Forty-eight-year-old Bryan Caraveo figured he’d be doing something healthy for himself and the environment when he decided to ride his bike on National Bike to Work Day on May 20, 2011. Little did he know that he’d wake up in the hospital a few days later with a traumatic brain injury and collapsed lung, along with cracked ribs, broken nose, clavicle and vertebrae – all the result of a collision with a truck driver who made a left turn into Bryan without seeing him.
Bryan underwent two surgeries and spent 18 days at Sharp Memorial Hospital before being transferred for rehabilitation to the San Diego Rehabilitation Institute (SDRI) at Alvarado Hospital. For the next 10 days, Bryan participated in occupational, physical and speech therapy as an inpatient before transitioning to outpatient therapy.
"I was amazed at the immediate progress Bryan made—there was obvious improvement by the end of his first day of rehab,” said Genny, Bryan’s wife. "I wanted to help him with everything. The therapists were compassionate, but determined that he learn to do things for himself. So, I had to learn ‘tough love’.”
What made the rehab process easier, Genny recalled, was that she was allowed to stay overnight with Bryan during his inpatient stay. "No matter what we needed or what time of the day or night, the rehab nurses were always there ready to help and make us feel welcome. They treated me not as just his wife, but as a human being with my own worries and concerns. For example, they encouraged me to take some ‘me time’ to take care of myself. They even helped us celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary on the unit!”
Bryan credits all the physicians, nurses and therapists who have helped him along the journey to recovery, as well as his faith in God and the love and support of his wife, friends, and family.
"The words ‘thank you’ seem inadequate,” he said, when trying to express how he feels about the outpouring of love and support he and his family have received. "Every day, I improve,” he said, holding onto his wife’s hand. "I see myself doing something today that I wasn’t able to do yesterday—which provides me with the incentive to keep improving.”
Bryan wears a helmet every time he rides and added that his helmet saved his life on that fateful day in May. "I’m a big advocate for helmet safety now!”
He was discharged from Alvarado Hospital's San Diego Rehabilitation Institute on June 16, 2011.