“Life changes fast
Life changes in the instant
You cross a street
And life as you know it ends.
The question of self pity.
With apologies to Joan Dideon.
‘Only time I’ve seen a leg as badly scarred as this was after a motor bike accident,’ a nurse told me.
But I’d been nowhere near a motorbike. Motorbikes terrify me. My story is quite different.
My husband had returned from an operation and was still feeling too fragile to walk very far. It was a hot steamy night at the end of the Port Phillip Summer Festival and many people were still flocking around. The exertion of walking in the heat was too much for him.
Convinced I hadn’t done enough exercise for that day, I waved him farewell and continued on towards Fitzroy Street. Lots of people were still hanging about. I suppose they were hoping not to miss the last of the festival. I headed left making for my usual round the block walk, when I noticed an unusually large group around the free food van that pulls up nightly behind Loch Street. I suppose that old saying ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ is valid. As I turned back with the crowd to see what freebies were being given, out of the blue something fast and strong hit me from behind and sent me to the ground. Next came the excruciating pain of a car wheel going over my right leg. I actually heard, and certainly felt, the bones give way. All I could think was, now that my leg is totally destroyed, why didn’t he – how did I know it was a he? do a better job of it.
If this sounds melodramatic, or even somewhat appalling to wish one’s death on oneself, I have lived a good life. Though I have suffered various aches and pains, ironically mostly from that right leg, I could only see the continuing attrition of ageing as a downhill trip. I figured that I had had the best of it, and this would have been a quick, if painful end. Sure I would have left behind a distraught husband, daughter and grandchildren, but in time they would have recovered. I know tjis is selfish thinking, but not much has happened since then to make me change my mind. If only one could order one’s death as easily as the imagination allows.
Still caught under the truck the driver (whom I have still to meet) tried moving forwards and backwards, but couldn’t get rid of this nuisance who was holding him up from where ever he was going. I could feel the underside of his engine scraping my back. I suspect he might have cut and run if he could only have gotten rid of this nuisance stuck under him. So I don’t know what would have happened next, if someone hadn’t yelled at him to stop.
I was alive and needed help. As people hovered around me in a flutter not knowing what to do, I cried,’ Call an Ambulance.’ And ‘Call my husband.’
Someone did. I must have blacked out straight after this because all I can remember are two paramedics using a blue sheet… blue? what one remembers – to slide me out of under the truck and then a blessed black descending. Later I wondered that there had been no white tunnels with the kindly dead helping me into the next life. When I mentioned this to a friend she said sharply, ‘That’s because you weren’t ready to die.’ But mentally, I was. And it took a week in UC at the Alfred Hospital, six operations, a fortnight in Trauma Ward and then in Plastics, four weeks in hospital and four n rehab, to realise that I might still have a leg and few useful years left… that is, if infection didn’t get me first.
Obviously there is far more to this story, but that’s enough for now. I know other folk have had similar experiences. Perhaps they would like to add theirs to my story?