Life after Brain Injury: FIRE & RAIN

From the words of Sarah Courter. “So, what happens for us when we look back on our lives and see the myriad of ways things could have gone? Is there regret? Doubt? Fear? Relief? Is there intense love for the person we’ve become? I hope the latter, for us all, I hope for it fiercely. Because that’s truly the only reaction that serves us.”

We’ve been following David’s story on his TBI Hope & Inspiration page, below is an excerpt we wanted to share. You can follow his journey here.

Letting go is hard.

Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But it seems to be getting to be about time that I let go of who I was. This is not a spur of the moment decision. 

James Taylor got it right… 

“Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. Seen lonely days that I thought would never end.”

This has been building for months now. Maybe longer. I’m well into year four of my still new TBI life

I’ve been not-so-secretly clinging to the belief that I might just come back. You know, wake up from this all like it was a long, surreal dream. I’d stretch out a bit, kiss my wife Sarah on the cheek and say, “what a dream I just had.”

But there is no waking up from a brain injury. 

So much of my life was defined by black or white. I was well over forty when I started to see the true beauty in grey. But brain injury is like pregnancy. You can’t be a little bit pregnant. You either are – or you are not. 

Just like a brain injury. 

Either you are a card-carrying member of the TBI club. Or you have an undamaged brain. No middle ground, kids.

There is a profound sense of loss. One beyond my ability to even attempt to put into words.

I died on November 11, 2010. 

But paradoxically, I was born on the same date.

For those without a brain injury, this sounds odd. 

But if you have a brain injury, you know EXACTLY what I mean. 

My mother-in-law gave me a copy of a book called, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”

In his book, author Jean-Dominique Bauby shares a haunting line. 

So haunting, in fact, that I quoted him in the opening chapter of my own book.

“I am fading away. Slowly but surely. Like the sailor who watches the home shore gradually disappear, I watch my past recede. My old life still burns within me, but more and more of it is reduced to the ashes of memory.”

Time passes. I find it harder and harder to recall who I was before my accident. Like trying desperately to remember the face and voice from a loved, but long departed relative, I try to recall who I was.

And I can’t.

It’s time to give up the ghost. To move on to this next chapter of my life.

It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time. Not many of us have the opportunity to live two lives in one. To rebuild a person from the inside out. 

But we, we who are affected by traumatic brain injury can do just that.

No words of wisdom, no thought provoking closing thought. Just sharing more of my journey with you. 

And my hope these days is that maybe, just maybe, you won’t feel so alone in this.

Peace to all living second lives.

~David


50 friends complete the IronMan for Rich

 South African Ironman Competitors Compete for Friends

As some of South Africa’s and the world’s greatest athletes battle it out in today’s Ironman South Africa in Port Elizabeth, there is one group who are competing to support an injured friend and in memory of another cyclist friend.

Back on your bikeA group of about 50 friends and athletes are competing today to support one injured friend and in memory of another. Grant from Six Million Steps can be seen on the far left. Photo: Leonie B-T

Over 50 friends and athletes have entered the competition to show support for their friend Richard Holland, who was injured in a cycle accident 18 months ago (see Back on Your Bike campaign), as well as to take part in memory of another friend, Roy Nasr, who was tragically killed while cycling just a few months ago.

The group are being supported by Grant Christie from Six Million Steps who arrived in Port Elizabeth this week. Grant is walking South Africa’s coastline solo and unsupported to raise awareness for ocean environmental issues.

Iron Man South AfricaToday’s Ironman location – Hobie Beach, next to Shark Rock Pier, on Nelson Mandela Bay (as seen on Friday evening). Photo: Leonie B-T

Ironman South Africa 2014 is hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, and this year celebrates its 10th anniversary. It’s the only Ironman on African soil.

You can follow any athletes you know on ironmanlive.com. There will also be a live feed of the finishes later today on ironmasouthafrica.com.

The weather in PE has been fantastic with beautiful ocean conditions for the swim. Most athletes are now on the bike course which has been a little more challenging this year, including bigger hills, resulting in longer course times than in previous years when it was flatter. It’s hoped that the predicted strong winds will hold off.

The pros are already in to the final marathon section. Thousands of people have lined Marine Drive and surrounding streets to cheer on all the competitors giving them a warm South African welcome, with a German athlete currently in lead position and last year’s defending champion Ronnie Schildknecht in fifth.

South African Kyle Buckingham, in his debut as a pro-athlete, is currently coming second! Kyle won the Amateur Hawaiian Ironman last year and broke the course record.

Former South African rugby players Joel Stransky and Francois Pienaar are also participating.

UPDATE: Congratulations German athlete Nils Frommhold – winner of this year’s South African Ironman! Buckingham has come second! CONGRATULATIONS – so much to celebrate – with tears as he fell across the finishing line – and he’s getting married next Saturday!

View more about Back on Your Bike here:
www.facebook.com/BackOnYourBike

Original story here

IronMan friends compete for Rich!

Super proud of Brett Smyth and the team from Dubai who completed SA Ironman in PE today. Brett was competing for Rich who would have definitely joined him on the race if he could have. Thanks TEAM BOYB. Your continued support is so appreciated.

Gulf Newspaper article on Rich

Two years on, triathlete’s condition unchanged

Richard Holland was hit by a car two years ago while riding his bike in Dubai

  • Image Credit: Courtesy: Holland family
  • Offering support: Richard Holland with a friend last December. Holland’s condition has improved slightly since the accident. He is now able to move his right fingers, wrist and hand.

Dubai: Richard Holland, the triathlete who was hit by a motorist in Dubai while on a training ride in 2012, is now in Cape Town, still unable to move or talk.

On October 11, 2012, Holland was training on his bicycle near Motor City for Thailand’s Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket race. He was riding with full safety gear when he was hit from behind by a car. He sustained severe traumatic brain and other injuries.

Holland was treated at Rashid Hospital and The City Hospital. He was transferred back to his native Cape Town in January 2013.

Judy Rothschild, Richard’s mother and his primary care-giver, told Gulf News that their family had to relocate from Australia where they were staying to Cape Town to be with their son.

“Richards’s life has done a 360 degree turn. From an able-bodied athlete with a great job and a good future, a beautiful girlfriend and lots of friends and social life, he is now unable to move or speak.” Judy said.

The driver who knocked Richard off his bike was found guilty and paid a fine, Judy said.

Richard lost his job, lost regular contact with his Dubai friends and work colleagues and his day consists of various therapies and being taken care of by caregivers and family, Judy said.

Improvement

Richard has made small amounts of improvement since the accident, Judy said. He is now able to move his right fingers, wrist and hand. “He has better head control and is able to swallow small amounts of soft food. He is communicating using a spelling board by confirming the required letter with a thumbs up, which greatly helps him to be more in control of his choices and desires.”

“He has lost all form of independence and normality. He suffers from terrible sadness and loneliness and fear of the future, it being so unknown.” Judy said.

She said her husband has had to find a new job at the age of 64, which was difficult, and her daughter also had to find a new job. “We have had to adjust to caring for a totally dependent adult on a 24-hour basis, which is extremely emotionally and physically challenging. We have left our 23-year-old son and two step daughters in Australia.”

Richard’s mother, father and sister are completely involved and supportive on a daily basis, Judy said. “His siblings in Australia are as emotionally supportive as they can be and have had a yoga challenge fund-raiser to help raise some much needed funds [so that we] continue to be able to provide Richard with the essential therapies required to help him with his rehabilitation.”

Prognosis

As to Richard’s path to recovery, Judy said the doctors will not give any prognosis as they say the future with a brain injury of this kind is unpredictable and unknown. “All they will say is that brain stem injury is usually very devastating and the recovery and progress, if any, is very very slow.”

Judy said they continue to believe and hope that some more improvement will take place and that Richard would be able to find some independence and opportunity to live a life with easier communication and movement. “A life that every young man in his 30s deserves.”

“We are continually overwhelmed and grateful to all the Back on your Bike and Richie’s supporters. They are always there to encourage and show support in whatever way.”

The Back on Your Bike (www.backonyourbike.com) campaign was launched in November by Holland’s family and friends as a link for donations. They have raised 1,639,857 South African rands (around Dh558,546.77) to date.

The ultimate target is $1.7 million (almost Dh6.2 million), a number estimated by the DANA Foundation, a US-based philanthropy, as the lifetime cost of caring for a patient in Holland’s condition.

Judy said the financial aid raised from many of the events the supporters organised has been “an invaluable financial help”. “Rich misses Dubai and his work and friends. He really misses the physical activity and social life that accompanies many of the sporting events that he was involved in,” she said.

Original article click here 

We need some HELP with contacts

Hello BOYB… we need your help with some GYM contacts!!!
So, we’ve had boxing fight nights and runners for Rich, we’ve had charity quiz nights and bake off’s. The fundraising efforts have been incredible and this got us to thinking, what is next?? Well, since Rich was training for the 70.3 when his accident happened, we’d like to re-create our own 70.3! To do this, we need your help! We’d like to arrange with PLANET FITNESS or VIRGIN ACTIVE to have an INDOOR 70.3 to raise FUNDS and awareness for Rich. Does anyone have any contacts that might be able to assist us get this going??

Ideally, we would have one in CPT and one in JHB on the same day sometime in the next few months. We would then have a variety of people participate to help us complete the total distance of 70.3 miles (113.0 km) covered in the race, consisting of a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride, and a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run… Please  email pippa@backonyourbike.com if you can help at all, or have any other ideas! THANKS!