Key West to Miami
By life-flight, with bones sticking out of my legs, a fractured humerus, scapula, and L2 vertebrae...
The shock, along with the heavy medication, left me unconscious for at least two, maybe three days. When I awoke, after having the weirdest, most vivid dreams, of which I still remember the weirdest one almost two years later, I knew I was in a hospital after getting hit by a car.
I knew—I assumed—because subconsciously, I was soaking up all that was said around me in ICU while I... rested.
Waking up was a freaky experience. I tried to open my eyes, and I couldn't. I tried to roll my eyes under my lids, and I couldn't. I'm PARALYZED, I thought. I can't even move my eyes under my lids to answer questions, once for yes, twice for no; they're going to think I'm in a COMA!
OK, relax. let's see if we can't fix this. Concentrate on your eyes. Focus. Try to move them, think of nothing else. Take your time, it's not like you've got somewhere you need to be. OH! THEY MOVED! OK, keep trying. Good, now at least I can show them I'm not in a coma, and answer questions.
Alright, let's see if I can move my fingers, make sure I'm not paralyzed from the neck down. Concentrate, focus. THERE! THEY MOVED!
Now the toes, make sure I'm not paralyzed from the waist down. YES, I can move my toes! Now let's open the eyes, take in my new environs.
A curtain, which was a prominent feature of my last dream. How did I know about the curtain if I just opened my eyes now? An IV dripping into my arm, other things hooked up to me. Arms strapped by the wrists to bed rails. The obvious conclusion; I was in a hospital, but I knew that already. I could move everything, but barely—I was stuck on my back, in an uncomfortable bed, made tolerable by heavy doses of pain medication.
After some time, how long, I don't know—time was warped, a nurse came in. "So, you're awake. How do you feel?"
"Where am I?"
"ICU at Jefferson Memorial Hospital."
She was way too young to be a nurse, or even an intern, or even in medical school. This was to be the norm for everyone who worked in ICU.
"Where's Jefferson Memorial?"
"Washington DC. Just kidding, Miami."
So far, my experiences of Miami consisted of being evacuated there while Hurricane Irma came tearing through the Keys, and now. Seems like Miami was there in my times of need, but it also signified I have some heavy times of need.
Somewhere along the line, I got the good news: two fractured tibias, two fractured fibulas, with pins already installed, a fractured humerus, my left—oh, great, I'm left-handed—which had yet to be operated on—another pin—the L2 fused and bracketed to the L1 and L3, and a fractured scapula, my right. Hot damn, I'm a Cyborg! This was the beginning of my formulating a new song, 87₵. I have a musical genius friend, Darryll Icht, who will put it to music. You'll understand when you hear it.
Over the next few months I would hear repeatedly that I was lucky to be alive. My stock response would be, "Why? If I were dead, I wouldn't know the difference, and my problems would be over." This was not original to me. I had heard of an old Chinese custom, if someone saved someone else's life, they were responsible for that person from then on. The reasoning was, if the person had died, their problems would be over. You saved them, their problems continue, you gotta help 'em out.
ICU was a trip. A really weird culture; everyone there seemed too young to be there. 'Course, I ain't getting any younger—but then again, I never have—while everyone younger than me seems more younger than me all the time. But, beyond young, it was a weird culture in a way, probably only an artist or writer like myself could appreciate it.
There was a child in the bed across the room from me that I called the Little Coma Baby—it (he/she) was swathed in clothes, and had a mask on his/her face. Kinda like a hockey mask, or maybe something LCB had worn one Halloween. Who knows? But, LCB just lie there in the hospital bed, taking up very little room, and never moving.
I had gotten hit either the 23rd or 24th of October 2017. Can't find the article now, but I remember it: "He hit the bumper, the hood, the windshield, the top, trunk..." If you're gonna do something, might as well go full tilt. And I imagined the scene, me tumbling over the car going God knows how fast, then me lying by the side of the road in shock, bones sticking out, a pool of blood forming... I visualized a somewhat Surreal picture of a crash dummy flying over the BMW; I could describe this to my genius artist friend, Matthew. He could paint it for me.
The night before Halloween, one of the incredibly young, and quite lovely medics—I never knew what their titles were, I was too high the whole time to register anything that complicated—told me what she was going to do, and said she'd give me an extra dose of medication if I just kept quite and watched. She gave me the dose, and got to work.
I watched as she worked, and was quite amazed at the speed and level of skill with which she pulled off her creation. I don't know what materials she used, but the finished product—a kind of Halloween sculpture—was astonishing. And the responses from medics and staff passing by the next morning were amusing. Everything from awe, to mirth, to disgust, were displayed.
It was the Mother Mary standing at the head of the bed, with a gauzy umbilical-like cord coming from her nether regions, had she been undressed. The cord funneled out, like an upside-down tornado, to LCB, where it surrounded him/her like a loose swaddling cloth. I was swimming through a haze those first few weeks, so it's all quite blurry, but I'm assuming Mary was a plastic statue, like one would put in a grotto in their yard to worship. A work of art. I was impressed. If I gotta be broken up in a hospital bed, this was a cool place to do it.
Not long after, my wrist restraints were removed. Another medic, a pretty, but solidly built, young lady coerced me to staggeringly swing my legs over the side of the bed so she could dance with me. As I stood there, shaking and terrified, she grabbed me by the hips and swung her own from side to side. After just a few seconds, I begged her to help me back into bed. She acquiesced, and I was safely ensconced again in bed. Because of her structure, her boyish body, I wondered if she was trans. So I asked, "Are you a complicated person?" She said, "Yes." But I could tell she didn't understand the code. She wasn't complicated, just pretty and tough.
A couple of days after that, they were ready to fix my arm. I was worried they were taking too long, and it would start to heal skewed because of it. In hind sight, given how long it took my bones to mend, if they actually did, it was a foolish notion.
As they pushed my bed down to surgery, I asked what complications there might be. I was informed one of the worst things that might happen is a severed or otherwise corrupt nerve after the operation. Pins, fused vertebrae, loss of time while I healed, I could take. Loss of function of my left arm was unthinkable. "Please, God..."
We got to surgery, and they conked me out, and did their magic. When I awoke, I was delighted to find myself suffering from the most excruciating pain I've ever had to endure. Strangely, although the pin they inserted was in the upper arm, my forearm felt like it had been sliced through diagonally with a ragged blade. The pain was so concentrated and specific, I could have drawn a line with a Sharpie showing exactly where it was. "They screwed up my nerve," I thought. It hurt so bad, I was almost crying.
Then they gave me morphine, and everything was right with the world.