almost got the answer to Hawthorne's query on the eve of Feb. 17,
2004 as I suffered a rare type of inter -cranial bleed (a burst
A.V.M. aneurysm) that I'm told I had about a 2% chance of surviving.
Those who do survive a burst AVM are usually left at least partially
paralyzed, blind and/or severely cognitively impaired. Here's what
I remember of that night & an account of the events during my
post-op recovery & the rehabilitation therapy program (which
I am still following).
I absolutely remember is the pain resonating from somewhere deep
inside my skull & after a few minutes of that, knowing with
my whole being that my body was dying.
I think I can best describe the
pain using one of Marlon Brando's lines from Apocalypse
Now... "Like I was shot with a Diamond... Like I was shot
with a diamond bullet right through my forehead."
...See? With minutia like that lodged in my synapses,
it's no wonder my brain had to open a pressure valve.
On the night of Feb. 17th I was
driving to pick up my date... (Holly) to see a production of Shakespeare's
(Little did I know there would be a tempest raging within my skull.
I had the radio on & was singing along to "Get Free"
by "The Vines". I was running through the song thinking
I might try it next time I went to Karaoke. I had been working on
my voice because I was taking on more vocal parts in my music
projects & had also been spending time with friends at Karaoke.
I had come to notice that one could build up some pressure in the
head while singing & remember a few times I got rather light
headed while trying to push my voice to do things it hadn't done
At one point in "Get
Free" there is a particularly maniacal high-pitched scream,
& feeling rather maniacal at the time, I went for it.
who's ever sung rock-n-roll may know how good it feels to let a
primal scream rip at the appropriate peak of emotion. I was doing
this, & I guess I forced something beyond the realm of physical
capability & at that point I felt pain gush through my head.
As it increased I began to know that something was seriously wrong.
I began Yogic breathing as I continued to drive, thinking "Oh,
she's just going to think I don't want to go to the play."
The pain wasn't subsiding,
& now I knew I was in serious trouble. I somehow made it &
stood in Holly's doorway. I described my pain & she knew something
was very wrong. She asked me to lie down inside, but I had an urge
to be outside & lay in the grass under the stars. She brought
out a glass of water with Tylenol & tried to hand it to me,
but I couldn't seem to reach my arm up to find it. She said "I'm
taking you to the hospital. You're either having some type of inner
ear disturbance or you ruptured a blood vessel".
"No, do NOT take me to the hospital...
Let me just lay here.” I said this for several reasons. One
was because I have a degree in psychology, know a good deal about
the brain & I suspected I was having a brain bleed & knew
that I might be better off dead. I was beginning to "feel"
my body die and I was O.K. with that. A visceral peace was overtaking
me & I wanted to keep merging with that and not the likely outcomes
of an emergency brain surgury. Another reason I wanted to lay there
& continue to drift out of my pain riddled body was because
I had recently cancelled my health insurance because the premiums
were ever increasing & I had never once used it in the years
I carried it. I had always been in superior health. I was shopping
for a less expensive policy at the time. I felt at peace & ready
Ironically, I had
been on the phone with a Humana agent the day before. She had told
me that she could take my application over the phone & get things
underway with a credit card. I learned later, that this might not
have been such a good thing... (I was told I would never have gotten
the level of care I received had I been insured under the HMO I
...And so, knowing I was uninsured
& never being one for the "healthcare industry", I
refused the hospital; wanting only to stare up into the vastness
of the milky way. Holly said, "C'mon, get up. I'm not going
to let you die on my front lawn.", but I insisted on laying
there. I reiterated, "No, do not take me to the hospital, I'm
ready to go.. I'm just gonna' go into that star.."
I'm wondering if I was staring at Polaris.
I can still see the spot where I lay & the star I saw. This
star seemed to be closing in on me & communicating with all
the other stars & me.. Very strange, but beautiful & wonderful.
I want to go back there to see if I was facing north.
got her neighbor & they picked me up by my arms & legs to
get me to her car. (My left side had shut down competely by this
time, so I couldn't really fight to stay even though I wanted to)..
They struggled to to load my semi-conscious body into the front
seat. From the point after being taken
from under the stars I remember only flashes from this world but
lots from a world beyond our physical senses.
visual bits of the ride to hospital, but the l"ife flashing
before my eyes" thing was definitely happening in torrents
of thought & feeling that rushed through me. I continued yogic
breathing, but the pain did not subside. The feeling of knowing
my body was dying continued. This pain was so great that my body
began to allow my conscious being to bounce out of body to get away
from the it. The last thing I absolutely remember was praying &
asking that I might at least have the ability to move forward with
a web publishing project I had recently begun. From then on,
until after the operation I remember only things that are not of
this world, except in a personal, emotional way. The things that
I remember from that place are of a philosophical & theological
nature. That timeless space I was in between that last consciously
remembered prayer & waking in post-op requires more description,
so if you're interested in such mysteries click
here, & read about what it's like to peek
behind the curtain at the wizard (a new window will open). This
window will stay open so you can return to read the rest of this
fateful night. (betcha' can't wait)..
The following account of my arriving
at the emergency room up until I woke up in the I.C.U. is pieced
together from Holly, my best friend Megan, my friend & band-mate
Joran Oppelt, my parents & several other friends.
Emergency Room Arrival.
Holly got assistance & I was put
in a wheelchair. Holly explained she was afraid I was having an
some type of brain bleed, & they asked if I was on drugs. They
had her fill out some forms. They explained they were going to run
tests, one of which was a CAT scan, & they rolled me away. They
put her in a private waiting room with a phone & a bible. Holly
called her dad, who drove over. A doctor entered to tell her that
I was bleeding profusely into my brain, that there was a lot of
blood in my cranium, & that I would probably not live. He said
they needed to get hold of family right away to get permission to
Technological Savior #1,
My Cell Phone...
They retrieved my
cell phone & tried to call my family. Holly began to look under
'D' for dad. however, I keep my dad’s number under 'P' for
pop. She began scrolling from the top & came upon “Aunt
K" ; (my Aunt Katherine.) Holly was too upset to call, so her
dad did it. My Aunt got on the phone & Holly could hear her
getting hysterical as the situation was explained.
They got my father’s
phone number from my aunt & the hospital was put in contact.
My father was also told that I would probably not survive &
that it might be better if I didn't. My father lives in Port St.
Lucie, about 4 hours drive from Tampa & had to drive all that
way with that thought in his head.
began showing up at this point. Holly went through my phone list
& let people know what was happening. Holly, her dad, Megan,
her mom & Joran were given permission to see me after the test
in the pre-op where they said I seemed semi-conscious at times.
Holly told said , "You can’t die, You're the glue that
holds your friends together. You're the rock, & you rock.. And
I'll be really mad!" I think I remember this...
next page >>
√ For added
drama & to keep you reading, I offer the following lyric from
its like someone took a knife, baby,
edgy & dull
and cut a six inch valley
through the middle
of my skull"..