My Story

How a bike ride changed my life.

On May 24, 2008, I went on a bike ride through a trail in Coralville, Iowa. I was wearing my helmet. My friend was right behind me as we headed down a steep hill. At the bottom of this hill there was a slippery patch of thick mud and I struggled to maintain control of my bicycle. I lost control and slammed my head on the pavement. I have no memory of this experience. I became unconscious and blood arose from my right ear and nose. I was transported by ambulance to the University of Iowa Hospital. My CT scan showed that I had a fracture and bleeding in the right area of my brain and bleeding on the left as well. My right clavicle was broken, my lung was collapsed, and my sixth cervical vertebra was fractured. I needed emergency brain surgery. After the first surgery, I suffered bleeding in several areas in the brain which required a second emergency surgery that day. I was in a coma for about eight days and after this time my vital signs worsened, I became more lethargic and cerebral spinal fluid started to drain frequently from my left ear. On June 8, 2008 I received an MRI that revealed an abscess of pus that required immediate surgery.

After my third surgery, I slowly began to improve and was transferred to St. Luke’s Hospital on June 16, 2008 for rehabilitation. I received physical, speech and occupational therapy as I needed to re-learn basic life skills. My fourth brain surgery was in August, 2008 where a titanium plate was inserted for my missing left skull. Due to the traumatic brain injury I now live with epilepsy which presents me with another challenging life experience.

Despite my disabilities from traumatic brain injury, I continue to learn how to re-establish and replace some of the aspects of my previous life. Considering the devastating nature of my injuries, several physicians say that I am a miracle! I am so grateful for the care I have received from brain injury specialists, survivors, family and friends. All of this support has brought me to the divine place that I am today! My dream is to share my story around the world so that others can benefit from my experience.

Despite tragedy, miracles never cease, as I am one example of triumph.

I walk strong and wish you all much guidance, peace, inspiration and hope as you strive on your journey to heal yourself or others suffering from brain injury.

Together we can rediscover life!

Many blessings your way,

Bridgid M. Ruden, ARNP