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Tag: Alive day

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Alive Day IV

tree_aliveday4
Four years ago today I smashed myself into a tree.

I'm getting better.

The tree I've illustrated the last three years for these entries means little to me now and its hold over me is fading. A couple years ago, my daughter, Emily joined me for a pilgrimage to the area where I had the accident. I tracked down exactly where we drove our snowmobiles to the scene, hopped a fence and began our search. We'd packed snacks and water for our long hike, but our efforts were fruitless. I'd hoped to make peace, become a tree-hugger, literally. I hugged some other tree instead.

My snowmobiling partner of that evening told me we'd probably never find it, given construction in the area, and the fact that new trails and paths are carved out each Winter. But recently he's told me he thinks he's found it. And I find I have no interest anymore. I've moved on. The tree, the accident are receding, finally, but after effects linger. Linger - HA! They inform my life, each and every day.

So, here I am, coping, living, struggling day to day, like we all do, yeah?

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Alive Day III

It's been three years today since I slid a snowmobile into a tree.

It seems like yesterday...and an eternity. Doctors tell you the trauma will always be with you, but that it will fade. And they're right. For me, that tree becomes less solid, less an immovable object ahead of me I'm going to run into and more something I can leave in the distance. I may not have passed it that night three years back, physically, but I'm passing it emotionally and metaphorically. I dwell less in the icy, windy, frigid darkness of that night, less in the moment in the hospital nine days after when I thought I was checking out for good. More often I strive for the light, the sun, my family, longtime friends and new, for activity and life.


Doctors will also guesstimate how long recovery will take. The say six months, a year, maybe two years. Then after two years pass, they say I'm on track, that a trauma like this can take 4-5 years to overcome. They project because they don't really know. Each person and experience is different. They favor less time for the sake of hope, and 'cause a shorter recovery time may turn out to be true. And maybe not.

My bones are still healing - I'm no spring chicken. I can still hear and feel them click and clack as I move about, and I'm sure I always will. But they don't hurt as often, pain comes less sharply to trigger anxiety. But sleep still bleeds into the sense of dying and panic is not always a thing of the past. In the Summer of 2009 hearing or speaking words about death would send me into a tizzy. I'd have to turn off quickly the baseline of a Michael Jackson song used in an online commercial lest it spark an anxious tingling through my body. I was that sensitive. News of celebrity deaths don't have the same effect now. From a purely selfish perspective: what a relief.

My challenge now is beating bad habits that have formed over time as I ween further off medication. Going to sleep at a regular time each night is something with which I've had little success. I snack too much before bed and don't exercise nearly often enough. I've got to go cold turkey on nervous, twitchy compulsive behaviors. And I don't find those tasks as easy as they may sound. But my path is more clear to me since my accident than ever before. I'm more active and social, interacting and connecting, producing more. Leaning towards the light, making progress.

I'm confident I can get over these next hurdles, and hope it will be sooner than later. And I'm pretty sure a year from now my next Alive Day, I won't feel the need to draw that darned tree again.

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Sketchbook Month: Alive Day II

Two years ago today I slid sideways on a snowmobile into a tree. I broke at least eleven bones and punctured my lung, had two three-day stints in the hospital, shortly after developed PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) and became sleep deprived. I'm very grateful to be here to type this post, one way I'm celebrating my second Alive Day! In some ways I'm surprised it's taking so long to recover, physically, emotionally, psychologically, but on the other hand I'm a little startled when I have a flash of panic or anxiety, as it's happening less frequently and is certainly less severe. Due to a truly bad night of sleep the night before last, I had my worst day in a long while yesterday, so I know this will take some more time to heal, and fully ween myself off all medications. But I'm getting better and better generally, one day at a time. I'm so happy to draw, play piano and sing, chat and hang with friends, and spend time with my wife and daughters. I love them more than they know, though I show and tell them often. Due to this, I can sometimes be more edgy and impatient than I used to be, so try to keep those instances and bad habits to a minimum. At my best, I recall how close I came to losing it all, to them losing me, so keep calm and regain perspective. It shouldn't take something as severe as this to remind us to appreciate life and love those close to us. But, whatever...we're all human, and I'll take it and use it. 'Cause none of us know when will be our last Alive Day.  

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Alive Day

I've written plenty about it here on this blog in previous posts, but it feels important to mark the day, as it's been one year since I slid sideways on a snowmobile into a tree. T'was a life changing event, and while I was aware of that fact mere moments after impact, even while I was trying to begin to breathe again, it's become clear a year later now I didn't really know the full extent of what I was in for. I'm no spring chicken at 46, so my bones are healing a lot more slowly than docs expected and I hoped. On certain days, I still experience sharp pains along my sternum and ribs below my left chest, some days my nerves are raw, feeling nearly exposed on the surface. Now, that may be because I slept in a certain position; or 'cause it's damp or due to the barometric pressure; it may be because I exerted myself during light exercise or picked up a kid when I probably shouldn't have. And sometimes it's just 'cause. At times the physical pain triggers anxiety, or vice versa. I can be panicky whether I got a good night of sleep or not. Even though I'm getting better and am on a general upwards trajectory, there are moments I wish a could take a mulligan, have a do-over. It doesn't happen often and I don't let those thoughts linger - what's the point? But it's apparent the ramifications for me and my family will be felt for a while yet, perhaps for years or the rest of my life. Knowing that, it's a blessing to be reminded by friends and family that they're glad I'm still here. One friend on Facebook pointed out to me that those in the military who've had close calls acknowledge it with what they call Alive Day. Upon reading more about it, I've discovered it extends beyond the military, so there's no reason it can't apply to me. We'll see if it helps me in future years to be that aware, or better to just let it pass and fade. Either way, I try to remember each day my good fortune and blessings. It's good to be alive.