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Disability Nexus: Article

How 1/10th of a second CAN change your whole life! (my story)

an article written by Dave Breezy (A.K.A. Chairdozer)

My accident was in 04. I started a journal in 05 on the events in my life since then Originally started on 1/ 7/ 2005) My name is David. I was born March 4th. 1962. At the time of my accident I was a 42 year old factory worker. A husband and father to three grown children, the youngest of which was 20 Yrs. Old. I was on bowling league each year. I moonlighted as a D.J. on the weekends, my wife and I owning our own mobile D.J. service. In other words, I was a healthy, active, hard working, somewhat overweight adult. Here’s what happened.

I have this friend, who I’ll call Mr. S. Now, Mr. S and I go way back. Clear back to grade school in fact. My friend and I were both avid motorcycle riders, both owning full dress touring Honda Gold Wings. Mine a vintage 1980 model, fully restored, in black. His a newer model in white. In more recent years we had drifted apart. Each becoming more and more wrapped up in our own lives. We only saw each other occasionally. Then one day I was out riding around town, just for fun, when who should I meet up with but Mr. S. He was on his bike too. We pulled over and visited for a while. Then, being a beautiful afternoon, we decided to go for a ride together. We headed through town, then decided to cruse out on the highway, Maybe ride out to see how high the river was. It was a pleasant ride as we cruised along, the wind in our hair, the sun on our faces. This was heaven.

When we got to the river, we parked the bikes side by side. And sat there on them visiting. It was during this conversation that we began to kick around an idea. A vacation! Yeah, that’s what we needed. A road trip! But where? We put our heads together and decided we could only be gone 4-5 days max. Not enough time to go too far. Also we neither one had endless money. So where could we go, Not be gone too long, or cost a fortune? After many phone calls back and forth and a few visits, Mr. S, and my Wife and I had formed a plan. We decided were going out to see Mt. Rushmore, and the Black Hills. We planned to leave Iowa, ride out through South Dakota, and ride back through Nebraska. Forming a big loop and seeing whatever sights were to be found between here & there.

We both worked full time day jobs. We stayed busy in the evenings and weekends leading up to our chosen departure date. Checking out the bikes and deciding what to take along. We planned to stay in motels along the way, and buy food and charcoal and grill out for most of our meals. But even so, we only had the saddle bags and trunks on our bikes to pack clothes, cameras, everything we might need on the trip. Mr. S had a small trailer that he could tow behind his bike. That helped. We loaded my collapsible grill, A few tools and our cooler in it. As we fine tuned our plans it was finally all coming together. Finally, it was the night before. Our clothes were all packed, the bikes checked over, washed, waxed, detailed and filled with gas. Everything was ready at last! We went over the last minute details, and then called it a night. The weather forecast said chance of rain overnight, maybe we should take the car. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

We headed out on the morning of July 6th, 2004. I remember it well, it had just finished raining and the roads were still damp, but the skies were clearing, and the forecast looked good. No problem, however we did get a slight amount of water spray from the oncoming traffic. Before long though the roads were totally dry. We had planned to stop at the local Wal-Mart, not far from home to get a few last minute things and be on our way, which we did. We pulled off interstate 165 at the Pella exit so my wife could get her goggles out of the trunk. When she had put them on and gotten back on the bike, we headed back out onto the interstate. That is the last thing I remember.

I woke up, after having some really weird "dreams" so I thought, (I’ll explain later) to find myself in a room so dark, that I couldn’t make out much. I was on the most uncomfortable bed I’ve ever been on in my life! Unable to move, unable to speak, feeling as if a band had been wrapped so tightly around my abdomen that it was crushing the very life out of me! I could feel very little except excoriating pain, I could not breathe, I did not know where I was, whether it was day or night, nothing. I was mentally all there, but nothing worked physically, not even my voice. Can you imagine what it is to go from a fully functional "normal" person to being trapped in your own body in the blink of an eye? I remember at one point during this time, my nose itched so intensely. Imagine feeling that, not being able to scratch it, and not being able to let anybody know because you can’t move or speak. You just have to lay there and suffer. This went on for a period of a what seemed like a couple of weeks.

Right over my bed, someone had hung a picture of my grandkids. Who did this or what gave them this idea, I do not know. But it was divine inspiration. You see, My granddaughter and I have always been very close. And she had had some problems. She was molested at the age of 3. Causing her to turn bulimic. It got so bad, that at her current age of 5, her 2 year old little brother out weighed her, and he wasn’t a bit overweight. And to make matters worse, I was her "safe" person. Needless to say, she didn’t do at all well with this turn of events.

That picture was always there. When I would wake up in the night, Unable to breathe, wracked with powerful spasms that were so intensely painful it was beyond belief. When I just wanted to give up and let it all end, I would see that picture. And one thought would spring instantly to my mind. "How will they explain it to her? (if I die) She’d never understand." She was not old enough to understand the severity or extent of my injuries. All she knew is that "Poppy" (as she calls me) was there for her, no matter what! That picture is one of my most treasured possessions and it hangs in my room to this day.
Eventually I did piece together what happened. Now I will fill in the details. This is from several sources as I have no memory of this. My wife, god bless her, was on the bike with me and remembers it all. I also have the official police report which is where all the measurements of the accident come from. And the medical records, that will explain why I awoke in the state I did.

After my wife retrieved her goggles from the trunk and had gotten back on the bike, we headed back out on the interstate. We hadn’t much more than gotten back up to speed when we spotted a large strip of tire, like the semi’s leave on the highway sometimes, in our lane. No problem, No other traffic around, we spotted it in plenty of time to miss it easily. We drifted into the other lane to miss it.
Then, without warning BANG! something lets go! The ride went to hell instantly, the bike shuddering violently, me trying to hold it and bring it to a stop, my wife clinging to me for dear life! She hears snapping sounds. It’s my collar bone breaking. The police report shows skid marks for 146ft. It also states that at one point the bike was down on it’s crash bars and I was able to bring it back. At that point my wife says I knew I was loosing it, so I headed for the grass, my thinking being, if I had to lay it down, we would get torn up less on grass than pavement. Only one problem, It had rained in the night, Making the shoulder soft & when I hit it, my front wheel sank in, quit rolling and started skidding, piling up gravel in front of it. This caused the bike to flip end for end. 4 times in all. My wife came to rest about 100 ft. beyond the bike, and I came to rest just beyond her left ankle. To this day nobody knows what caused the tire to explode. The only guess I heard later was from the officer that investigated the accident. He informed me that there had been a horrible auto accident there a week before. He suspected maybe a small piece of glass or metal that hadn’t been cleaned up had caused the front tire to blowout. We will never know.

My wife broke her neck in three places, and is lucky to be alive and well today. (bless her, she has stayed by my side through all of this and still stands by me today.) I broke over 40 bones including my right collar bone, my left scapula (into three pieces), all my ribs, my thighs (both), my knees (both), my calves (both) one ankle, cracked my skull in 2 places, and I crushed the T9 vertebrae in my spine, completely severing the spinal cord. I collapsed both lungs, bruised both sides of my heart, various other internal injuries, and had a brain injury as well. I wouldn’t have survived, but for a couple of miracles.

Here is my first miracle. When my accident happened, an ambulance was returning empty, from transferring a patient from one hospital to another. They witnessed the accident and by the time we hit the ground, they were basically on scene. Even so, they found me unresponsive, and not breathing. They rushed us to the Pella hospital, and immediately had me flown to Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines by helicopter. It took 8 people to load me into the helicopter. Upon arrival at Des Moines, things did not look good. I was still unable to breathe, was unconscious and unresponsive, and had swelling of the brain. I had a Glasgow coma score of three. (A Glasgow coma score of three means 1. You don’t open your eyes, period. 2. You have absolutely no response to pain, & 3.You make no sounds. A corpse would score a 3.)When my family got there that evening, I’m told I was quite a sight. I had tubes in either side of my chest, a feeding tube up my nose, a pressure relief bolt in the top of my head,. I was on a respirator via the trach tube in my throat. I had an IV in either arm, and I was restrained. They had shaved my goatee and my moustache, as well as the top of my head clear back to the crown. The hospital told them to plan my funeral. My son-in-law tried to prepare my family for the worst. Having some medical knowledge, he understood more of just how grave my condition was. As the next several days passed, I fought for my life. All the hospital would tell anyone who called or came to see me is "he’s still alive, but that’s about all we can say for now".

More Stories By Rudy Sims

I am currently 31 years old I have a disability called cerebral palsy and I am in a wheelchair I was born with cerebral palsy and I have had three operations to try and manage it. My last operation went badly and I experienced very severe postoperative chronic pain for 10 years. I am doing great now and I want to help others with disabilities and chronic illnesses cope effectively with their conditions.