my life was saved by patrick swayze

some lives are saved by rock & roll. mine was saved by patrick swayze.

i remember being in pre-op with my cousin mark and my mom, before what would become the first of four brain surgeries.

this is me about a month before i went to phoenix for surgery.

it gets foggy after that. i have flashes of memories – moments (my mom reading me a letter) to longer stretches of time (teaching bob dole to flip the bird). i remember being transported to a nursing home – my first time in an ambulance. i remember talking with the EMT about different ways to take a pulse – i’d experienced quite a few methods during the 5 weeks i spent in the hospital.

i was also doing some major hallucinating – the combination of a brain injury and some powerful drugs. i was seeing things lurking in the corners of my hospital room. i worried about a plot my mom and dr. spetzler had to cut my head off in an MRI machine. and perhaps the strangest was that i was being told that i’d been in the hospital for over a month, i could barely sit up without help, and my left arm seemed to have a mind of its own. so at the end of the day i didn’t know what was really happening and what was an hallucination.

when i arrived at the nursing home, i was moved into an empty room. in the middle of the night, there was a lot of noise and activity in the room. they were moving someone else in. i heard someone say, “dorkus? that’s a lovely name.” now with york for a last name, the word “dork” has played a pretty prominent role in my life. so hearing the word “dorkus” over and over wasn’t helping me to convince myself that i was living in reality. i remember hearing someone else say, “dorkus is an interesting name. where did you get it?” a gravelly voice befitting an elderly woman named dorkus replied, “it’s from the bible. my father gave me that name.” i managed to stop myself from saying, “was he illiterate?”

my friend emily has a much better knowledge of the bible than i do. she told me later that dorcas is indeed a name from the bible, and a quick look at wikipedia tells me that she’s mentioned in the book of acts, in the new testament. i also just this moment learned how to spell it correctly.

ok, ok. enough biblical trivia. bring on patrick swayze.

keanu and patrick - dream team?

the next morning, dorcas had the tv on at full blast. she was watching the local news. as i tried to get back to sleep, i couldn’t help but listen. they announced that patrick swayze had died. i remember thinking, “oh i am good, but i’m not that good.” but if patrick swayze really had died, then i was really living in a nursing home because of complications from my surgeries, and that wheelchair next to the bed was really for me. that morning i stopped hallucinating and started to wrap my mind around the new realities of my life. i also made myself a promise that 10 years later i would think back on everything  that had happen and be grateful that it did, that i’d managed to use those experiences to make my life better. and i can even put a date on that decision. patrick swayze died on september 14, 2009, so that must have been september 15th.

now maybe some of that was because i was being weaned off of the powerful drugs i was taking in the hospital. but some of it was also patrick swayze. probably 60/40.

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2 responses to “my life was saved by patrick swayze

  1. Huh! I must have been under a rock when that happened because before this post, I had no idea Patrick Swayze was dead.

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