How TBIs affect your life is TBD

I remember sitting in the waiting room of the small clinic that provided biofeedback and psychology services for those with traumatic brain injury. They’d worked with Olympic athletes.

I plucked one of the many pamphlets from the small table next to my chair. It read:

“After brain injury, 90% of marriages end in divorce.”

Well, that won’t be my case, I thought.

Besides, it had been nearly 18 years since my accident. Why was I sitting in a brain injury clinic 18 years post-injury? Things weren’t working. After an unexpected neck injury in the gym and doctors not sure how to help, it was suggested that old TBI’s (I had 2) could be causing issues of anxiety, inability to sleep and heightened pain.

There are a couple times in my life where I’ve lost time. One was my cycling accident.

I remember the sound of my head hitting the pavement: the dull echoing thud.

We’d been on the back road behind Dead Mans Flats. Not a person in sight but us two. I was sailing down the hill behind my cycling partner. I called out, “Wait up.” He turned to see where I was.

You know that when you turn your head while cycling, you tend to turn your front wheel with you. Just as I came up alongside him, our wheels touched. It was only an instant. But then slow motion followed. I watched my wheel wobble and thought I’d corrected it. Suddenly, it was sideways and then the bike flipped. Strapped in the pedals, I flipped with it.

I’ve never strapped my feet into pedals since.

Thud. It’s strange to hear your head hit pavement. May you never know that sound. I’ve also always worn my helmet since that day that I thought a quick ride to the neighbouring town didn’t call for one.

When I woke, I couldn’t believe how many people surrounded me. How could there be that many people on that back street of that tiny village that you couldn’t call more than a gas station and a row of small condos and one hotel? How long had it taken them to gather?

The first thing I felt was heat. A lot of heat. My head and neck/shoulder. I thought that meant blood. Was I bleeding out on the pavement?

The next thing I registered was a woman’s face. She was kneeling beside me, with a finger on my chest.

“I want you to focus on my finger. Move it up with your inhale. And watch it go down with your exhale.”

My mind strayed back to the heat and the lost blood (which wasn’t there, but if she hadn’t been there, I’d surely have panicked at the thought).

“Just watch my finger and breathe in.”
It took me a minute to find my breath, but soon I was in a trance of finger-watching. I don’t recall any other sounds but her voice.

And then the ambulance arrived.

How long was I out? I don’t know. I’m missing that time. And something tells me that once I get it back, I can relax just a little better.

I’ve had several instances in my life where my guides have arrived in full force. Several times that could’ve ended poorly for me. It turned out, the woman kneeling next to me was a nurse.

I am grateful to the universe for placing her in my path that day.

There was no real treatment for TBI then. The hospital treated the broken collarbone. Not much they could do about the fractured ribs. I was wrapped up, given some strong meds and sent home, where I puked up the events of the day. I started a new job days later, driving an hour each way into the city one-handed, switching between the wheel and the stick shift. I put on a suit every day and rose to the demands of a high-energy job.

Accident? What accident? I’m fine.

Back to the waiting room of the brain clinic. It was as if the neck injury had released all of the trauma of that old cycling injury. The trauma I never gave the time to express. Never allowed the time to rest.

High beta wave. That’s what the doc said. I was in a constant state of high beta wave. You know what that’s like?

It’s like my brain is always watching a movie (or 2 at the same time). Even when I sleep. And it’s exhausting.

Why am I writing this today?

Maybe because it’s mental health month. Maybe because the accident has been coming up lately in my mind and I’m ready to reclaim that lost time.

Mostly because, despite the busy brainwaves, I still trust my dreamer. And when I woke this morning, this is what needed to come out.

Thich Nhat Hanh once said that enough rest can restore freshness to a person. That even in old age, freshness can come with sufficient rest.

We don’t know deep rest in the West, or prolonged periods of it. But I believe my brain has been pleading for it for a long time.

Recovering lost time. Acknowledge. Allow. Reclaim. Release. Rest.

And, in my case, write.

If you want to read more about my journey, pick up one of my books below.

To your health! Whatever that looks like for you.

Much love,


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