Road To Recovery: A Reflection On Broken Streets and Highways

It seems as I get older, I have more anniversaries filling up the calendar. More days that have taken on some sort of meaning or symbolism. Deaths, birthdays, marriages, and breakups. All these things begin to fill these seemingly arbitrary dates of the year with represent a life lived.

The reason I think about this is that I’ve been acutely aware of the anniversary of the day I found my self laid out on the concrete. Of the moment I ended up learning more than I wanted to about the processes of our medical system and what it means to be hurt. It’s been almost a year since those moments carved scars onto my body and brain, placed metal on my bones, and began the process of making memories of pain and resilience.

This is what an anniversary means to me, a quiet time to reflect the advancement of a moment in my life that shines out like a beacon on a dark night. A way to categorize and quantify change and progress.  It’s unfortunate that most of these anniversaries are ultimately painted in dark and moody colors. Though that’s what makes the reflection of a spring renewed so stark in its differences.

I learned a lot from all of this. I’ve grown and changed from the experience that no one would readily ask for. My body is healed and moving better than before. My mind has recovered slowly but surely.  It’s through all of the pain that I sitting here, directing my life a new and different way. I now know something that most I hope would never get the chance to know. I was lucky to learn it in a way that didn’t leave me more broken. I find myself thankful for the moments that came after that accident, as they reaffirmed and reformed some fundamental beliefs I had and would have carried with me through all of my days.

It’s in this recollection, this moment in silent thought, that I can appreciate the moments that I now have and experiences that have come from it. It’s been a year away from twisted metal, smells of prosperous, glass, metal, and concrete. I am thankful to have the opportunity to have an anniversary because it ended up not being the end but just the beginning.

A Degree of Discordant Disorganization

 

 

You know the celebration and recognition of having written this blog consistently for the last 5 years should be a joyous one. One that comes with a sense of accomplishment to it, as that would mean for the last 260 weeks I have posted at least once a week. It’s though a bit bittersweet, as I am happy about the accomplishment but saddened by the inability to write the last week. This perfect streak of Saturdays was broken because of a lack of time and energy to write for such an integral thing in my life. My life has been getting busier but not in a good way, one that I know will pay off in the end, but I am finding the difficulty with the amount of work I have to do now, but that’s what I signed up for, and that’s what I will see through to the end. I can’t blame that for all of it though, part of me can’t keep it all together, all the things I need to do.  I am doing so much more work than I need to for the sake of moving forward. My life feels messy and undisciplined, disorderly, to say the least, so it’s time to start picking up the pieces once again.

It’s the pieces, broken and scatted like the shards of window from my car on that fateful night. One of those things I lost were the habits and discipline that I had built up for many years. One I learned and built up through the fires of frustration. Without that pilot light and the time to build that spark, all I am left are smoldering coals of once was that raging fire.

I want it to return, with me going through those all those motions trying to maintain that streak I previously had. It’s that tire that stands between me and it, that need to keep pushing forward through these unsettled months haven’t allowed me to catch my breath, and find that part of my soul I feel like I am missing.

The work keeps stacking, and I will get through it, but the difficulty I have with it directly relates to my ability to build those habits into this trying time. I may not have the moments, but I have the will to change. A will built into knowing if I can accomplish this, then I can continue stepping towards that dream I so dearly want, but without it, I will flounder and fall short of what my heart sets me out to do.

Road To Recovery – Road 2 – Pain Management

Robin Har – https://www.artstation.com/saboteur

“These are the times that try men’s souls”

– Thomas Paine

It was there staring at the ceiling that I realized what trouble I was in. Being pumped into were drugs I’ve only heard of in news stories for their role in the recent opioid epidemic. I can be honest, there was part of me that was scared of what could happen to me as a result of these addictive substances, but at least for the moment, it made the sharp pain in my back and chest fade away. This though is the least of the pain, the one that has so much easier to manage.

When you’re hurt you become very acquainted with the ceilings of whatever room you are in. Flat, clean, colored, and pockmarked, each had to have been planned to look uniform and unoffensive to the eyes. It’s in them that I been thrust into these quiet moments, a standard silence that can turn into a mania of the mind attempting to quell the thoughts and energies that were left unspent during the day.

It was easy when I slept most of the day, where I would close my eyes and hours would drift away as my body focused on healing the muscles and bones that I disrupted when I decided to play with hunks of metal and concrete. Even when I left that sterile place, and made it back into a bed of my choosing sleeping was easy, regardless of the several hour intervals, I would be required to awake and take a dose to keep to the pain from getting any worse. I was not afraid of this pain, pain of the body I can deal with as I have all my life. My tolerance for this pain is high because I know I can always push through it. It’s in the echoes of my mind that issues arise.

It’s when sleep when not would come and that my mind wandered that this second sense of fear arose. I had beaten the drugs that threatened to hold me down but what would help me now in this time of need. In a darkly lit room, minutes feel like hours as the stimulus of the plain white ceiling would never be enough. My go to would be to reach to my phone for some reprieve, but I know that the LED screen would take more from me than it would give. The echos of pain as I had nothing else to think about would resonate until all I could feel was the bruising on my back, and the inability to breath.

I have laid there wishing that I had spent more time learning to meditate and praying that the quiet would return. In the wee hours of the morning when no one has any business being up, I would sit there staring at the ceiling, thinking about life, liberty, and where my happiness my now lies. The one consolidation is that I am crazy enough to tilt at windmills so as thoughts would come I promised myself to explore them. Once I allowed these thoughts to come and sat there with them for a while they became less painful and more pleasant. Like concentrated daydreams, thoughts manifest without the worry of everyday reality to bog it down. The ceilings drift away as my mind was allowed to paint the picture it wanted and dance as it needed. Sleep became easy because I was not worried or scared of these thoughts anymore, they are part of the process as I learned to enjoy them.

Pain itself is only a hindrance if is seen as unnatural or antithetical to the process of healing. Though some pain is immense it a reminder that my body is hurt and there is healing needing to be done. So embrace the pain as part of the process, see it as a testament of strength because each day that passes and we push forward our lives will fill the void that the pain has wrought.

I want to end with another quote, the poem Invictus about the struggles of being brought bare and not letting yourself be destroyed by the circumstances we had found ourselves.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

– William Ernest Hendley

Road To Recovery – Road One

I have been waiting to write this all week, as I have had a lot of time to organize my thoughts reflect on all that’s been going on.
Just be wary, though this won’t be overly graphic I don’t intend to spare any details.

As to what I am recovering from, well, let me tell you what I have been explaining to people all week – the accident:


It was a little after midnight last Saturday night, the roads we still busy and the rain hadn’t let up in days but for the most part nothing out of the ordinary. I was leaving my girlfriend’s house after some conference planning the night was young but all I wanted to do is get home to get to sleep. It had been a rough couple of days with two deaths in my family so life was on the mind. One of the last thoughts before actually getting into my car was “I don’t think I’m invincible like most 20’s somethings, I just know I can’t die yet.”
Off I went down the road I had traveled many times, but I would never make it to my destination.

The freeway was slippery, slipperier than usual as hydroplaning seemed inevitable. I had slowed down the car enough, to accommodate, made sure no other cars were around me but even that isn’t enough. In one especially bad patch on the freeway, my car slipped out of my control as it spun 180 degrees to face oncoming traffic. I knew I was in trouble but this next part surprised me as the car was launched over the median landing me on upside down on the opposite side fo the road.

I still remember the smell, like used phosphorus of a match mixed with a hint of melted plastic, a scent that to the inside of my nose every time I closed my eyes to fall asleep this following week. I already knew my car was in trouble as I hung from my seatbelt starting at the concrete that replaced my windshield. I was miraculously unhurt from the flip, though I knew I needed to get out of my car quickly because I was on the wrong side of the freeway now.

My airbags had gone off but my door was still working. I unbuckled my seatbelt, pushed open the door and made it out to the open road. Cars were whizzing by, attempting to avoid the accident, I made it over to the shoulder and assessed the damage from there. For all intents and purposes, I was okay.

After a moment of trying to understand all that had transpired the next action popped into my head. I needed to call 911 and turn on my hazard lights in my car to avoid any more collisions. I didn’t have my phone on me though, it must have been back in the car.

Now attribute this to panic or a daze I left the shoulder of the road to get back into my car. I crawled in to the flipped vehicle trying to make sense of all of the disorder that my car was in. That’s all it took.

BAM.

I find myself rolling along the highways, out of breath, gasping for air. This time I can’t get up, my right foot feels strange. I look over, my car has shifted and behind it, another car smashed. Almost like a movie, I found myself crawling towards the shoulder in the rain. All I felt was the cold and the pain.

A black pickup truck stops, two men in orange vest’s get out and start asking me questions. They are polite, trying to help, start to set my foot and check for injuries. Off in the distance, I see the police lights stopping the flow of traffic. The two men splint my foot, check for broken bones, give me a neck brace and hand me off to a set of paramedics to cart me off in an ambulance. It feels like forever sitting under the rain but once I get inside I realize how much everything hurts. Sitting my back hurts, breathing my ribs hurt, moving my legs hurt. There I am getting to the hospital, moving from bed to bed being poked, prodded, examined, and kept awake.

I hadn’t lost consciousness that whole time, eventually staring at the ceiling of my medical room at 5 in the morning breathing straight oxygen feeling my bones ache. I was eventually transferred to a better hospital who could take better care of me in my condition. That first day was hard, not being allowed to drink water in the event I would need surgery (which I ended up needing).

Over the next couple of days, I had been carted from room to room, had emergency surgery on my ankle, more x-rays, CT scans, and IV’s than I could count. I was hurting but at least I could move through the pain. I was weak but at least I was getting stronger day by day.

I could barely get up on my own and spent most of my day in bed but by the time Wednesday happened I was already on my way out of the hospital. End count: 5 fractured ribs, 1 partially deflated lungs (that needed draining), one broken ankle, and a large back bruise.

In the end, I was lucky, it could have been so much worse. I am out of the hospital but it is not over yet, this road will be long, and recovery both short and fast but I am going to do the best I can to catalog the journey so that you can learn the lessons I am having to learn the hard way.

I will recover because there is so much more that I need to do.