Archive for the 'Personal' Category

The 29th Anniversary of the Accident the Changed my Life

29 years ago to the day, on May 9th, 1992, I was ejected through the windshield from the back seat of the car I was traveling in with two of my friends at the time. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, because I was sitting in the center of the back seat, having a conversation with the driver and front seat passenger, and BAM, we were hit head-on by a car of elderly women who swerved into our lane doing about 40mph in each vehicle.

A single 4″ fracture in my skull, 7 spiral fractures in my right leg and a broken right elbow, as I bounced across 2 lanes of traffic and into the grass on the other side of the road. I also lost my sight for 5-6 hours, and went in and out of consciousness during my 6-hour stay in the hospital.

I was brought by ambulance to Windham Hospital but had no overnight observation, no casting of my fractures, no other treatment other than a few sutures to my right elbow and I was released back into the world. I also have (what will probably be) lifelong tinnitus as a result of slamming my head through the windshield.

I limped into the ER waiting room and had no idea where I was, or even who I was. I had complete and total amnesia and some serious pain and trauma. I was wearing a Casio databank watch at the time with phone numbers stored in it. I sat in the lobby of the ER on the payphone, dialing number after number from my watch, until someone recognized my voice and could bring me home.

As a result of this one car accident, I lost ALL memories from the first 20 years of my life. It took me over 2 decades to stitch many of those memories back together, but there are still big gaps. Imagine being given a shoe box filled with black and white Polaroid photos you’ve never seen before from someone else, and asked to put them in chronological order. That was my life for nearly the last 3 decades.

This accident permanently changed my ability to sleep “normally”, but I gained an eidetic memory as a result. The eidetic memory is the most interesting part. I can remember so many things now with razor sharp clarity, but that also includes all of the painful memories I’ve experienced since the accident.

It’s been long, difficult recovery, but I’m glad I’m still able to walk, talk, laugh, share and learn in this world.

My life has had so many weird twists and turns, but this one event, was a clear and obvious pivot point that helped define who I am today.

After nearly 22 years together, I had to let my roommate Monk go.

At 12:45pm today, April 13th 2021, my long-time buddy Monk, my roommate for the last 22 years and many relocations, had to be put down. It was a really rough last couple of days, much more difficult than letting Dart go almost 10 years earlier.

His condition over his last days, really degraded quickly. He went from being a bit ‘stiff’ and difficult to walk over the last few months, to no longer being able to control the entire rear half of his body in his last day.

His last, full night together with us consisted of me picking him up to help him stagger to the litterbox only a few feet away in the bathroom, and holding him up while he urinated and defecated all over himself, and then cleaning him up in the tub right after.

I woke up a couple of hours later, to see him trying to drag himself by his front paws back into his padded bed on the floor, with urine leading back from there to the litterbox. He couldn’t muster enough energy to lift his head much, or even to chew his food or drink water.

His body was so limp, frail, it was hard to hold his weight up while he ate or went to the litterbox, without causing him pain, because he had no real muscle tone left to keep his own bones straight.

It was time, I couldn’t wait any longer, without causing him to really suffer even more than he was already suffering. He was in fantastic health for those 22 years, with the exception of those last few months. Many tests and prescription diet changes later, I couldn’t stop the slide of his health failures.

My life with Monk was a long, amazing life. I will remember every moment with razor sharp clarity. From his sharing baskets next to Dart through laying on my back while I slept, or curling up under my arm while I read.

His name was a perfect choice from the start of his life, straight through to the end. He was always watching, inspecting, learning, waiting his turn at the food, water or the window to watch the birds and big world outside.

I couldn’t quite get him to play fetch like Dart, or chase the laser dot as much as other cats, but he had his own, deeply introspective appeal. We’d spend hours together each week in our own “Zen”, just listening to the sounds of nothing, taking in the world, being active observers and participants.

He was the only cat that Seryn had known for her entire life, there before she was born, and there to the end of his days. He would watch her in the crib, curl up around her head when she would sleep, and make sure she was safe, much like a trusted family canine.

He spent some years with Dart, Cooper Coombs, Ashe and Tink. He’s been a friend to all who have met him. He was nothing short of the smartest, most introspective, calm, patient, Buddhist of cats I’ve ever owned.

As an albino cat, he had his share of weird health difficulties starting from the first day we adopted him. He was found by a coworker of my girlfriend at the time drinking antifreeze out of the driveway in the middle of winter. He was treated for frostbite and ever since then would never, ever allow anyone to touch his paws, because they were super-sensitive to touch. He suffered from cat acne later in life, weight gain and loss, gingivitis and several teeth surgically removed, many diet challenges and food allergies, several unexpected surgeries and many tests.

His lack of one of his canine teeth caused a unique “yarr! Pirate Face” as his lips got stuck on his teefs.

He was one-of-a-kind, unique, and the most intelligent, sweetest, friendly, cuddler of a roommate I could have ever asked for.

Monk, you will be missed. I can only hope, if there’s ever another place after this life, that you’ve found Dart in that place, and you’re happily playing Meow-co-Polo with him like you did for so many years.

2015: The Christmas I received nothing, but gained everything!

Christmas is typically a dark time for me, and is usually spent alone, even when I’m in the company of others. I’ve never felt at-ease during the Christmas holiday and I never quite know how others receive me in their lives this time of year. I have no real family here to speak of, no cousins, no uncles, no sisters or brothers. It’s just me and my daughter and friends that pop in and out around the holidays.

But this year, a week before Christmas, my employer decided to let me go, after 8 years of dedication to the company, citing “location and budget” as the primary reasons. They assured me that the reasons were not Personal or Performance related. I can’t publicly say any more about this at the moment, but their decision was very unexpected, and drastically truncated my intended plans for the holiday break.

Three days after I was released from my employment, I came down with a very rapid and unexpected bout of nausea. It had me emptying my stomach every hour for the next 18 hours that Thursday. I lost 10 pounds vomiting and making dozens of trips to the bathroom. At one point I got up to vomit, blacked out and fell to the floor in the bathroom in my very weakened state. I woke up about 20 minutes later sprawled on the floor of the bathroom with the contents of the bathroom garbage scattered all around me on the floor. My lip was swollen and bloody, my head hurt and it felt like Bruce Lee punched me in the shoulder.

The New England weather over this holiday is unseasonably warm, peaking all the way up to 70-degrees. In my 4 decades on this orbiting rock, I can never remember a single Christmas where it’s been this warm, with no snow. There have been Christmas’ where we’ve not had snow, and others where we had snow and it warmed up over freezing to melt off the snow, but never, ever has it been in the upper 60’s for a solid week.

This year, the week prior to Christmas, Seryn was with her mother for the week, while our schedule this year rotates and she’ll be with me the week following, starting on Christmas Day. This meant that I was left in a house full of echoes and silence.

This is nothing out of the norm, just an unexpected series of events that all conspired together to make the week before Christmas and leading up to Christmas to be a bit of a heavy burden this year over previous years.

This year, I received no Christmas cards in the mail, no gifts, no calls and no greetings from others in my close and extended circle of friends. It was remarkably quiet, serene, peaceful… and alone. I lost my job, I lost a chunk of my health and I seem to have lost everything that Christmas was supposed to stand for: friends, family, tasty foods and in the company of great and dear loved ones.

It allowed me to mentally reset where I wanted to be in my life, as a father, as a contributor to the community, as an engineer, and as a friend to others. I was able to release a lot of negative energy about the unexpected termination, and while the fall in the bathroom took months to recover from, it was worth it to set me on a new path.

I wouldn’t give up these choices for the world, and it was one of the best, most-serene, life-changing Christmas holidays of many that I can remember.

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