Friday, August 13. For me, it will always be the day I almost died.
It was 1993 and I was 12 years old, having one of those summers spent almost entirely in the water. I had biked to the town pool only to find it was closed for maintenance. Remembering that my mother was leaving the house, I biked home fast before I was shut out for the afternoon. I remembered looking both ways before crossing the street but clearly I didn’t. I saw red and then it was dark. (Years later, I found out it was a red pickup that hit me when I was telling my mom I had felt uncomfortable sitting in someone’s truck and I didn’t know why. Yup it was a red truck!)
I don’t remember any pain but it was dark and I couldn’t move or open my eyes. I remember hearing people talk all around me and not being able to say anything. I was trapped in my body.
I spent three days in the hospital. I don’t remember much but I remember my family being around and that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I remember trying repeatedly to make it through a half hour long television show or a chapter in a book but getting a headache before I could finish. I had a concussion. I had an MRI or maybe a CAT scan which I slept through. Overall, I was sleepy and a bit sick to my stomach.
The day I was supposed to go home, I had a seizure. It felt like some big invisible hands were holding me down and pushing my head backward. I tried to mentally overpower it, or at least say something to calm people around me down, but I was trapped in my body again.
I had one more seizure and ended up in the ICU. Doctors thought my brain might be swelling. They were about to fly me to Bangor (a more critical care hospital) and told my father to go home and pack me a bag for the Lifeflight ride.
And then, for no reason, I snapped out of it. I began feeling better. Doctors warned my family I might have brain damage or have seizures again but the year after, I scored the highest in my class on an algebra placement test and I never had another seizure again.
This is just what I remember. My family doesn’t really talk about it because sadly, they didn’t sleep through most of it like I did. For years after though, my mother didn’t want me to leave the house on any Friday the 13th, in particular in August. The incident made us all a bit superstitious.
I think it this event is what forever changed me as a person. Those who know me know that, while fun-loving, I am also a serious person. I think it’s because I’m very aware of my mortality and became aware quite young.
Also, I realize that I got a second chance. I should have died but didn’t. If the truck had hit me going any faster, if I had been a smaller kid, if some small thing was any different, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
Because of this, I’ve always felt a responsibility to not slack off in my life. Some don’t get the luxury of years to sit around waiting for things to happen. Some don’t have time to think about making a contribution and not get around to it. Some great people have not had this second chance so I’ll be darned if I’m going to waste mine.
Getting on a bike in my 20s was another hurdle to overcome. I can still see my mother’s bike, the bike I had borrowed that day because it was cooler than mine, bent in half from being run over. But facing my uneasiness, I’ve found a new hobby and a great way to see the beautiful place I live in.
There are conflicting findings about the amount of accidents on Friday the 13th (whether there are more or not) but do me a favor and be careful today! And when biking, always wear a helmet. :^)