Helmets, not excuses, will save your brain

This is about skiing, but the only difference to being on a bike is that it’s on snow.  It’s written in first-person, by the skier.


I remember almost nothing about March 12. Just flashes from the ambulance and the emergency room, and some Gwen Stefani songs I apparently couldn’t wait to listen to that evening.

Brain injuries do funny things to you, I guess. Here’s what they tell me happened:

I was snowboarding that day, taking leisurely runs down Magic Mile at Timberline Lodge. By a friend’s reports, it was nothing unusual. Just riding at a moderate clip.

But then I caught a sudden edge and did a somersaulting faceplant, hitting the snow hard enough to make all the previous and forthcoming events of that day disappear.

Good thing I was wearing a helmet – a fact the emergency room doctor hardly needed to ask about as she listed the morbid scenarios that might have been otherwise.

And while I’m near a full recovery, I’ve struggled with all that a mild traumatic brain injury can muster since my crash. Chronic fatigue, trouble sleeping, grumpiness, poor balance and speech. For many months, I couldn’t work, drive, ride my bike, or even read. Nine months after my crash, I’m still seeing doctors and feeling like I’ve run a half marathon after a relatively mellow evening out with friends.

But perhaps my biggest struggle has been with the excuses I’ve heard from friends and strangers who refuse to wear a helmet. Having experienced a nasty brain injury even with a helmet, they all sound wholly foolish to me.

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