Alive Day. My military friends will know what that means, but potentially countless others will not. It is the day you died, or should have died. The day something catastrophic impacted you and perhaps those around you. In some cases, people I know quite literally died and the docs and doctors brought them back. Some more than once. In other cases, the docs and doctors poured forth their skills and power like water, and kept them alive. Even spending time in Iraq and elsewhere, I never truly thought that I would have an alive day.
On this day one year ago, I was sitting in this same spot, in the same chair, drinking coffee and doing my equivalent of reading the newspaper. I was watching the light show from a thunderstorm that was a mile to a mile and a half off, enjoying it as it moved away from me. I had just put down my phone and coffee when my world went white, then black, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, the life I had been living died.
I’ve already written a couple of times about what it was like to be hit by lightning. Today, I’m just going to count a few blessings of that morning.
First up, I like sitting in a seat with my back to the wall, which in this case is probably why I wasn’t DRD. This meant that I was sitting with my right side to the edge of the porch, so that the shock went through/down my right side instead of my left. If it had gone down the left and through the heart…
Second, I was largely clear of the metal chair and sitting on a cushion. Since I had just put down the phone, which was in an insulated protective case, this may have worked to minimize the intensity of the bolt that got me. I think there may still be an argument as to if I was struck directly or if the power just flooded me and built up to depart through my right foot. I’m not sure it matters which was the case. What matters is that I lived.
Third, I did take damage, which could have been much, much worse. I lost all the upper frequencies in my right ear and the nerves are dead so… While there was no physical damage to the brain, there were impacts. I still test out above average in major areas of cognition. I will admit openly today that my short term memory took a hit, and while they say it will get better over the next three years I for now use various coping systems to work around the short-term and other memory issues. Ironic that I’m now having to use some of the same “tricks” as the troops we helped via Project Valour-IT who had TBI.
The cardiac issues started almost immediately and built to the point where in October I went to the ER and was told I needed open heart surgery within two weeks at the most, and we can do it tomorrow (hint hint). We did it the next morning and a week later I was discharged to go home.
Keep in mind that this day a year ago, I literally had no clue I had been hit. I truly thought it a near miss, and when I was no longer locked up from the hit and could go inside, I did so. I took care of a couple of things, gave thanks to God and the Blessed Mother that I was alive, got my shower, and went to work. That there was a hole in the bottom of my right foot is something that escaped me for a while.
For a while, it seemed like I was living a quantum probability cascade, where if there was even a remote possibility for something to go wrong in my body, it did so. It has meant a stream of doctor visits, tests, and even procedures to check things out, fix if possible, and to figure out how to live with some of the issues. We have just recently (knock on wood) finished the last tests and treatments and all appears to be good to go for moving. My insurance will not transfer to where I’m headed, so want to be sure we have everything possible taken care of first.
I’m also thankful for some amazing people in my life. My now former co-workers got me a recliner after the open-heart surgery to replace the camp chair I had been using as an easy chair in the room I rent. Sadly, I left that job as it involves Federal paperwork that has to be perfect every time, and with the short-term and other memory issues, that’s not going to happen.
Sarah A. Hoyt was the one who talked me into starting the fundraiser, and I give thanks she did. Being out of work for this many months was never a part of my planning or preparedness. Thanks to her, and to the generosity of so many, I’ve been able to pay my bills, eat, and start the preparations to move out West as has been recommended. God Bless her, and all of you who have donated, prayed, and more. And, yes, the prayers have made a difference.
I have been blessed and am particularly thankful for the team that did my open-heart surgery and the great folks at RHI who spent a day on cognitive testing and worked out a cognitive therapy plan that has given me the tools to get by as my brain heals — and to deal with things if that doesn’t go as planned. The therapists tell me that writing is the best thing I can do for my brain, so hang on as I do plan to write more as I am able. It may be rough right now, but we have a plan and I have both hope and faith. If I am absentminded, don’t remember you, or don’t remember other things, please be patient with me. I’m told the memories are likely not lost, but again it will be three years before we can know for sure.
I have been blessed with a lot of the other care I have received over this last year. I have met some amazing nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors along the way. No offense, I’ve met far more of them than I ever wanted to meet in a professional manner.
I’ve also met just some amazing people along the way. People who have inspired, people who have shared, and people I’m just glad to know. For those who’ve had to put up with me, thank you.
I do not know why I was spared, but am thankful I was and I think there is something I’m supposed to do. I don’t have a clue what that is, and admit it could be simply to serve as the horrible example ‘don’t be that person or this happens’ though I hope that’s not it. Meantime, if you need a speaker to talk lightning strikes and safety, or about the blessings and challenges of being a survivor, I’m available.
Today is my Alive Day, and God’s help and yours, I will make the most of this new life I now live.
If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.