Here’s my favorite photo from my accident. This is my oldest boy and I know just what he’s feeling. I spent hours and hours years ago with the same blank expression, staring at my own father in a hospital bed.

See the intubation tube in my mouth? It pushed air into my lungs like a fireplace bellows because I wasn’t breathing on my own. Man. I can crumple knowing that my wife saw a decision looming about pulling the machine’s plug if I didn’t wake up. About two weeks later a nurse grabbed my wife when she came to see me.

“Let’s talk for a sec before you go in, okay?”

Mal was expecting this. I’d been on life support since the night of my accident. It couldn’t be good.

“I just want to warn you. We can only guess that he heard us talking about pulling his intubation tube, but last night, between checkups, he just woke up and pulled the tube out.”

Mal was elated. “Woke up? That’s a good thing, right?”

The nurse hesitated. “Waking up is a good thing – he asked about you – but pulling his tube isn’t so good. He scratched his throat pretty bad and is hurting. So we want to keep him from talking too much. And…that man can talk!”

I haven’t any hint of memory about this, or of anything that happened at our local hospital. But my wife tells me that I woke up, breathing on my own, and my body was responding just how doctors wanted it to. The downside was that I fiddled with everything and had to be strapped in bed to keep from falling out. They strapped my hands to the railing, too, because I kept fiddling with my feeding tube.

It was a turning point.  ‘The best scenario’ the doctors told Mal.  I wasn’t clear yet: I would laugh and chat for an hour and then fall asleep for two days. But I survived and was alive and awake: the first rung in a ladder of the unexplainable.

Go here for the one-year anniversary story.

For you intrepid souls, here’s the link to the Mt. Washington Bicycle Hillclimb.