WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Robert Jordan slowly walked into one of the dozens of conference rooms set up in Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center.
“There are so many people in here…and the camera,” Robert said.
He was dressed in a green striped shirt and blue jeans, vastly different from his compression bike shorts and skin-tight neon bike shirt he used to wear.
“His style has gotten better,” said Kathy, his wife, with a laugh.
His hair was also cut short, another far cry from the thick and wavy hair he displayed four months ago.
“I’m a long-haired guy,” Robert said.
Robert displayed a grin from ear-to-ear once he sat down in the chair next to his wife Kathy. She had seen that smile and heard his laugh so many times, but each moment since March 25 was a small miracle.
Four months ago Robert was riding his bike home from his dance studio in Old Town in Winston-Salem. The avid cyclist took the 22-mile journey back to his home in Lexington just about everyday.
While Robert peddled down Reynolda Road, police believed Gregory Lucas Jr. ran his car into the back of Robert’s bike.
The impact broken Robert’s bones, crushed his bike and left him with a serious head injury.
Police said that Lucas then drove off.
When Robert was asked about what he remembered from that night, he said not much.
“I do realize that at one point, there was a collision . . .” Robert said.
He was brought into the ICU where he would remain for the next month.
At the time of his accident, Kathy was a thousand or so miles away in Costa-Rica for business.
“I had the officer call and tell me, ‘you need to get here because his vitals aren’t looking good.’” Kathy said.
It took Kathy 24 hours and multiple layovers to get back to Winston-Salem where Robert’s life hung by a thread as he laid in his hospital bed.
“It’s always difficult to see someone in the ICU,” Kathy said. “I never felt like he was not going to live.”
Doctors told Kathy that it was unlikely that Robert would survive.
They spent the next month in the ICU. Kathy stayed by his bedside and held his hand every minute of every day.
“I was just consoling him and saying ‘I’m here. This is Kathy’ . . . I just wanted to let him know that it was me there . . . I could tell because he would squeeze my hand like, ‘yeah, I know, I know that’s you.’” Kathy said.
The couple celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary in April.
“I tried to feed him strawberries to hopefully wake him up,” Kathy said.
It took around a month before Robert started to open his eyes and move around.
A full month after the crash, he was moved into the rehab center where he worked on basic physical skills like walking.
Doctors told Kathy it was unlikely that Robert would be able to recover and that he would have to spend the rest of his life in the nursing home.
But, two months after being run over, Robert walked out of the hospital to go home.
“This is the best possible outcome that we could have asked for from a very terrible situation,” Kathy said. “And they were warning me that his personality might change, and these sorts of things . . . But his personality hasn’t changed.”
Being hit and left for dead has added roadblocks to Robert’s life.
He’s working to regain his speech abilities and he’s working with a therapist to identify and say words associated with cycling and dance, which is his second passion.
“Fine. It’s going fine,” Robert said when asked about how he thinks therapy is going.
He also has been suffering from double vision. He has to remove his glasses and close one eye every so often to relieve the pain.
As for the physical aspect of his life, Robert’s eager to get back on his bike and back into the dance studio.
His friends have bought him a stationary bike for him to work out in his home.
And for dance, the future still looks uncertain.
“It wouldn’t be bad for him to help teach a small class, or substitute sometime,” Kathy said.
But Robert remains optimistic that he will be able to recover and return to the things that have always made his life worth living.