The doctors in Asheville were straight forward with my mom, telling her there was a 90% chance I wouldn’t make it out of the coma.
On October 2nd, 2020 my friends and I decided to pack our bags and take a trip to Asheville, North Carolina to see one of our favorite bands, Mt. Joy. I woke up Saturday, October 3rd and went outside and after seeing my friend skateboarding down a hill I thought why not, and hopped on a skateboard too. It was after a few drinks, the board started to wobble and I fell, hitting the left side and the back of my head. Boom lights out! That’s the last thing I remember. I eventually got up and carried on with my day, drinking, listening to music, and having fun with my friends.
I was unaware that the fall triggered a brain haemorrhage in my left temporal lobe and my basilar and that I had also fractured my T6 and T7 vertebrae.
Now when we look back on the day, we know that I was a little off. I was having mood swings and couldn’t remember anything from the day. When we got back to our accommodation, I ended up alone. At around 2am, my friend found me outside. We assumed that I may have fallen again because blood was coming out of my ears, nose, and mouth. I wasn’t moving a muscle. They called the ambulance, I was rushed to the hospital and put in intensive care. I had bleeding in my frontal lobe, right temporal lobe, left temporal lobe and my basilar. I lied in a non-induced medical coma for 15 days. The doctors in Asheville were straight forward with my mom, telling her there was a 90% chance I wouldn’t make it out of the coma.
The lows: The challenges ahead in terms of recovery
When I came out of the coma, they told my mom it would take 6 months to a year before I could potentially speak or walk again. I was doing both within 2 months. I defied all odds. I then went to therapy at Kessler in Ocean, New Jersey. I was doing basic math, learning how to spell again and learning how to walk again. I was in a back brace, a wheelchair, and a diaper. The frontal lobe controls your emotions, and my frontal lobe had haemorrhaged. I was depressed as depressed could be. I would look in the mirror and think I was cursed for surviving. I would look at myself and say, “if the chances of you dying were 90%, why would the 10% win?”
The highs: Lessons learnt
Today, 18 months later, I am fully enrolled taking 15 credits at the College of Charleston. I am happier than happier could be. I am surrounded by people who love me, and I look at life through a different lens after nearly losing it. It’s sad to say but being so close to losing your life makes you appreciate it differently. From people, to nature, to work... you realise tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, and make sure you really appreciate and take advantage of every second you can. I learned to really smile when something good happens. And when something tough is happening, I take a second to sit back. Think about it and really try to learn from it. How can I do better at this? How can I take a negative and turn it into a positive? I’m telling you, there’s no such thing as coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. It’s either a lesson or a blessing.
The hard times make you stronger. If you’re going through hell, keep going. Why stop in hell?
My sources of support
When I look back, you really see who your true friends are. I am beyond grateful for my family. They went through it harder than I did, and they are beyond strong. My friends, I can’t believe how far they would go for me. I’ve been surrounded by amazing people and I am trying to show them love every day.
Recovery wise I am beyond lucky. I worked really hard and made progress no one thought possible. However, I do struggle with my working memory. To this day, I still do therapy and try to improve it. I’m not done healing.
The advice I would give to someone going through a brain injury: Don’t give up. If you give up there is one thing that’s guaranteed, and that is that you’re not going to get where you want to go. Put your head down and work harder than you did yesterday. Trust me, when your head hits the pillow, it will feel good knowing you’re giving it all you got.
The quote I live by
“If you live by your past mistakes, you erase your current wisdom”. The reason I love that quote is because looking back, I wouldn’t be half the man I am today if it wasn’t for my injury. It taught me how to work harder, love stronger, appreciate life like there is no tomorrow, and really just treat every second like it is your last.
Dylan will be running a half marathon in Charleston, South Carolina and fundraising for SameYou. You can support his fundraiser here.
Find out more about Dylan's book here