Death Comes in Threes
Have you ever heard people say that death usually comes in threes? Its a strange thing to say, but when something terrible happens like that, you can almost expect over a short time that these waves of death can come a few times.
Almost to make sure you get the point.
I dont remember what happened the day of my quote-unquote death, death number three. It was just a day, a normal summer day, a day like any other. I remember seeing the fireworks for the 4th of July in Chicago on the street with my roommate Eugene, and I remember that I was wearing a white shirt and it started to rain, so I had to lean my body so my shoulders were at Eugenes back so I wouldnt get drenched with my white shirt. It was Saturday, July Eleventh, and I apparently was going over to my parents house, where my sister Sandy lived, to go swimming because it was sunny. After Getting on the Kennedy, It took I55 southwest of Chicago and exited route 45 South so I could drive the suburbs and see my family.
The rest of the accounts came from eyewitnesses.
That and what the people at the hospital told my mother.
I was at the intersection of 95th and route 45; I was at the end of a line of people waiting at a red light. The light had just turned green, but you know how long it takes for people to get moving when the light changes, we were still sitting there waiting to get moving just as the light changed.
Now at that point in the road, the intersection was at the bottom of a hill, and if you are coming south toward the intersection youll see the light before youll see the street.
This apparently was the case for the driver of a sedan, he apparently saw the green light and continued speeding on the 55 mile per hour road.
As I said, I was at the end of the line of cars. I would get caught in the crossfire.
Accounts state that there was a motorcyclist in front of me, and a van in front of him.
Eyewitnesses said they saw me looking at my rear-view mirror in my car, I must have seen this speeding car coming towards me.
I couldnt move my car into the empty left lane next to me, there was no room. I could only guess that I turned the wheels of my car to the left so that I wouldnt run into the motorcyclist, who Im sure would have died from being hit.
Originally, in part, I got away by traveling. But apparently after waiting to get away again, this time from some stranger in a car, I was struck. and all went black.
So what happened was that this speeding car hit the back of my car, knocking me into oncoming traffic because my wheels were turned. A van from the opposite lane of traffic then hit my front passenger-side corner and dragged my car for a bit.
Police accounts said that there were skid marks from my car tires for one hundred and eight feet.
Yeah, well, how was that second driver to know someone would appear in front of him as he was driving?
Yeah, how can you blame him.
To brake the news to my mother, they had to rummage through what things they could find of mine from the car, rummage through the pockets of my clothing, my purse was buried under the seat, so they got a phone number, and they called, and my mother answered.
Do you know someone who drives a red sedan? they asked.
Yes, I do, my mother answered. Did something happen to her?
The hospital chaplain informed her there was an accident and they would like her to come and identify a body.
Yes, identify a body.
My mother got off the phone to rush to the hospital, she was sure I was dead. When my mother and my sister arrived at the hospital, my mother was thrilled when they walked into the room and saw me with tons of tubes sticking out all around me. Shes not dead! my mother exclaimed, as they went to see me lying unconscious.
My mother even commented that I looked so nice there. She said I looked nice because I even had eye make-up on. My sister had to tell her that I wasnt wearing make-up; that I had two black eyes.
I was unconscious for eleven days, the coma lasted two weeks.
The day of the crash they wanted to be sure no one else was in the car with me, because there was metal and car parts from the passenger side of the car jutting all they way to where I was sitting as I drove. For all intents and purposes, the passenger seat was gone.
Which might explain the injuries on the right side of my head. They kept a monitor on my skull for the end of my unconscious spell to monitor the amount of fluid around my brain. I have a little indentation in my forehead, at my hairline, from having that attached to my head.
You know, for my own good.
I was told that I had no broken limbs, but three skull fractures, they even had to make sure they all set properly because one on my forehead, on this side here, had to set properly so my right eye wouldnt have any problems.
In every car accident, there are actually three crashes.
The first is when one car hits another one. The second is when the outside of the human body hits the interior of the car. The third is when, within the human body, organs crash into each other, and crash into your own bones.
Shortly after I regained consciousness, my family told me they were slightly concerned, for two reasons.
One was that since they couldnt find identification on me when I was first brought in, instead of calling me Jane Doe they nick-named me Elvira Doe. The second thing they noticed was that the people in the hospital handed back all my dirty, disheveled, ripped up, torn cloths, and the only thing that was missing was a bra.
I was in pain all the time, painkillers didnt help, my back was sore, my head ALWAYS hurt, my sinuses were terrible. I wanted the Hell out of the hospital but I couldnt take the first steps to do it.
So as I start to regain consciousness, Im stuck in there at Christ Hospital, and I want to get out. I remember one of the first chances I had to leave, I was lying in bed, they expected me to sleep there, I was probably barely conscious, I doubt could even stand, but I tried to get out of bed and I fell out of bed and the nurses had to come get me, and they had to call my parents, I was fine, but it was their policy to call. But because they were afraid of me falling again, they put a metal bar around the side of my bed, I dont know, it was like a guard rail to keep pedestrians away from something dangerous, or a zoo fence so people could feel safe while they watched the trapped animal they have on display for you. So they had this metal rail around my bed, but that wasnt the worst part, they also put a harness on me at night, a straight jacket, so to speak, probably so that I wouldnt be able to use my arms to help me leave.
They kept a wrist band with my stats on it on my wrist, so that if I wandered off theyd know where I belonged, to keep me in place. I hated that damn wrist band, Id rip it off probably almost daily, and they had to make a new one and strap it on me.
You know, to know where I belong.
I dont know why they had to keep a straight jacket... i mean, a harness on me, were they trying to keep me in place? Once I regained enough of my consciousness back all I could wonder was, is this how they were trying to stop me? I just wanted to be able to sleep the night through without being restricted, without my arms being bound. I finally managed to contort myself out of it one night, not so I would escape, but just so I could feel more sane in this place. The next morning the nurses didnt know why the harness was wrapped up on my night stand. My mother saw it wrapped up there and knew that I had to have done that, and she had to think that if I as that cunning enough, I must be getting better.
So yeah, I was just loving being in that hospital, trapped in that room, I imagined I was actually at my apartment and not in a hospital bed. I even talked about this, and my sister, not wanting me to hallucinate, told me,
Okay, you say the bathroom is just past the door (which was my hospital room door), why dont you show it to me.
And so Id walk out the hospital door and look down the hall. I was stunned, this wasnt right, I thought, and I stood there for a split second and I said well, it was here.
Day in and day out I would stay in that hospital room, and I was really going nuts ... I imagined my friend Brian, who now lives in San Francisco, becoming my roommate, dressing up as an old lady so no one would recognize him and no one would think that he was my friend visiting me, so that I would have someone there to talk to when I was sitting there all alone, all by myself, day in and day out.
No, my friend Brian never visited me, and I did have an old lady for a roommate, and no, I never talked to her, but I kept thinking to myself that this was how I could keep myself sane,
by imagining that a stranger was a friend,
just so I could get through my days.
And I was never able to get over Daves death, where he died three months before my death ... and I wasnt able to get across the country for his funeral, so I could never see his face to say goodbye to him. So, I would fantasize, I think, oh him appearing at my room, coming in through a side entrance so no one would see him, and he would come up to visit me, and I would say,
How did you get here, youre supposed to be dead, did everyone see you
and he said, no, no, no, I managed to hid so no one would spot me because no one knows Im alive. But I wanted to know how you were doing, because I didnt want anything to happen to you, and I wanted you to be okay, and I wanted you to not die.
I felt so alone in the hospital all those weeks, maybe it was my Brians way of trying to fill in all the unexplained gaps in my life.
After being in the hospital so long, my hair was growing long, I never even got to shave my legs even, I was completely unkempt. I wanted to at least be able to shave my legs in the shower, but they wouldnt trust me with a razor.
I had to have a family member watch me, just so I could take a shower and try to get myself in order.
I had to fight every step of the way in that hospital. Three different doctors viewing my records even knick named me miracle girl, but learning to walk was no miracle to me,
I just had to work harder to prove everyone wrong and try to get my life back.
After walking, I had to learn how to eat, because they kept a tube in me while I was unconscious. And after a while it became time for me to eat again, and I thought, I dont need to eat - I havent been eating this entire time in here (Eating is really overrated, what do I need it for). So when they told me I could eat, I didnt. They offered breakfast and I told them no. They offered lunch and I told them no. And by the time dinner came along my stomach was making more noise than I was (I think it started a language of its own). So being a vegetarian I got an egg sandwich, and then I was faced with this task I didnt know how to undertake. I had to rationalize it to myself. Youve eaten before, I told myself, you can do it again. I know it seems foreign to you, but you can do it. Put some food on the fork, put it in your mouth, remove the fork, start chewing, and then just swallow it. You can do this. I had to talk myself through every step, the first bite was the strangest thing to me, I ate only half of the food, But I did it.
I know that once I got used to eating I ate ravenously, but the next morning they offered food and I ate an egg sandwich again and I had to tell myself, You did this yesterday, Janet. I had to goad myself into eating again.
One day, in what seemed like an endless stream of weeks, I got flowers, and I was stunned, I was thrilled, no one had sent me flowers before wile I was here in the hospital, I didnt know who they were from.
When we looked at the card, they were flowers for a Janet Spinoto, a woman who apparently was somewhere else in the hospital, and I thought, thats what I get for thinking that someone would buy me flowers.
My curse is that after this accident I have the brains to know what happened to me, how bad it was, but that I survived it and now have to suffer with it, and to pick up the pieces and function on my own.
I think that people think that when you get out of the hospital you must be FINE. Clean bill of health. They are so wrong.
Now I feel like a soldier and I dont know what Im protecting any more. I want to give the enemy what he has been looking for. Its a battle I am so often not willing to fight. Here. Take my weapons. Youve stripped me of most of them now, so let me hand you the rest, freely. Let me have this, let me do this. Let me give this compilation of everything and nothing. Isnt that what its all about?
But the thing is, when Id try to do anything in that room, all I saw was this reminder that I was at Christ hospital, I would be reminded by seeing something religious everywhere I turned. Id turn on the television, Christian programming. Id take paper they had so I could write journal entries, the paper would have religious phrases on it, references to God, and I thought I was going nuts, what are they trying to do, indoctrinate me?
I know it was Christ hospital, but all I thought was, did God hurt me and trap me here ... and how is God going to save me?
My sister started a journal while I was in the hospital for people to write in. My father, who never writes, wrote down while I was still unconscious,
I squeeze your hand but you dont squeeze back, but I still love you.
And my roommate, a man I dated and loved, was the first to write in the journal, and he wrote that he remembered me telling him just before the accident that I had written about a car accident, that he was a fantastic car crash,
And he wrote, But it was supposed to be ME.
Months after I got out of the hospital, I had a Grand Mal seizure. You dont remember going through it, its like you black out, but your eyes are wide open, gritting teeth, shaking violently. Apparently the doctors told my family (but they didnt bother informing me, the patient) that I may expect this after the injury I had, so there I go, back to the hospital, they load me up with Dilantin, inject an overdose of it into my bloodstream and its making my arm itch from all of this medication, I was gripping the sides of this bed in pain.
I wanted the pain to end, but it couldnt, of course not, we couldnt have that, because I had an allergic rash reaction 10 days after I paid for a ton of medication I was supposed to be on for years, so they then switched me over to Tegratol, and yes, eleven days later, allergic reaction, so on to the expensive drug, Depakote. I had to eventually go to a fourth drug for this charade, and each time it was a different set of rules:
take 3 times a day, take twice daily, no alcohol, extended release is available on this one, but not on this one. It was dizzying.
When do you know its over, youre recovered and everythings better? I mean, the medications and the doctors visits and the blood samples finally stopped, and I can drive and use a knife in the kitchen without fearing my own safety, and walk down the stairs without someone a handrail or someone elses help, but...but that feeling is always there, the feeling
like you went through Hell and no one knows what its like and you cant tell them because they just dont have the time to listen.
You know when you hear that someone dies (a grandparent, a cousin, an old friend), you feel terrible, you bawl your eyes out... You go to the funeral you rehash the good times to try to make you feel better
And maybe, you know, maybe two weeks later...youre no longer crying.
Because people move on
people forget what the victim went through
people dont know
people never knew
and you can never know how to tell them
Thats what that third death can be like, i think
Im at a grocery store, I dont know what Im getting but Ive got a basket for food, Im there alone, there are others in the store, but no one is paying attention to me.
Suddenly theres a gun to my head.
I know that sounds strange, but suddenly there is someone next to me, I have no idea who it is, but theyve got a gun to my head, and no one else is noticing or paying attention.
The gun is at my temple, my right temple. I can feel the metal against my shin there, its cold, and I cant move my head or this guy will blow my head off. I dont know what he wants from me, but that doesnt matter right now, Ive got this gun to my head, I have to try to keep my cool, hold everything together & not mess anything up.
My life depends on it.
I dont know how many times ive envisioned a gun to my head.
(If I tried to tell you, Id sound redundant)
But usually in the car I envision an accident again. But I always end up in better condition than I was after that one accident
Im usually barely conscious,
You know, to imply that something is wrong with me, but Im conscious enough to know in my stories that Im going to be okay,
Im barely conscious, but im okay
because that is what i do
I recover, and everyone then moves on.
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