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.
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.
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.