Deb Airth’s Story
My name is Deb Airth and I was involved in a hit and run, bicycle crash on May 16, 2008 on Hwy 97 and Stevens Rd. It was “Drive Your Bike to Work” day. The crash happened to be on my daughters 18th birthday. All I really remember before the crash were the sounds of people in a white van road raging and then a flash of light. I later learned that I had been thrown 35 feet from the edge of the pavement, on which I had been riding, by a white van, and had been unconscious for 25 minutes before the ambulance arrived. Because I was an experienced rider, I had been wearing all the appropriate protective gear required for riders. I am so very grateful for this because what saved my life was my helmet. The helmet was completely cracked! So instead of celebrating my daughters 18th birthday, my family was in ICU at the hospital worried for my life.
Four years later my injuries are still with me because I acquired a Brain Injury. I now live with chronic pain due to a fractured vertebrae and shoulder and neck injury. But perhaps the most difficult injury that has stayed with me and is the Acquired Brain Injury for it is a daily reminder of how my life has changed. Learning to tie my shoes, load the dishwasher, do a load of laundry, answer a telephone and how to put a belt through a belt loop were all tasks that I needed to re-learn with years of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation. Sometimes even today I still need to be reminded of how to do them.
As you can imagine the hit and run accident was very emotionally difficult to deal with because I felt totally and absolutely unvalued as a human being and it was incredibly difficult to admit that I was “one of those” who had acquired a brain injury through no fault of my own. The support of my family and my close faith in God helped me and continue to help me through the most difficult of times. I have also found a wonderful support through the Acquired Brain Injury society to which I am incredibly grateful for!
Although the crash happened four years ago I feel compelled to tell my story because my hope is that in telling my story I will bring some awareness to the fact that even though newspapers stop telling the story, my story goes on for me and my family. I would like to urge drivers on the road to drive with intention and respect for the incredible responsibility they have when they are driving, not only for their own lives but for the lives of other.
Deb Airth, West Kelowna, BC