Thank you to my city and regional council colleagues, co-workers, city staff, community groups and many, many constituents for your outpouring of support, cards, flowers and well wishes following my car accident June 12. You kept me going and have sped my recovery along.
For those who don’t know, I was rear-ended by an SUV into another SUV as I was stopped on Brant Street due to congestion. The driver who hit me was charged with careless driving. Our van was a write-off.
At the time it seemed like a relatively minor accident, and I was more annoyed than anything. But the next day, at the urging of friends, I attended a walk-in clinic because I felt something wasn’t right. I learned I had sustained whiplash, and tissue damage in my back. Worse, I was diagnosed with concussion. The double impact had snapped my head forward and back with such force my brain hit my skull on both sides – a common injury for this type of motor vehicle accident.
The result: headache, sensitivity to light and sound, extreme fatigue, nausea. The feeling like your head is full of sawdust.
I took the week off work and mostly slept. I thought I’d be fine to return the next week. Big mistake. I got walloped by the symptoms and realized I needed to learn more about what was happening. I reached out to a concussion specialist. Thus began my education about concussion.
Among the things I learned: You don’t need to hit your head to suffer concussion; forceful shaking will do it. This type of injury won’t show up on a brain scan. There is no permanent damage in my case. And the only cure is rest, lots of it.
Rest isn’t something I’m good at. But I took the doctor’s advice after she told me I could either rest over the summer and be fully recovered by the fall, or maintain my usual pace and delay my recovery by six months to a year. So I took the summer off.
Thankfully council takes a summer recess from committee meetings, and constituent calls go down because of holidays. If it was going to happen, this was the best timing.
I want to thank my colleagues and constituents for your understanding and patience during my recovery and a special thanks to my assistant Georgie Gartside who carried extra weight during this period.
So what’s the long term prognosis? I’ve got the lyrics to a Chumbawamba song in my head: “I get knocked down
But I get up again!”
I’m 95% recovered, with a few remaining physiotherapy and concussion appointments. I expect to be fully recovered very soon. The goal is to be symptom free while maintaining my usual work pace. So far so good, but I am monitoring to make sure.
Aside from its healing factor, this forced rest provided lots of time for thought and reflection. I was reminded of what’s most important – our health and the people we love. I learned not to be a hero and power through the pain like I usually do, but take the symptoms seriously, get them checked, and get help so I can recover faster. That’s working.
When your health takes a hit you have to lean on those around you – it’s a good reminder of how dependent and interdependent we are, how caring for each other makes us human.
Every day I had a chance to be grateful and inspired by the kindness and generosity of Burlington residents and my constituents whose first thought was for my health.
I did a lot of reflecting on our fast paced world where we’re all in a hurry, behind schedule, overloaded and distracted – which contributes to motor vehicle accidents in the first place. We all need to slow down a little, enjoy the moment, spend more time doing nothing surrounded by the people we love, and get some rest because it’s good for us.
(And I acknowledge my own irony as I write this at 4:30am trying to meet my self imposed deadline). This will take some practise for me, but these are goals worth shooting for.
So there you have it. I’m back and here to serve. Thank you for supporting me during this journey.