Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hospital


There are a few random memories in the days following the accident. The first was when they hauled me off the chopper and into the hospital. I'm thinking, whatever pain drugs they had given me had worn off. The vibration of the helicopter seeped into every bone I had. Pain radiated outward like tsunami waves crashing into the Japanese coastline. I remember light in my eyes as I transitioned from Lifelight to inside University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. 

In the meantime, poor Andrew, the lifesaver, had to ride all the way to San Antonio from Leakey, Texas by himself, and he lost his wallet. I'm sure he was moderately freaked out all the way there. I do know for a fact that Andrew is a prayer warrior. I also know that as word got out about my accident people all over the world were praying for me. Prayer requests were launched from my Longview Celebrate Recovery group, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. My mother is a member of several prayer networking clubs across the world. I was bathed in prayer. 

My wife, Lisa, and her sister Carol were in Pineville, Louisiana taking care of my Mother-in-law. They began  the long trek to San Antonio with a stop in Livingston to pick up Tara, my daughter. Lisa was understandably on the ragged edge of hysteria. The trauma nurse had told her exactly what was wrong with me. My parents, brother, and friends also took off for San Antonio to see how I was and to provide moral and prayer support.

The first memories of the hospital was the doctor rubbing the sole of my foot and asking me if I felt anything. It was a good sign that I did. I was pretty drugged up on some serious morphine. To be honest the entire stay there is a vague memory, dreamy. Snippets are what comes. I remember Lisa and my family were there. My mother helped me through what scared me the most. They had to insert a tube down into my stomach and through my nose. All the meds basically shut down my digestive system. I was throwing up all the time. Including on my wife.

The diagnosis was pretty grim at first. I had three burst fractures in my neck, and two in my back. I had a fractured skull and the right side occipital bone from where I face planted the guardrail (wear your helmet kiddies). The occipital bone is the one that surrounds your eye. My left shoulder and collar bone were broken and to top it off a few ribs on my right side. I told Andrew at the accident site that I was only doing like 20 or 25 miles an hour. His theory is that one of the bungees holding my gear down snapped loose while I was in the curve and that it scared me and I downshifted; you never downshift in a turn. The wind was up that morning and could have shoved me around, there could have been gravel, I could have unexpectedly dragged a peg or I could have target fixated. I have no memory whatsoever of what happened.

They thought I was going to need surgery. They were concerned I had bone fragments on my spinal cord that were causing swelling, they would need to be removed. God was good to me, prayers worked I didn't need it. The doctors fitted me with a lovely brace. It was a turtle shell of epic proportions. I was not allowed out of bed without it. The brace immobilized everything. Lisa had to learn to log roll me in and out of it. She was scared to death, but I had total faith in her. I trusted Lisa implicitly. Trust is a big factor in these things. One wrong move and your paralyzed. Speaking of miracles, I should be dead, or in a wheelchair. My doctor told me my neck broke in a natural laminectomy, a procedure where doctors will break someones neck to relieve pressure on a person's spinal column. The pressure from the accident was relieved. I would walk again. 

My friends and family were amazing. All in all, my dad, brother and his wife, aunts, all made the trek to San Antonio to see me in the Hospital. Andrew was there the whole time and my friends Jordan, Joe, and Marcus came to visit from Longview. They all got to visit the Alamo a must for northerners (Marcus is from Texas). My pastor and his wife came. More surprisingly Bobby Johnson, (the most awesome history prof ever) and his wife visited as well. Gary Ritchey and many more came to offer support and prayers. Sadly, I was so out of it from the accident I don't remember hardly any of it.

I was damaged but going to live. Thanks to God and the thousands of prayers and support from friends and family, Lisa and I were going to be ok. It was going to hurt like hell, but everything was going to be ok.

Next week, Hospital II

Larry






Monday, October 22, 2012

El Accidente

A word about accidents and God's Grace.

March 13, 2010, my friend Andrew and I took of for South Texas on our motorcycles. I was on Grace, my Ninja 250, and he was on his Grandmother's Harley. Yes, I said Grandmother's Harley. His whole family rides. It was Spring Break and our goal was to ride and camp all the way back up to Longview.
We headed out early Sunday morning and began our trek to Leakey, Texas; home of the three sisters or The twisted sisters. The sisters consist of three ranch roads that are supposed to be some of the best riding in Texas. Each road winds and twists their way throughout the Texas Hill country. Beautiful vistas go on forever and the idyllic scenery has one longing to never leave.

Once we arrived in Leakey we stayed at the DRose Inn. An awesome old school motel with cabins. Deb is the owner and the Inn only caters to two wheeled riders. Andew and I had booked a small cabin and it was a fantastic place to launch our epic journey back home. After the long ride down I was exhausted and my 42 year old body was feeling every ache, pain, and vibration of the trip. We ate dinner and crashed hard.

Morning came, with cooler weather and a brisk semi-gusting breeze that swirled leaves in a seasonal spring dance. I was tired and achy but eager for the road. We packed our gear, ate breakfast, donned our armor, gassed up and hit the road. The itinerary was to head west on Ranch Road 337 (one of the sisters) cut up north on 336, and veer back towards Fredricksburg. We stopped at a local tourist trap, The Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop. A hang out place for riders touring the sisters. Andrew and I looked around the store, bought a map, and got back on the road.

The whole morning for me is fuzzy. I remember the ride west from our last stop was very surreal. Everything felt dreamy as the hill country rolled past my vision. The wind was gusty and pushed the bike around. A group of three riders blew past me doing about ninety. I was good boy and sticking to 55 or 60 mph. I was unfamiliar with where I was and not wanting to ride very aggressively. However, it wasn't very much help. We went into a series of turns, as far as I know I made the right curve but in the left one the ninja went out from under me. She went into a guard rail post and I went into the other one. I must have flipped over the top because Andrew said I was crawling out from under it when he pulled up.








Only a few things stand out in my memory after the crash. I felt like something was stabbing me in my left shoulder. I thought I was lying on top of a broken rear view mirror. The paramedics were all women which was strange to me at the time. I remember them pulling off my wedding ring before loading me on the lifelight chopper and I remember seeing my contact lense on the front of my jacket, wierdness.

If it hadn't been for my friend I wouldn't be alive today. Andrew had to break the visor off of my helmet and pull it up a bit so I could breath. He was freaked out but stayed calm. He provided what ever aid to me he could and called for an ambulance. He snapped pictures while waiting for the EMTs to show up. I think it was to keep himself from freaking out. He could tell I had a head injury because I was acting like ten second Tom. I would ask him, "what are we doing?" he would say, "oh, we're just taking a break." my reply was, "is my bike ok?" Ten seconds later i would ask again, "what are we doing?" It is funny now, but  then? Not so much.

The EMTs stuck a neck brace on me and strapped me to a backboard. I was thrown in the ambulance and driven to the airport. A helicopter landed and whisked me off to University Hospital in San Antonio.





Andrew called my wife who was in Louisiana. He told her I was in an accident, he thought my shoulder was broken but I was ok. Lisa heard the chopper coming in and asked "uhm, Andrew, is that lifelight? "Yes Miss Lisa." he replied. 

Thanks to God I was still alive. However, our lives had been turned upside down in minutes.

Next week, Recovery.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How in the heck do you get your writing/blogging juices flowing again? I have been writing here for almost six years and I have stalled out big time. Its not even like I have not had anything to blog about. Lets see, there is my accident and subsequent recovery. I graduated from LeTourneau U, worked at a county museum, and now manage a restaurant. My life is chock full of amazing anecdotes and funky surprises. I can't seem to get the writing bug back. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We Need a Road Trip


My wife Lisa and I desperately need a road trip. The last two years have been very hard for her and me. First, her mother had a massive stroke. Lisa has spent the last two years in emotional turmoil and on the road. Second, we went through the disaster of my motorcycle accident last spring break. I spent five months in a body brace, and she had to take care of me in ways no human being ever should. Lisa and I love traveling to new places. Therefore, the time has come to hit the road for fun.


We used to travel all the time. In fact, we were notorious for flipping a quarter on a map and taking off to whichever location the quarter landed on. Whether we had been there or not. In 1998, we hit the road to Vegas from Houston. Taking every back road we could think of. It was a nine day excursion that left us exhilerated and exhausted at the same time.


Lisa is the bestest travel companion ever. She is my super navigator-flight-attendent. When we go through a drive-through, she organizes my burger, fries, napkin, and ketchup so I can drive and eat at the same time. Her aptitude for finding music on the radio in the middle of no-where is unparallelled. She only has one flaw, she stinks with a fold out map.


She taught me how to relax on a trip. When we first met, I would drive all night to reach our destination. I would only stop for bathroom breaks and energy drinks. Her gradual insistance on stopping to spend the night somewhere led to the greater enjoyment of our trips. First, it kept us well rested. 
Second, it led to us enjoying the sunrise on the road. There is nothing more beautiful than watching the sun come up behind you while travelling west across the mojave desert. Third, breakfast eateries, greasy spoons, and flapjacks. Diners across America are amazing, and we never knew what variety of food we were going to get. In one place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she had the best juevos rancheros ever, and I had blue pinion nut pancakes, deleicious. 


Every day we have been on the road, we never knew what was going to happen next. One morning, after a night spent in a hotel by the Grand Canyon, we saw a dog sleeping on the hood of the car next to us. On another trip, fog said good morning to us after a night in Gatlinburg Tennessee. The place where I did my first bunjee jump. 
Somewhere in the mountains of Colorado, a heart is carved in an aspen tree with "Larry and Lisa forever" whittled in the center of it. The Harpeth river near Nashvile Tennessee, has my favorite shirt and an expensive camera buried at the bottom of it. Lord only knows how many goofy little items we have left under the beds of our hotel and motel rooms. 

Sadly, in the last four years, we have not done much travelling for fun. The one trip I went on last Spring Break ended in disaster when I decided to fall off my motorcycle at 30 miles per hour and bounce into a guard rail. Now that I have graduated, the time has come to start hitting the road again, to begin to pass on our road trip heritage to our daughter, Alexis. I need to start planning where we are going next, or I could just toss a quarter. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Restless















I have a bad habit. If I find a Texas Highways magazine, and it isn't nailed down, I sneakily abscond with it as quickly as I can. Texas Highways is the "official" travel magazine of Texas. Each issue takes the reader from one end of our state to another, highlighting eateries, honky-tonks, museums, parks, and anything of historical interest. Fortunately, I don't find them very often. This magazine triggers my insatiable wanderlust, the restlessness of my Scotch-Irish heritage. 

I can't help it. The open road beckons with nooks and crannies of old buildings, diners, rolling hills, and twisty curves. The desire to be somewhere I haven't been is overwhelming. Sadly, its what led me down to South Texas where I had my accident. There isn't a day I don't thank God that I can still wiggle my toes. I need to blog it but its hard to revisit, at least to write about. So, for now Doctors, lock up your Texas Highways if I have an appointment, and the road? I miss you and will be back soon.

Larry




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