Jacob 22/5/07 (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Hi Steve

My name is Jacob Kruger, and I had a major bike accident in November 2005 in which, as I was passing a guy in a car on a dual-lane freeway, and I suppose I was at that moment in his blind spot, he swerved into me, and I went bouncing down the road, but my wife, who was on the back, got hit by two other cars who were behind us, and died that day.

Anyway, our friends in the biking community along with our families, organised a huge funeral for her, where there were apparently around 80 bikes in a sort of procession following the coffin being towed by a trike on a trailer, but onfortunately, I've only been able to listen to video's of that occasion since at that stage I was in a coma in hospital.

Basically, I had broken three ribs, had collapsed lungs, and also broken my left ankle, but the main injury was basically a brain injury caused by my brain bouncing around inside my skull from the impact of the accident.

Anyway, I'll be honest, and the first day I actually knew where I was, and basically had everything 'click' for me, was Valentine's day in 2006 when I sort of 'woke up' in the hospital bed and realised my wife was gone forever (except I have a theme song in my head for her - wheels in the sky keep on turning), and that I couldn't see anything at all since my optic nerve has basically just been turned into a mass of scar tissue where it actually enters my brain.

I got out of hospital in March 2006, and basically started doing all sorts of what they call orientation and mobility training, which includes getting used to walking around with a white cane, some cooking etc., and the main thing for me was finding out about technology, and getting to the stage where I could get back to using a computer, sending e-mail, browsing the web etc. since I am a web developer, and I've basically lived on the internet since it became possible in South Africa roundabout 1996.

I started off living in my mother's house, and having her drive me around, and take me to various places to, for example, try get the bedsore I still had on my head to heal, which was eventually sorted by some physiotherapists doing a sort of radiation therapy.

I was also in the UK, London, for around a month in July/August when I came over to see Hratch Ogali from the Mind Clinic where he was doing a sort of meditation/acupuncture type of therapy on me to try to get the nerves to regenerate to a certain extent, and while I now see very vague grey shapes, they're not clear, and in any case, another guy I saw that side, a neuropthalmologist, says it's basically just my brain building an 'image' based on what it already knows, and has nothing to do with my eyes communicating with my brain since they tested me using all sorts of lighting stuff and say I have 0% vision.

Anyway, I am back in South Africa, back at work for around a month or so at this stage, and, of course, back in the biking scene since I belong to a bike club called the Hellrazors (sort of named after the Ozzy Osbourne song), and they looked after my house and dogs while I was 'out of town', and now support me in many ways, including this last thing I am gonna tell you about...

In the UK, there is a guy called Billy Baxter that was part of the army's motorcycle stunt team before he became blind, and he's now in the Guiness Book of Records for doing 180mph even though he's blind. His name was the first thing that I came across when I did a google search for 'blind motorcyclist', and he's inspiring. Basically I was determined to also get back on a bike, and I'll be honest, and I think that even now, I've been on the back maybe 10 times in my life.

Once a year, normally in November, my bike club organises their own track day at the Phakisa raceway in a smaller town called Welkom, and last year on (I think it was the 27th of November), I climbed on my most favourite bike that I still have in my garage at home, a Suzuki Bandit1200 streetfighter, put a radio headset around my neck, put on full leathers, and a good helmet, and rode up and down the main straight 4 times with my friend instructing me to veer left, right and when to stop. Although I have a dark visor on my helmet since I don't need to let the light in, I reckon the 50 or so people watching me, and cheering, and shouting, and taking photos, must have known that I was smiling so broadly inside my helmet that it almost hurt my face, but it was still good.

Anyway, if you'd like to see some photos of this event, and also see me hanging out at other biker functions, go to:
http://www.hellrazors.co.za

It's the website I did for my biker club a while ago, and once you get past the entry page, look on the left for the link to the gallery page, and look for something like Phakisa/Razor Rash, and I think the first two photos are of me getting ready, and riding.

Cheers and stay well

Jacob Kruger
Blind Biker


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Eric 8/1/07 (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Well done Steve ~ you're an amazing man
Beat wishes
Eric ~ Headway ~ Johannesburg ~ South Africa


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RJC 26/9/06 (Swndon, UK)

I read your article in the Independent today. My wife suffered a brain tumour, and as a result has lost her eyesight and her short term memory. She is learning to cope through the people at Headway as well. She has a website at www.doiknowyou.co.uk and is tryiong to write a book as well. Best of luck with your rehabilitation - sounds like you're doing well. You can contact me through our site if you wish.


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kkh-l 26/7/06 (Hertford, UK)

I,myself thought that my ride back from the Devils bridge area of Wales on the 1st Sept.2002 was going to be 'normal'! I was near Cheltenham when an 81year old 'blind' driver, who didt see me,doing 60 on a BMWR1100S(silver!!) and turned accross my path putting me in a 6 week coma! I'm really peeved that I cant remember what happened to know if I could've done anything different to change the outcome! I may not want to remember the scenario really, but!

Spike
(Headway-Cambridge)


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L 8/6/06 (lincolnshire, UK)

My son had a bad car accident he spent 2 months drifting in and out of conciousness ,reading your book helped me me realise we are not alone and things can get better,my son is now making a good recovery, it is slow but it is happening.

Thankyou for writing this book, it is an inspiration to all.


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GA 6/5/06 (GOSFIELD, UK)

Steve, glad you survived the crash and kept going afterwards. A short book but deeply moving. I will think of it every time I get on my bike, I reckon your book is saving bikers lives and helping many others to keep going after serious injuries.

Thanks and good luck.
Gordon


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Suds 18/3/06 (Texas, USA)

Steve... hang in there, good work on the book.

Ride Free ~Suds & Bttrfly


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IW 27/2/06 (Leeds, UK)

Steve, so good to see the web site and read about you. I was on the same trip as you when you had your accident, I had spoken with you that morning although didnt know you. We were all so shocked by what happened and especially when we were riding so steadily. I am so glad to hear you are recovered after all this time. Look forward to reading the book mate.

Ian


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AP 26/2/06 (Ware, UK)

I too had an accident on a CBR900 rrv, of similar vintage to yours. It was a very nice well behaved bike which had the performance etc if needed. However in June 2004 a car driver decided I should not be on the road at all and smashed into the bike throwing me into the crash barriers which severed my right arm. He then bravely drove off and went fishing. Sadly for him he is now in prison, and may have a different view of bikers in the future. I sadly am stuck with the injuries and a burning desire to ride again. I also had to retire earlier from the MPS than I wished.
I also have the delight of having to in effect take my test again!! So that I can again ride and drive as I used to!! With only one arm !!!


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PRS 2/2/06 (Beaconsfield, UK)

Looks like we've had a very similar incident mate - I've set this up to "chat" about these kinds of thing with others in a free forum: www.sammes.co.uk Pop in and say hello, would be great to hear from you.

Cheers for now, Pete


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Vet 8/1/06 (USA)

Hi Steve,
Awesome site and resources ..., Thanks for the visit ~ http://www.veterans-day.org


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jnd 1/12/05 (Horton Kirby, UK)

Hi Steve,
Thanks for visiting JNDRacing.co.uk and sigining our guest book.
I hope you are well now?
Your story and pictures show the two sides of motorcycling, beautiful bike and amazing roads and the darker side of falling off for whatever reason [my last road bike was a 94 fireblade so i understand what these bikes can do to you!]. You also show the fighting character of most motorcyclists ive met! Keep it safe!
Cheers Lyndon Simons JND team owner


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RHS 9/05 (Birmingham AL, USA)

I am taking care of my wife who had a near-fatal car accident (she was in passenger seat when car was t-boned by a truck on passenger side). It has been about a year and a half since her accident and we are still struggling with the after effects. I havent read your book yet but plan on buying it. I am actually working on a book for Jenna (my wife) myself. Her website is www.jennaishealed.org. Best of luck to you and good to know youve come out the other side. :)

-Robert S.


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PDG 21/4/05 (Ormskirk, England)

Steve, Carol and the whole family. I have read your book this morning with great interest. I can associate with most of the biking experiences you described before your accident. I have also read your guestbook and the follow up comments you have received from a great many people. I too think you are lucky to have made it, your family around you and nursing staff have been saint like‚ but now that you are no longer riding must be the final sting in the tail of it all. That said, you seem to be making a great recovery in your achievements as the months and years go by.
Now for what I consider to be some constructive criticism. I won‚t call you a fool as one other has already, or Mr Nobber as now seems to be the popular term, but my opinion regarding knee down style‚ riding on the public highway, whether it be in Scotland (and I know there are plenty of 140MPH plus roads up there) or on more local countryside roads is that there is no place for it! The track is one-way, is smooth and well kept. There are no invisible obstacles, potholes, mud and diesel slicks. Bends are practiced and known and there are run offs for when it goes wrong. The hazards are not non-existent but they are assessable and managed for high speed riding ˆ for knee down riding‚. The roads in Scotland are good, but adopting them for a personal racetrack‚ is irresponsible and can (and has in your case) lead to a dreadful accident.

Paul Gibson
Webmaster ˆ www.ride-out.com


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J.B 12/4/05 (England)

I read your moving and courageous story and I hope since you completed your book, things have continued to move forward for you. Also glad to see that your accident has not put you totally off bikes!

Best regards

Jon Booth


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J.M 5/4/05 (Hamilton. New Zealand)

Thank you for sharing your story. I am a motorbike rider of 15+ years and have had 2 serious accidents through the fault of others, nothing as life threatning as you, but I must admit, I wish this material was available to me when I was in recovery.

I have a very dear woman friend who just recently came out of a coma after a serious motobike accident and have sent your link to her husband who has a long road ahead of him as well as he will become her care giver. I hope he finds strength in your story, I sure did.

I'd like to include this story in the next newsletter I send to WIMA members (Womens International Motorcycle Association) here in New Zealand if it's ok with you.

Thanks again, safe journeys to you & Carol


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M.D 11/3/05 (Glenfield. Auckland)

Took me 5 years to get back on a bike after my TBI - and that was only on farm bikes.. took 13yrs before I got another road bike..


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L.C 17/2/05 (London, England)

Dear Steve

Thank you for sending us the link to your website.  It was most certainly an interesting and thought provoking read and I have included this in our database of links and information for future use.

Thank you for taking the time to send this to us and I am glad that you have recovered from such a dreadful accident.

Kind regards
Lezley Cunningham-Wood
Assistant Helpline Officer
Healthcare Commission
Finsbury Tower
103-105 Bunhill Row
London


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J R C 31/1/05 (Tayside, Scotland)

Dear Steve

Your story is very interesting to us. I have passed the link on to several of
our staff including our senior lecturer in nursing who carries out a
lot of research into longer term follow-up after Intensive Care.

I am pleased to hear of your recovery and hope that the experience has
not put you off visiting Scotland in the future.

Thanks again and best wishes

J R C,

Consultant and Clinical Leader, Intensive Care Medicine, Tayside.


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S.P 26/1/05 (Huddersfield, England)

Hi Steve,
I have placed a link to your web site on www.huddersfield1.co.uk/headinjury/links.htm <http://www.huddersfield1.co.uk/headinjury/links.htm>
I read your story with great interest and could see a number of similarities between your experiences and my son's. Peter Jr suffered a head injury when he was knocked down by a Volvo when he was 10. Initially Peter was in a "natural" coma and then the doctors prescribed a drug to keep him comatose while his brain tried to recover from the bruising it suffered. In all he was unconscious for 4 weeks and was kept in the LGI ICU for 2 weeks and then the PICU for a further two weeks (there wasn't a bed for him in the PICU initially). He had monitors, drips, and respiratory aids stuffed in nearly every orifice in his body, including a hole drilled into his skull so that the pressure on his brain could be monitored.
Needless to say we, as his parents, were at his bed side 24/7 and learned how to read all the monitors and how to operate some of the eqipment e.g. the suction pipe to take the gunk off his chest.
In all the time that he was in hospital and thereafter we were supported wonderfully by family and friends. You get to see the warmth of the human spirit when the chips are down.
Anyway after 10 years of recovery Peter is well balanced 20-year-old who, whilst still carrying a few disabilities, lives life to the full.
Keep the faith
Pete Sr

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J L, J.D. & J L. M.D. 26/1/05

Thank you so much for your sharing your experience with us and will help us
in our efforts in learning about consciousness.

NDERF/ADCRF/OBERF

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L.M 17/1/05 (Huntercombe, England)

Dear Steve,
Thank you for sending us your story. I know from my experience in working with people with a head injury, that you have had an uphill srtuggle to get where you are now. Well done.

Kind regards

L.. M
Director of Specialised Services
Four Seasons Health Care

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S.H 16/1/05 (Liverpool, UK)

Thank you for sharing your story with us Steve; definately food for thought (metaphorically speaking ofcourse). Ironic that you should have a sense of indestructability before the accident; we take too many things in life for granted, don't we. I think your stubborn determination is paying big dividends. I am also glad that you are now able to use your creative talents to make others think about what's important. Now go and give that Carol woman a BIG hug!

PS I couldn't help but laugh in some places which was a relief from the suffering you and your loved ones were obviously going through.

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R.W 6/1/05 (Victoria, Australia)

Steve,

I finally had a chance to have a look at your site! Your accomplishments are amazing and I will certainly circulate your link through my network.

Kind Regards,

R W
Information and Administration Officer
Brain Foundation Victoria

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J.K 6//1/05

Steve,

Thanks for sending your book; your web site seems up as well,
clearly you have regained many of your former talents,and, it seems a good portion of our life back.
Your book is interesting and inspiring, the photos are wonderful as well.

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E.M. (BBehSci) 5/1/05 (Queensland, Australia)

Dear Steve

Thank you for sharing such a detailed personal account of your courageous battle against ABI. Carol is a fantastic lady and your story highlights how important family members and other support networks are for people recovering from an acquired brain injury.

Your accomplishments list is also a very useful tool in explaining the sometimes lengthy road to recovery, which people with an ABI and their families may face.

I will refer members of the association to your website and wish you the very best for your ongoing recovery and every success in your future endeavours.

E. N, (BBehSci)
Information and Referral Officer
Brain Injury Association of Qld

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J.L MD 30/12/04 (Washington, United States)

Thanks for sharing! It is hard to sort out the effects of drugs,hypoxia, and possible NDE-like events in a prolonged stay in ICU.Your first described experience sounds more typical of NDE-type imagery.The second experience on the ship sounds much more like a hallucination.Encountering an evil presence is common in ICU psychosis. Ultimately,if any of these experiences involved you feeling very lucid during the experience, that would be more like a NDE (although narcotic inducedhallucinations can be very real). If the experience had a veryordered and structured flow of events, that would be more like NDE(dreams/hallucinations events tend to "skip around"). Finally, if you had a clear sense that some experience had a strong "sense" ofreality, or that it "resonated", that would certainly be something to consider as a suggestion there was some higher reality of some type with the experience.
Thanks again for sharing!

Best regards

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C.P 23/12/04 (Western Australia)

I wish you well after your head injury. I will put your website in our next “Headlines” newsletter. Have a Good New Year.
Administration Officer, Headwest (Brain Injury Association of WA Inc)

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J.C 22/12/04 (Aylesbury, England)

Thanks you for sending me the link to your story which I have read quickly.
I am sure that people will find it useful and interesting. From my point of view, it
is interesting to read about rehabilitation from a patient’s perspective and it is
good of you to share something so personal.

The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital

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J.M 13/12/04 (Morley, England)

Hi Steve,
Absolutely incredible. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. You are incredibly
lucky - not just to have survived and overcome your injuries in the way you have, but also
to have made your journey with Carol. She certainly seems a very special lady. Together
you really are an indestructible team.

Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your journey together to the full!

With warmest regards

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R.T 13/12/04 (Pudsey, England)

Your story is very informative, it's helped me out with my problems.
Thank you.

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S.J 13/12/04 (Bradford, England)

This has been great to read.
People dont realise that years after you've left hospital, the recovery process is still going on.

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J.D 1/12/04 (Wakefield, England)

Not clever doing 145mph, you deserve all you get for travelling at double the speed limit,
keep it for the race track, fool!

IT'S A FAIR COMMENT

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E.G 1/12/04 (Leeds, England)

What struck me from your account, is how long a life-changing experience can go on affecting
you. Everyone is sympathetic while you’re in hospital or covered in bandages, but it goes on
so long after that, it stops being something people can see and identify with. A bit like a bereavement – people come round with tea and sympathy, funerals happen, then everyone
expects you to get on with life, but things go on getting worse for a long time after it’s all
‘over’ in other people’s eyes.

I liked the way the beginning of the trip is so vividly recalled – details of the rides, Scooby
the dog etc. It increases the impact of the blank that follows.

I’m glad you’ve got into mountain biking – I’ve been going out with Stuart (not as often
as I’d like) over the past 2 years and love it.

Your marriage sounds wonderfully strong, and if you’ve survived an experience like that
together, it must bode well for the future. Best wishes to both of you, and I hope that
things continue to improve for you.

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K.K. 1/12/04 (Manchester, England)

I think two things Steve
* Carol is an exceptional woman
* You are very lucky

Thanks for sharing that.

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A.O. 22/6/2004 (Leeds, England)

Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your book. It was a moving,
witty and informative account of the accident and events thereafter and gave me a insight
into this terrible accident and your courageous recovery back to normality. Good luck with it!!

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S. R. 7/3/2004 (Ravenshead, England)

Steve,
I've just read your book from start to finish and I can honestly say it made
me cry.It was really,really brilliant.A mix of great humour(I loved the
"pumping" in front of the physio and "my legs were like cheese
sticks"!!!!)and the awful,harsh reality that you very nearly died.(I
actually started crying when I read about the details of the actual accident
and that you were clinically dead at one point.That really hit home for me)
If you want my opinion,here are my points:-
You wrote this in such a way that the reader was really into it and
interested.I liked the fact you did a background history leading up to the
accident including the details of how magical Scotland was for you and how
you felt indestructable at one point prior to the crash.When you outlined
how your body is under such extreme forces when you're riding a bike(prior
to the accident)it hit home how it's such a fine line of pushing your body-
it can be exhilarating or terrifyingly near death if you make one wrong
move.That came across really well reading between the lines.

It came across very well how you only remembered certain things before the
accident.I naively assumed you'd remember going into the bend and feeling
like you'd lost control whereas you describe memories of only hours
earlier,not immediately before.

I hope writing it helped you.

I'm really glad you're still with us.

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