She was just going out for a short bike ride around her neighborhood. It didn’t seem necessary to carry an ID, or even wear a helmet. Ten minutes later she was found lying in the dirt unconscious near a bike path. The bystander who found her, called 911 and an ambulance arrived soon afterwards. Then a kind Emergency Medical Technician whisked her off to the emergency room with her mind constantly weaving in and out of consciousness. After numerous X-rays and cat scans she ended up in the neuro unit of the hospital for observation.
This is a true story. It happened to me back in 2008 in Fort Collins. My own tumble over the handle bars and into a nasty bike accident, led to fractured ribs, an injured wrist and thigh, and a traumatic brain injury.
This is my warning to you who think riding a bike is still as easy as climbing back on again.
Injuries among older riders have jumped dramatically in recent years. Between 1998 and 2013, bike injuries among all adults over the age of 18 increased 28 percent, while hospital admissions jumped 120 percent. Head traumas went from 10 percent to 16 percent of all injuries in the same period.
Older bicyclists fueled much of that increase in injuries, especially ones that required an emergency room visit. Injuries among those 45+ jumped 81 percent and hospital admissions increased 66 percent, from 39 percent to 65 percent of total injuries. While death rates for cyclists younger than 15 fell by 92 percent between 1975 and 2012, death rates for cyclists between the ages of 35 and 74 showed a large increase, according to CDC data.
While I do not want to discourage you from healthy exercise as you age, be careful out there! I feel the effects of my brain injury everyday, especially when I write or speak with others. My memory is definitely not the same and it also completely depends on what area of the brain you injure. I find I tire quickly in social situations, and the first sign that I am getting overwhelmed is when I cannot think of the proper word for something, a difficult feeling for one who has always been proud of her ability with words.
On the flip side, my brain injuries (yes I suffered a second concussion after we moved in here!) have taught me to slow down, meditate more, and enjoy each moment as it arrives.
Fallow: —adj, 1. (of land) left unseeded after being plowed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop. 2. (of an idea, state of mind, etc) undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful.
I got excited yesterday when I heard Meg Ryan, in her excellent interview on CBS Sunday Morning, mention the usefulness of doing nothing and allowing your mind to lie fallow for periods of time, with the purpose of generating more energy and fertility in your thought process.
I love this idea, and yet I find it to be an idea without strong acceptance in our hard-driving, demanding culture.
Because of my unfortunate recent experiences with TBI and concussion, I have had no choice but to take time to relax my brain so it can heal. But there is always a part of me who feels lazy and unproductive at these times.
“Spacing out” is the best way I can think of to describe those times when my mind is simply exhausted and cannot focus on anything more. The good news? Meditation comes so easily to me now. It’s like my mind naturally relaxes and can think of nothing for a while. And even better, some of my best ideas later come from these times of allowing my mind to lie fallow, much like some who say that humanities best ideas have emerged from periods of relaxed thought.
When we daydream, we free our thinking of logical limits to allow knowledge, experiences, and ideas to essentially float freely in our mind and mingle with each other in a way that our logical mind cannot handle. Sometimes this undisciplined mingling creates that flash, that ‘aha’ moment. Aristotle had his eureka moment in a bathtub and Newton had his in an apple orchard. Where are yours?
Some call this mindfulness, others think we are really sleeping while awake. Either way, I have no choice at this point and I love the overall effects!
Sleep is the BEST meditation. – Dalai Lama
I am filled with gratitude that I can now live like this forever. Please go learn more about our move from Fort Collins to here in my new memoir!