Life In The Slow Lane...
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San Diego, CA, United States
This is a commentary about the slow lane, about the slowing of time since I suffered a severe brain injury while skateboarding with my dog. This is a blog about recovery; about our '82 VW Westfalia. It's about writing, surfing, camping, married life, bleeding ulcers that make you feel old at 32; about family, friends, and my dog Artie; it's about cruising in fourth gear, getting passed by every car and learning to appreciate every second of it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I See A Darkness

Now that I'm home the genius of those at Camp Alvarado Rehab is beginning to shine. At first Dr. Lance Stone and his battle with mid-life crisis -the one he appears to be losing to- ruled the day. His poor bedside manner, the way he ignored my demands for early discharge, the way he treated me like an unruly teenager, all pointed to a failing program.

Now, a day after coming home; when no nurse appeared at my bedside to give me applesauce with crushed anti-depressants I see something else; darkness; similar to the darkness I had seen throughout my life.

The weight of seeing the fragility of the human condition; the realization that a quick ride on the skateboard with the dog could result in a three and a half week nap on death's doorstep.

And during my hospital stay, friends, family, acquaintances all said they had saved their prayers for me. In the hospital, my new doctor asked if I was a Christian. I was grateful; appreciative, until now.

Now I see that a minor accident can nearly take my life; can drive my aging father crazy, terrify my mother, tear my wife away from her life, make my brother stop smoking weed.

My life, all of our lives are weak, feeble, delicate, and they dangle close to the brink of death. I realized when I was in hospice, under the poor supervision of Dr. Lance Stone, as he was busy trimming his overgrown nose hairs in hopes of impressing the Filipino nurses, that nothing can strenghten this fragility; that prayers, positive thinking does as much good as a beer, a smoke and a rip of weed.

As quick as I was to say this experience, the experience of brain surgery, a month-long coma, tracheotomy, Stridor, Craniectomy, would change my life in a positive manner, now I believe I'm as flimsy and shaky as I was before the accident, and so are my friends and loved ones.

So, now when you call, or, when you write, be prepared for a new darkness because the kind of thoughts that now come easy aren't the easiest to respond to.


  1. Tony Robbins called and said thanks for the job security.

    Your "minor" accident was rather major. Take it from someone who has had 5 concussions, none of which included loss of consciousness, vomiting or severe swelling of the brain.

    The hospital experience is never a good one. I have been there also. A few weeks after my 21st birthday, I found myself in the hospital kneeling in the doggie-style position with a doctor's finger in my arsehole, just like Fletch: "Moon River!!!!! Hey Doc, you ever serve time? Using the whole fist there Doc?"

    Next thing I remember is waking up with tubes shoved down my throat, up my penis and another into my abdomen. 25 staples held my midsection together, like a crude zipper to my guts. Not able to lift myself up with my own strength, I sat there gagging, the tubes scratching the inside of my throat at each movement I made.

    Why me? I already knew the answer. It was my luck. If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any at all. Here I was, a few weeks after my 21st birthday finally able to go out to the bars (legally) and i'm laying in a hospital bed after having 6 inches of my small intestine removed and being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. First words of advice from the doctor: stop drinking. What? The nerve, I just turned 21. I had waited years for this period of my life to arrive...bittersweet to say the least.

    So I did what the doctor said... wait did he say drink heavily and do a bunch of blow? Oh, well that's what I did. Who was he to tell me how to live my life at this time, and what made him the expert? I know myself and my limitations, or so I thought. I doubled, or even tripled, my recovery time and destroyed my body while in its most fragile state since infancy. A time when I needed to take a step back and understand that this event and diagnosis would change my life and be with me for the rest of it, I proceeded with blatant disregard and reckless abandonment pushing forward and ignoring the reality that was.

    I can tell you from hindsight it was a bad decision, the path I took still affects me to this day. As my disease now manifests itself in multiple degrees, I can' help but wonder it I had handled it differently from the beginning, if I had heeded the doctor's advice, would my body physically be in a better state today? Yes, and in turn I would be more mentally fit as well.

    I'm an extremely negative person when it comes to everything, and its something I don't realize until someone points it out, or if I recognize myself in another human's behavior. Realizing you're "that guy" sucks, and it makes me feel like a giant douche, or a turd sandwich. As often as people tell me to be positive, it doesn't work and even annoys me. But... I can attest to the times that I feel positive being the best times of my life. I've wasted so much energy being negative, I just can't stand to do it anymore. After reading your blog entries straight through this morning, I saw a familiar place, all too familiar.

    I know you have a brain Dorian, if you didn't we wouldn't be at this juncture. I mean Christ, your brain is so big they had to take off part of your skull to let it breathe a little. Maybe if Dan Akroyd gets the script for Coneheads 2 approved...

    What I'm saying is you can't get down or before you know it you'll be 40 scratching your balls and saying to yourself "WTF, WTF have I been doing for the last 8 years?"

    You are right about one thing, positive thinking does as much good as a beer, a smoke and a rip of weed. Except that it's free, no hangover and if you have too much you can't get arrested for operating a vehicle or getting into a fight, or even shitting your pants after passing out...

    I'm coming over tomorrow and we're going to paint your fingernails black. Artie's too.

  2. Damn, what a comment. On an extremely selfish level, I'm pleased to see that not only my experience but my negative and cynical outlook is matched, possibly eclipsed. One thing about this injury is it makes a person feel alone. It makes a person believe he or she is the only one that has suffered or has something to figure out about life and injury and I know better than to think that way, at least now I have an excuse, I don't know what to say about my prior 32 years but that's a different matter.