Everything that goes up must come down.
We were at Lake Louise…
239 km from Jasper on the Glacier Road.
A park warden informed us that it would be impossible to sleep in a wilderness campground in the national park. We didn’t like it but the campsites were closed because it was too early in the season. No choice, especially as a recently awakened mother grizzly is prowling around and our food would be a perfect target!
We are in the transition from winter to spring. The bears are waking up from their sleep and are also in a new cycle. The wake-up call is brutal and they still haven’t had their first morning coffee! We must therefore be vigilant to avoid a potential encounter.
When travelling, every constraint can become an opportunity.
Our solution: rent a car to Edmonton. We can still enjoy the nature and the national park and we can do some hiking and rest our tired muscles.
So here I am, hiking in Jasper. After my head injury, hiking in the high mountains was impossible for me, as the altitude was unsettling. I felt strong and ready to attempt this 2200m mountain. The happiness of climbing a mountain was coming back to me! I am here, I am succeeding! I undertook the climb. My symptoms had disappeared! Step by step I climbed, step by step the happiness of success permeated my being!
Suddenly, I can’t go on, I’m shaking…
I feel the symptoms of 3 years ago coming back! I don’t want to experience this weakness again! I am afraid, I am still shaking, I have no balance… a step forward is endless… The summit is there and I want to reach it. I resist and continue even though I am afraid to stay in this state. There is a mixture of happiness and pride at having managed to get so high and despair at the return of the symptoms.
1800 metres. How come I can’t go any further, how come my body is resisting, how come my head has no control over anything? And this mountain, so threatening, doesn’t allow me to take a false step…
My travel partner is worried and has to help me to get down safely. I am now back down to 1000 metres; my loss of balance is fading and I am regaining my inner stability.
Fatigue set in and a few days’ break in Edmonton would be much appreciated. The abrupt transition from the mountains to the plains was necessary…
I open the door of this small hotel room… Tears are running down my sunburnt cheeks! The symptoms are back… Half of my head is numb and I am shaking! A rest here will do me a lot of good. I hope that the plain will bring me a salutary lull…
Would the spirit of the Bear, encountered in the heights, come to signify to me the need to pull myself together and set up more appropriate limits to assert my personal space and a new rhythm for my peregrinations?
I will have the Plains to answer…
Montreal, in January 2018.
I’m on my bike to join a friend for brunch at a nice little restaurant on Parc Avenue.
I am well, happy and in great shape.
It’s nice and warm, the cold of winter makes me vibrate!
I am riding fully aware that it is winter in the city and that it is freezing. So I’m very careful with my studded winter tyres, even though I’m on a well-defrosted bike path on Rachel Street W. I slowly turn north in the one-way direction of Avenue de l’Esplanade.
Suddenly a white SUV backs up at high speed, it doesn’t see me?
How come? Yet I’m wearing brightly coloured clothes and a fluorescent yellow helmet! I try to get off the street quickly… On either side of the track, there are mounds of ice and parked cars…
And then… nothing more…
I’m on the floor, alone with a man talking to me and apologizing…
I don’t hear anything… I get up, get on my broken bike and ride to the restaurant. My helmet is cracked, my shoulder and collarbone are recessed, I walk in and my friend looks at me helpless; I don’t understand but I think I must look a little shaken.
The adrenaline is going down and I don’t understand anything anymore. Her lips move but I can’t hear. My arm hurts and I can’t sit up….
So she takes me quickly to the hospital!
They tell me to rest, that I have a concussion… No more… Without instructions or follow-up.
A few days go by and nothing goes right.
I go back to the emergency room. They tell me to rest, that it will pass.
I move in with my mother and old grandmother…
I’m still not well after 3 weeks. I can’t walk without having to hold the walls; the light, the sounds, the noise, my mother talking to me, the food, etc….
Everything is unbearable!
Angry outbursts, and a headache that is hard to describe.
A return to the hospital by ambulance is necessary because the headache is getting stronger and stronger. I feel nauseous, I shake and repeat the same sentence over and over again. My relatives are worried.
Now they tell me to take antidepressants and tell me that it will pass… I refuse to take them and understand that I will have to cope with this concussion on my own or take my life!
When the accident happened, it’s a good thing I was wearing a helmet, because my head would have been much more injured; in fact, I could have lost my life…
I have nevertheless had a head injury that was serious enough to completely turn my life upside down over the last few years.
I can’t wait to wear a helmet!