Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Tonight, writing this, I can look out my window and see the hospital I was taken to in Chattanooga. Lights blink in the darkness where the trauma helicopters take off and land. By the time they are this close to the hospital, they fly slow, they fly low. The air overhead shudders as they approach. I did not arrive there by air. I wish I had.
The ten days I was hospitalized here, before moving to Atlanta, were spent in a new kind of agony. When I was stabilized, I’d be moved. Two bones in my neck were fractured, circling a bruised spinal cord that might or might not be still swelling, causing the real damage. Both my arms were broken, sealed up in casts. The surgeries would come.
The ulna in my left arm, knitting crookedly, had to be re-broken, a plate screwed into the bone. And my neck, still in a collar, still fractured, would not safely heal on its own.
To be anesthetized is to be like a clock winding backwards, running down. That doctors ask you to count backwards is apt. The air wavers and with it all things. Sound warps and wefts. Your eyes forget they are still yours, that they are twinned. And then you sleep.
About the plate that was screwed into my arm there is nothing much to be said, except that weeks later the stitches coming out would bring me to tears. While I was under, the surgeons attached to my skull a band of stainless steel, fastened by four terrible screws that were drilled into my skull. Bars connected to the ring were then fastened to a fiberglass vest, sheepskin underneath, against the skin of my chest, and tightened shut.
I’d wear this for the next nine weeks, my neck entirely immobilized. They called it a halo.


shanna said...

these are really beautiful entries, paul.

Sisyphus Walking said...

These are, as Shanna observed, very beautiful. I definitely think the memoir is something you should do. Best, Ryan