I'm terrible at puzzles.
For more than a year after the accident, I recorded my memories on index cards: images, dialogues, sounds, sensations, and fears. As they came to me, I’d scribble them down and tuck the cards into a small plastic file box. It was my way of taming them, of getting them out of my head.
I planned to pull out those cards one by one. Spread them on the floor pyramid-style. Arrange them into categories. Organize those moments like I was writing a high-school research paper.
I see a guy in a lavender shirt and tie -- good looking, short brown hair, easily 6 feet tall.
| A FALL RISK bracelet --|
my only accessory!
My IV pole hangs heavy with fluid. My infected leg is suctioned to a wound-vac machine. My blue hospital gown ("one-size-fits-most") is tangled underneath me. I'm literally CAPTIVE in bed.
When I press the call button, Steve appears magically at my door. He is the shape of strength and relief.
After the award ceremony, I chat with Dr. B. He, too, is a face from the very beginning. In November 2010, he’d just returned from duty as an army surgeon in the Middle East.
Moving forward gives the illusion of putting things in order. But this night at the awards, I realize how many pieces have slipped from my mind. With more than 2 years and 1000 miles behind me, the memories are still fractured, random moments.
The parts we can't assemble, our families fill in. They're our witnesses. In a split-second, their lives changed too.
As soon as he says it, I remember it's true:
When I first wake up in the ICU, I ask for my glasses. Mom's been toting them in her purse for a week, just waiting for me to open my eyes and need them.
Glasses on, I look out the window. The buildings are a blur. Glasses off, the city's crystal clear. I can see better without them!
He has an explanation -- or at least a hypothesis. He says the anesthesia from so many surgeries relaxed the muscles of my eyes. It literally flattened the curves that caused my astigmatism. Weeks later, when the anesthesia finally wore off, my eyes tightened up again.
I like it. The stories fit together like 2 perfectly matched jigsaw pieces.
Only 498 more to go...