In recent conversations with close family it was brought to my attention that I tend to remember the dates of some of the most uncommon events. I know that I quit smoking on August 4, 2004. I know that I had previously quit smoking on Jan 28, 1986, and that on that day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in space. And I remember that one year ago I slipped on the ice, hit my head on concrete and that by the grace of God what could have been much worse is now just a scary and impactful memory.
It was Saturday night February 13, 2021, one year ago today and a Saturday night. I was dating someone at the time and we decided it would be a good idea to go out on this Saturday night for Valentines Day rather than get caught in the throngs of people all celebrating the following day. After our dinner we went to visit some friends in the neighborhood where I live. The forecast was for snow starting in the early part of Sunday, but till even though the forecast was for very cold weather, no precipitation was due to arrive till morning. Well as we all know, the weather people do a decent job, and certainly help us plan our days, but they are far from always being right. This was one of those nights they got it very wrong, and all havoc broke out over Long Island. Ice storms caused slick roads and slippery sidewalks. Accidents were happening all over the Island and hospital emergency rooms were starting to get busy.
When my date and I left the house we were visiting, we saw the weather wasn’t great, but due to the nature of the ice storm we didn’t see what was actually taking place. She stepped out, slipped and grabbed onto the railing of the stairs. As I saw her do this I was stepping out onto the concrete in front of the door. My feet flew out in front of me, my body flipped up, and I landed on the concrete squarely on the back of my head. I do not remember the exact moment of impact, but I do remember feeling almost as though I bounced up a little. I got onto my knees and put my hand on the back of my head. My date had the presence of mind to ask me a very relevant and critical question, “can you move?” I was able to get to my feet and carefully got back into the house.
Holding my head and feeling confused and scared I heard at least 3 people asking if they should call an ambulance. When I took my hand away I heard the same people all say almost immediately, yes, call an ambulance. The next few minutes remain a blur to me, but I do remember seeing more of my own blood than I had ever seen. I remember my friend that took control and comforted me till the ambulance arrived. Due to the conditions the 2 EMS workers told me that it would be too dangerous to put me on something as it would likely lead to them slipping and falling with me, so instead I was taken down the stairs carefully with someone on each side. I was then taken to the hospital 1 mile away.
Here are the main points I remember. My blood pressure was something like 185/125. Even with a bandage around my head the blood was still trickling down my neck. I remember that I had an awful headache, but I don’t remember the pain. When the ER Dr. looked at my head she said, “Good job”. My reply was to ask, “does that mean it is not so bad?'”, to which she replied, “No. It means it is good that you’re here. Some people don’t need to be here. You do need to be here.” They took a CT Scan of my head. I remember the fear of not knowing what was happening. How bad it might have been. Feeling dizzy, wobbly on my feet and unable to focus. But I also remember how nice the staff was. When I needed to use the restroom they asked me to wait till a nurse who looked at least 7 months pregnant could accompany me to the door, instructed me not to lock the door as she waited outside for me. And I remember a degree of relief when the Dr. came back and said my CT Scan was negative. But she also said something I will never forget. She said, “I was relieved to see your scan. I was not sure you were going to be OK until I did.” She then proceeded to give me 5 staples to close the wound- I was given the choice between staples and stitches-and soon I was able to return home.
While I was fortunate to not find myself in danger of serious long lasting effects or worse from the fall, I was not prepared for what came next. As I have said often since, and anyone who has had a concussion concurs with me, you may know what a concussion is, but unless you’ve had a concussion, you don’t understand a concussion. The headaches and blurred vision were symptoms that kept me off the road for 3 weeks and symptoms I had heard of often before so I was not surprised by them. I hated the feeling, and was thankful when they dissipated, but I was not shocked to experience them. What I was not ready for was the emotional impact I felt for weeks more. I remember feeling a sense of panic at a red light. Sitting and just starting to cry for no reason, and having dreams that frightened me and confused me. I remember time lapses that felt almost like what a time jump might feel like if time travel were possible. From February 13 till about May 1st I felt some or all of these symptoms, and now I realize exactly how bad a concussion can be, and of course I remember how grateful I was heading into the warmer weather feeling like myself again. Except for one thing.
There’s a reason I didn’t write this piece in May. I couldn’t. Every time I tried to write my mind darted all over the place. I couldn’t focus. From the time I started a sentence till the time I finished it my train of thought would jump somewhere else or disappear. But there was something I was doing that had already helped me that I continued to do. I forced myself to get to bed on time in order to get at least 7 hours sleep. By the end of the summer I found myself slowly but surely getting back to where I once was and ready to write again.
There are many emotions and feelings I have when I look back at what happened a year ago today, but none greater than a feeling of gratitude. I am thankful to the friends that helped me, I am thankful to the hospital for the great job they did, but most of all I thank God. In the scheme of things what happened to me a year ago is not such a big deal, but it was not that far from being a very big deal, and as I look back I realize how lucky I am. This is the reason I share this story. If you ever have had or ever do have an incident like the one I had, I hope this helps you, as telling it to you as helped me.
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