Peter Painfully Learns to Look Both Ways….

I have two birthdays. My real one is December 27th. I have previously written about the tribulations of being born so close to not just Christmas, but also to a sibling’s birthday, plus New Year’s Eve. As I came of legal age, I found that I had a stated purpose for drinking alcohol on 3 out of 7 of those days, instead of just aimlessly drinking everyday, (which actually doesn’t sound like a bad course of action to follow either, come to think of it).

My second birthday is May 5th, and here’s why I celebrate on that date, every year. At least, I have celebrated since 2004.

At 0845 on Monday, May 5th, 2003, I was crossing Yonge Street at Scrivener Square. I remember leaving my feet and landing on the ground, in a heap. My memory of the next indeterminate time period is fuzzy and confused, to say the least.

I awoke unable to speak, with a smiling nurse asking me if I wanted to know who had won the Stanley Cup!! The playoffs had ended on June 9th, with the New Jersey Devils being victorious. “Wow’ I thought ‘ 30 years to the day after I finished high school!” She then informed me that it was now June 14th, and I began to wonder what had happened since May 5th. I really don’t remember, so I have to rely “on the kindness of strangers”. This is what was told to me.

I got hit by an Austin Mini, the driver was taking his two children to school. At the very least, they won “Show And Tell”. “This old guy flew over our windshield!”. Tossed 20 feet, I landed on my right knee, my right shoulder …and my head.  5 ribs were broken, and I punctured a lung, cracked my sternum and suffered a closed head injury. I got rushed to St Michael’s Hospital and they brought me BACK in Emergency. They had to tow the Mini.

Apparently, according to my dear Lois, I was babbling incoherently, and they had put tubes into my chest to drain my lung, but as I kept pulling these tubes out, they induced a coma, paralyzing me from the neck down and giving me morphine.

While in my coma, I had dreams, “Hour In The Shower” type dreams, (thank you, Chicago). I have not shared these dreams with anyone at all, nor will I.

However I awoke eventually, and at least found out who had won the Stanley Cup. They had also had to perform a tracheostomy on me while I was out like a light. I had been out of touch with reality for over 5 weeks, during the time of SARS. During that period, my bed would be rolled into the “general population” while I slumbered, and I would run a fever while someone who had been at a hospital where SARS was happening was in the same room, so I ended up in…..

…. a “reverse pressure” room, (called a negative pressure isolation chamber), kind of like as seen in “Aliens” (sic) 1) They gave me physiotherapy, I was helped out of bed and put in a chair to sit for a few minutes. When I was finished it, I would be sweating like I had just run a marathon. Every day the “sessions” grew in length. The hospital then made some error, and to apologize for it, gave me free TV. However, I had been wearing contact lenses, which were removed and lost when I got to the hospital. (I am really really blind!) They put the TV in my room and I “heard” “The Wild Bunch”. Couldn’t see a damned thing! Finally I was able to talk again, so I rented a phone, its number changed every time I got moved to a new room. I would phone a co worker, give them my new number, and within half an hour, I’d be moved.

I listened to my “Walkman” once I was back in “the land of the living”. One day, after hearing that I wasn’t listening to it because the batteries had died, a nurse brought me batteries and urged me to install them. I did. Normally, batteries lasted about a day. These, however, lasted 4 days. This nurse had obtained industrial strength batteries for me!

While in St Mike’s, I had to learn to walk again. It was painful, but necessary. I had to work on my speech as well. Eventually I was moved from my “reverse pressure” room to a ward. One afternoon they thought I wasn’t going to make it and called my next of kin.

I wouldn’t give my ex wife the satisfaction. 😉

Eventually they shipped me to West Park for rehabilitation. I was there for a few weeks before I went home, on July 16th, 2003.

My partial recovery took almost 2 further years. Therapists of different kinds were assigned to look after my physical and emotional wellbeing.

I came back to work on a part time basis in May 2005 and segued into fulltime duty over the next year. I continued working until my retirement in 2016

I could not have returned to the status quo without the help of a Hell of a lot of people. Thanks to all of you, but “Thanks” isn’t enough.

Hope you liked this intimate view into my world.

See you soon.

1) Not being a big fan of the “Alien” movies, not sure which movie that room was in.


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