Life happens fast.
No kidding. I have a long scar on the left side of my forehead. It was around mid-April 9 years ago that I fell asleep driving to a handball game in Sherwood Park. A three-quarter tonne van t-boned me just behind my driver side door. Apparently, I was screaming when they were cutting me out of my vehicle, that was perched up on the sidewalk facing the opposite direction. I remember coming to in the car. A firefighter was holding my neck in place. Another was leaning over me with a blanket. I couldn’t see at first.
“I can’t see!”
“Can you feel your legs?” A stern voice said from somewhere behind me.
“I think so but everything is black.” I replied back. Worried.
“You have just been in a major car accident.” That voice again.
“Is everyone else okay?”
“Yes, just you are injured. We are cutting you out of the car right now.”
“Don’t cut my football jacket.”
“That’s not your biggest problem. The reason you can’t see is because you have blood in your eyes.”
I shivered on the stretcher as the paramedics shuttled me to the ambulance in the frosty early spring morning. They said it was a good sign — me shivering. It meant I wasn’t paralyzed. I laid on a gurney for six hours while my parents and I waited in Emergency at the Royal Alexandria Hospital on Edmonton’s downtown northside, for CT Scan results and X-Rays.
At some point late in the morning a mild-mannered young doctor came strolling down the hallway. My bed was in the hall because of overcrowding. As he put on his latex gloves he said that he was a plastic surgeon and that stitching up my forehead would be a sinch (no pun intended).
“Would you like some local freezing before I stitch you up?” He purred good naturedly.
“Definitely.” I said confidently.
“Well, can you feel that?”
“Fell what?” I said.
“I have my finger in the cut in your forehead.”
It took sixteen stitches to pull my skin together — thirteen on top, three underneath. After all the tests came back the triage doctors sent me home with a third degree concussion and a pack of starter Tylenol Extra Strength. The next few weeks were a haze.
I was lucky. The Paramedics said as much when they came back to see me later that afternoon. They told my Mother that they hadn’t seen somebody so unscathed from such a violent collision.
“He is a big healthy, strong boy,” a round EMT with shiny golden tree trunk arms bellowed. “A smaller person would be in a wheelchair.”
“That’s the truth,” his skinny partner chimed in.
I should have been paralyzed. I mean I could have easily died. Instead I have a six inch scar on my forehead that glows bright red when I wear ballcaps and a mushy noggin. Surprisingly, some people don’t notice I have a scar until after they have met me a few times. Often their eyes will drift northward to my hairline and then they will remark in mock astonishment: “What happened to your head?” Thinking it was something recent. I usually tell them some version of the story above. I also have to be careful when bike riding. A few months ago I hit some loose gravel near a Kingston construction zone and shot of my bike shoulder first into an embankment. The whiplash gave me concussion symptoms. It was hard to focus in class and on my papers.
I hated the scar for the first few years after the accident. While that affable doctor was sewing me up, he said that one day the scar would crease in together with the rest of the crinkles on my forehead. “Make sure you think a lot, so you can start those lines early,” he joked.
I remember I used to stand in front of the mirror and think of ways to hide it. Makeup seemed the obvious choice but I just don’t understand makeup application. Hats were my favourite — Blue Jays profit, like they wear on the field. Sometimes a toque but they make my hair itchy. I didn’t really end up hiding it all that much but I was aware of it. I could see it in pictures. When hairdressers cut my hair and run a comb over that region of my head the plastic teeth disappear for a moment where I severed my nerve endings. Hitting the plastic guard above the window caused a deep laceration horizontally, rather than a deep gash. The plastic surgeon said I might never get feeling back there.
The other day I was brushing my teeth and I caught the scar in the mirror. My face has leaned out over the last two years or so as I mature and the white thin skinned areas where the doctor had to stretch the skin back into place have quieted. So to has my shame over the incident. It was just last year that the accident came of my permanent driving record; but I feel like I am still earning back people’s trust when it comes to driving. I think that was the hardest thing, knowing that people couldn’t trust me to drive and be attentive. Especially with their vehicles.
When I squint or raise my eyebrows in surprise the scar squeezes together into a thing white line like floss. You can hardly tell it’s there anymore. It will continue to be less noticeable as I get older, the further and further I get from that weekend morning in the east Edmonton suburbs.
Lots has changed in the last few weeks in my life. I think that’s why I am feeling nostalgic.
I have completed the first year coursework of my PhD and am just completing final assignments for those classes. In May I will start preparing for my comprehensive field exams in the fall. This consists of reading all the books in my field of specialization. Last I checked there was 180. But I think my supervisor and I will add more.
One of my cousins has announced her engagement while another that she is pregnant. Within a week of each other my family grew by two. Cousin Christine is due in November and a phillers-sized wedding is scheduled for next July long weekend. Exciting times!
These new additions are cause to celebrate. So in that vein I decided to add a new page to BBK. I have a conceptual idea in mind to turn this blog into a personal branding website so I have a platform to publish and disseminate my academic work, creative work, sports writing, and personal identity to the public in an organized and efficient manner. Thus, I am currently trolling the many blog platforms on the web looking for the right theme. Also, as part of this branding exercise I have started my very own tumblr. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while and I finally got sick of waiting.
It’s called “Looking Composedly Down” and is mostly pictures, sound clips, gifs, videos, and quotes of things that I find interesting or covet or respect or love or dream about. I put a link to the tumblr under the page My Tumblr on the top right.
Check it out when you get a chance. Let me know what you think.