Wide Awake

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.

Awakening

unappreciated
the road before me
taken for granted
the Hands that held me

I was diseased with comfort.

but suddenly
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.

sipping
from the cup of Life
gulping
from the cup of Grace

You awoke me from my coma of comfort.

thank you

8 thoughts on “Wide Awake

  1. Call me sadistic, but I am enamored by the verse in Hebrews that talks about the Lord’s discipline on those he loves. It really has been the deepest pain (physical or emotional) that has so thoroughly changed me. In some ways this frustrates my theology. In other ways it brings out a whole new hatred for the prosperity gospel. Those who preach complete comfort as signs of a vibrant faith are essentially selling fat people a McDonald’s diet.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Every time I read your thoughts it gets better, sharper, more focused, cutting just a bit deeper (in a good way of course). It could be that I’m just getting more acquainted with your voice. The more likely option is that God has smiled on your perseverance and helped you more firmly grasp the pen. You continue to be an inspiration to me as a writer and a friend. Thanks Matt.

    • Discipline and suffering. Inscrutable stuff, eh? We can reject it or embrace it. Either way, wisdom manifested itself in Christ. We have much to learn and understand.

      Thanks for your encouragement about the blog. It’s a little over six months-old now. I’m grateful to have you join me for this journey. Because it’s a messy one. And a kind word from someone like yourself makes a difference.

      I’ve also very much appreciated reading your blog, Jason. You are full of wisdom. Raw truth has a way of getting my attention. Always. Blessings, friend.

  2. Matt- I had no idea. I am so thankful for your healing so many years ago. God heals not only our bodies, but the mind as well. God bless you this Thanksgiving. I’m glad you’ll not be in a coma this holiday!

    • Good to hear from you, Micah. I was pretty stunned myself when I learned about the coma! I can’t tell you how strange it was to start piecing that story together after “coming up for air” … Because I had just been living my life, going about my business, and then one day, the fog clears and He opens up my eyes. It’s pretty strange to realize, suddenly, that you’ve been in the hospital for a month.

      But praise God for Grace and healing. Somehow, He has a way of sending it our way — before we’re even aware that we need it. So, so thankful for Grace.

  3. Hello Matthew
    During my ordeal i was walking a dark path.. was a lone but not alone.. I know that if it was His kind hand that guided me and His Love I would have been lost .. Thank you for sharing such profound personal experience and you have glorified God for His work in your life .. We belong to a living God

    • We do belong to a living God. I’m so thankful you’ve gained the wisdom and knowledge of our God. The road is often dark, often hard, but it is always leading us to Him. Thanks for commenting. I’m always grateful to have you stop by. Be blessed by His Presence. I mean it.

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