I have a friend who was in a terrible car accident about a month ago. He was driving home from the hospital, he and his sister had just "pulled the plug" for their father (he was very ill for a very long time, and suffered multiple strokes among other things). Anyway, Tony was driving home with his girlfriend, he was wearing a seat belt, she was not. They were hit by a drunk driver. She was thrown from the vehicle, and subsequently hit multiple times in the oncoming traffic. They did not expect her to live for very long. She died a few days later. Tony suffered severe head trauma, multiple fractures, and was in a coma.
Ex was the one to tell me about the incident, since he and Tony are still close. He and friends kept at Tony's side in the hospital, and I think Ex looked to me for comfort, since I work in the TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) field, and I have seen situations like this multiple times. He wanted to know if things were going to be okay, or if they could be okay. He was looking for hope.
The doctors said that Tony probably wouldn't live for very much longer, and if he did, he may be a "vegetable", but at best would have many impairments. He may never walk, talk, or even open his eyes again. His sister made the difficult decision to give him 72 hours, then let just let him go.
As things would have it, I was going through some papers on my desk at work. I turned a page to find a new admit. It was Tony.
If he had made it this far, that means he had stabilized in the hospital, and he was sent to us for recovery. Wow. I left work early because I had to go see him. I walked into our inpatient facility (it's a facility where there is 24 hour nursing care), and found his room.
I have to say- I was floored. Tony was sitting up in a wheelchair, alert. His sister was there, so I first said hi to Tony, and asked if he remembered me. He grabbed my hand and kissed it. He motioned for me to make introductions to his sister, which I did. His sister is deaf, so I instinctively started Signing to her (she didn't respond with Sign, so I dropped it- the courteous thing to do in the Deaf community). Tony has a trach, and no sound comes out when he speaks, you have to lip-read what he's saying. He was talking very fast, and I got the feeling he was ushering me out- maybe because he didn't want me to see him "like that", in a brief with his pants pulled halfway up, one eye open (he's hemi-plegic), hooked up to all kinds of machines, and in a wheelchair. I told his sister that I would keep my eye on him, and she seemed to feel relieved.
I don't know what the point of this entry was, other than yet another realization that life is precious. This was a guy that played in multiple bands. A very talented guitarist. He loved the ladies (and they loved him). He came to my college graduation. He was a paramedic. I will be interested to see how life re-tracks for him, and I am thankful that he is in a system where I will be able to be there for him so often, if he needs a familiar face, a friend, or an advocate.
And...wear your seat belt.