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If life is a journey, an automobile accident can lead to adventure

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image If the car could talk, it might grumble that the broken ribs I sustained are not as painful as its obliterated front end. Unlike me, it has been determined a total loss.

It wasn’t high on my bucket list, but a recent Saturday afternoon at the library certainly turned into an adventure.


It wasn’t high on my bucket list, but a recent Saturday afternoon at the library certainly turned into an adventure.

Or, perhaps miss-adventure is more accurate. As my editor here, Brenda Knowles, observed with an inarguable clarity, “there you were, be boppin’ your way through life and life just reached out and bopped you.” It broke four ribs and punctured the lung they are supposed to protect, but, hey, let’s not get too specific here... It’s really painful — trust me on that — and there’s really more to this story.

In a perfect life, of course, I would not have been trying to inch onto 19th Avenue N.E. from Beth Shields Way, just as two young men were speeding toward me along a long blind curve. In a perfect world, the brand spanking new ambulance rig from Hillsborough Fire Rescue Station 28 would not have suddenly shut down with me in it. No AC. No lights. No working equipment. No going anywhere until a replacement ambulance could be pulled from another station. In a more perfect place, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Investigator Ivey would not have reported my 11-year-old, long-out-of-production Oldsmobile as a 2013 model. But, that’s not the story, either.

The story is our world is operated by imperfect humans and, consequently, cannot be perfect. Or, more simply put, to change the outcome, change the input.

The detour into new experience actually began in Brandon Regional Hospital with an insect. What treats excruciating pain? Pain killers, of course. And, high powered drugs have different effects on different people. I, I’ve learned, hallucinate. I awoke one night in ICU to read ARACHNID on the bed sheet over my feet. I then engaged in a very civil conversation with a rather large, furry lady spider who was both knowledgeable and articulate. Being a rather competitive writer by nature, I did not rush to share this astounding discovery with anyone. Which is really fortunate. In the light of day, I had to acknowledge my block buster scoop was all in my mind.

I didn’t imagine a couple of outstanding night nurses in the Intensive Care Unit, though. Both are angels in drab garb. The ICU nurse rep is that they’re a cut above. Debby and Lesley exceed even that standard. As a male nurse tried to yank my broken body – well, it sure felt that way! – across the bed and I blistered him with the saltiest words I’ve ever heard, it was Debby instantly at the bedside. No well intentioned but brawny man was going to hurt her patient, she informed. Her ministrations to ease the pain did not cease.

Similarly, with Lesley, patient care is all there is. Every move she made, every task she performed, every effort she undertook, she did completely and comprehensively. No undue hurry, no cutting corners, no wasted motion, no imprecision allowed. She operated with absolute confidence and that, in itself, was healing. Finally, I asked about her “personal five year plan.” She missed not a half beat before explaining she’d begun her career as a CNA in Arizona, had returned to school for an R.N. degree and hoped to earn a Master’s in order “to teach young nurses how to do it right the first time.” Actually, of course, she could do that right now.

Two nights with Lesley, the risks of a chest tube eliminated and I was cleared for landing on a regular nursing floor. A couple more days and I was by-passing rehab, enroute home…with a promise to heed home nurses.

And that first night, I kid you not, was hell on earth. Unable to tolerate flat surfaces, I was driven to take up residence in the embracing arms of my La-Z-Boy.

With the dawn, though, came a new day, telephone calls and friends bearing food, treats, entertainments, advise, cards, shared experiences, a few dire warnings and not a little gallows humor. Mac Miller, Ruskin pioneer, former military officer and retired college professor, showed up with his family, Poet Melanie Hubbard, daughter Kylie, and food. “You know what the guys in Nam used to say?” he queried with a chuckle. And, with the timing of a Vegas comic, came the punch line: “an open sucking chest wound tells you to slow down.” Damn! It hurts to laugh that hard.

Wes and Karina Mullins, who help hold things together at M&M Printing, parent company of The Observers community newspaper group, were among first on the home scene, shopping for groceries, setting up a more convenient television set, bringing freshly prepared food from their kitchen, loaning daughter Sacia for an emergency errand.

It was Ron Boyett, who cherishes wife Kim, daughter Krisi, hunting and talking conservative politics — in that order — who first noticed the accumulating clutter on the floors of my house as things that belonged there were dropped helter skelter and things that didn’t belong there were lost, even from my one good hand. I figured I’d never bend over again. I’d just be an ole bag lady, living in clutter to the ceiling, tunneling through the house like some misshapen rat.

Nope, not yet, Ron said, producing a long-handled, manually operated grabber that picks stuff up from the floor and even, somewhat incredibly, puts stuff down there. Clearly, my shuffling, tunneling ole rat days are going to be delayed.

Kim Boyett, as sensitive as her observant hubby, shows up regularly with packages of high quality, smooth, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate and the admonition “at times like these, you need CHOCOLATE.”

She and Krisi also are big on creating imagined scenes designed to toggle my regret switch. Like the time I asked them to pick up a certain brand of pet food at the supermarket. They materialized hours later to confess they could not find that brand in Publix; they had complained to the manager, had turned the store nearly upside down, even had people in the aisles looking for it, they said. All to no avail. It was only after minutes of this elaborate description of a failed mission that had put dozens of people out looking for my pet food, that they fessed up to the entire hoax. “By the way,” they added chortling, producing the cans, “you had the brand wrong, but you had the flavor right.”

These people and others have kept me in delicious take-out from favorite eateries, have kept the wolf from the door, have kept my spirits up. They’ve run interference, returned phone calls, gathered mail and newspapers, stood by for any request.

They’ve given me strength to face the upcoming challenges – getting mobile again, acquiring another car, settling with insurance companies. The unexpected turn of events may have been miss-adventure, but such exhibitions of human kindness always are valuable adventures.
Copyright 2012 Melody Jameson

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