Hanging up my Helmet

Wife, mom, grandmother, motorcyclist, and blogger.

Hanging up my helmet

Hanging Up My Helmet

Hey there friends! Hope all is well with you. My life has been like a roller coaster ride. Last week due to severe head pain I ended up back in the ER and had another MRA. Thankfully, no new issues were found. The doctors put me on some heavy duty IV meds and eventually sent me home with the encouragement to get to my neurologist appointment the following week.

This week I had my follow-up appointment with the vascular neurology specialist. When I found his picture online my first thought was, “I’m going to see Doogie Howser!” I was hoping it was an old photo but the truth is I’m getting to the age when everyone looks young!

What I found out is that the vertebral artery dissection is about 1 1/2 inches long and “should” eventually heal (think six months or so), but with a guarded future. Again, these doctors are surprised I haven’t had a stroke or anything else because of this dissection.

They are also dumbfounded as to the cause. There is nothing physically (no trauma) or family medical history that can point to a reason for this happening to me.

Doctors’ Recommendation

Hanging up my helmet
Suiting up for the ride home

I’ll save you from all the details but the bottom line is my motorcycling days are over. Both doctors I saw that day answered with a resounding, “Absolutely not!” when asked about getting back on a motorcycle.

They went on to paint a very clear picture of the risk I face if I decide to ride again … even ATGATT. So with tears in my eyes I’m hanging up my helmet and selling my bike in the Spring.

Not sure what the next adventure will be, but it will be sans helmet and something safe by the sounds of my neurologist!

It has been a fun ride. Thank you to all for sharing and commenting on my blog. It has been a pleasure meeting so many other motorcyclists. Be well and ride safe!

P.S. This story does have a happy ending! Check out Back to Motorcycling After All These Years. Seems like there are seasons in life that bring in and out people, events, and more. I am very grateful to be riding again – and wearing a helmet!

Ladies, I’d love to share your motorcycling story! Your journey starting, maybe an epic trip, or what it is like to commute daily. Your experience with instruct, inspire, and encourage women around the world. Fill out the contact form and let’s connect!

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32 Responses

  1. Pam:

    I think this is the day that all of us fear. The day we hang up our boots. Prolonging our time, of course, is the best course of action. I have been thinking of this day too and that’s why I am trying to compress my riding for my time is coming sooner than later.

    be thankful that this was caught in time. I also can’t imagine the stress you are having with your other family health issues, perhaps it was this stress that triggered your problem

    Blogging is more than just riding. There are other things in life to focus on and I hope you continue to keep us updated on whatever you write about.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  2. I want you to know how much I enjoyed the collage of women riders that you spotlighted and supported through your blog…I was one of them. As a woman rider, I might see others ride by but I don’t often get a chance to interact with them. You provided a wonderful place to see what other wommen are doing and how they are channelling their life through motorcycles. I am truly sorry to hear of your news but I know, based upon your motorcycle blog history, that you are a catalyst who will find another passion and link your new friends together in a meaningful way. I wish you the best in your life.


  3. So sad to hear that you need to make that kind of choice. But at least it was caught in time and should heal. What is the risk they’ve identified from riding? Risk from an accident or possibility of passing out or something?

    1. Richard – the first risk is a stroke so I’m on the anticoagulant. This increases the risk of internal bleeding if in an accident – any accident, but higher risk exposed on a motorcycle. I’m hoping they will eventually take me off of these in six or so months. But, the greater risk is the dissection and where is it located. I’m not even suppose to turn my head, but use my whole torso; I’m not to look up or down too far, lifting restrictions (10 lbs max) … and the list goes one. One worry is hyper-extension when wearing a helmet and turning my head. It might damage or further injure the artery, also since there is no real identified “cause” the conservative route at this point is to minimize all risk. I feel like I’ve been grounded from life. Poor hubby has to do just about every thing right now. We’ll see what the next six months bring!

  4. Whew… I’m glad the news wasn’t worse. I understand your choice to pause your riding. But, if you improve and feel like it in the future, you may want to press “play” on the activity. Either way, good luck!

  5. Riding can become an aspect of life. But there’s more to life. I am glad that this thing in your head was caught in time, and hope you’ll be better soon. I once had a thing in my life happening that caused me hanging up the helmet for 11 years. I got back into the saddle eventually but life was good as it was, even without motorcycling. Best of luck to you and your family.

  6. Oh Pam. As sad as it is, your health comes first. The last thing you want to do is have the weight of your helmet tear that artery a little more.

    Good thing you have more hobbies. Sure hope you are feeling better soon. Wish they were able to determine the cause but I guess it is just one of life’s little mysteries.

    Hope you keep blogging as we will miss you if you don’t check in occasionally.

    1. Trobairitz – Thanks! And I can’t eat leafy greens because of the anticoagulant I’m on!! Vitamin K interferes with how it works and increases the chance of clotting. Who’d of ever thought healthy eating would be bad?! Go figure.

  7. I’m glad to hear that it will eventually health. Although you have to put aside motorcycle riding, you can pull from the many wonderful rides you were able to take in the past. You have a wonderful attitude about life and I wish you well in your recovery and future plans. Best wishes, Lynn, Florida

  8. I’m so sorry to hear, but, as others have already said, health first. And besides, there are so many other wonderful adventures out there, riding is just one and shouldn’t be something that defines anyone. It’s fun, sure, but so are a million other things. I used to ski a ton, then I took up SCUBA, we’ve boated for years, then I took up riding. I enjoyed them all and they all had time in my life. So I hope you find the next great adventure soon!

  9. Pam,

    I am so sorry that you have to do this, but in the end your health is so much more important. Have you ever thought of being a motorcycle instructor? I believe in most novice courses you don’t have to ride, it could still give you some joy and association with the sport. I am so sad for you my friend, I continue to hold you in my heart and prayers. Please don’t shoo away from the blog world.

    1. Dar – you are so kind! Not sure what I’ll do next except obey the doctors by following my restrictions so I heal! I have been saying to myself, “What’s next?” Stay tuned??

  10. Your comment of “being grounded from life” is really the story, isn’t it? It’s not about the bike … it’s about so many things, and I am sorry.
    Take care and we’ll all hope for good news somewhere down the line!

    1. LB – yup you called it. There are many things I’ve taken for granted that I have to lay aside right now. Thank you for your kind words! We’ll see where this all goes.

  11. I’m really sad to hear this. I hope that you get well soon enough to ride your bike again. But if you never get the chance to ride again, at least, you had the most of it while it lasted. Take care!

  12. Oh Pamela I’m so sorry to hear this! Of course I’m more sorry to hear life has become so frightening and guarded for you.
    I wish you well and I’m sending healing thoughts. Take good care and enjoy all you can!

  13. Sad, but understandable. Yes, you need a new hobby. I’m thinking bobsledding. What? That’s safe, right? 😉 Seriously though, take care of yourself. We’ll miss reading about all your lady bikers, but it was a good run. Onward and upward! Prayers as always! Heal, artery, heal!

    1. Sash,
      Thanks for asking. It has been a challenge. I have a headache more or less every day. I can take Tylenol, but that doesn’t really work that well for me. The good news is I’ve made it 30 days without a stroke, only 60 days of high alert left.

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