A NOTE TO THE GUY WHO NEARLY KILLED ME WITH HIS CAR
By Barbara Goldberg
What a long, strange trip it’s been. Another big milestone is around the corner, I hope. I am intending to return to work part time in March, then full time in April as long as my doctor signs off and Reuters signs on. I still have a way to go on the rehab front, but I’m pushing as hard as I can (without hurting myself!). I’m confident I’ll get there.
Meanwhile, I’m still curious about the driver who hit me. Does he have a clue that his carelessness blew a hole in my life? Feeling I had to get that off my chest, a few weeks ago I wrote him a letter. I’m not sending it to him (on my lawyer’s advice), but it was a great relief to write down the thoughts that were swirling for so long.
Most drivers rarely see the damage they cause once the ambulance pulls away and the mangled debris is collected from the road. So here’s what I’d like to ask him, and the rest of the growing number of distracted drivers whose inattention has altered lives forever.
Six months after you drove your 4,000-pound SUV into a 100-pound cyclist, almost killing her, ever wonder how she’s doing?
The great news is that I survived the impact of Aug. 6. My heart breaks when I think about the terrifying days and weeks my family spent not knowing whether I would live and, if I did, whether I would be severely disabled, either physically, mentally or both. Since I regained consciousness and after weeks of hospitalization and months of rehabilitation, I have worked so hard to build back my abilities in the hopes of resembling the person I was before I was hit. I am pushing myself to the limit, and will always do that, but my life has been upended.
The day before you hit me I was at my job, a journalist for an internationally respected news organization, Reuters, in one of the premier news capitals of the world — New York City. I was trusted with covering everything from disasters like Superstorm Sandy to breakthroughs, such as world leaders taking a stand on climate change. Not only did I report and write print stories, I also often reported on camera with Reuters TV. It was an exciting, rewarding job I loved. Now, every day I wonder if I’ll be able to return to it.
When I wasn’t working, I was biking, skiing, hiking, swimming, kayaking and so much more in an effort to keep in great shape as my best insurance for a long and healthy life. My weekend highlight was a 25-mile bike ride with friends (that’s what I was doing on Aug. 6.)
Life is now very different. Every morning I wake up hopeful that when I open my eyes I’ll see only one light on the bedroom ceiling — but I still see two because since I was hit I have been suffering from double vision. I sit up slowly in bed to try to ease the dizziness that plagues me. Loud noises and double vision leave me feeling overwhelmed, which my doctor tells me is part of having a traumatic brain injury. When I get out of bed to hobble to the bathroom, my right foot is both numb and tingling with pins and needles. My foot is swollen from lymphedema as a result of my pelvic fractures and that 10-foot distance to the bathroom is a challenge for this former marathon runner and triathlete. Once there, I open my mouth as far as my surgically repaired jaw will allow to brush my teeth, a sometimes messy affair since my lips are still numb and unresponsive. My right hand has little feeling and my shoulder is sore and pinched. Your SUV struck me on the right side and as a result, many of my broken bones — and there were many — were on that side. I brush what is left of my hair, much of it having fallen out, apparently from the stress of this nightmare. And I whisper a “Good Morning” to my husband as I have virtually no voice left as a result of vocal chord trauma from being intubated after the crash.
This is just how my day begins. The limitations mount as it goes on. It’s quite frustrating, knowing how much I have lost. I think about you and I wonder if you have even an inkling of how much you traumatized my family and what you did to my life. I’m ever thankful to be alive, but I would never wish this situation on anyone. I can only hope you are a more careful and aware driver than you were that summer morning.