Permanent? A Tirade of thoughts

Permament damage?  Apparently that’s what could happen if I ride too much or (gasp!) race before my brain fully heals.  The doctor says to wait 3 months.  3 months?!

I should be thankful that I don’t have permament damage already.  Things could be worse, without doubt.  But it is excruciating to feel pretty normal (except for a messed-up shoulder), and still be off the bike.  My mom and my girlfriend say I’m not quite normal; that I’m not as quick as usual.  It’s actually reassuring to hear this.  I’m not being a lazy ass all the time for no reason; something’s actually wrong with me.  Even though I feel fine.

Should I be training?  Well, I have the green light to build back gradually, as long as I don’t run into any symptoms.  So when I start to warm up, and immediately feel really sleepy, is that a symptom?  Or have I just been lying around the house too much?  It’s enough to drive someone crazy.  The signs are so subtle, but the resulting damage — permanent neurological harm — is anything but subtle.  I catch myself wishing for a physical injury instead.  An injury  that would hurt when I shouldn’t ride on it.  Or maybe a splitting headache to tell me to stop.  But sleepy?  Anything would be more definitive!  What a foolish thought, though; things could be much worse than they are.  I shouldn’t take my day-to-day comfort for granted, even if at times it feels like a curse.

I know I shouldn’t rush things.  It would be stupid to do permanent damage just to get back to racing sooner, of course, but it is hard to obey such wishy-washy rules.  Is that sleepy feeling a real symptom?  How do I know if/when/how much to ride?  Go out and ride, and if I get any signs of slight sleepiness, pull the plug?  It’s enough to make me crazy.

In the meantime, I’ll seek more medical advice.  I hope I can find some definitive info, even if it means some definitive time off the bike.  I’m willing to do what’s best, but I don’t want to throw away the season if not for good reason based on sound and confident advice.  This, of course takes patience too!  And I hope my shoulder just gets better on it’s own?

Any sage words?  Give me a buzz.  Either way, thanks for reading.  -Rudy

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~ by awerbuch on June 1, 2010.

4 Responses to “Permanent? A Tirade of thoughts”

  1. Rudy –

    I’ve had five concussions; each one has taken at least a solid month to come back and feel somewhat normal from. Given the extent of what you went through, I’m not sure 3 months sounds unreasonable. The biggest concern – you’ve probably already heard this – is that you incur a second brain injury before the first one heals. That’s when seriously bad sh*t can happen.

    You’re fit and talented and you don’t want to jeopardize that. Give it more time. From an outsider’s perspective it hasn’t been very long at all; from where you sit, and I know all too well, it is bordering on eternal.

    Last year my doctor ordered me out of racing for the first few months of the season as a precautionary measure, having had a pair of concussions in the fall and some resulting fatigue. I went through the same range of emotions you are going through. Once I was cleared to race mid-season, I was missing so much shape and had easily the worst year ever. But I built on that experience – I got pissed and turned it into motivation – and came out of the gate this year like a monster on a mission to kick complete and total ass. Yes, last year sucked. But this year has been SO much better because of it. That can be how this works for you.

    A competent neurologist is your gateway back to a full range of activity – they will help you determine when coming back makes the most sense.

  2. Wow, thank you so much for the advice and kind words. I’ll do my best to follow them. It is nice to know that I’m not alone here.

  3. You’re definitely right Rudy. Things can be worse!

    I was involved in that crash at Killington which just happened to take down the whole Dartmouth team that was still in the main field (me, Holmes, Aaron Swenson, and Brian Guercio). Thankfully we only had minor road rash and were able to help the other guy out while waiting a full half hour for the ambulance to show up…..

    The joys of the cat 4 field.

  4. […] been really difficult to let go of racing.  That unmatched exhilaration of laying it all out on some mountain road for the sake of glory, […]

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