I know what Michael Schumacher is going through

Michael Schumacher can heal. I hope and believe that he’ll make a full recovery and that he will do so at astonishing speed. Right now, the biggest concern is the epidural hematoma he has suffered. An epidural hematoma is basically bleeding and swelling in the brain. The swelling of the brain can be fatal, but there are a few aspects of Schumacher’s horrific accident that improve his chances:

  • He was injured while skiing in cool, ambient conditions, which help to reduce cranial pressure.
  • He was found quickly and promptly airlifted to the hospital.
  • The surgeons quickly assessed the problem and performed surgery to stop the building pressure.

This is also why the doctors have continued to induce the coma—most likely with the drug Propofol—that Schumacher had already fallen into, and why he is being kept in a state of hypothermia. The coma and a lower body temperature help minimize brain activity, which consequently helps to prevent further swelling and to stabilize the patient. Michael, by the way, probably won’t remember any of the accident.

No, I’m not a doctor. And no, I didn’t simply look this up. On February 7, 2013, I fell from a bridge and landed 38 feet below in a rocky stream. When the rest of the Viper v. Mercedes SLS comparison test crew found me, I was in a state of shock and unconsciousness. My head was lying on a now-bloody rock as the rest of my body sat in a cold mountain stream. As they pulled me from the stream, my body thanked everyone by vomiting blood onto their coats. I, too, was airlifted to the hospital. I, too, suffered an epidural hematoma and was placed in an induced coma. My family, friends, and boss also received a grim assessment of my condition, and at best, my chances of living were highly doubtful.

But here I am, writing this article less than 11 months later.

As the Road Test Editor for Road & Track, I am still the head test driver. Last month, I slid a BMW M3 LRP Edition around Gingerman Raceway, so I still lap cars, too. The point is: I’m a guy, in decent shape, who has fully recovered. Michael Schumacher remains one of the fittest human beings on the planet. With more time, I see no reason why he can’t bounce back and return to form.

If he goes through anything like I did, his family will remain on pins and needles for the first few weeks. The doctors (at least, my American ones—I doubt the French are any more sympathetic) abhor giving false hope, so they keep assessments frank and literal, always hedging progress with possible setbacks until they have proof of a better outcome. My coma lasted two weeks. In that time, they told my family that I might die. I didn’t. Then, they said that I might not have been able to live without a respirator. I could. They then said that I may not remember anyone. I remembered everyone. On and on, they warned of trouble that didn’t occur. Step by step, I simply had to prove the doctors wrong.

By the time I was aware of what had happened to me, my incredibly relieved family showered me with support (actually, they literally showered me, too). With their help and encouragement, my focus remained on getting better. Take a moment to try to think of anyone more motivated and focused than Michael Schumacher—I can’t. He’ll see every problem as a challenge to overcome, every setback as a learning opportunity, and every scar as a stark reminder that life simply isn’t always in our control.

My thoughts are with Michael Schumacher. It took weeks for me to understand the seriousness of my accident. In my mind, no time had passed between looking over the bridge and staring at my entire family encircling me as I laid in bed. It was disorienting. Why can’t I open my mouth? Why does my arm feel numb? What are all these tubes? Why am I so tired? These types of questions demand time for comprehension.

Several more weeks passed before I had any understanding of the agony my wife and family had gone through, which is why my heart goes out to the Schumacher family. These are tough and uncertain times. The nights in the hospital are long. There are constant beeps and buzzes. No fresh air; the sterile environment suffocating. But stay strong. Fill his room with love and good vibes. Think positive. Fans, keep Michael in your thoughts, wish him well, and send him strength. I promise, it will help heal the man you love.

It helped me. By Robin Warner Road & Track