How my entire life changed in just a few seconds

Many people know how I suffered my brain injury, but also many people probably do not. Therefore, this is the story about what happened and how my life afterwards was never the same.

It is February 2012 and I have been painting in my new house in Amsterdam. I am on my way to the house where I live temporarily. It happens less than 500 meters from the house. It only takes half a minute. There only has to be one person that you overlook and that's how it happens. I cycle over the roundabout and wonder if the car that is driving towards me sees me. She slows down so I think so. As I cycle through, I see from the corner of my eye that the car keeps driving. The moment I think "Poe, that was luck, just made it" the car hits my rear wheel. I glide over the asphalt on my back, see the car approach my face, shoot right past me and then I catch the full blow and movement in my body with the back of my head.

I look at the situation. I see my bike lying a few meters away, a pair of legs that look weird on the road surface and hardly seem to be mine. And in the meantime, cars are still passing by. I cannot comprehend the situation and panic completely. I start screaming and it feels like I will never be able stop. Fortunately, a white car blocks traffic and people come running towards me. I hear sirens, someone puts blankets over me, people are all watching, a tram passing by where people are with their nose pressed against the window to look how I am laying there. Someone secures my bicycle to a letter box and gives me my bag. The ambulance employee asks what day it is. I'm shocked because for a moment I have no idea. Then I realize that it is those two days that you don't have to work, one is called Saturday and the other ... With a few well-thought-out comments I save time and I get the word Sunday. In the hospital there appears to be a small bleeding between my meninges (subdural hematoma). I have to stay a night but otherwise everything would be fine they tell me.

Unfortunately this turned out not to be the case. The bruises on my body and scrapes on the back of my head disappeared fairly quickly, but I wasn't doing well cognitively. For about a year and a half I put everything that I had in to getting back to work, but then it was all over. Because I constantly went over my limits in that period my symptoms only got worse instead of less. Later I also heard that the first 2 years are the most important in your recovery. Exactly the time that I thought I could move on by ignoring the pain. In addition, since the accident, I increasingly had nightmares. At night or just during the day I saw the accident happen again (re-living). I was also extremely tense in traffic. After a little more than 1.5 years, I ended up at a rehabilitation center specifically for brain injury. Here my cognitive complaints turned out to be much worse than I (and the people/doctors around me) initially thought. My information processing has been greatly delayed, my concentration drops quickly, I cannot do multiple things at the same time, I am hypersensitive to noise, light and other stimuli. All this makes me tired very quickly. Because of those problems I get a lot of complaints like headaches, no overview, sometimes my memory is not working as it should, buzzing ears, unable to see sharply and ... I can keep going for a while unfortunately. Enough in any case to officially appoint me as someone with a traumatic brain injury. At the rehabilitation center, my nightmares and fears were soon recognized as post traumatic stress (PTSD). In addition to rehabilitation, I therefore received Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) treatments, which helped me get rid of those symptoms in a short time. Recalling the accident is now more neutral. It will always be an event that is painful and completely changed my life. I just don't get stomach pains, faster breathing or fear anymore. In addition to this therapy, I started with various group therapies that are primarily aimed at understanding and accepting the injury. I am soon told that after 2 years they never see improvement in terms of symptoms. The only improvement will be because I learn to deal with it better. At the same time I had to leave my employer and the government declared me unfit for work.

So that was a tough period. In the years that follow, I learn better and better what is and is not possible, but I still collapse on a regular basis. I knew that I was ambitious and a go-getter before the accident. That turned out to be unchanged after the accident. My 'Hey give it your all and keep on going!' mentality helps me but often gets in my way. And accepting that I constantly have to make considerations, taking into account my planning for today, but also those of tomorrow and next week remain a difficult thing. I am getting better and better at it, especially to be positive in life again and to enjoy everything that does succeed. This website is part of that!

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