A high speed DH launch ramp I built was altered to a medium speed kicker for flare by a 16 year old right after showing him papers saying to tell all riders of any changes on private sites (to get round insurance) and I hit it faster than I could pedal.
Landed on my front wheel, thought 'no problem' but then I hit loose leaves and the wheel slid. I saw the ground coming at me, actually said, 'I could die here' and closed my eyes and relaxed. Hit right side jaw, full facer has a few gouges there but didn't break. Apparently I rolled onto my back, didn't travel any. Sat up 2 seconds later and started swearing. Got up and rode off, but was wobbly. Been told the electricity probably stopped in my head those few seconds.
Suffered an mTBI, with internal right ear bone fragments loose most likely. This was about 10 years ago. I couldn't walk right for 6.5 years until the fragments were 'moved'. I was suffering headaches, hallucinations (from my memory, superimposed over hearing and vision) turned grey and sweaty with exertion. Jars to my head would stun and almost render me unconscious. I'm light sensitive now, so those stupid flashing front lights people use really are my bane on an evening commute in the dark. 1 in 7,000 people are epileptic, and far more light sensitive, it's a shame people don't think of this.
I had blackouts and then seizures for many years. Only figured the blackouts due to finally figuring out the almost constant physical pain in the left side of my head was me slamming my head into the unit next to me where I sat at home. The seizures were distressing, lowered IQ, unable to know my own name, complete physical lockups and probably stopping breathing during them too.
Short term memory gone to pot. Had to learn to put things into long term. Memories pre-accident are still there and I had to relearn a lot, to make new connections to access them all. Still have crap maths ability. Headway (brain injury charity) was around but not accessible for me (not in my city) and the NHS wasn't geared up for brain injuries (nurses yelled at me for my style of riding saying 'bikes aren't meant to do that' etc) They couldn't even send me to the brain specialist in the next building, red tape said if I wasn't going to die in 24hrs I had to ask my GP to send me to the specialist. Took me 4 months to remember to make an appointment. I was 5 months in. From 9 to 14 badly I suffered badly. I went on a hard XC ride and came back and had my first seizure. The damage was getting worse. At 18 months in I had my second fall off the top of a staircase seeing a corridor there and my employer (solicitors) said there was no way with this known condition that the public liability insurance would cover me. Off to the GP and got signed off.
The specialist then got upset with me, diagnosed me then filled in my DLA forms saying "has no day to day problems" even after I was blacking out, overflowing my bath, burning my pans on my stove. Took 1.5 years to get to an independent appeal and found the paperwork. Also my GP didn't state what he'd diagnose me with, then he retired, leaving me piss poor, and confused.
A whole load of variable symptoms, misdiagnosis by many doctors, awful experiences at the hands of neuro-psychologists and psychiatrists (apart from one shrink, she was solid) Put on 55lbs in weight, lost 30lbs two summers ago and working on the rest still. Differences in chemical balance meaning allergies surfaced, and particularly sensitivities to things.
Was hard watching my kids grow up, being forgetful, bad sleeping habits (a lot of 12-13hr sleeping) confusion over dates and facts. But I did get my education paid for and I graduate uni in June, (hopefully) and may be able to work in a half-decent job. There are limitations though. Memory still buggered, knocks to head are awful, fluctuating emotions.
I have always and still advocate wearing helmets obviously, but gotta say there were many, many, many times along the route to where I am now where I wish I had just died.
The best thing we can learn from this as 'sportsmen' is to observe your mates for symptoms after head impacts. If you notice changes, tell them to report to their GP for diagnosis before their world turns to crap. If you suffer a concussion then don't ride for 2 weeks, as a second 'could' kill you (biggest killer of young men in the US is head injuries, due to gunshots, vehicle accidents and american football and you'll find plenty of info on the web about concussions and mTBI's) Headway (the brain injury charity) is a reasonable source of literature, particularly the book aimed at family and friends. Usually stops them giving you grief when they see you healthy on the outside and say you are faking, trying to stay off work. And remember if you suffer one, don't blame. Blame is the biggest cause of psychological problems amongst mTBI sufferers.
I'm back riding, I can do most stuff. Things sure have changed in the last ten years, but the fun is still how I remember it.