I Almost Died Today

Yesterday, I realized, “I almost died today”.  Or, at 3:15pm Pacific Daylight Time four years ago yesterday, to be exact.  The events of that day are definitely carved in my brain’s granite.  I am glad to say that I don’t feel a chronic apprehension about:  1) big trucks 2) freeways 3) concrete pillars supporting freeway overpasses (okay – just a little.)  More to the point, I can drive by the spot where a truck hit me going 70 miles per hour and not cringe.  But, the supernatural things that happened, well, I am not so ho-hum about.

As someone who has worked with the dying and the passed-away (my job’s a topic for another blog), I understand better than some, the emotions that plague a person who is dying.  I got an upfront and personal dose of that one sunny afternoon, when I got hit from behind and drifted along a lane and meridian to plow into a guard railing.

The most extreme part of the experience has to be when I overheard a nurse talking to Radiology about my then, broken neck.  I cannot forget when she said “The films on Nelda Doe are not good.”  Nelda Doe, their alias for me, intended to keep my anonymity at the ER.  But, I knew the name on my hospital bracelet.  Yep, that was me.  Then, a doctor came over and said I would need neck surgery.  Even now, as I write this, I can feel the cold sting of the same kind of adrenalin that flooded my extremities and dropped my blood pressure.

So, I was thinking to myself, “Fuuuuccckkkk – I’m going to die”!  Little tears dragged their feet as they left the sides of my eyes, crying for every moment I had wanted, that I would never get to live.  Earlier, I had sent some of my family away through a coy cell phone call designed to stem their fear.  It didn’t do that for them, I found out later.  They had wanted to get in to see me, but they said that the ER entrance was like some bad scene from the worst inner-city hospital show ever.  Even though they had my alias, I couldn’t describe where I was, and I wasn’t on any list.  The security guy wouldn’t let them pass.  So, I told them I was fine.  And then, I was all alone.  My smarts were in the crapper that night – my resources for finding solutions to situations like their not being able to come in, all but gone – my common sense was still waiting for a ride from the accident scene.

Basically, the story’s worth telling because of what happened next:  A doctor came over and said that while they were waiting for the surgeon to come and speak with me, they would take me for further imaging.  After, I waited, still on the same gurney.  Then, a doctor came up to the side of my gurney and said, “Well, we can’t find the break on the new images.  So, let’s see if you can move your neck.”  He sat me up some, and I was able to move my neck in every direction.  I was discharged within two hours, and able to call my better half, to come and get me.  For the next ten days, I lived in a neck brace waiting for another Radiology opinion – I didn’t want to end up royally screwed by an inaccurate radiology finding.  But, gladly the report came back saying that I had no break.

For weeks, I tried to understand what had happened.  Why had that truck hit me and how was it, that I was fine?  As startling as finding out that I didn’t have a broken neck, was when I looked up research on high-speed impact crashes.  I wanted to know the average injuries of someone in an accident like me.  There wasn’t any data, because NOBODY SURVIVES HIGH-IMPACT CRASHES.  Reading that was like getting a bonus on the lottery.

Since then, I haven’t looked back much.  I have resolved to LIVE and LOVE – enough said.  But, one of the greatest realizations from that event is that I am a Writer, and that if I don’t write, I’m as good as dead.

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