Thursday, December 29, 2011

Austin's Thoughts: my way of thinking/2011 Reflections Part 1

 At this time of year it is certainly appropriate to reflect on all the events, both the good and the bad, that have come my way during the past year.  This may take more than one post as it has been one hell of a year.

2011 started off like many of the past few years.  Everything was pretty much status quo.  No major changes were anticipated.  I was still recovering from a fractured hip, but that was coming along nicely.  The one big change had been my power wheelchair.  After a very long time of being virtually home bound, I was suddenly able to go out into the world on my own.  What a relief for both Jon and me, and the dogs as well.  I could take them on walks again and they got used to the chair right away.  They were so happy to have their daddy back.  Yes, 2011 looked promising.

The first change of the year was getting a cell phone.  I didn't need one while being home all the time but , now that I was out and about, I felt I needed one for safety only.  I started with the most minimal of calling plans and bought a phone with minimal features.  That didn't last long.  I didn't have an email address and needed one so I traded the phone in on a model with Internet capabilities, upgraded my service plan and I was back in the real world.  Or so I thought.  Then I thought I'd try out this thing called Facebook.  Well, little did I know, my life suddenly changed forever.

Right away I began reconnecting with friends I hadn't seen or heard from in 40 years.  They happily guided me through the new world of social media.  With many of my old chums it was as if it had only been a matter of weeks since we last spoke, certainly not 40 years.  As I went along I began to cultivate new friendships as well.  Some of those new friendships have been amazing in their immediate intensity.  Very quickly I was experiencing an abundance of new found love.  Not that I didn't have love in my life, but I admit to being a love hog.  There's always room for more.

Over the first few months of the year, I kept enjoying my new found freedoms, both physical and social, and began physical therapy to relearn how to walk.  Over my year plus of inactivity my muscles had atrophied to the point where I could no longer stand, much less walk.  It didn't take long though before I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was at least able to walk with the aid of a walker, even if it was limited to very short distances (like from a chair to the bathroom) but I was pleased with the progress.

On April 16th I had to go across the street to the hospital pharmacy to pick up a prescription.  Of course I had to use the power chair for that.  I took the long way so I didn't have to cross the busy street we live on without a crosswalk.  It is a few blocks out of the way, but better safe than sorry.  The crosswalk I chose to use was one of those where you press the button and a flashing yellow light warns traffic that someone is about to cross the street.  I waited until cars had stopped going the opposite direction and headed on into the crosswalk.  I saw a car coming my way but it was quite a ways up the street.  After all, the light was flashing so I assumed the car would see it and me.  Well, not this time.  The driver had been distracted and he didn't see me or the light.  For a moment I thought I could outrun him when it became apparent that he wasn't going to stop.  Wrong.  I had enough time to think "oh shit" and then I went flying.  No life flashing before my eyes.  No nothing.  The next thing I knew I was on the ground, my glasses broken, my cell phone in front of me (it must have been in my hand) and the driver of the car was hysterically asking if I was all right.  I saw that my chair was still upright, although now facing in the opposite direction to the way I was going.  My first thought was that I needed to get back into my chair.  The driver helped me do that and I proceeded the rest of the way across the street.  That fete accomplished, it dawned on me that my broken glasses and my phone were still in the street.  The driver ran back and fetched them for me.  I was just outside the hospital emergency room.  What luck.  My next job was to call my partner, Jon.  I calmly told him what had happened as two nurses from the hospital ran up to assist.  I knew I was on my way to emergency although, at that point, I was dazed and confused and wasn't quite sure why they were insisting that I go.

It wasn't until I climbed onto a gurney inside the ER that I saw the blood.  I still didn't feel any pain.  I remember thinking what a pretty color of red my blood was.  As if my blood was somehow different from everyone else's.  After xrays, CT scans, and who knows what, it was determined that I hadn't broken any bones so they patched me up.  I was one giant bandage as I saw it.  After only 3 hours they let me go home.  Jon had come and gone by then so I got back in my chair (barely damaged) and drove myself home.

Once safely home and in bed I cried for a moment.  I realized how close to death I had just come and for that moment I felt more vulnerable than I had ever felt before.  But the moment was brief.  I took some pain pills that I already had and went to sleep.  Thankfully, I had no idea what was to come next.

I will let that be part one of my years reflections.  I still have a couple of days to bring things up to the present.

                                      Peace and Love,




  1. My goodness, Bill, I didn't know the story of your accident. Did you call the police? Seems like there needed to be a report--after all you were in the crosswalk. So grateful you are here to write about this!

    I thought I was the last person on earth to be without a smartphone, and I guess I might be, since you've traded up! What a big technological shift you've made this year. You seem like a natural for Facebook, so glad you made your way here.

    Here's to a wonderful end of year for you, Bill. Keep healing!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

  2. The police were called, Judy. I wasn't aware of their presence at the time and when they spoke to me in the ER, I only remember being irritated by them. There I am, half naked, being questioned by a female cop. The police report came in handy later though. Remember, I am only up to April. Much more to come.

  3. It's like re-living the accident with you! I am so grateful to have you as a big part of my life. What would I do without you?

  4. Bill, What a horrifying experience. It's amazing what a positive attitude you have given all that you've been through. Off to read part 2 . . .

    caregiving. family. advocacy.