Sometimes, when I'm clear and conspicuously sober my mind takes me back to the days when I was and unwitting crash test dummy. I say my mind takes me cause that's the only way I would ever go. We all know that there are some things that your mind protects you from, for example the way that women's minds protect them from the reality of childbirth. But I digress... this story is not about birth... it's more about rebirth and the fact that in the same fashion that we mostly forget our births it is possible to forget our re-births.
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A number of years ago I was involved in a accident that shattered my body an landed me in hospital for over a year.
The story begins with a woman... as all good stories do.
I can call up a vision of her in my mind at any time.
Her eyes, hair, shape all the things that make her what she is but not just her physical attributes, her whole character comes with that vision.
Devoted to family, but wild, never read a book, but wise in the way of humans, beautiful but not faithful.
When we met we were just kids and she had just arrived from Antigua, and from the moment we met she was the "hot stove" and I was the child who hadn't learned what it meant to be burned... yet.
But through the years that followed we learned many things together falling in and out of each otherís lives.
Until one night we found ourselves out on the town, painting the town red and giving Manhattan a good slapping around!
I got her home a little before the sun came up, had a cuppa, said goodbye and set off to visit some friends in the neighbourhood I knew would be awake at that hour, when her "uncle" who had been sleeping on the couch comes to the door and says... "I must give you a ride"
"no ... really I'm only minutes away"
No, you can't walk!
But if I only had!
So there I sat driving with "uncle", sitting shotgun in a Buick, Electra 225.
Chatting away, watching the poles go by out the passenger side window.
By the time I noticed that he wasn't participating in our dialogue it was too late.
I looked over at him as we sped up, thinking "Hey buddy what's the rush?" and saw that he was sound asleep!
In the time it took to look at the road again, we were jumping the curb and ploughing into a telephone pole!
I remember the sound of rending metal, the crack of wood & the deafening roar of the big 225 engine, it was only when I woke after some time unconscious that the pain came.
I looked over at "uncle" still sleeping, and thought "some people can sleep through anything!"
In my semi - lucid state I began to wonder if there were flames behind us like you see in the T.V. shows... I decided to try and remove myself from the wreckage.
My seat belt was torn & what was left of the door was open, so I rolled myself out... and down 3 feet.
I was unaware that the car was now perched on top of the splintered stump of the telephone pole.
As I said... down I went, that's when what was left of my right shoulder broke.
Somehow... and for reasons unknown even to me, I got up and tried to limp to the other side of the car... the pain was real now, it woke me from my post collision half state, each movement alerting me to a deeper understanding of my pain and its meaning.
It seemed like I walked miles... but I'm told that there were 3 maybe 4 steps total,
4 steps that broke or fractured the few bones that the collision hadn't.
Time passed... I was unaware, consciousness & unconsciousness came and went on a schedule not of my making... Till I woke... most of me wrapped in plaster, suspended by rope, pulleys and weights.
I couldn't turn to see but I heard crying...
Someone said ... Welcome back!
Here's something to remember... If you should wake up in a hospital bed, surrounded by your loved ones & even the most dispassionate of them are sobbing and as your eyes & mind clear you notice your doctor staring at you with a "Jesus... I can't believe that actually worked!" look on his face... these are clues telling you that there are strange days ahead for you.
So there I was, swollen, immobile, doped up on a cocktail of pain relieving drugs, with very little memory of what had happened to me.
Nothing much happened for a few hours, I was left to float on my dopey cloud while my family drifted in one by one to stare at me in disbelief.
I heard someone say. " They call it a Halo?" That explained why I couldn't move my head.
After a while (I'll never know how long) the room cleared and for a few minutes there was only silence and then the pain came.
Dull at first...then white hot and finally, red stripes of pain that seemed to move through my veins until my whole body was a living bruise. and just when my pain reached its height... in walked Dr."p" my personal guide through the wonderful world of post trauma care.
Dr."p" informed me that now that I was conscious it was time to address a few things that we couldn't take care of in the ER, he then went on to rattle off a list of procedures, techniques, apparatus & guest performers... basically laying out the next 3 weeks of my life.
And what a time we had!
At the end of his briefing he asked if a few colleagues could come in I couldn't talk or shrug my shoulders so he just brought them in.
This is when the other shoe dropped... when I saw the faces of this group of, I assume highly trained medical professionals blanche at the sight of me I knew I was in real trouble.
While they tried to regain their collective composure...I remembered part of a conversation I had with my date on the night of the accident, we were discussing things about ourselves that we wished were true. She wanted to be rich and I said jokingly "I'd like to be so striking that women fainted at the sight of me" you can say many things... but you can't say the world isnít ironic!
The next three weeks were filled with "procedures" and I learned that while I couldn't speak I certainly could scream.
One door closes and another one opens!
I spent over a year in that hospital and at least that long in rehab and I still wake up sometimes thinking I'm still there.
Did I ever see "uncle" again...? no, but they told me he dropped by when he was discharged after 3 days (fractured wrist) but I was... "away".
Life is rhythm and rhythm is everything!