I had the pleasure of speaking with Richard and thought I would share this article from the Ottawa Citizen with you…I wish him and his wife Maureen continued success in their recovery.
Richard Perrin was in a terrible accident. He was thrown off a motorcycle at 160 km/h. He explained to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper…”I came out on the wrong side of the risk-reward equation. Thankfully he was alive, following a serious motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the rib cage down.
Richard Perrin could be described as obsessed with motorcycles. For over 10 years, he dreamed of various bikes and gleaming motorcycles riding through the desert sand. In particular, he had his eye on one bike. “The Valkyrie from Honda” was the object of his affection. Richard knew he had to have it and decided to sign up for an introductory motorcycle course at the Ottawa Safety Council.
Perrin bought his first bike from his future wife, Maureen and together they began touring New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Maine, Newfoundland and England. Richard’s bikes were not only his hobby, but they were also his passion and he spent many hours tinkering away on old motorcycles and reading motorcycle magazines in his garage. Soon enough, the pictures in the magazines became part of his real life. Richard not only looked at the racers in the magazines, but he was also going to become one of them.
He started racing four years ago and joined the Vintage Road Racing Association. Richard joined this like-minded group of motorcycle enthusiasts and began devoting himself to winning his motorcycle class. He trained hard and in the off-season, he worked out in his basement while watching motorcycle races on TV.
Then on Aug. 14, 2009, Robert entered the summer’s premier event at Mosport International Raceway and things took a turn for the worse. While travelling over 160 km/hr, Richard lost control of his bike and ended up in The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre. Richard was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord. Perrin was paralyzed from the ribcage down. He had suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury. The first few days in the hospital were filled with fear. Richard spent his time thinking about what he had lost, thinking about his wife and children and how this accident would forever change their lives. Doctors were unable to tell him if he would ever be able to walk again.
Thankfully, Richard also knew that these thoughts would not serve him well. He would allow himself only short sessions of grief, 20 minutes at a time. He knew he needed to focus on being positive. ” I decided then that I was going to be relentlessly positive through all of this experience. …“Really, I knew I was lucky because you don’t come off of a motorcycle at near-top speed and go tumbling along and live some kind of life that is still OK. I still had my kids. I still had my wife” he told the Ottawa Citizen.
His wife Maureen remained supportive throughout. When Richard arrived at the Ottawa Rehab Centre in September 2009, he was unable to sit up or transfer to his wheelchair. He required a nurse to help him use the bathroom and dress himself. He needed significant support. And support he received. Four months later, his determination has led him through numerous physiotherapy sessions. He spent months working on building muscles and strength in his legs.
Perrin still has sensations in his legs and can feel pressure exerted on his quadricep. The first day he stood in rehab was exhilarating. All his months of hard work paid off. Richard is realistic in his goals and knows he won’t be running to the store anytime soon, but for now, is happily accepting these baby steps. There is still much uncertainty. Perrin’s rehabilitation physician, Dr. Vidya Sreenivasan told the Ottawa Citizen “All we’re able to say is that it is a good prognosis in that there is potential for motor recovery,” “There’s still a lot of really big question marks as to where his recovery is going to take him.” The physician pointed out that Richard possesses a winning attitude and channelled his anger into getting better and being constructive.
Richard knows his outlook has been influenced by his experience as a competitive athlete, which taught him the road to improvement is marked by pain and frustration. Richard accepts full responsibility for his actions. He knew the risks and was well aware of the dangers of motorcycle races. He doesn’t blame anyone for the accident. He isn’t asking himself ‘Why me?’ He knows why. He also knows that most motorcycle accidents don’t result in a spinal cord injury, his just happened to have.
As time went on, Richard’s hope of walking again, bit by bit, day by day, started to become a possibility. Months before he didn’t feel this much hope but now he did. It’s almost as of his determination, hard work and positive attitude got him up on his feet again. The future is now brighter for Richard and Maureen Perrin. They soon take possession of a new home in the Andrew Haydon Park area. The home will need to be modified and made wheelchair accessible and they are waiting to find out what the insurance company will and will not cover. Thankfully Richard will also be able to return to work designing software. By all accounts, things are looking up.
Article information from The Ottawa Citizen