People these days underestimate safety, especially when it comes to downhill longboarding. We all have watched those incredible videos where some rider goes down the hill sliding and maneuvering extremely close to the borders.
And of course the video looks more powerful when the rider is dressed in some colorful shirt and shorts, but we have a real life story from a rider who went on massive crash and had to experience a huge rehabilitation period in order to maintain fully functioning life. After the experience gained in a hard way he knows the importance of safety gear and he have a message to the other riders out there:
When longboarding goes wrong
“My first longboarding experience is one I’ll never forget despite not remembering it all myself. A few buddies of mine had just started to get into boarding and I was really interested in starting up as well.
So we went to where one of our friends lived on a hill with pavement that wasn’t too choppy and decided it seemed to be the perfect place to try the sport for the first time. I was about halfway up the hill and went from there with my friends following in a pick-up behind me. Nearing the bottom of the road where it started to flatten out I had too much speed built up, around 30 miles per hour, and was starting to lose control. It had crossed my mind to bail into the grass off to the side, but I decided to stick it out as I had hit the flat part.”
Start of the hard journey he never wanted
“That’s the point where my memory ends and my friends had to fill me in. At a main intersection of the road it was wash boarded from people skidding to a stop at the 4 way, and I had popped off the board landing on my back and head. My friends told me that they had stopped and gotten out to help me, only to find me starting to stir from the unconscious state I was in with blood pouring out of my left ear.
After that point they rushed me to the emergency room where my memory starts to return in bits-n-pieces.”
“However, on the way to the hospital I was apparently asking the same questions repeatedly but not remembering the answers ever…
Did I wreck? Is this my blood?
The emergency room staff even said that I couldn’t remember my own name or birthday. When my memory first starts to return is when I woke up a few times surrounded by strangers and vaguely remember trying to sit up only to feel warmth, blood from my ears, hit my shoulder and then being forced back down and to fade into blackness again.”
Start of the long rehabilitation
“Finally at one point, I woke up and just my parents and one doctor were in the room. I wanted to stand up and go to the bathroom, but no one would allow me too and I didn’t know why. My next memory after that is being loaded onto the helicopter as I was being flown to Benefis Hospital in Great Falls where the nearest neurosurgeon was located at the time. I faded out of consciousness soon after lift-off and then woke up in the ICU where I resided for several days before being relocated to the pediatric ward after my condition stabilized.
Over the week I was in the hospital I couldn’t keep down much of what I drank and even less of the food that I was given until the final day. I didn’t even move out of my bed until a couple days before my release, when I had to start walking and doing stairs to regain my motor skills.”
“The doctors knew I had sustained bruising on both the front and back of my brain from the impact as well as a couple of skull fractures from the multiply CAT scans and x-rays, but the rest of the effects I figured out on my own after being released.
My first night back I learned about the vertigo I experienced from simply tipping my head back or laying down on my left side.
Because of this I slept on my couch for a few weeks so that I could be on my right side and not risk rolling onto my back or to the left in case the dizziness woke me up. This went on for a couple of months until I forced myself to endure the spinning when luckily the room settled and I could sleep normally again.”
Lost the sense of smell
“It was around a week from my release that I found out that I didn’t have a sense of smell. I was riding home with my dad, as I wasn’t cleared for driving yet, and we noticed the horizon was covered with smoke from forest fires. We had the windows cracked and my father had noted that he could smell it burning, but when I sniffed the air there wasn’t any difference that I could detect.
From that point on I paid more attention and began to notice that I couldn’t smell anything, whether it was dinner cooking or a fire burning. After I learned about my lack of an olfactory sense, I also figured out how everything used to taste had changed as well. Now, almost three years later my sense of smell has finally started to return, albeit slowly and spottily, and I have gotten over my fear of longboarding.”
Lessons learned about safety gear
“I’ll never forget the lessons I learned; how a fall at high speeds can impact a life so drastically and it’s always worth it to wear a helmet. Humans are prone to error and even the most skilled will make a mistake eventually. I’m no exception to that, so these days I’ll never be seen bombing a hill without at least a helmet, and soon hope to have even more protective gear. I gained a greater appreciation of life after this monumental event and make an effort to live mine to the fullest while helping others along the way.”
A message that you should listen to:
“I have started to truly love longboarding as well, but never want to put my mother or myself through a tragedy like this again. When I picked out my longboard over the winter, I also made certain to order a helmet as well, and next on the list is some pads to protect my elbows and knees.
As much as I love the rush and adrenaline that comes with carving down a smoothly paved road, I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks that will hurt me physically or my family and friends emotionally. If I had simply put on a helmet that June over two years ago both my mother and I would have been spared an emotionally scarring journey and I would have had a very different journey to my life at this point.” says Jacob.
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