Get Back On Your Bike and Keep Going
In 2016, Ed’s life was moving forward. A father of two young daughters, a veteran of the United States Marines, a full-time fitness trainer, a part-time model - life for Ed was busy and healthy. His mode of transportation was his bicycle. On November 8, he was getting ready to leave home to take care of his daughters and had misplaced his bicycle helmet, finally leaving without it. That day he was struck by a car, suffering a traumatic brain injury.
When Ed began his post-acute rehabilitation program at ReMed he made two things clear: he was determined to get his body working again and he was entering into a partnership with his treatment team to get there. Ultimately, his goal was to get back on his bicycle and ride again. The team worked with Ed to make this happen and, when he was ready, he began on a three-wheeler – first riding around the grounds of the program and quickly moving to an off-road bike trail with supervision. He pushed forward and was discharged to ReMed’s outpatient program in less than 90 days. A jogging program was introduced and as he pushed forward he was back on a two wheeled bike with his Occupational Therapist - always with a helmet. Julie, his outpatient Occupational Therapist, credits Ed with getting her back on a bicycle (and also with almost having her arrested for theft of a bicycle – after taking one out for a test run from Ed’s favorite bike store one day - different story for a different day).
If it sounds like getting back on the bicycle was an easy process – it wasn’t. Among other things, Ed had what was called a left neglect which would increase when something became cognitively demanding – this basically meant that he had limited awareness of what might be happening on the left side of his body and this would worsen if he felt overwhelmed or fatigued. Ed’s team worked with him to develop strategies to overcome these issues and now Ed rides his bike independently on off-road paved trails. He would love to ride on the road again, but acknowledges that the risks outweigh the benefits.
His training as a Marine was helpful in keeping his surroundings organized in a way that made sense to him. A smart phone became his means of communication, his schedule keeper and a journal that reminds him how far he has come. It’s a reminder of a support system that kept him going from early on. Ed displays a calm, controlled demeanor and acknowledges feelings he has of sadness and loss related to his traumatic brain injury. He is receptive to support and continues to make improvements. He is also open feedback and making adjustments and is motivated to stay busy and engaged in his life. If he had to offer advice to someone in the same position, he says he would tell them to keep pushing and stay motivated. He currently lives in his own apartment, located near a bike trail where he rides and jogs as often as possible. He has been doing some event modeling and would like to get back into being a personal trainer. He sees his daughters and family often. His strong support system, his drive to get better and his trust in the treatment team kept him moving forward. Things that he says are different now include a lost his sense of taste and smell (but he still experiences food cravings), has no fear when riding his bike (always, always helmeted), but says he does get scared riding in a car. He admits to being frustrated and sad sometimes, but he mostly looks at what’s ahead and continuing to become more independent. Ed is quick to credit the "amazing staff at ReMed" for his recovery and where he is at this point. And, this brought me to asking him where he thinks he should be in his life right now versus where he is in his life right now - he told me he was exactly where he was supposed to be.