Lucky..

Sep. 10th, 2007 07:49 pm
I cannot bear to click on the article about the football player who is likely paralyzed. I overheard some coworkers talking about it this afternoon, and anytime I hear about someone else who has had a cervical injury it hits really close to home. It also reminds me how much it was a lucky accident of physics that when I broke my neck, I didn't injure my spine at all.

It's 14 days until the anniversary of my accident; it will have been 6 years. This year has been marked by an improvement in the chronic pain, probably due in large part to the fact that I have been taking classes in the Alexander Technique. In the last year I have only had a few spurratic nightmares, but more people than usual have asked about my scars. The scars remain a source of self-conciousness for me. I see the scars on my forehead everytime I look at my face in the mirror. And everytime I glimpse my hand while I'm typing I see the pale, shiny one there catching the light. That one now has a large companion scar, thanks to an Eclectus parrot's beak, which may make it more noticeable to the average person. The scar on my hip no longer itches.

Scars, more than anything, bring back to me the emotions of feeling so broken. I don't know the football player, and never will, but I wish for him that somehow the doctors will be surprised. That he'll be told, over and over again by the doctors and by his family that he was lucky. And that years from now, when he looks at the pale ropes of skin, the remnant of that broken time, that he'll believe them..

Luck

Jun. 10th, 2006 10:55 pm
I missed being at the scene of a horrible traffic accident today by about 5 minutes. The Snelling Ave exit is the closest exit off of I-94 to where I'm currently living. I spent the afternoon browsing in furniture, appliance, and tile stores. (Didn't buy anything, just getting ideas.) I was going to write an entry tonight about how after visiting the Tile Shop I want to tile *everything* now. But, I'm really not up to being funny.

I headed home around 4:30, I was probably sitting at the light from the exit ramp onto Snelling at about 4:35. A little after 6 I left again to go see a movie, and I couldn't even get to the on-ramp. Snelling was blocked off at Marshall and by the off-ramp was a sea of flashing lights and ambulances. I got home from the movie and checked the local news sources.

The accident happened at about 4:40. Someone exited and rear ended the car waiting at that same light I'd been at ~5 minutes earlier. They were going 60-65, and the impact pushed the car that was hit into oncoming traffic where it was hit 2 or 3 more times. Two of the passengers in that car died.

So much of being alive is luck.
It's four years to the day since my accident. Four years on from breaking my neck, I'm doing really well physically and psychologically. I rarely have nightmares anymore, though seeing other serious car accidents still can bring on serious anxiety attacks. At this point, mostly I wonder whether I'll ever get to the point where I just never think about it. Where I'm at a point where I realize that the anniversary of this came and went two weeks before and I didn't even notice. Or, whether I'll always mark this day on my psyche.
I thought I would write a journal entry all about the terrible thoughts and images from my accident that still haunt me, both awake and asleep. But right now I'm feeling calm and reassured and would rather hold onto that feeling than spend too much time revisiting my trauma.

I have had anxiety attacks since Rosh Hashanah, which was around the beginning of this month. You see, while my accident happened on the 24th of September, by the Jewish calendar it happened between high holidays (three days before Yom Kippur). I've been plagued with thoughts about it, images have recurred in my mind. The image of the cracked windshield, the blood on my hand and on the car seat, things like that. Thoughts have also come to me -- mainly the feeling that I was going to die. As the accident was happening, the one clear thought I remember having was "This is how it ends. What a stupid way to die." After the accident, when I was waiting for the ambulance, I still was afraid I was going to die. I knew, since I could move one arm and my fingers, that I wouldn't be paralyzed; but I was worried that I had internal injuries that would kill me. I wanted my cell phone so I could call my mom and talk to her in case it was the last time I'd be able to. All this, mind you, after I had managed to crawl out of the car on my own and was kneeling, of my own accord, at the bottom of the ditch. It all sounds so cheesy and self-aggrandizing now; I am so glad the person who was waiting with me, talking me through the waiting really, was so reassuring. I'm sure, without him there, I would have been frantically searching for my cell phone -- in the process potentially injuring my neck further and possibly causing spinal cord damage.

I needed a reason to look forward to today, the year anniversary of my accident, so I decided to go to a spa. I have only been to a spa once before -- with two close friends when I was in Seattle this past June. At that one, we all got massages and then we spent a few hours jumping in and out of hot and cold pools and dousing ourselves with water that had been infused with Mugwort (a story in and of itself, but I haven't gotten permission to cross-post the appropriate journal entry of the friend who wrote about it). It was an interesting spa in that it was much more health than beauty focused. I really wanted to find something similar to retreat to for a day and I ended up going to a place called The Marsh. It wasn't quite what I had been looking for, but that ended up being alright.

I scheduled a massage, a body polish and wrap, and a facial. Of these things, I've only ever had a massage so I had no idea what to expect (and really I have often poo-pooed facials as something for middle aged women who are horrified that their face is getting wrinkly, but it came as part of a package deal so I thought I'd give it a try). I got there, changed into my spa robe, and was sent off to wait for my massage therapist on the table in her room. I was told to start out facing up. As soon as I had clambered onto the table and gotten settled under a blanket I panicked. Lying there on the table, looking up at the ceiling, felt like being in the emergency room when I got to the hospital. The ceiling looked just like the hospital ceiling, I could picture in my mind the trauma doctor's faces peering down at me through hospital masks. I thought about going back out and canceling everything because I was worried that this was only going to bring to mind being in the hospital, but before I could make up my mind my massage therapist arrived and I didn't really want to have to explain. All day I kept seeing parallels between the spa and the hospital. However, as I was seeing these parallels I realized how different things were, how different my situation was to be precise. I knew I was there by choice and at the end of the day could get up, walk out of there, get back in my car, and drive home. This stunningly obvious observance brought me so much serenity. I feel like for almost the past month I have been letting myself see nightmares instead of seeing how much I've healed, how far I've come from that day a year ago. I think I will be less obsessive about this trauma now. Hopefully next year the thought of "Two years ago at this time.." won't have the same psychological impact as the thought "A year ago at this time.." has had this year.

I am worried that this entry comes across as kind of cheesy. That wasn't my intent. My intent was to express how much better I feel today than I have felt for most of the month and to illustrate why.

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