April 2005. That's how long ago my injury happened.
I have spent more years than I care to admit dealing with the impact of what happened to me. I don't really talk about it. I don't actively acknowledge it as much as humanly possible. It's a weight I try to ignore but it crushes me down no matter what I do. That's why I'm writing this I suppose. Maybe it can help in some way.
A long time ago, I was involved in a work related accident. This accident resulted in a really bad injury. My foot was crushed between a stand up hi-lo (or a fork lift you stand up in to operate) and a metal pole. I imagine a lot of you reading this might wince in sympathetic pain but let me tell you, it was as bad as you think and even worse than that. It was like my foot instantly burst into pins and needles but at the same time there was massive pain too. It was truly horrible.
After the initial injury, I tried to walk away but I didn't get far. I collapsed a few feet away and laid on the ground as people crowded around me, trying to help.
You always see things in movies and TV where characters talk about life-changing events. It's a constant theme and one you see a lot of. So you think you understand. I was one of those people. I realize now, though, I never actually understood at all.
That changed the day I got hurt. I woke up that morning and everything was normal. I woke up the next day and my world was gone.
The injury itself was bad enough. I broke just about every bone in my foot there was to break. But wait... there's more. In a freakish twist of fate, I also managed to sever an artery. Medicine 101: If blood is not pumped into a cerain area, the tissue there dies. That's what happened to the heel tissue of my foot. It goes without saying that you can't just leave dead tissue there. So the doctors had to cut it all off (which is called debridement by the way). I fought for over two years to save my foot. This involved a cage to fix the bones and numerous skin grafts to regrow the skin that was no longer there—both of which were incredibly painful. The efforts were unsuccessful and after I fought to save it, I ended up getting it amputated.
So to recap... that's pain, on top of pain, with a little more pain thrown in for good measure. It was a lot like being tortured.
But I told myself then that it was okay. I was terrified. So terrified that my body would go cold just thinking about it. But I thought I was being brave by going through with it. I fought my fight but I lost so amputation was my only option left and so it had to be done. It was meant to be. It sucked but I thought that there was a purpose to it. Some grand, devine plan. I felt like there had to be a reason for this horrible, terrible thing.
There just had to.
Maybe it was meant to make me stronger.
Or maybe it was supppsed to make me and my wife closer. She wasn't my wife at the time. She was just my fiancee. She could've left (and knowing how things turned out, she should have) but she didn't. She stayed.
Turns out, though, it was none of those things. Turns out there was no purpose for it. It just happened.
I wanted there to be a reason. I needed that purpose to this massive tragedy that ended with me losing a literal, and metaphorical, chunk of myself. But when I came to understand there was a complete and utter lack of reason, the only thing left was bitterness. And anger.
So much anger.
At first the rage was controllable. I kept it under wraps. It would slip out at times but for the most part I could be happy still. Sort of. There was never true happiness because the amputation was still there. It was always there. It hung over my head like a sword about to drop.
The worst part was seeing it happen and being unable to stop it. And seeing what it did to my family. It hurt them. Not physically mind you. I would never physically hurt any of them but pain is still there whether you strike someone or use your words and actions to hurt them. My pain tranformed into rage and that rage trickled down to them. It was a slow drizzle at first but as the years went by, that drizzle turned into a downpour. I drove them away. I wish I could've stopped it and at one point I did think I beat it but it never really went away.
In the end, all it did was get worse.
That rage turned into erratic and crazy behavior.
Do you know what going crazy feeks like? To me... it's not about hearing voices or seeing things (that's not my cup of crazy). For me, going crazy feels like not being able to trust myself anymore. The things I felt I knew about myself, the things I have held as constants about who I truly am, they're no longer there. They abandoned me and now all I'm left with is this insanity inducing doubt. It is as painful, if not more so, than my actual injury. I don't know if anyone out there has ever felt like this, but I'm willing to bet there are a few that know what I'm talking about.
The worse part about this brand of crazy is that I had no idea it was even happening to me. It snuck in when I got hurt and from there, it just grew and grew until I lost everything.
I lost my wife. I lost the family I fought hard to keep. I lost my sanity. And it's all because of one event. I can literally trace the downfall of my life to that one, single event.
It was the first dominoe. They just kept falling after that.
I am sorry for everything that went down. I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough to overcome what happened to me. I wish I could be like the inspirational people you see who also lost their limbs but didn't let it destroy them.
I guess that just isn't me.
Thanks for reading this though. Talking about it does help and if this can show someone how to not make my mistakes then at least some good came from this tragedy.