I was back at rehab today, the first time in two weeks, since doctors put my head back together. There were new faces, some young, some older, most fresh off the injury with fresh wounds, new scars from where the tracheotomy tube was inserted. It brought me back to days after I woke up from the coma, when I went to see the throat doctor.
He was a younger physician, his hair was long and wavy, in the beginning stages of turning gray. I sat up on the bed and he asked me questions about my accident. He pushed his stool closer to where I sat and asked a question. As he did, I noticed his hand reach towards me. He touched the tracheotomy tube as I talked and yanked it out of my throat without warning. He threw the phlegm covered, 8 inch tube into a basket and quickly taped a bandage over the hole in my throat. I can still feel the tube slipping from my throat and to this day I am still in shock.
Today, I found myself staring at the throats of the new patients and seeing that bright red scar. Each time that scar was spotted, the memory, the feeling returned.
The entire rehab experience, seeing the patients, watching them shuffle through the lobby brings me back to the days after the coma. I hated those days, now more so than ever. Only now do I understand how injured I really was. I see that I had no idea what had happened nor what was happening. At the time, I thought I knew more than the doctors that I had seen the worst of the injury. The new rehab patients act the same as I had acted in the days following the coma. Nothing has been processed. Nothing has been accepted. I want to tell them that they need to prepare themselves. I want to let them know the worst is yet to come. I want them to know that the brain heals in a different way but I don't say a word. It's no use. Their minds aren't ready. They will find out on their own. There's no other way. It weighs heavy on me and it's sad watching people embark on a solo journey back whose only real goal is a return to normalcy, to the status quo. It's a journey that nobody can ever truly understand, a journey that makes me wish that I never had to set out on.
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6 years ago