Villager Bill Miller knew something was wrong. He had on Nov. 18 started experiencing dizziness and severe headaches.Three days later he began to experience numbness and loss of feeling in his feet. This numbness combined with the dizziness and headaches made it difficult for him to walk.
Miller was not sure what was wrong. As a healthy active 75-year-old retired financial planner and IBM executive he was enjoying the active Villages lifestyle. He rode his bicycle five or six times a week for at least an hour of time each day.
On Nov. 4 while riding his bicycle, he had taken a spill when entering the multi-modal path near the Sheriff’s Annex at County Road 466 and Morse Boulevard. Miller had suffered some scrapes and his left side of his head on the pavement. He was wearing a helmet and other than some scrapes, felt fine. But that was two weeks ago prior to the start of these symptoms.
Miller went to the Leesburg Regional Medical Center Emergency Room on Nov. 22. A CAT scan revealed a sub-dural hematoma on the left side of his head. He learned that as a person ages into his 60s or 70s, his brain begins to shrink. The brain is wrapped in a protective membrane called the Dura. As the brain shrinks a network of veins which are connected to the surface of the brain remains in place. As we age, some of those veins become more exposed and more vulnerable. A simple bump or blow to the head can result in slow bleeding from those veins which were damaged by the blow to the head.
Miller was transferred to Shands Hospital which is affiliated with the University of Florida in Gainesville. After another CAT scan Miller was given two options for treatment – medication to eliminate the pool of blood putting pressure on his brain or surgery to relieve the pressure.
Miller opted to try the medication and was released to go home the following day. Once home, he took the medication and unfortunately the symptoms grew worse. He returned to Shands and was admitted on Thanksgiving Day. The neurosurgeon drilled four holes in his skull on Nov. 27. Some apparatus were attached to those holes to help relieve the pressure and remove some of the pooled blood. Miller was able to return home on Nov. 30. A recent CAT scan showed that there is still some blood pooled on the left side of his skull. However, he has no symptoms and appears to have made a complete recovery. He has been able to resume his normal activities including riding his bicycle.
Miller is sure that the bicycle helmet he was wearing made the injuries he endured much less severe than if he had not had the helmet on that day. He urges all people who ride bicycles in The Villages to wear a helmet to lessen the chances of a severe head injury.