I was in a coma for about a week. People often ask me if I remember seeing anything. Maybe a white light? I don’t. But I’ll always remember the waking up.
My car accident took place 19 years ago this week. Suddenly, my brain was swelling, and the doctors were talking about drilling.
And here I thought, before the car accident, that I already faced too much pressure as a high school senior.
But a helicopter still whisked me away from that life and dropped me off at the hospital, where I waited, unconscious, for my parents to catch up.
After spending a week with my eyes closed, I woke up and ripped out my feeding tube.
Meanwhile, my best friend was driving with others to the hospital. Suddenly, his week of migraines came to an end. He looked at the clock.
“It’s 4:17 p.m.,” he told them. “I bet he woke up.”
When he entered my room, he asked the nurse, and she repeated those numbers.
Yes, I was awake, but a month would pass before God would open my eyes.
I had sustained a massive internal head injury, so I remember virtually nothing from those weeks at the hospital.
But I do own a few snapshots. One memory has me looking down at my legs. My physical therapist had somehow attached my body to a gadget. She asked me to take a step. I couldn’t. Though my body was awake, it didn’t seem to work.
And my brain was a mess. As the weeks went on, family, friends, and medical personnel observed the manifestations. I used invisible shampoo. I screamed at nurses. I tried my hand at breaking out of a hospital, thinking that a mere minute or two of planning would be enough to get me out. And in the mornings, when orderlies came to take me to my daily round of therapies, I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep — while clutching the silver bars of my hospital bed. With a death grip.
I honestly believed I could fool them.
As Christmas was approaching and my violent outbursts were subsiding, finally, the doctors agreed to let me go home, on a day pass, to decorate the Christmas tree with my family. But once I got home, I was so disoriented and sick to my stomach that I went to my bedroom and closed the door. Everything looked too strange and confusing.
And that’s when God turned the page. I found a journal I had started keeping a few weeks prior to my accident. While reading through those pages, something happened. And I can only describe it as coming up for air — after being trapped under water for a very long time, but without realizing it.
I wrote this poem back in 1992, a few months after I woke up and finally checked out of the hospital.
the road before me
taken for granted
the Hands that held me
I was diseased with comfort.
and painfully abruptly
a detour was given
and forcibly taken
I collided with my ignorance.
comfort was now denied
no longer could I hide
now it was treatment my disease needed
and forgiveness my injured heart pleaded
I looked to You.
from the cup of Life
from the cup of Grace
You awoke me from my coma of comfort.