Thanksgiving Thankfulness – #1: Walking

by brandt

I know.  It’s an odd thing to be thankful for.  And I think if everyone thought about it long enough, they would be thankful for it as well.  But obviously, there’s a back-story to why I’m thankful to be walking.

While I was going to school in Idaho, Ashley had taken a semester off to go work.  Her aunt and uncle owned a restaurant in West Yellowstone, MT, and she would wait tables up there during an off-semester to earn money for tuition/books.  My goodness did that girl work. Most days she would work long hours at one restaurant, constantly on her feet and waiting tables.  A few times a week, she would head to another restaurant for the breakfast shift, then heading over to her aunts and working lunch/dinner there.  Since my apartment was only an hour and a half there, I would go up every other weekend and stay with her grandparents so I could see her.

I’ll admit.  We both didn’t think it would work.  I mean, when the end of the semester came, and she was preparing to go up there, I was dreading the potential conversation we were going to have about maybe “taking a break.”  Oddly enough, that day came, and as she was getting ready to head up, I had a thought of “I kinda like this girl, I don’t want to break things off…and there’s really no one else I want to date right now….so why not keep going?”

Her time in West Yellowstone wrapped up, and she moved back down with her parents while she searched again for employment for a few months until college started up for her again.  Now she was 4 hours away, and we only could see each other once a month.  We fully utilized Verizon and T-Mobile’s “Free nights and weekends,” and had 2-hour conversations every night to keep us going.

I decided that I was sick of sitting in my room while talking to her, and decided that I could probably go take a walk, get some fresh air, and still continue our nightly tradition.  This was before the days of standardized Bluetooth, so I purchased a corded earpiece/microphone from eBay to plug into my phone, and would go out walking for the duration of our conversations.

One night, it was particularly cold.  It was the day before Halloween, and the wind was whipping and unusually nippy for that time of year.  I bundled up, began my walk, and decided that a large hot chocolate from the local Maverick Gas Station would be appropriate for a night like tonight.  I walked around the block to get my drink, and continued down the full length of the block to start walking to campus where there was better lighting along sidewalks and crosswalks.

As a college student, I always disregarded crosswalks.  They seemed to be inconvenient, out of the way, and frankly not in my personal direct route to campus, so I avoided them.  This night, there was no students, no traffic, and I had nowhere to go,  so I looked both ways, verified there were no cars, and took my first step into the crosswalk.

Crosswalks aren’t that big, and I’m a big guy (6’4”).  I got a few steps into the crosswalk, and I saw a car turn the corner at the end of the road.  No big deal.  I’m big.  How can you not see me?  This odd road had cars going north and south (where I was crossing) have a no-stop intersection (they passed on through), but east-west cars had to stop and yield to north-south cars (confusing, I know).  Because it was closer to campus, the speed limit was 25MPH.  I got halfway through the intersection, and could still see the car heading my direction.  Not wanting to be a total creeper and stare right at him, I kept my head down and continued talking to Ashley.  As I was ¾ of the way through the intersection, out of my peripheral vision I saw a headlight towards the area around my legs.  I thought it was a roommate or someone I knew trying to play cute and get really close to me and give me a love tap.

I wish.  Warning: potential cringe-worthy and graphic mental images ahead.

The next thing I know, my body is being flung up and over the car, I’m rolling on the ground, and I land on my hands and knees.  I’m hanging my head down, and some liquid is coming off the tip of my nose.  I then realized I’ve probably broken my nose.  And instead of going absolutely nutty and paranoid, I got mad.  That son of a……………that jerk….he just hit me with his car!  I mean, who freaking does that!?!?!?!?!  I didn’t fully realize what happened, though.  I felt like I got tackled really hard playing football, and being the consummate male, was going to shake it off and “throw some dirt on it.”  A girl came running across the street and frantically asked me “OH MY GOSH ARE YOU OK!?!?!?!?!?!”  I tried to suck up all my manliness and respond “Yeah, I think….um….”  I took inventory of my surroundings, and realized I was still in the middle of the road.  I already got hit by one car.  There was no way that I was going to get hit again.  “I think I should probably go over there.”  I pointed to a house’s lawn that was about 15 feet away from me.  I stood up, still woozy and wobbly, and went to take a step with my right leg and toppled over.  Son of a gun, that turd broke my leg too!  I had just told Ashley the day before that I had never broken a bone, and now this happens?

Whoa.

Wait.

I just got hit by a car.  “I think you should just lie down” the girl said.

“Yeah, I’ll just lay here.”  I’m lying here in the middle of the road.

What the heck just happened to me?

I had been a lifeguard for years while in high school, and had seen a lot of different situations and been through hundreds of hours of training.  I took a quick assessment of myself.  Fingers and toes had feeling; I could move arms and legs.  Obviously, my leg was broken.  Back/neck was fine.  I’m breathing OK, but feel like crap.  No punctured lungs.  No blood in my mouth, so no internal bleeding.  Potential concussion.  I’m cold and starting to shake.  My body is reacting to the weather outside, and I’m also starting to go into shock.  Keep talking to people.  Stay conscious.

I laid my head on the road, and someone had come up and put a blanket on me.  They asked for a phone number for someone to call, and through the shock I’m able to coherently tell them my parent’s number.  Let’s just say, they weren’t prepared for the phone call.

Surprisingly, the police and ambulance were extremely quick.  Under 10 minutes quick.  We found out later that if they weren’t as quick, I would have bled out in the street, and probably wouldn’t be here.  The police and EMT’s got me on a gurney and into the ambulance, and the EMT’s got me hooked up on morphine and other fluids ASAP.

Fatigue hit me like a punch in the face, and I remember telling them “Hey guys, I’m really tired, can I just go to bed?”

“Nope, Brandt, we need you awake bud.  You can’t go to sleep.  You have to stay awake.”  I realized later that was my body wanting to slip into unconsciousness.

They wheel me into the ER, and I begin talking with the police about what just happened and answering the doctor and nurse’s questions.

“Yes, I feel that.  Yes, I can move my fingers and toes.  No, he wasn’t on the road when I came into the crosswalk.  I didn’t hear any brakes screeching.   Um, I have a headache?  No, no allergies to any medication.  You did get in touch with my parents?  OK good.  Yeah, can you give Ashley a call?  She’s my girlfriend; I was on the phone with her when this happened.  No history of heart problems.  I’ve always been pretty healthy.  Yeah, can you please call Ashley?  She is my girlfriend; I was on the phone with her.  Um, no, that doesn’t hurt.  Yes, all my teeth are in-tact.  Yes, I was in the crosswalk the entire time.  Can you please call Ashley?  She’s my…um….fiancé.”

Time stops.

The doctors, nurses, and police officers look at me.  “No problem, we’ll make sure she knows.”  Amazing how that happens.

Without boring you all with more of the nitty gritty details about my hospital visit, suffice it to say I spent 8 days there, and Ashley came up from Utah to take care of me for the next month.

My leg was shattered, and I had a 1-2 inch laceration on my neck that could have been fatal if it would have been 1 millimeter in any direction, up or down, left or right.   The laceration was the most serious, but the shattered leg had the longest-lasting effects.  The tibia and fibula were both shattered, which had to be surgically repaired by inserting a rod in my leg, and securing it by screws in my ankle and in my knee.

I began physical therapy the day after my first surgery, which included me, on a walker, trying to walk.  I was using a walker/crutches for close to 3 months, then a cane for 3 months.

I never thought about walking as anything other than how people get around.  But after going through 6 months of physical therapy, I know consider the fact that I’m up and walking one of life’s greatest blessings.

So yes, that’s basically the long story about why I’m thankful for being able to walk.

If you’ve got a strong stomach, here’s a picture of what my face/hands looked like.

 

Accident picture from my own personal collection, “Thank You” picture from Samuel at Gilgal.

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2 Comments to “Thanksgiving Thankfulness – #1: Walking”

  1. It’s funny how we take the most basic things for granted sometimes.

    i totally clicked on the picture–grrrrooosss!

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