Brain injury leads to cross-country biking tour

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; She has climbed the Andes, paddled the Mississippi River, rafted the Amazon and cycled through Europe and North Africa.

Now she is biking across America.

But for Megan Timothy, none of these come close to her biggest adventure in life &8212; relearning how to recognize letters, read words and understand sentences, all at the age of 60.

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Sunday evening Timothy peddled her way into Natchez as part of her cross-country bicycle trip to promote her book, &8220;Let Me Die Laughing.&8221; The book describes her struggle to overcome a serious brain injury she suffered in 2003.

&8220;My brain exploded,&8221; Timothy said while stopping in Natchez Monday.

That is the way Timothy explains it.

Doctors say that she suffered from an arteriovenous malformation in the brain. The artery that feeds blood to the head doesn&8217;t join the brain properly. Suddenly the artery failed causing the brain to bleed. Similar to an aneurysm, Timothy lost the ability to read, write and speak.

&8220;Suddenly you wake up and half your brain is missing,&8221; Timothy said. &8220;It&8217;s startling.&8221;

Unfortunately with no family (her mother died the year before), Timothy was admitted to a state hospital where she says she &8220;was thrown away.&8221;

And even though she could not pronounce any words other than &8220;chicken&8221; she was completely conscious of the way she was being treated at the facility.

After one examination a doctor told an official at the hospital, &8220;She&8217;s toast,&8221; Timothy recalled.

For Timothy that is one reasons why she is biking across America. She is telling doctors and other medical professionals the importance of tending to the emotional as well as the physical.

&8220;So much of medicine is technology,&8221; she said, &8220;I think we sometime forget the thing that is inside &8212; emotion, compassion and things like that.

&8220;Doctor&8217;s told me I would never write and read again. I did not accept this,&8221; Timothy said.

And that began her biggest adventure in life. From beginning to recognize the letters of the alphabet to recognizing words and sentences, Timothy set out to write her story.

&8220;And even though I couldn&8217;t write, my brain was working,&8221; she said. &8220;I wrote the book in my head.&8221;

After hours of exhaustive work with her brain, Timothy slowly began to learn to write and type her story in her computer.

Slowly words formed sentences and sentences formed paragraphs until she finished writing her story.

And now that she has found a publisher, Timothy is biking from bookstore to bookstore selling her books. In fact, she has an arrangement with Barnes & Nobles to hold book signings in the various cities she passes through.

Monday morning she was in Cover to Cover selling her story. It didn&8217;t take much of discussion to convince owner Charles Hall to order a few copies to sell.

&8220;It has been an enormous adventure,&8221; Timothy said. &8220;After all I have been through, I wouldn&8217;t give up these two years.&8221;

&8220;I have learned a lot about myself,&8221; she said.