Sunday, June 8, 2014

I Took a Trip

Photo: Kathy Koch.
I just took one long and painful trip around the sun. Glad I was able to make it. Last year on June 23rd, I was T-boned at an intersection on a country road by someone going fast. I never saw him coming.

I had to be cut out of my car.

It went like this:

sunday drive
metal hits metal and flesh is thrown about
instantly, impersonally.
bones break, but instincts take over
and attempts are made to flee this sudden hell.

fleeing proves futile, but a rescue is made
as pain grows and envelopes like
an invisible casket,
a malevolent encasement,
heavier each hour.

i look up from the gurney, at
three or four men looking down.
"do you pray? pray for me?" i ask them.
"no, sorry, i don't," "yes... yes, i will" and
"you're lucky to be here," i hear back.

i struggle to breathe
the oxygen mask smothers me.
i want it off. they keep it on,
and won't let me move.

I had broken bones and other internal injuries. I spent two weeks in the hospital, and the balance of the year at home, recovering, going to physical therapy, and then trying to get back to some sort of productive daily routine.

So, I wasn't able to go to my first gallery reception for my photography show at Waterloo Studios, which was what my last post was about,  a year ago. The reception was five days after the crash. That was a huge disappointment. But...I'm alive.

During my months of healing, I had some interesting talks with God. I thanked him, especially for the pain meds, because without them, I surely would have wanted to die. And sometimes I cursed -- especially when I felt alone, fed up, and tired of the stupid pain, pain, pain....

About seven weeks after my accident, I had to rent a car, in order to shop for another car to buy. It was then that I realized how much my brain had a mind of its own, so to speak.  My brain...along with all of my insides...were hollering "You do not want to get behind the wheel of that car. What are you trying to do, kill me? Remember the last time you were driving?"

So there was this kind of hollering going on inside of me, along with the busy-ness of repairing all my broken parts. My insides were loud. Scary, anxious thoughts and images of what happened, and what could happen again, rambled through my head. And those thoughts rolled out as anxiety and nausea throughout the rest of me.

So I decided to tell myself "it'll be okay," even though I had no idea if it would be. It seemed that the odds should be with me now, after three years of difficult stuff happening. But, really, who was to say? The first time I drove to the grocery store post-crash, my son came with me. He coached me all the way there (five minutes), and all the way back (another five minutes).  That was the only thing I did that day, and I came back in the house shaking and sweating, with back spasms, to boot.

A couple weeks into this thing, I had asked God for redemption -- to work this experience for good.  Do something with this. I told Him I was fed up with waiting for heaven to get answers.

Now, you may think I'm playing mind trips on myself, and that's okay. I won't blame you. I'm naturally suspicious when people say "God did this," and "God said that." Frankly, we just don't get a lot of important things answered in this life. But.. He showed me, at least in part, his redemption of my pain. It was a huge moment near the end of last summer, an epiphany that cut right to my heart in an instant. I am not at liberty to give details, unfortunately, but this...terrible adventure...that God allowed in my life -- the helplessness I felt in my days and days of trauma, and the wild ride of frustration that comes with slow, uneven healing and setbacks -- has allowed me to understand and better help a loved one who has been experiencing some heavy struggles recently. I understood, just in arguing with my insides about why I should drive a car again, how anxiety can have a life of its own. Anxiety is a slow killer. But compassion is a healing balm.

A year later, I'm much better. My goal now is to get physically stronger. All that time of barely being able to move has taken its toll -- I've become soft and blobby!

Deep thanks to my family and friends, including all my Facebook friends, who helped me with meals, cleaning, and keeping me company. Just "being there" and chatting meant a lot and buoyed my spirit.


Kristine said...

What a good post--and beautiful poem. What a horrible ordeal. I'm so sorry for your pain and its been so good to see you getting better. Continued prayers & good luck!

Pat Washington said...

Thank you, Kristine. I appreciate the prayers and warm thoughts.