I was riding my bike to work on the morning of 13th January, 2016, the same route I had ridden every day for the past 5 years. On this morning however, I was told I had an accident just past the Spit Bridge. I have no recollection of the accident or the days leading to it. According to the police I lost control of my bike and was thrown over the handlebars with my head colliding with the road first, it is also known that a nearby motorbike fell off his bike to avoid colliding into me. I sustained injuries to my head, face and body and was immediately treated by a passing emergency doctor who stopped to care for me until the Paramedics arrived.
I was transferred to Royal North Shore Hospital and placed in an induced coma. A pod was inserted into my brain to monitor any brain swelling and I had surgery for a shattered cheekbone. I also had multiple grazes and a couple of hair line cracks in my spine. It sounds bad but it could have been so much worse.
I was in ICU for over a week and stayed in Royal North Shore Hospital for 3 weeks trying to wake up from a Traumatic Brain Injury. I suffered from a severe case of Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA), one of the first stages of recovery after a brain injury. I have next to no recollection of my time spent there and have been reliably informed I was a babbling mess and had a tendency for ‘flashing’.
I was then transferred to Royal Rehab Hospital at Ryde for continued treatment. It was there I remember rising from my sleep (PTA) and having real conversations about my condition (apparently, I also tried to escape and joined a choir group !).
During my stay I discovered the left side of my body had been more affected than my right. Things I had taken for granted in my life such as hopping or jumping off my left foot were now a real effort to perform if at all. My short term memory wasn’t great and I struggled to understand complicated information or when information was presented with distractions. But the main thing to me was I was alive, I could talk and walk and I was so happy and thankful.
Life in hospital is not great as you imagine. At first I couldn’t understand why I was there and wanted so much to be with my family and felt I should be released immediately. It was only when doing my therapies such as Physio, Speech, Occupational Therapy (OT) and Neuropsychology that I gradually realised I actually had an accident and there were subtle deficiencies that needed improvement.
The therapies were hard work but the teams of doctors and nurses were so committed to helping me it inspired me to keep going.
My saviour was really all the visitors, notes and gestures of support that I had received from my family, friends, the local cycling community, businesses and even people I hadn’t met before. The visits from close friends and family relieved the boredom, and those conversations were just so helpful to me in getting back to normal. In terms of gestures, a collection was taken on my behalf and used to fix my backyard for my family. There were generous donations from the cycling community, supplies and services donated by local businesses and volunteer workers (cyclists) who come over and fixed up my yard in a Backyard Blitz. For all of those gestures I am forever grateful and humbled by.
During this stressful time my amazing wife Marylene managed all the turbulence such an accident brings and just kept things going with the family. I have 2 young daughters; Emily (2yo) and Jennifer (newborn) and they were so well looked after. They were also a constant source of companionship and support and mean everything to me.
At the risk of sounding corny it was my stay at the Rehab Centre that it hit home how easy it is for accidents to occur. Some of the patients beside me in the clinic had been through some horrific incidents, suffered massive injuries and were in hospital many months longer than me. Being in care for 2 ½ months, having the ability to walk and understand all that’s around me, I felt I was so lucky in comparison and I now more fully appreciate both the risks and joys of life.
I realise how much I love riding and the camaraderie it brings. I also know how precious life is and how much my family and friends mean to me. So while things can always happen, it is extremely important to have insurance and not to take unnecessary risks. You certainly don’t want your family to pick up the pieces afterward.
David Adcock Pilu Racing Team/BiciSport