2 Weeks Ago.
I haven’t felt this alive in a long time! was my first conscious thought as I peeled my face off the cement and spit a mouthful of blood onto the ground. Am I going to remember that? was the second.
My senses felt like they were raging at superhero levels—except that I was blind. I remember feeling individual grains of sand rolling underneath my finger pads. I noted their texture as they sank in and out of my fingerprint grooves. That’s unusual sand.
My tongue, who was feeling a little larger than usual, was on the search for teeth. I could taste blood, salty mucous, sand, and swollen everything. My tongue continued probing while my spine lifted my chest away from the ground. I can’t feel my top two front teeth.
The temporary blindness was starting to fade away and I could see again. I was on my knees directly facing the rising sun, my back toward the road. I heard three cars pass the sidewalk. I hope one of them stops to help me look for my teeth. None did.
Maybe my gums are swollen around them. And after 30 seconds of looking, I decided that I could either get new teeth or come back and look later. I could smell flesh burning underneath my nose and had to start moving.
The words ‘I’m in shock right now’ repeated ominously inside my head like an emergency broadcast service announcement. I tried tuning it out while performing an examination on my legs before standing up for the first time. I felt stable. I felt like a mountain. I couldn’t feel any pain, which was confusing me.
I remember glancing at my bike and noticing it was in 2 pieces and decided to leave it. I have to come back for my teeth anyway. The scene of my wreck was the parking lot of a local municipality. There were 2 ambulances within 50 yards. I questioned their necessity as I dragged my feet across the pavement, dodging parked cars like the town drunkard.
Tracing a thick red finger stroke across the touch screen I dialed my wife, Erica. No answer. I spit out another mouthful of red Kool-Aid. Redial. Repeat.
Walking up to the open garage, the pristine red shine on the fire truck looked eerily similar to the glistening texture of my gory skinless shoulder. I wondered how many layers were missing from the right medial deltoid. I can’t see the bone—it’s fine.
I called into the massive hall thinking to myself that it would be rude to walk in and drip all over their impeccably clean floor. A man walked through the garage with an increasingly concerned look on his face. He kept walking, but said he was going to get help.
I felt my lips swelling up with each throb and the red goo gobs coming out of my mouth were decreasing. The paramedic, a middle-aged woman with glasses, red hair and perfectly pressed uniform, walked up to me slowly. Her name was Helen.
“Are you OK?” was her first question.
“Yeah” (sniff- hack-spit)—the mouthful was only half blood at this point—“I’m OK.”
“Do you want to go to the hospital?” was the second question.
“Not particularly.” The words were barely understandable as they bounced off my blubbery lips, which were blowing up like 2 red balloons.
I was also calling our office manager and Helen over heard me trying to say, “Cancel today’s patients,” several times before my blabbery could be understood. She asked if I was a doctor.
“Yes, I’m a chiropractor, but I know about these things too.”
“What happened?” was her next question. That’s a hell-of-a question, Helen.
A police officer joined us while he calmly conversed with his radio. I picked up my top lip with both hands and asked them in a deranged voice, “Hey, can you guys tell me if you see my 2 front teeth?”
It felt like an hour passed in that moment. Just like the 30 seconds that passed while I was on the ground looking for my teeth, which felt like an entire day. Or the instant of consciousness when my eyes first opened—that felt eternal.
The officer leaned in and took a deep breath. He told me that it looked like I had chipped them, but he could see them. He also confirmed that my gums were really swollen but that it was hard to tell because there was a good amount of blood coming from, well, just about everywhere on my face.
Helen turned to the officer and told him that I didn’t want to get in the ambulance or go to the hospital. Like I was a little kid who didn’t want to take a nap. The cop laughed at me. “You should really go get checked out, man.”
I politely acknowledged his statement and reached out for the towel and ice pack in Helen’s hand. There was a ground window a few steps away where I could see what my face was up to.
The two top front teeth were ground down past their adjacent teeth. No wonder I couldn’t find them. I remembered feeling the individual grains of sand in my mouth. Nope, not entirely sand. I would surgically remove a couple of tooth fragments from inside my swollen upper lip 6 hours later.
My nose was black and blue and bleeding from top to bottom. I wiggled it around to see if it was broken. Took a breath in and felt prana slide her slithery spirit through both nostrils. Clear.
My shoulder was missing a chunk of skin that was carved out in a perfect circle. My hands were dripping blood on everything. I didn’t have a clue what my lips were doing.
“I’m good,” I told them.
Helen followed with, “He’s OK. He’s a chiropractor.”
We all laughed together. The moment comforted me.
Declaring one final time, “I’ll be OK. I have 30 varieties of medicinal herb growing in my backyard.” My words were barely understandable and the cop looked at me inquisitively.
“All of them are legal, officer.” He seemed to believe me.
3 days prior my friend Laura from Punk Rock Gardens and her husband Sean were photographing my medicinal herb garden for a local magazine. I remembered the sound of Laura’s voice asking me the question “What called you to create this garden?” For moments like this, of course.
I finally got hold of Erica and she was on her way. I waited cross–legged on the pavement, eyes closed, breathing deeply through my nose, drooling, focusing on the sensations in my body. What happens next in the mind has been subject to interpretation for the last 50,000 years of human civilization.
I thought about Helen’s question, “What happened?” I wasn’t ready for the stream of thoughts which inevitably lead me to “Why did this happen?” But the seed was planted. I knew my karmic universal truths would flower in time.
When Erica arrived she was crying and immediately wrapped her arms around me as she said, “I Love You.”
Helen told her to at least get me to a dentist, even if against my will.
I know a good dentist. He does yoga.
To be continued…
Part 2. Herbal Triage.