“Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun of yours / Hey Joe, I said where you goin' with that gun in your hand / oh I'm goin' down to shoot my old lady…”
Jimi Hendrix’s dangerously dark lyrics built to a crescendo the closer my manual wheelchair was pushed to the entrance of the rehab gym. This was DAY ONE. This was the beginning of my journey. This song blaring from the ceiling speakers was starting off the soundtrack to it. I couldn’t believe it.
Between a broken neck, a broken leg and a broken heart, I did not want to push on. I wanted to retreat. Yet again, I had no choice.
Upon entering that massive room, it was abundantly clear that some terribly awful things had happened to too many people and that this was a place of WORK.
Not any kind of work. Work that I had never seen before. My eyes scanned the room several times over and I studied the faces of my fellow warriors: some ferociously fought back tears, some wearily wiped away sweat, some audibly agonized therapies, some were clearly clueless.
Convinced I would be strangled by able-bodied hands or suffocated with a pillow in my sleep, I did not, in fact - I refused - to stay alone for a solid half a year. Not really a stranger to drama, but also not one to manufacture something out of nothing, I had only chalked up a lot of the paranoia, fear and anxiety to past traumatic experiences and the tri-state area’s 6 o’clock evening news. Until now.
The next six months I would spend practicing to breathe better, speak clear, and just move about anything I damn well could. That required respiratory, occupational and physical therapy five to six days a week. The people I worked out with, were a motley crew of some of the most banged up and broken souls I have ever met. And for the majority of the length of our time or “sentences”, for the majority of this strange brew of folk, we did not speak to each other. And yet somehow what was unspoken was understood.
The ostensible truth and weight of our combined experience could not be ignored - not even by a cockroach in the courtyard.
I want to mention that a couple of friends were generous with their feedback after reading the last two blog entries I published by gently reminding me of two points. One, I could not leave the audience “hanging” as I ended the last post by writing there would be a part three. And two, that there were things I touched upon but didn’t expand upon as much as they wanted me to. I do find myself wanting to share and explain more week-to-week but also I realize that there are so many other topics I want to write about besides THE CAR CRASH. My life doesn’t revolve around what happened to me so why should this? Ultimately, the nitty-gritty of it all will be broken down once the book about my life is further into the developmental phase. Until then...
Photo: Margaret Malandruccolo
Hair, Makeup & Styling: Melanie Manson