His name was David.
He was a distinguished looking man in his forties, always well dressed with a regal bearing in spite of his disability. He was likely taller than me but I would never know that. For that first time I met him he was confined to an electric wheelchair. I never learned by what magic he operated the wheelchair. I noticed some kind of device protruding from the right arm of the chair but I didn’t know how it worked. Voice commands? Subtle movements of his head? Psychic control? I never asked him, for I was captivated with his story.
I had sometimes seen him around unit 58, occasionally after lunch and supper meals, for he generally ate his meals in his room. I assumed it was because he was embarrassed to be fed like a baby in front of the other patients. I guess I assumed that because he was always dressed in dress slacks and golf shirts unlike most of us who were clad in jeans and T-shirts.
One time, when I was having my right leg manipulated by Kenny, I noticed David lying on the other exercise bed in the physiotherapy room. His wife, or at least I assumed she was his wife, was being taught how to exercise his legs and arms because he could not move them for himself. Sadly it would be a long, long time before David’s wife would be able to apply her new found skills.
It was my last day in the hospital, October eighteenth, twenty ten. I was being processed for release. After my two month stay in hospital I was eager to get home to my apartment. That day I just wanted to be done with this phase of my recovery. I had no idea what awaited me. Perhaps I was lucky I didn’t.
Nine o’clock had come and gone and my son-in-law still had not arrived to pick me up. Normally I don’t particularly mind waiting. I usually have a book to read. Or, I will just wander around the corridors of my mind enjoying the imaginings conjured up there.
Then David arrived.
I had never seen him in all the times I had spent in the west waiting area of Unit 58. The space had a sofa and chairs randomly scattered round. It typically served as a room for patients to visit with family. Or, to view TV away from the noise and chaos of theroom. Or, to make private phone calls.
When David told his story I finally knew why God had arranged for me to wait.
I don’t remember how the conversation started. I was surrounded by plastic bags containing my clothes and belongings. So David may have leapt to the logical conclusion that I was going home. Now I imagine him saying in that gentle baritone, “I see your going home.”
“Yes,” I replied, “I’m looking forward to it. When do you think you might go home?’”
He replied, “I don’t know when they’ll boot me out of here, I guess when they think they’ve done all they can for me. I’m still responding to physio. We’ll wait and see.”
I asked, “Do you mind if I ask what happened to you?”
He said matter-of-factly, “I was in Afghanistan on business. Four of us were driving in this car down a very rough road. We went off the road and the others were killed. I was rushed to hospital where they operated on me for many, many hours. Two days later my company arranged for me to be airlifted to Berlin. The doctors in Berlin said the surgeons in Afghanistan had done a great job and I was lucky to be alive. I stayed in the hospital in Berlin for several weeks and then I was flown to Calgary. And, I wound up here.” … CONTINUED
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An Excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Copyright Lyle T. Lachmuth, All Rights Reserved