Do you believe in signs? That things happen for a reason? And do you believe that every once in a while, the stars can align in such a way that the thought of it all just being a mere coincidence is more preposterous than believing that it was fate? I do.
I’ve been writing posts for this blog for over two years. How time flies. I started this blog soon after a terrible accident my brother was in. One that could’ve had a much different outcome if those stars hadn’t aligned in just such a way.
On October 6th, 2016 my brother, an arborist, was working in a large field with a couple of other crew members. His foreman had left to empty the dump truck and the other guy was operating the skidder just slightly out of eyesight due to a small hill. My brother, returning from a different task saw the chipper was loaded with brush and started it. What he didn’t know was that the winch line hadn’t been wound back up before the brush had been set on top of it. And when he started the machine, the line became untangled from the brush and wrapped around his legs pulling him into the mouth of the chipper.
- First Star – My brother was holding onto the emergency reverse lever when he started the machine.
- Second Star – The sheer force of the line wrapping around him and pulling him was enough to break both femurs, causing extensive damage to his tissue, arteries, and nerves in both legs, just above the knee. Somehow, not only did he not go unconscious but he managed to untangle the line, climb down from the chipper, and army crawl up the hill to flag down his co-worker on the skidder.
- Third Star – He had spent some time in the fire service and had medical training. Even with everything going on, he remained calm. He knew that he needed to get his legs elevated so as to slow blood loss. He gave his co-worker clear direction as to what to do. How and where to put pressure. And he had his co-worker ask the 911 dispatcher for life-flight.
- Fourth Star – They were working in a field in the middle of nowhere. When the call came into the the EMS dispatch, the town paramedics were just around the corner. They were returning from an earlier call instead of at the station 15 minutes away.
- Fifth Star – The closest hospital was a small one in the town of Bridgeton. The ambulance had planned to meet Life Flight there. But when they arrived, the helicopter was still about 10 minutes out. My brother needed blood badly, so they brought him inside. They knew that his injuries were more extensive than the hospital was equipped for, but something was better than nothing. They wheeled him into a trauma bay and hauled out a special machine. A while back they had received a grant to get it. It was for rapid blood transfusions. My brother was the first person to use it. He received 107 units of blood that day. And just for some perspective, the human body holds between 8-12 units or pints, of blood. We were told that it could very well be a record. Most blood given and survived.
As soon as he was fully conscious, people either came to check on him, or he went to meet the people who saved his life. My brother remembered bits and pieces of what happened but as we met the paramedics, firefighters, the life-flight team, the nurses, and doctors from both hospitals – each one added different pieces to puzzle. A different star, if you will. All of the things that JJ couldn’t remember. And everyone he met looked at him in astonishment. Every single one made it clear that they weren’t sure how it was going to end when they left him. And, inevitably, they all said something along the lines of: “If we hadn’t been around the corner” or “If we hadn’t have gotten that blood machine” and of course, “if you didn’t have your hand on that reverse bar”
Just before the first anniversary of my brother’s accident I had determined that I wanted to shift the focus of my blog. But I was worried. I didn’t really know what I should write about, or if I should continue to write at all. I really enjoyed it. The act of it and how I felt after each post, but I just didn’t know if what I was doing was good enough. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt. But, I had written a post in the very beginning about how I didn’t want this blog to be something I quit. A hobby or project I give up on, like so so many that I had in the past.
I wanted to get better at writing before I threw in the towel. And so, I googled “Best books on learning how to write”, and at the top of every list was “On Writing” by Stephen King. I was hesitant. I had never read one of his books. I don’t care for the horror genre, but I downloaded the audio version and was immediately immersed. It was witty and thoughtful. I found myself sitting in the car for 15 minutes or more after I arrived wherever I was heading just to listen.
The book was coming to end and I had learned a lot. But still was unsure of my blogging future. I hadn’t posted anything in ages. With 28 minutes left of the book, I pulled into my driveway. And as I went to turn off the car I heard something that got my attention. He was talking about an accident he was in. He was walking in Fryeburg, Maine and was hit by a car. He was taken to Bridgeton hospital. The same little hospital the ambulance had taken JJ to meet life-flight. I said “Huh”. Not too weird I guess. But he went on to say he was life-flighted to Central Maine Medical Center. I stared at the radio of my car skeptically. “So had JJ”, I thought. And as he continued my eyes got wider and wider. When he arrived, his doctor was a man by the name of Dr. Brown. That was my brother’s doctor. The first of many to perform surgery on JJ. He’s had 26 in all. And finally, Stephen King described his injuries, the accompanying surgeries and treatments during his recovery. Between the extensive fasciotomies and the external fixator used to put him back together, the same exact procedures done to my brother. It all left me shock.
Was this a sign? Stars aligning perhaps? I started to blog because of this incredible situation that happened. I needed an outlet; this was my therapy. And when I started doubting my ability and worrying what I was going to write about. When I had come to a possible impasse. I get this book as a last ditch effort to help me find a purpose for this blog and writing in general. And in the final moments of it, Stephen King himself, reiterates the very details surrounding why I started writing in the first place. It felt as if it had come full circle.
Now, I am a fatalist, for better or worse. But I do try to check in with the realist side of myself. To second guess the relevancy of the situation. But in the end, serendipity reigns. And whether this was in fact, stars aligning or if perhaps this turns out to be just a theory of convenience, we’ll never know. And I’m ok with that. So, for now, I’ll keep writing.