Beyond my control
January 28, 2003
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the middle of May 1994 my normal life unexpectedly was shattered. I'm now able to write about it.

I was the victim of a T-bone motor vehicle accident. With me in the driver's seat, a drunk driver in a Ford pickup rammed the driver's side of my Toyota Supra. The "Jaws of Life" couldn't open the door to get me. The EMS team removed my seatbelt, then me from the passenger side. I had no passengers.

My pelvis was broken in three places: the superior and inferior pubic rami and the sacral wing. My ribcage, broken on the chest and backside, punctured and collapsed my lung and created a hemo-pneumo thorax flail chest. The driver's seat folded like a card. So did my body. This changed the angle of the bone joints throughout my body. The seatbelt left evident bruises, but also saved my head from injury and, thus, my life.

This is what doctors and others informed me had occurred. That without the seatbelt those who get injured like I was don't survive. I was in a coma for two weeks.

I was intubated and artificially ventilated. An exploratory surgery was done. A vertical incision between the navel and rib cage was made to open the abdominal cavity. Blood from the multiple bone fractures and adjoining tissue tears was controlled.

The stomach was on the right side. It was sewn to the left abdominal wall. A G-tube was inserted via a hole into the stomach and sutured in place to feed me. A chest tube was inserted to drain my lung. It was placed between the ribs on my left side.

I was in ICU for two weeks with my hands and feet tied to avoid refracturing the bones that could not be set, puncturing any organs, or causing any other internal injury from moving blood clots.

I was intubated for two weeks, enough time for my vocal chords to become raw and to scar over my windpipe. I didn't have the lung capacity to keep them apart. I couldn't breathe. A tracheostomy had to be performed so that I could have an alternative airway.

When I came out of the coma, I had ten IV's coming out of my legs, arms,and neck. I hurt all over. I couldn't talk.

Hospital personnel didn't think I would walk. They weren't sure if I'd ever talk.

I realized that what had been taken in a snap would not come back in a snap. If it came back at all it was up to me. No one could do it for me. I knew that if I could not regain my ability to care for myself, I would be put in a nursing home. To put it in mathematical terms I lost about 35% of me. I regained about 10% of me through painful and difficult rehabilitation. I'm still and will always be missing 25% of me. I try not to dwell on what's missing. I try to proceed with a positive mental attitude. I take life one half of a breath at a time. Each one is a painful challenge and a gift.

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