One year ago today I almost died.
My life was subsequently changed. Forever.
And, frankly, I’m happy about it.
One year ago today (December 13, 2013) I was brought to the San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) emergency room after a major car accident. I was admitted to the ICU soon thereafter where I spent the next two weeks sleeping. I am sorry, but I just cannot tell you what happened that night. It’s simply because I just don’t know. I don’t even remember for that matter. I don’t remember the last three months of 2013 to be honest. And, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. No matter how hard I try, I cannot recall. I only know what reports say and what people have told me. And to be quite frank, I’m not sure I ever really want to know. What little I do know — for anyone familiar with “the incident” as I like to call it — is more than enough. I can only tell you about the aftermath and what’s happening now.
So here is what I do know. I was the sole participant in a motor vehicle accident. I was traveling “at a high rate of speed” and lost a fight with a concrete wall. I was removed from the wreckage of the car, in which I lost my favorite suit — dammit, by the EMTs. From this collision, I suffered a litany of injuries. A fractured Occipital condyle (the joint where your skull connects with your spine), 6 fractured vertebrae (2 cervical, 2 thoracic and 2 lumbar section), 3 fractured ribs (all on the left), a fractured sternum and a fractured right leg (Tibia & Fibula), for which I am now the lucky recipient of a titanium bar inside the bone of my leg reaching all the way from my knee joint down to my ankle. I also suffered what is known, for short, as a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). This included three hemorrhages inside my noodle, which in turn caused massive swelling and required a “bolt” to be inserted into my skull to aid with the release of pressure. Imagine Frankenstein with the bolts in his head instead of his neck. I can only imagine how sexy I must have looked. These injuries succeeded in putting me in a coma for a little over two weeks. In this time, I have the only memories I still possess of the last few months of 2013. Those memories are essentially what I refer to as my coma dreams. A few different dreams, in fact, that all shared the same goal. And that goal was getting back to my beautiful wife, Andrea.
I soon awoke in early January. At this point I was in a haze, to say the least, and don’t remember much despite having conversations with several different people. In this haze, however, I remember being adamant about one thing and that was my work trip to Las Vegas for CES. Apparently I thought I was still capable of going and being a productive/valuable employee. Despite my best efforts to go back to work immediately, Andrea (rightly so) got it set up to where I was going to be released to the care of California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) for further recovery. It was also communicated to me that vegas was not going to happen. Real shocker huh?. I then spent the next month at CPMC doing physical rehab, occupational rehab and cognitive rehab. Every day. Sometimes twice a day. But every day I thought I was “being held” there for no good reason. I was capable of returning home and to work immediately dammit. As I look back today, boy was I wrong and I’m so happy those who were caring for me still did (I wasn’t being the nicest person possible).
During my time there, I was told many things — by many different people. One, of the aforementioned many, is that I my fractured occipital condyle was only a mere centimeter away from being paralyzed. Another, and a popular one, is that I’m lucky to be alive — let alone not a “vegetable”. And don’t get me wrong; I’m not denying my luck in those matters at all. I do know this much, and that is I plan on not wasting any of the time I have remaining. I have been gifted more time by the many people responsible for both my care and recovery. From the EMTs who got me to the hospital to the nurses of the ICU who cared not only for me but also for my wife in any way they could. The orthopedic doctor (Dr. Kandemir) who fixed my leg and the neurosurgeons who dealt with my brain. The rehab team at CPMC who dealt with me in a unkind state and got me to where I am today. My Sister-in-laws and Mother-in-law, who dropped everything to come out to San Francisco and help my wife, and me, out any way they could. They all should get, not only a tremendous amount of respect, but my eternal gratitude, sincere thanks and forever undying love.
Now, I have said before that I am 100% back and the same old wise ass/smart ass as before. I lied. Truth be told, I’m not the same, and I’ll never be the same again. And, I’m more than OK with that. I am maybe a small percentage of that previous incarnation of myself, but I don’t want to be that person anymore. In fact, I refuse to be that person again. I am, maybe, 20% of the man I ultimately want to be and the man my wife deserves. I have a long way to go to becoming that person, and I will continue to work on being that man every day. I promised her, on her birthday, that I would be a better man for her every year from this point on. So on this “anniversary” I want to say that I simply will never be the same again. I will, however, be better. A better man, a better husband and an overall better human being. So this “accident” maybe wasn’t an accident. But instead, what I needed to set me on the right path forward with my life.
So, yes. I am glad this happened to me. Not glad about the accident itself for obvious reasons, but glad about the ultimate change it is having on me as a whole, for the better. The only time I have been happier was my wedding. I feel such a sense of clarity that I’ve never felt before. And it leaves me excited about what’s to come. First anniversary of the accident = awesome sauce.