The Long Way Home
When I look back on the strange detour my life has taken since October 30th, 1998, it seems surreal, like I'm viewing my own life from a distance. So much has changed, I don't even recognise it. To the reader, in case you're reading this and thinking, 'Oh no, another whoa-is-me sob story', yes, so you might want to stop reading this story at this point. I'll give you enough time to reach your mouse, and surf away to something a little more upbeat. There, happy now? Anyway, back to the story, although calling it a story makes you, the reader, think it's made up. Believe me, I wish it was made up also! But I know there is no way I ever could have had a good enough imagination to make this up.
I had just gotten off work at the Bellevue, Wash. Post Office (it's ironic, but before my accident happened, I was constantly complaining about how much I hated what I was doing; now I would kill to be able to go back to work!) Anyway, I had driven up to my bank in North Bend to cash my paycheck, this being pay day. There was a branch of my bank in Fall City, and if I'd thought to go there, I wouldn't have been driving on the road where the wreck took place. Isn't it ironic (hey, that would make a great title for a song!) that the smallest, seemingly-inconcequencial decision can turn out to be so signifigant? I had just left the bank, and was headed home. My wife and I were expected in Spokane, at the home of my inlaws, later that day. I was just motoring along, when a lady driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee decided that right then would be a great time to turn into a friend's place. There was only one small problem; my truck and me were coming the opposite way. Needless to say, the account of what followed is based on eyewitness accounts, because my memory of the event is non-existant.
She and I, or rather our vehicles, collided head-on. The fire department responded, and they decided I was injured badly enough to call for an airlift to Harborview Hospital, in Seattle. My next consious thought was, "boy, this Jello sucks!" Well, that wasn't my first concious thought. It took me a long time for any thought to make much sense. I was told I had been in a coma for two weeks, and my thoughts were a mess. When they show someone waking up from a coma in the movies, they are ready to go roller-blading almost immediately. It doesn't work that way, at least not for me. I realize that it depends on what part of the brain is affected. For me, the brain stem suffered the injury, and small things like walking and talking were adversly affected (affected meaning I can no longer do either normally!) People were told I wouldn't be able to think normally again, and I guess you'll have to be the judge of that! I made up my mind that I would do whatever it took to get back to normal, and still the struggle goes on. I remember one of my doctors telling me that most of the healing of the brain takes place within the first 2 years. I was told this after a few months, and 2 years seemed like an unbearable lenth of time to wait. Now, 12-plus years after the accident, I probably could endure a mere 2 years, easily! My injury was a mortal blow to my marriage. My wife decided that I would never again be the guy I used to be, and decided to end it. Maybe she's right, but I still notice small improvements, and until I stop noticing improvement, I'll never give up. I guess part of me (the left side!) can't blame her. The many things that suddenly changed were just too much for her. It's sad, but a doctor told me that 75% of marriages don't survive a tramatic brain injury, and I guess I've learned to believe that statistic! Anyway, I still have trouble believing the forced changes in my life. This is the sort of thing that happens to somone else, not to me. To quote a famous song, "What a long, strange trip it's been!"