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  1. #1
    Senior Member bernmart's Avatar
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    Post-crash crisis (long)

    I rode my first century on August 19. Felt surprisingly good physically the next day, so went for an easy club ride. Almost back to the start point I crashed. First time since starting serious cycling 1 1/2 years ago. I landed hard on my head. My helmet was split, but aside from minor road rash I felt no symptoms. No headache, no double vision, nothing.

    Last week I started having trouble walkiing normally, was exhausted all the time, couldn't type well. My wife worried that I'd had a stroke. I finally booked an appt. with my doctor, who examined me for ten minutes and sent me to the hospital for a CAT Scan, which revealed a subdural hematoma pressing on my brain. I had emergency brain surgery that night.

    It went well, and I was back home in only a few days. I'm waiting for a follow-up scan to show whether the brain has re-expanded to its normal size. Meanwhile I feel fine. But I'm concerned that I won't quite get back to where I was, and that I might be warned off cycling because of the risk of re-injury, or whatever.

    I've heard one story already of a motorcycle racer who had a similar post-crash injury, and bounced back completely. But he's thirty years younger than I am, so I wonder how this all looks to members of this forum.

    Any reality checks, uplifiting anecdotes, sensible advice, etc. welcome
    Last edited by bernmart; 10-20-06 at 12:14 AM.
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  2. #2
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    I have no advice, anicdotes, or reality checks. I just want you to know I'm pulling for you. I'm sure others will have more to share.
    Visit my blog! The Leadership Almanac
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  3. #3
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    DUUUUUUDDDEEEEE!

    crazy! glad to hear the outcome has been this good!
    and you're already out here, bangin away at the keyboard!
    amazin!
    all that cycling must have stood you in good stead for handling and starting a solid recovery.
    That in mind, it would seem at some point getting back on the 'horse' would be a good thing.

    but then what do I know?

    They may warn you off, but then it'll all depend on how stubborn and 'head-strong' you really are...
    you know, guys, never ask for directions...
    okay, I'll save the rest of my smartass comments for next week

    glad you're still bangin around here! do keep us posted on progress!

    Oh, do stay away from the front door on Halloween, you'll scare the little tikes ****less!

  4. #4
    sch
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    The most likely scenario is that there will be no long term deficit of any significance. The fact that it took a long time for the symptoms to develop suggests your brain was compressed rather than damaged and that the compression was largely taken up by the fluid filled ventricles and the space around the brain that develops as we age and the brain shrinks. Biking will be most limited by your own concerns rather than physician concerns most likely. Assuming you have no balance or coordination problems, then biking is not any more risky post op than it was before, after a suitable healing period. If you are on some sort of anticoagulant therapy that might change the situation. Brain reexpands when compressed with low risk of further damage just from the compression/reexpansion cycle if, as you say, you had no symptoms until the few days or so before the subdural was discovered. If those close to you report you are back to your usual self, and if your own feeling is that you are back to normal and the neurosurgeon finds no deficit, you can be assured that the deficits you noticed were just a sign that the brain had run out of its ability to compensate from the enlarging subdural and not that the brain was 'permanently' damaged.

  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Despite all the technical terms that the Doctors come up with- This sounds very similar to concussion. The old name for a hazard of active life. I've had concussion twice in my life and although it took a bit of time to recover- Normal life style was soon resumed.

    Only problem is that as we get older- things take longer to recover from. Unless a further problem is diagnosed- I should think a recovery is possible.Good luck on the recovery but sounds as though you may have a few weeks of checking the bike over for when you resume.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  6. #6
    Member brigadon's Avatar
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    Last year (2005) in April I had a fall (actually it was a punch from my daughters' ex, but that's another story) that at the time seemed like nothing major.

    2 months later I had the same symptoms you describe. My wife also thought I was suffering a stroke.

    I was also taken to the local E.D. and was operated on for a subdural hematoma.

    The operation was without complication and recovery was quick, I was up and walking immediately after the mandatory 24 hour post-op lying horizontal.

    Hospital staff expressed surprise at at my good physical condition for a 72 year old including heart readings and blood pressure....no need to explain to the members of this forum the reason for that.

    Following medical advice I didn't go on my bike for about 6 weeks...I got myself a trainer and used it daily during that time.

    I had a mandatory driving ban for 6 months.

    The only problems I've had were some hearing disturbances and sharp head pain when coughing. These cleared after a few months.

    I've been doing my usual cycling for a year now, and have no ill effects that I'm aware of.......except my wife fussing when I forget where I put my slippers...."are you sure you feel ok?"

    The medics tell me that there is a small but ongoing chance of a recurrence of the hematoma but are very positive that I should continue cycling without restriction. Which is exactly what I would have done in any case.

    There is one unexpected result from this misadventure.....the guy who floored me was prosecuted and ordered to pay me reparation which is sitting now in my bank account and just happens to be the right amount to get me a new bike.

  7. #7
    Member brigadon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sch
    The most likely scenario is that there will be no long term deficit of any significance........etc.
    This is an excellent summary from sch....he is obviously very familiar with this injury.

    I have read extensively about subdural hematomas since my operation and sch corroborates everything and more.

    You can take comfort from what he says and put the incident behind you.

  8. #8
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    I feel in my bones you will be back 100%.

  9. #9
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    Sounds a little more serious then a concussion, since that doesn't usually require surgery. I wouldn't even guess what your future prognosis is, I am glad you're doing better. Sounds like that helmet and your wife saved your life.

  10. #10
    Air
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    Destroyer of Wheels Air's Avatar
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    Good luck with the recovery - glad that [it seems that] you're OK!

  11. #11
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    Nothing to add here but wishes for a quick and full recovery. Judging from the informed opinions above that seems likely. Hey, you can type and write coherently so that's a good sign!

    Oh, and be sure to replace the helmet before you ride again.
    '04 Giant OCR2|'87 Schwinn World Sport F/G conversion (6,129)|'92 Trek 820 MTB|'85 Schwinn Super LeTour
    "People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles." - Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

  12. #12
    Cycling Anarchist Trsnrtr's Avatar
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    Holy bat-feces! Sorry to hear all this. Here's to hoping everything goes well.

    Dennis
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  13. #13
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    My best wishes for a 100% recovery also.
    Regarding your question what to do in the future.
    You cannot avoid all risk. Yes, you can minimize risk. Walking for exercise is safer than biking for instance.
    Inactivity is ultimately deathly. You will suffer diminished muscle tone which will cause joint wear. Inactivity is also the cause for weight gain.
    I cannot handle stress without lots of exercise. This is what drives me to do 90 minutes/day of strenuous exercise. Now that means that I have to do something which I can and want to do. For me that is biking.
    There is a risk. I am very aware and afraid of it. I am more afraid of the results of inactivity.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bernmart's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for all your responses. I'm encouraged. I'll keep you informed as things progress.

    Bernie
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  15. #15
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    Bernie, I'll add my best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. What role do you feel your helmet played in all this? I hesitate to ask, since it always starts a multi-page thread of controversey, but I'm interested.
    Truth is stranger than reality.
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  16. #16
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    Ride on warrior! Ride on!!!
    Carpe who?

  17. #17
    Senior Member bernmart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo Slim
    Bernie, I'll add my best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. What role do you feel your helmet played in all this? I hesitate to ask, since it always starts a multi-page thread of controversey, but I'm interested.
    It's an obvious question. I just hope this very personal thread doesn't get hijacked by anti-helmet zealots. Given how badly the helmet was trashed by the impact, it must certainly have absorbed a lot of the blow. I'm hardly in a position to give a professional opinion, but it's hard to imagine any injury less than a severe concussion, and maybe a skull fracture, if I'd fallen the same way without a good helmet (Bell Ghisallo) on my head. I immediately replaced it with the same model, thanks to Bell's crash replacement program.

    Mojo, thanks for the good wishes.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Red Baron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampy™
    Ride on warrior! Ride on!!!
    My sentiments exactly!

    Best of recovery - don't let Anything get ya down!!

    Keep us posted.
    **Fate is a fickle thing, and in the end the true measure of a person is not fate itself, but how they master it**

  19. #19
    Wheezing Geezer Bud Bent's Avatar
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    Best wishes, bernmart. It sounds like your prospects are good, and I'm rooting for a full recovery.
    Bud
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  20. #20
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I've suffered four concussions and one fractured skull, and the agreed to seel the motorcycles until after all the kids have completed college. Today, I ride bicycles and participate in numerous activities that are demanding and have some risk involved. There is often full recovery after head injuries, but you may have to take it slow... I know I did. I'm rooting for for ya'.
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  21. #21
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    Glad you are doing well, bernmart.

    On October 8, I had a crash on the second day of an MS 150. Went over handlebars, my own stupid mistake, my head and left arm and knee took the impact, came thru with only road rash and a dented helmet. I was MUCH luckier than you, I probably should have broken my collarbone. I'm also convinced that my helmet saved me from MUCH worse injury. I'm almost completely healed now. Got on the bike after the crash and rode another 30 miles in to the finish. Only lingering pain is it hurts a little in my diaphragm when I sneeze! (?)

    Take it slow, you'll be back on the bike in no time. Good luck .

  22. #22
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    My accident was not similar to yours but I think that in any serious accident there is both the physical and mental issues to overcome. I was out physically with two broken arms for six weeks and then had 12 weeks of rehab. I tried to keep my conditioning by walking 3-5 miles a day and while my arms will never be 100% free of pain I was able to quickly exceed my previous physical conditioning. Mentally was a bigger challenge. Originally I would only ride on MUPs not on the street, I would not ride over 15mph and I was constantly nervous about another accident. I kept at it though and after a year I was back to riding on the street and now I probably take more risks in my riding than I did before my accident. My attitude is that accidents can happen anywhere at any time you cannot let fear govern your life.

    So my opnion is that if you want to get back to the same level you will, just have patience with yourself both physically and mentally and don't get disapointed or quit when things go slower than you think they should.
    The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard and the shallow end is much too large

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  23. #23
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    Having crashed recently, suffering a concussion and having had a similar brain injury (at birth) the best advice I can offer is to take it at your own pace.

    More importanly, accept my wishes for a continued good outcome and full recovery.

    Best,
    Jeff, still fat, still biking

  24. #24
    just over the next hill cruzMOKS's Avatar
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    bernmart,

    You’ll get better, and you will be better because of it. I’m rooting for you. Thanks for
    sharing.
    Enjoy the ride.
    Bianchi Volpe 2006; Fuji Tahoe 1990

  25. #25
    Do I use too many commas?
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    You will be ok. We are all grateful for your quick recovery.

    I am lucky. Back in '93 I had a motorcycle crash which broke and dislocated my right wrist. It took a screw and two pins to repair. My helmet was badly damaged. I am convinced of the value of a helmet and will not ride without one. I would have suffered a serious head injury otherwise. Even if it was only to prevent the loss of blood it is worth it to wear.

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