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Ken's Accident & Life Lessons

Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:42 am
by Ken
Why do bad things happen to Sexy People?? Kidding aside, my life was nearly taken and forever changed while I was walking on the sidewalk with my father. I have used this accident to grow as a person and my complete recovery and many lessons I learned came about from having an unwavering belief in self that I would become wiser and stronger from this tragedy. I hope the lessons I learned from my accident assist you in living the life you want. My goal is to be a mirror to reflect your own brilliance.

The story of my accident is so bizarre and horrific (as you will read) made national news and was written about in USA Today and broadcast over CNN and other national news channels.

The Survivor

On the morning of August 17, 1998, my life was going amazingly well. I had graduated from law school at Berkeley and recently taken and assuredly passed the California Bar Exam. At twenty-six years old, I had accomplished many goals and was soon to start a lucrative legal career. In one month, I would be moving to Palo Alto, California, and commence employment as a Trademark and Copyright attorney at the prestigious Silicon Valley law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (“WSGR”). And best of all, I had a long vacation in Boca Raton, paid for mainly by my signing bonus from WSGR, to relax and visit with my family and friends.

Whenever I returned home, one of the most enjoyable things I did was take long walks with my father. Both our walks and conversations were stimulating and invigorating, and we steadily grew closer together. Thus, when my father suggested that we go for a walk on the afternoon of August 17th, I enthusiastically jumped at the chance to join him in this beloved activity.

It was a beautiful and sunny summer afternoon. Our walks generally consisted of going through residential neighborhoods, but also involved a short distance where we would walk along a busy street, Yamato Road. I never felt concerned for my safety because we always walked on the sidewalk, which is separated from the street by a twelve-foot grassy divide. This false sense of security was soon to be shattered during that walk, along with my leg, arm, previous life, and anticipated future.

While walking on the sidewalk adjacent to Yamato Road, my father and I became deeply engaged in our conversation. We were discussing my upcoming move to Palo Alto and joining the law firm. While I still planned on becoming a philosopher in the future, I was excited by the prospect of applying trademark and copyright law to the Internet for a period in my life and the new experiences it would bring.

Within a second and without warning, my life changed. Behind us, a car traveling over forty miles per hour veered off the road and, without any braking, slammed into my right leg. The force of the car catapulted my body upward and ripped me out of my shoes. I was launched above the hood of the car. My right shoulder and upper arm crashed through the windshield, breaking the humerus bone in my right arm in the process. My body landed, contorted and mangled, half in and half out of the moving vehicle. My head and upper body were wedged against the passenger seat while my legs were painfully sprawled out over the hood of the car.

I instantly went from walking with my father to feeling the most extreme and searing pain I have ever felt. I screamed in agony, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” as an immeasurable pain pulsed through my body in waves. Through my teary eyes and horrified screams, I looked at my throbbing leg and saw it twisted in an unnatural and hideous position while surrounded by broken glass from the windshield. I also saw clouds darting along in front of me and realized that somehow I was moving. Unable to understand, I continued to scream “Oh my God! Oh my God!” I stopped screaming when, through the haze of pain I felt new stabs of intense hurt. Looking upward and to my left, I saw a fist from above showering blows upon my contorted body. Unable to understand, I begged the driver “Help me! What are you doing? Please help me!”

In answer to my pleas, the punches only came faster and harder. I pulled myself into the car with what uninjured muscles were still functioning.

I then looked to where the blows were coming from and will never forget the eyes of my attacker. They were so dilated and bloodshot that I immediately knew he must have been under the influence of mind-altering drugs. His brown eyes glared at me with an animalistic hatred in between darting glances ahead at the cars he was dashing past. His face was drenched in sweat.

Many blows to my face interrupted my quick glance. He repeatedly hit me with his right fist and weaved through traffic with his left hand. I instinctively raised my left arm to shield my body from the force of his attack.

While attacking me he screamed, “Get Out! Get Out!” in a guttural, life-threatening voice. Attempting to block his punches, I tried to prevent him from pushing me out of the speeding car.

I begged him repeatedly, “Stop the car, I’m hurt, I’m hurt! Help me! Let me out!” He only beat me harder and continually screamed, “Get out! Get out!” He pummeled and yelled at me for several interminable minutes as I battled for my life.

Continuously beating me, he drove erratically around other cars. He then veered into a gated community and smashed through their barricade. Making a quick U-turn, he went back onto Yamato road and ran a red light. He then hopped a curb and drove on to another street where he continued beating me while yelling at me to “Get out!”

Then he started to slow the car down and I looked ahead. Several cars waiting for a red light blocked all lanes of traffic and my attacker could not drive around them. I fervently renewed my pleas of “stop the car” and to “let me out.”

He quickly swerved right so that his car was barely off the road and abutting the grass median. Once stopped, I immediately tried to get out, but could not open the door with my right arm, which was badly broken. Using my left arm, I pulled the door latch and was able to barely open the door and began frantically trying to escape from his car. But because both my right arm and leg were badly broken I could not leave his car. He then violently pushed me out of the car, with my broken arm violently slamming against the car door and the ground.

He then backed the car up for a second and I thought he was going to run me over. Then squealing his wheels as the car lurched forward, he jumped the road’s concrete median and sped off in the other direction.

Lying painfully on the grass beside the road, I waved my one good arm in the air, and yelled, “Help me! Help me!” as convoys of several cars streamed past me. So many cars drove by me, not noticing me, or perhaps afraid to get involved in such a bloody attack. I did not know that many witnesses to my accident had already called 911.

Now that I was out of immediate danger, I slowly writhed with an unbelievable and unbearable pain that was running through the right side of my body. I looked at my right arm and saw that it was pulled backwards and dangling limply. My first thought was that I would never be able to write again. I realized at this early moment that my life had changed forever.

I then saw a man park his car on the other side of the street and run up to me with a cellular phone in his hand.

“I’ve called the police,” he said.

I frantically uttered, “My father was also hit by the car! Tell the police to look for him!”

I heard approaching sirens in the background. Two policemen arrived at the scene and asked me to describe what had happened.

“I was walking with my father on the sidewalk and was then hit by a car. I think my father was hit, too. The driver of the car beat me while I was inside the car and finally let me out here.”

After hearing this outrageous story, the questioning officer drew away from me and then quietly whispered to his partner, “He’s in shock.”
Hearing his disbelief, I responded, “No, I was walking with my father on the sidewalk along Yamato Road, we were hit by a car, the driver beat me while I was inside the car, and he finally let me out of the car here.”

At that moment, the officers received word of a 911 call from my father reporting the accident. They then realized that I was the accident victim who had been hit on Yamato Road. That I had been beaten and held captive for over three miles before being pushed out here. I was relieved upon finding that my father was alive and not badly injured.

As the police were questioning me, the paramedics came and began cutting through my clothes to examine and dress my wounds. The paramedics initially thought I had been stabbed, with one of my many wounds piercing several inches into my body and resembling a knife wound. This deep wound, near my right hip and groin area, was the reason I was taken to Delray Medical Center (which has an excellent trauma unit) over the closer Boca Raton Hospital. This choice of hospitals is what later allowed my attacker to be identified and caught.

That ambulance ride to the hospital was excruciating; every bump in the road caused a red-hot pain to flare up all over the right side of my body. The pain in my body was exacerbated by the fears in my mind. Would I ever be able to walk again? Would I ever be able to write with a pen or type a legal brief? My thoughts were a world apart from the optimistic thoughts with which I began that walk.

My fearful concerns were continually interrupted by the paramedics’ constant body probing and questioning. My body was again pierced, this time by several intravenous needles. Every maneuvering and inspection of my body was a fresh torture.

To their surprise, the paramedics found that I never went into shock. Perhaps it was my knowing that I was facing a life or death situation and my instinct of self-preservation had triumphed over the fear. Or maybe my past experience dealing with the trauma and grief from my sister’s death prepared me for this tragedy. Either way (and unfortunately), I can never forget being attacked and beaten by my assailant.

I feel more sorry for my father than myself, for he had to witness his only surviving child being run down while walking alongside him. Like myself, my father had no warning of the car approaching from behind. According to witnesses, the car was going forty miles per hour and did not break at all before it hit us.

We were walking side by side, and then my father felt a powerful push on his leg, as the car tire brushed against his leg and left a road rash scrape. Knowing I had been hit, my father looked all around for my thrown body. My father uses the term “body” when describing that moment, because he feared and felt that I was probably dead. Not finding my body, my father quickly looked ahead and saw the car speeding along on the sidewalk before darting back to the road. Seeing one of my legs sticking out of the car, my father ran after the car but soon realized that my attacker was not stopping and that he would never catch up.

Looking backwards, my father then waved down an approaching city bus whose driver had seen the whole accident. The bus driver and my father chased after the car and my body, not knowing whether I was alive or dead. Because my attacker was weaving in and out of traffic and ran a red light, the bus driver could not keep up the pursuit. My father then told the bus driver to drop him off on the side of the road.

Unable to quickly locate a phone booth, my father ran into a large office building occupied by Bell South, the local telephone provider. My exhausted father asked the receptionist if he could call 911.

“Is this an emergency?” she questioned.

“Yes!” She quickly handed the phone over to my father who urgently called 911 to report the accident.

Apprehension of My Attacker

When my attacker finally pushed me out of the car, he sped away from where he left me to escape capture. My attacker then pulled into a parking lot and discarded incriminating evidence in a grassy area adjoining the parking lot. This evidence was later found, and it was learned that he had discarded several weapons, including an 18-inch machete, a bloody baseball bat, and a billy club. Additionally, he threw away my sun visor, now covered in blood, which had landed in his car. Then, he attempted to destroy the most damning evidence of the attack, his car that now had a shattered windshield and blood all over the interior. He drove the car down a boat launch ramp and submerged it into the Intracoastal Waterway. Getting soaked in the process, he then stripped down to his underwear and sneakers, and ran away from his car. While initially fully immersed, the car was later discovered jutting out of the water during the next low tide and was hoisted out of the water by the police.

Bleeding from wounds caused by flying glass shards from the broken windshield and running away from his submerged car clothed only in his underwear, a call concerning a suspicious-looking and wounded person was received by the paramedics and Delray Beach police. Finding my attacker hiding in an alley, the paramedics dressed his wounds. Under direction from the police, the paramedics then fortuitously took him to the same hospital that I had been taken to, Delray Medical Center.

The Boca Raton Police, who were at the hospital interviewing my father and me about the accident, heard from the Delray Beach Police about a recently admitted patient who perfectly fit the description of my attacker and also had wounds caused by broken glass. The Boca Raton police were immediately suspicious and became more so while questioning my attacker about his whereabouts earlier that day.

They then asked me to view this potential suspect and to either positively or negatively identify him. Because the last time I saw my attacker he was irrational and repeatedly beating me, I demanded that the suspect be securely tied down before I identified him.

The police wheeled my gurney next to the suspect’s gurney, to which he was strapped down. Upon first sight, there was a moment of mutual recognition, after which he wildly writhed in his gurney, knowing that he had been caught. No words were exchanged between us, but some healing inside myself had already begun.

Based upon my positive identification of my attacker, description of his actions, and the paramedics’ suspicion that my attacker was on narcotics, the police took a sample of his blood and tested it for drugs. This test detected evidence of his being under the influence of the drug Ketamine, also known as “Special K,” a powerful anesthetic used for veterinary surgeries. Additionally, the test found that he was also under the influence of the drug Ecstasy. A urine sample was also taken which showed positive results for amphetamines and cannabinoids. After his wounds were properly treated, my attacker was transported to jail.

Knowledge of my assailant’s identity, Adam B., and the license plate number of his car, showed that he had been arrested only two days earlier for the felony charge of possession of over twenty grams of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

I later learned the following information from police reports and Adam B.’s deposition, both of which I take the following quotes from. Considering B.’s actions during the 48 hours previous to my accident, it seems inevitable that he would have hurt either himself or another.

Apparently, two days before hitting me B. accosted two juveniles and asked whether they wanted to buy any “Ecstasy,” “beaners,” or “rolls” - slang terms for illicit drugs. A friend then told B. that police were in the area and he fled on foot while the juveniles flagged down the police officer. When B. later returned, the police searched his car and found over thirty-one grams of marijuana, a syringe and needle, a measuring scale, and plastic baggies. Although arrested for a felony charge and having had his car impounded on that Saturday night, he was released on Sunday and given back possession of his car.

Learning little from his arrest, B. took Ecstasy and Ketamine on Sunday night and went to a nightclub until 6:00 A.M. Monday morning. He then proceeded to an after-hours party until 1:00 P.M., only three hours before he hit me. With no sleep over the last four days, B. then proceeded to pick up his impounded car and attend a court ordered drug-counseling session while admittedly “very high” from the mind altering combination of Ketamine and Ecstasy. He then drove for a long period, noticing that the drugs were still very much in his system and “disorienting” him. B. then claimed he “blacked out and lost control of (his) vehicle. The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital.”

My attorney found this alleged blackout to be wholly inconsistent with all of B.’s well thought out efforts to destroy evidence and elude the police after pushing me out of his car. Thus, he asked my attacker, “Were you aware that Ken DeLeon was somersaulted over the front of your vehicle as a pedestrian on the side of the road and crashed through your right windshield upside down … [and] that you continued to pound on him with your… right hand as you drove down the street?”

B. replied, “This is what they tell me, sir. But I’m not sure how much of it I believe. He is a lawyer. He’s fairly smart.”

My next post will discuss my recovery in the hospital and the beginning of the life lessons I learned from my accident.

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:24 pm
by Ken
When people imagine an emergency room, they always think of the images portrayed in movies and television shows, with the doctors and nurses frantically running everywhere and hooking the unfortunate patient into innumerable machines and intravenous needles. While movies can replicate the intensity of the emergency room, they can never fully capture the patient’s fears as towering paramedics or doctors quickly steer the gurney while barking orders.

The doctors surrounding me controlled my future recovery and life. The possibilities of my having “internal bleeding,” “spinal damage,” and “skeletal damage” were all thought likely and probed for.

To check for and to alleviate any internal bleeding that may have occurred, the doctors stuffed a large tube several inches into my mouth and esophagus. With each breath I convulsed and wanted to throw up. Instead, blood from deep within my body was expelled.

While all of this was occurring, a police photographer was taking photographic evidence of my battered face and body, occasionally asking me to slightly reposition to better showcase my wounds and bruises.

Amongst this chaos, my mother was allowed into the emergency room to see me. She firmly gripped my hand. I could see her trying to be strong for me and not release the flood of emotions she was feeling; love and pity for her only remaining child, hatred and shock for the crazed driver who did this to her son.

My first words were “It’s okay Mom, it looks worse than it is.” Seeing her love and sadness so clearly, I would have rather been myself than my mother at that moment. She was helpless in this life battle that her son was facing, whereas at least I could directly affect the success of my recovery.

My father came in later, after speaking extensively with the police and doctors. He was still wearing his walking clothes – shorts and a tee shirt. Initially full of adrenaline while trying to rescue me, he was now full of disbelief and shock at the trauma he had to witness. He delicately held and stroked my hand, saying I would get better soon. Again I felt more sorrow for my father than myself, for I know that my father would have given anything to switch places with me.

Once deemed to be in stable condition, I identified my attacker as Adam Blumhof (as mentioned earlier). I was then taken for numerous X-rays of my body. Being lifted from a stretcher to the X-ray table took four nurses and required a countdown to synchronize my lift-off. Each X-ray involved agonizing pain because my body had to be repositioned to get the proper angle of observation. What was probably an hour in the X-ray room seemed a painful eternity.

The X-rays found that both bones in my lower right leg, the tibia and fibula, were (according to my surgeon) “shattered to pieces.” My right arm was broken, one of my vertebrae may have cracked, and my femur and ankle bones were chipped. Surprisingly and fortunately, no damage to my skull, brain, or neck was detected. I was told what I already knew; I was very fortunate to have such limited damage since the most likely result of such a traumatic accident was death.

Whether it was this knowledge or simply feeling the full force of the painkillers, but from that point on until my first surgery the pain became less excruciating and more bearable.

Because my surgery was scheduled for the next day, I was put into a critical care room for that first night, where the nurses would check on me and take a blood sample every hour.

Both of my parents came again to visit me, but few words were spoken. All of our thoughts were upon the senseless and horrific tragedy of that day and the surgery of tomorrow.

Needless to say, that first night was a sleepless one. For the first time, I could reflect upon the accident rather than just react to it.

I could explain the accident from a physiological perspective. The reason why my right leg was shattered but my left one was not injured must have been because I was in mid-walking stride when hit, with my right leg in back to bear the car’s impact. I realized how fortunate I was to have my shoulder rather than my skull break the durable windshield. I was also amazed that my 6’4’’ frame was catapulted upward and into the car without slamming against the steel frame of the car.

I believe that one of the main reasons for my injuries not being more debilitating was because my body was completely relaxed when hit by the car. Blumhof sped towards us at approximately forty miles per hour and never warned us of his pending collision through attempting to break or skid out of our path. My father and I had no time to hear the car coming from behind us and instinctively tense our bodies in anticipation.

This reminded me of how drunk drivers often receive no injuries from the automobile accidents they cause due to the relaxed state of their muscles. This principle also seems to hold in life, for whenever I fearfully anticipate a bad event, I always fare worse than if I just relax and confidently wait for the storm to pass.

The doctor was optimistic about my walking again, although probably with a noticeable limp. My arm could be repaired, but would never be as strong as before. Although my days of playing tennis, basketball, and surfing appeared to be over, I felt lucky to be alive.

The Dawn of a New Day

I soon saw the morning sun filtering through the blinds of the hospital room. To everyone else, this was a normal day with normal worries. They were worried about getting their children to school on time, worried about their job performance, and worried about their stock portfolios. I envied these people and their ordinary concerns. I remembered my former self who would lose sleep over upcoming term papers and potential girlfriends. My grave disappointment over receiving a B instead of an A on a test now seemed laughable.

Looking down at my bruised and bandaged body, I knew that those days were a part of my former life. Having almost lost my life, and now burdened with an uncertain physical and psychological recovery, I realized that life is too short to focus upon trivialities.

It did not seem to matter that my future job was with a prestigious law firm, now that I was heading into a major surgery. What did matter was how much I loved, and was loved, by family and friends. It was important that I had spent time talking with my mother, walking with my father, and playing sports or debating with my friends. What mattered was that if I had died when hit by that speeding car, I would have already lived a life filled with amazing memories, which would ensure that I would not have been forgotten. Like the Ancient Greeks, I received solace from the knowledge that my legacy would continue after my death. Although I obviously hoped to live beyond twenty-six years, I had no regrets about my life and was not afraid of death.

Should I have died from the accident, I would have wanted my funeral to be a celebration of my life, rather than a tearful mourning of my loss. Although neither afraid nor overly concerned with dying, I have always accepted the possibility of an early death and have lived my life accordingly. While continually preparing for a better future, I consistently sought happiness and fulfillment in the present moment. I danced with glee and abandon as I paid homage to my sacred self. I drank knowledge from the fountainheads of Frederick Nietzsche, Hermann Hesse, Stendhal, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In sum, I sought to discover myself and thereby actualize my potential. Neither raging against the dying of the light nor going gentle into that good night, I chose to live my life right.

There should be no sadness from the end of a life well lived, only a rejoicing party commemorating its accomplishments. One should not fear death, but instead fear the living of a mediocre life filled with missed opportunities and consequent regrets. It is those who live the greatest lives that fear death the least.

Even at this early stage of the accident, I knew that this severe change in my life would bring a commensurate change to my perspective. While the change was involuntary and almost deadly, it was certainly here and I could either hate this change or accept what new lessons it brought.
What was the alternative? I could hate my attacker and forever question why such a terrible event had occurred to such a good person. If I carried such hatred and despair with me, I would never recover nor get past this tragedy. It was not in my power to prevent the accident, but my mental attitude would determine the success of my convalescence.

Nationwide News

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 5:45 pm
by Ken
Soon after the accident I told the Palm Beach Post that “I’m grateful I don’t have brain damage, I’m grateful my lungs aren’t hurt and my back is not hurt. I’ve tried to accept this whole thing and not give in to negative thoughts. In a lot of ways, I’m fortunate.”

And so began the second day of my second life. My parents arrived tired and distraught, yet they tried to portray strength and courage. My parents had made many calls and inquiries the night before, and they felt they had found the best surgeon for my injury. My surgery was scheduled for later that day, and the surgeon would operate upon both my right arm and leg.

I requested a living will, which would give my parents’ the authority to withhold life-prolonging treatment should a surgical mishap result in my becoming a mentally incapacitated “vegetable.” The head nurse of the hospital wing showed up, stating that because I was on so many pain killers and other medications, I was not of the right mind to sign a document with control over my life. I pleaded with her for twenty minutes, reciting historical dates and legal theories in an attempt to show her how lucid my mind was. She finally relented, realizing that I earnestly felt death to be a better alternative to a helpless and mindless existence. My mother and I cried while I signed my living will, for it showed how precarious my life still was at that point.

My mother, devastated by Jane’s suicide, would never have been able to recover from the loss of her last remaining child.

A Painful Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Later that day, bouquets of flowers began arriving from all over the nation. Most of the bouquets and cards were from my friends, but some were from strangers who had read or heard about my accident from the news and wished me a speedy recovery. I was amazed and thankful for this outpouring of well wishes from strangers. I learned that my accident had been reported upon by national newspapers and news programs, including USA Today, CNN, some of the tabloids, and also countless local papers. There were several humorous titles to these articles, such as Could You Push Me Out A Little Closer To A Hospital, But Officer, Look What He Did To My Car!, Driver Hits Pedestrian, Then Beats Him Up For Good Measure, Riding Shotgun, and Chutzpah! Having always felt that I would someday accomplish a great feat that would be reported upon, it was ironic that my first publicity resulted from this tragedy.

While most articles discussed the unusual and disturbing nature of my accident, some of the articles were flippant and belittled my suffering, such as the following eloquent radio commentary by the famous correspondent, Charles Osgood, and taken from the Osgood file.

In a moment, the story of Kenneth DeLeon, the man who had four awful things happen to him within the space of a few terrible moments. I don’t know whether he’ll be able to convince his insurance company that it was four separate accidents or incidents, but they did happen, one after the other, and he’s got the broken arm, broken leg and other cuts and bruises to prove it.

Did you ever have one of those days when one bad thing after another happens to you? Kenneth DeLeon, a recent law school graduate from Berkeley, California, was out walking in Boca Raton, Florida, just minding his own business, not breaking any laws. He wasn’t even crossing the street. He was on the sidewalk when, all of a sudden, several unfortunate things happened to him.

First of all, he was hit by a station wagon. The vehicle jumped the curb and sent DeLeon flying up in the air. When he came back down, he had another bad thing happen. He went right through the windshield, landed head first in the passenger seat. And bad as all that was, yet another bad thing happened to him.

He was dazed and startled, of course, but so was the driver of the car. From his point of view, here he was minding his business when, all of a sudden, this man comes crashing through the windshield without so much as a how-do-you-do, sprawls out, on the passenger seat.

The driver, 22-year-old Adam Blumhof, screamed at the intruder to get out of the car. And when he didn’t respond fast enough to suit Blumhof, Blumhof started beating him, reaching over, pummeling poor DeLeon with his right hand while still steering the car with his left hand, police say.

And finally, he managed to get the door open and push DeLeon out of the car and drove off. Hours later, Blumhof was arrested, bleeding from cuts on his head and arm, stumbling around wearing only wet underwear and tennis shoes, they say. He was jailed on charges of leaving the scene of an accident, battery and failure to render aid. Police say that he had been arrested two days before on a marijuana possession charge.

Meanwhile, Kenneth DeLeon is still trying to sort it all out. Quite a lot happened in quite a short time. And he isn’t quite sure which of his injuries were sustained when he was hit by the station wagon, which injuries happened when he crashed through the windshield, which ones occurred when he was being beaten and punched by the motorist and which injuries were caused by being pushed out of the moving car.

Howard Stern also comically discussed my accident on his show, stating that I was the biggest fly on a windshield that had ever been seen. He even staged a skit in which Howard pretended to be my attacker. You heard the noise of the collision followed by a police siren chasing Howard. The police came up to Howard and tried to arrest him for a hit-and-run accident. Howard deadpanned that he was not guilty of causing a hit-and-run accident, for he did not run from the scene of the accident as I was still wedged in the car and next to Howard.

When the hospital learned of all of the publicity I was receiving, I was quickly transferred from a small room that I shared with another patient to my own corner suite at no additional cost. Perhaps they felt sympathy for my tragedy and wanted to accommodate my many visitors, or more likely, my former cramped quarters were not reflecting well upon the hospital’s image.

My Destiny?

Was it my “destiny” or “fate” which determined that I was to be hit by Adam Blumhof’s speeding car? For if I had been only walking ten feet ahead or behind of where I was at the moment of impact, perhaps I would have avoided the erratic swerve that almost took my life.

Upon reflection, I realized that there were several small decisions that could have affected the outcome of that life altering day. Before our walk, I had considered returning a friend’s phone call regarding our plans for that night, but decided to wait until my return. I had also thought of getting a glass of water to quench my thirst, but did not want to delay our walk. Noxious fumes, emanating from a recently tarred roof in my father’s neighborhood, caused us to deviate from our normal route. Just prior to being hit, my father and I exchanged places so that I blocked my father from the sun’s glare with my taller body and visor. This placed me, rather than my father, closer to the street.

Considering all that had to occur in order to place my body right into the path of Adam Blumhof’s car, was I not fated to be hit as if by destiny? Or perhaps the accident was a manifestation of God’s will, benevolently forcing me to learn many lessons from this tragedy or punishing me for my past lack of faith.

While some people actually had the audacity to suggest this to me, the simple truth is that “shit happens.” Life is dynamic, chaotic and amoral. Consequently, one should expect and try to learn from both the involuntary and voluntary changes life brings.

One cannot entirely control circumstance, but can control one’s perception and reaction to circumstance. While we each create our own lives, we cannot fully direct them. Once this is realized, we can learn from, and accept, nearly any situation. For it is change, often precipitated by loss, which brings forth the greatest wisdom and evolution.

My accident and ephiphanies - Part IV

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:46 pm
by Ken
For those who are reading this blog for the first time, this blog discusses a nearly fatal accident I was involved in and the many life lessons I learned from it. First time readers may want to start at the first post which is at the bottom. Without further ado, the next installment:

Invasive Surgery – Act I

I was soon prepared for surgery, placed upon a gurney and wheeled to the operating room. I informed my surgeon of all the media attention my accident was garnering, in the hopes that he would see me as a celebrity deserving special care. He seemed unmoved at this late hour. My parents and many friends kissed me and wished me well. They then nervously awaited my return in the crowded waiting room.

The surgery was going well and routinely, with the surgeon inserting a sixteen-inch titanium rod into my right arm and several screws with a large, titanium plate into my right leg. Seemingly completed, the surgeon began stitching up my leg when his assistant suddenly felt how swollen and tense my right calf muscle had become.
My calf muscle was then properly diagnosed as having a compartment syndrome injury. This results when a great trauma, in my case the impact of the speeding car, occurs to the body, causing fluids to rush to the injured body compartment, and forcing the muscle tissue to expand greatly. This swelling would have continued until my skin prevented the muscle from expanding any more, whereupon the muscle would have died. As a result, I would have lost function of my right calf muscle and forever walk with a terrible limp. To prevent this, the surgeon made two large incisions on my lower right leg, allowing the swelled calf muscle room to expand.

With the extra time required for this unexpected procedure, I regained consciousness before the surgery was completed. I was violently roused from my induced unconsciousness by a piercing pain as they inserted an epidural into my lower back. I attempted to scream but only a dull, muffled cry left my mouth. I remember hearing faint voices around me as they completed the operation.

I heard one of the doctors state that my grandmother, an ingenious and persistent woman, had managed to be connected to the operating room and wanted to speak to her grandson. I attempted to yell, “Help me!” but later found out that my grandmother thought I was simply saying “Hello”
Moments later the operation was completed and my parents were allowed in the operating room. Each one held a hand and caressed me, telling me that the worst was over with.

The pain from that surgery - having had holes literally drilled into my bones prior to having the rods, plates and screws attached to them, and the slicing of my right leg open - was as intense and unbearable as any pain caused from the initial accident.
I had no philosophic epiphanies that night, but only slowly writhed in pain and cursed the ineffectual pain medication.

Eight Days of Torture

That morning I was still in disbelief that the doctor had been forced to make two very large incisions, spanning the entire length of my shin to allow my calf muscle to increasingly expand. My disbelief turned to horror as I saw the nurses unravel my bandages and I saw my exposed, veiny, and swollen calf muscle. Like a soldier who had stepped on a landmine, I was looking at my internal organs. With the vividness of a recurring nightmare, I can recall seeing the white, gelatinous muscle pulse and twitch from the slightest foot movement. Horror then turned to agonizing pain as the nurse began cleaning and disinfecting my exposed calf muscle. Feeling the sponge scratching against my raw muscle was more than I could bear, and I screamed in agony.

I soon learned that I would have to endure these torturous cleanings twice a day until the swelling in my calf had subsided enough to allow the muscle to be inserted back into my skin. During this period I feared the early morning and late night, for that was when my cleanings occurred.
My best friend Grant visited me in the hospital right before one of my painful cleanings. Grant winced as he saw the nurse slowly unravel the gauze surrounding my wound, stuck to my calf muscle with dried blood. Becoming lightheaded from seeing my exposed muscle and the terrible agony that I was experiencing, Grant sat down to avoid passing out. Seeing his reaction to my raw muscle the nurse inappropriately stated, “It looks just like strawberry shortcake.” After recovering, Grant wisely suggested that my mother be spared from seeing me endure this anguish.