Susi Devrient’s goal for this year’s Bolder Boulder 10K is to run and not lose pace to the end. While that may not sound unusually challenging, consider that three years and 11 months ago doctors said she would never wake from a coma, much less be crossing the finish line at Folsom Field.
In 2013, Devrient suffered a severe traumatic brain injury when a driver parking his car literally ran her over. It was one of the most harrowing incidents involving a driver hitting a pedestrian in Boulder County, one of the first responders said, and no one at the scene imagined that today she would be alive or enjoying such a high quality of life.
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, and is a major cause of disability and death nationwide, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Emergency rooms and hospitals report a general increase of cases over the last decade, with 2.8 billion TBI-related ER visits, hospitalizations and deaths occurring in 2013 — the most recent year for which statistics are available. Survivors report multiple long-lasting effects, such as memory loss, impaired vision, hearing or speech, lack of hand-eye coordination, poor balance, fatigue and emotional changes, notably depression.
Much of the public discussion surrounding brain injury circles back to football — as highlighted in the 2015 film “Concussion” starring Will Smith — or to war, as a signature wound among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is TBI caused by explosive devices. But overall, TBIs in all age groups are most commonly caused by falls, being struck by or against an object, and from motor vehicle crashes.
Devrient knows how fortunate she is to be planning her personal best on Memorial Day during the Bolder Boulder. She recently won a Lafayette-sponsored nature photography contest and today volunteers at Habitat for Humanity. What has made all the difference, the 57-year-old says, is the immediate care she received from first responders and physicians at Denver Health and Craig Hospital; an outpouring of love and support from friends and neighbors; her cheerleading squad of fitness experts; one amazing husband and a yellow Labrador retriever named Blue.
“I’m also just stubborn,” Devrient says with a smile. “Life is tough, but so am I.”
Not your ordinary day
June 1, 2013, started out as any ordinary day. Devrient wrote a note to her husband, Jon Jeunette, saying she was headed to the dry cleaners and would “be right back” to their home in…