I’m writing to share with you an unfortunate event that happened to me last year that is forcing a new life path for me. Rather than just stating the outcome, which would probably generate more questions within each of you, I would like to share with you my story. I’m sitting here with my daughter, Amanda Dyer, as I recount the events that began on Saturday, October 20, 2018.
The last I remember I was heading out for a bike ride on a sunny afternoon, taking off down my steep driveway made of rough river rock on my 29” mountain bike, riding into town for a leisure day in Big Fork, MT. Less than a minute later Amanda finds me lying on my back unconscious, bleeding from the ear. I was airlifted from my remote house located on Echo Lake to the nearby hospital in Kalispell where emergency surgery was conducted to relieve pressure of my swollen brain. I was subsequently airlifted to the nearest Level 1 trauma center at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA, where I remained for 56 days. I awoke after 12 days of unconsciousness with fractured ribs, multiple facial fractures, a fractured clavicle, along with a long list of other serious, potentially life threatening issues, with severe traumatic brain injury being the true life-altering diagnosis.
Close ones now tell me that during the first 12 days of my unconsciousness, no one knew when or if I would awake, and given the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury, there was much unknown and much left to one’s imagination about how my recovery through different levels of consciousness would fall along the Rancho Los Amigos Scale.
From the moment I arrived at Harborview my body was fighting to recover to a place of just being able to breathe without assistance, during which I was given a tracheotomy because the length of stay was completely unknown, and from my understanding now, that meant the recovery period was going to be a very long one.
Day-by-day, week-by- week, I continued to improve. A few weeks after awaking, I was able to have the tracheotomy removed, enabling me to begin speaking. From there, I was told my feisty self began to shine through. The bed alarms were set and restraints deployed because I thought I could just get out of bed and leisurely walk to the bathroom on my own. And the concept of putting on a helmet to protect my head that had a large piece of skull missing was just beyond my comprehension at that point.
And I had to wear that helmet every time I wanted to get out of bed and walk somewhere, until finally, on Friday, January 11, 2019, the bone flap to my skull was put back in place.
While I don’t remember anything about my hospital stay except for the last couple of weeks, people have been telling me that my progress is one of extraordinary measures. On Monday, December 16, 2018, my daughter Amanda picked me up and took me back to MT, where I have lived with her since in her new home. At this point in my recovery, I am unable to work and I cannot live alone. I am now on the path of obtaining different forms of therapy with the goal of being able to live unassisted someday.
I am truly thankful and grateful for all of the people who visited me in the hospital and who have supported not only me but my children and close family during this hard time.
I truly see myself back to work by the middle of this year and getting back to where I left off. In the meantime, I must continue to pay my monthly bills to keep my home and other belongings, and I’m not sure how I’m going to do it. Asking for help has always been one of the hardest things for me, and at this time, I’m asking for help. I’ve set up a GoFundMe account so that if you would like to help me in any way possible, it would be greatly appreciated.