Leslie's story

This particular morning began like any other for Leslie Bridger. She woke up, got dressed and put her cycling gear on, just as she’d done several times a week for years.

But on this day, something terrible happened that would change Leslie’s life forever. As she cycled down Pottery Road near Toronto’s Don Valley, she started to pick up speed near the bottom of the hill and suddenly, her front wheel started to shake.

“I went from someone in total control of her life, who travelled across the country and did speaking engagements, to someone in diapers, who couldn’t talk and didn’t know who she was.”

Seconds later, Leslie catapulted over the handlebars, hitting the pavement with her head and the left side of her body.

A witness called 911 immediately. When the emergency response team arrived, Leslie was barely alive. She was rushed to St. Michael’s and brought straight to surgery.

Leslie’s situation was critical. Her head had hit the road so hard that she had a severe epidural hematoma, swelling and skull fractures which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. She had also broken four bones in her nose, the bone under her left eye and one at the back of her skull. The whole left side of her body was scraped and bruised, causing tissue and muscle damage.

I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been brought to St. Michael’s. Things take longer to do and I can’t multi-task like a maniac, but I’m back doing what I love. I wake up every morning and am so grateful.
– Leslie Bridger

Dr. Paul Muller, one of St. Michael’s top neurosurgeons, operated immediately to reduce the swelling in her brain.

Afterwards, Leslie spent five days in our Allan T. Lambert Trauma/ Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit. She wasn’t expected to live, but with expert, round-the-clock care and the support of her family and friends, she did.

Leslie then had a second surgery to fix the broken bones in her face. She now has four titanium plates under her left eye, but to look at her today, you’d never know it.

Two weeks after her accident, Leslie took her first steps. A month later, she was discharged and started rehab. She describes her healing as “miraculous” and believes the care she received at St. Michael’s set the foundation for who she is now.

Leslie tells us, “I don’t remember the two weeks before the accident, or the four weeks after. On many levels, that’s a good thing. I went from someone in total control of her life, who travelled across the country and did speaking engagements, to someone in diapers, who couldn’t talk and didn’t know who she was.”

Today, Leslie says, “I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been brought to St. Michael’s. Things take longer to do and I can’t multi-task like a maniac, but I’m back doing what I love. I wake up every morning and am so grateful.”