC) on June 26th 2010. This all happened on my daily 40 plus miles bicycle commute to and from work. At approximately 5:10pm 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 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 texting while driving and to date there has been no charges against the driver! The Portland Police filed this as a ‘No - Fault’ accident! This series of events left me with a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with Diffused Axonal Injury (DAI). I was in a coma for thirty two days with a very low Glasgow score along with 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 just 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! For me as TBI survivor this an education about myself and about your supporters. After five years I have just now finally have come to accept and understand that I am Severally Disabled, Wow I said it! I have to understand my new self in that my processing speed is nowhere close to where it was prior but I still enjoy pushing myself. I don’t think that people really understand what TBI is all about. They kind of treat my accident like I sprained my leg and not damaged my personal processor (Brain) forever! You look GREAT!?! I started to return to work on a program called ‘Work Trial’ after going through a Neuro & Physiatrist exam to work again back at Nike. I had been working there for the past 8 years as a Sr. Tech Designer ln Sportswear and then as Sr. Tech Designer Men’s and Women’s Tennis. My Nike HR contact told me that I was not up to the level that they could hold my position for me and they would not create one for me. I would have apply to ones felt right for me. Post my unchosen working situation, I then contacted an Employment Org that helps people with Disability find work. I was told through this Org that Nike does not reinstate any employee post a TBI.
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 went to a local 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 three months to a Naturopathic Physician, BCIA 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 last (13th) visit for Neurofeedback, My Doctor advised me to consider about becoming Probiotic, a balance between your gut and brain, so I did! 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/what-is-lens . 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, 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 Support Peer Group meetings in which I am working as a volunteer Web Master and peer note taker. I have approached the Boards of Directors and have scheduled speakers from Nutrition, Neurofeedback and Speech Therapy. I am just trying to share information that I believe has been a crucial part of my own recovery with other TBI Peers.
Being a TBI survivors 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. 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 made from fruits & vegetable with protein mix, incorporating vegetarian holistic nutrition to my diet, becoming Probiotics, thirty minutes daily online brain games, exercise by bike commuting to my part time job (16 miles) in my chosen profession along with weekly Velo track time, being sociable, volunteering in the bicycle community, and listen to music when I lay down for the evening. I had 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. I received an email from a TBI network contact about speech therapy performed by Grad Students at School of Communication Disorders at Pacific University. My speech pattern has always been 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 and have to consciously pace myself when I am pronouncing Multi Syllable words while incorporating breathing exercises. I was a very gregarious person before TLC and now I have to be less talkative as strangers sometimes think that I am intoxicated because of my speech.
Being an open minded and an optimistic individual (occasionally stubborn), I thought that I would use one the elements that was part of my ‘TLC’ as a positive brain health routine, to help with brain support. I researched on what are the best type of physical exercise to increase cognition and found out that in descending order they are: Ballet, Martial Arts and Riding a Bicycle. In all of these types of exercises, you’re asking your brain to multitask in so levels simultaneously (balance, near & far perception, reaction time and judgment). In the past six years I have completed fifteen bike century (100 miles) rides. I wanted to push myself even more so I took up Velodrome Bicycle Track racing.
Here is a little information on Velodrome track bikes and riding on a Velo track. The bike must be fixed gear. 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. Velodrome rules are: (1) Must be fixed gear. (2) Bike cannot have any brakes. (3) Must have dropped Handlebars (pista). (4) Locked/Clipped shoes into your 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 riding 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 thirteen degrees with one lap being 286 meters. I went to Velodrome Development Track classes for two summers in a 4 months period of time renting their track bike. I wanted to make my own track bike but have it set it up with a different gearing ratio as the rental bikes had a higher gear ratio, due to that they are intended for beginners. I also wanted more time riding a fixed gear bike to and from work (Spinning Meditation) to get myself better at this. Building my own 100% custom track bike from the frame up all while living on a fixed income was an 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 ($). At the track, cyclist often would change the gearing ratio by changing the rear cog gear size and at times even the chain-ring for each event. Because I am on a fixed Income, I could not afford to buy different chain-rings and cogs so I searched 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. On the average it would take me one full lap to come to a full stop. To do this, I have to slowly apply back pressure to each peddle stroke while reducing my cadence.
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
Cheers>Karl aka Kajomo