At past noon I was transferred to one of the regular units.
The new room was smaller than the ICU room but it felt more spacious.
It was well lit and had a huge window that overlooked the hospital entrance, over houses and trees, and towards the hills.
Over the last 3 years of living with a few essentials in a car I’d been used to the bare minimum – anything fancier than a sleeping bag and ramen is luxury.
I took delight and comfort of the warm room, comfortable bed, fresh clean sheets and soft pillows like I was in a hotel.
Earlier that morning before I left the ICU, I ate my first meal after over 2 days. I was so hungry I didn’t care what they offered.
It’s past noon but it felt like I hadn’t eaten in days and was starving.
When the nurse came in and gave me a menu, my insides tingled with excitement. “I’ll come back to pick up your order” she said. “Or call” she pointed to the phone beside me “when you’re ready”.
I thought I had won the lottery.
Meanwhile, the nation was in crisis. Just on the other side of the building patients affected with the virus were being quarantined.
I watched the TV on mute as the Governor of California addressed the State about the virus.
The room was quiet and holy while I sipped my coffee.
Then I feasted on a tray of food; salad, fruits, crackers, sandwich, orange juice and vanilla ice cream like it’s the best meal ever.
A Tragic Comedy
Life is so fickle and comical.
One day you are living your dreams then the next you are in the ER evaluating life choices.
One day you feel uncertain about life in an ICU then eat ice cream the next day without a care in the world.
I thought the universe had a dark sense of humor
And my life was a tragic comedy made to provide amusement to the gods
If it wasn’t only so predictable
But I played along
Like a willing accomplice
I exposed the body
But never the soul
Like madness I danced along
Burn burn burn they jeered
As I marched into the fire pit
Slow and easy
Until the gods cried
And then cheered
Fear Of All Fears
From the beginning I knew where I’d be going involved risks and dangers, and have prepared for a long physical and mental journey. Having a good, functioning physical health is crucial to living an unconventional life, or any adventures.
Over the years, I’ve learned to respect the uncertainty of the road.
In order to keep up with the demands of everyday life, I’d kept an active lifestyle and follow regular workout routines. I try to take every adventures seriously and prepared my body and mind regularly.
But on the road, nothing is guaranteed.
I’ve been in scary situations and few close calls while on adventures from climbing roofs, trees, walls, bridges, cliffs, boulders, mountains, getting lost in the wilderness, etc but nothing could’ve prepared me for the unexpected – like suddenly falling and hit the head, among many things, with a screw, and among many places, in a pet pharmacy.
Yet the times I thought I was going to die but didn’t taught me to be less scared with uncertainties.
I knew the consequences and I was ready for it.
But right now, death wasn’t my biggest fear.
Sometimes life is just too damn hard, it feels easier to die than to live.
Having practiced a decent amount of self sufficiency, my biggest fear wasn’t death but being dependent on anyone.
I still had no idea up to what extent the damage was or how I’d react.
Meanwhile my body was still shaken and weak.
I could not walk far without getting dizzy and lightheaded.
But my biggest concern was my impaired vision.
What would I do if I go blind?
Do you have anyone to take care of you at home?
Are you safe from debris, objects that may be dangerous to your injury?
The nurse asked.
It took me a while to answer as a thought passed. I felt helpless.
“Yes, No” I said.
I didn’t want to make the nurse feel bad that I live in my car so I didn’t tell her.
A Caged Blackbird
I am alive. But what now?
The day passed like it always had, without warning, and all that was left was the aloneness of the night. This was my new circumstance now.
There has to be more to life than just being able to breathe, I thought.
Safe and secure as I was at the hospital, with food, bed, and care, I knew I couldn’t stay here forever.
On one hand I was worried to find out the changes I might have to face. On the other, I knew I can’t keep running away from it.
Soon the walls would start to feel like cages instead of protection.
I knew outside is where I belong.
The World Outside
It’s my third day in the hospital.
It was sunny and bright.
“Looks like you are going home” the nurse said peeling the patches from the monitors off my body “We’re just waiting for the confirmation from the Dr” she added.
I’d anticipated about getting out of the hospital and immediately dialed my sister on the hospital phone.
Noon approached but my sister Elaine hasn’t called me back if they had arrived.
It’s been a couple of hours.
I called her again.
She hasn’t left.
I flipped channels on the muted TV disinterested.
I didn’t want to watch.
I wanted to be out in the yard where there are trees, fresh air, huge empty spaces, grass, different kinds of plants and animals.
I stood up and walked a few steps wearing a patch on my left eye the therapist gave and an oversized jogging pants and shirt from a social worker.
I paced slowly to the window and gazed far beyond the empty parking lot, trees, houses, buildings, and hills. I sat on the couch looking at hospital brochures, signs and info printed on the wall.
The room was quiet.
It was getting smaller, too.
I’d cross back and forth the bed and the window a few times.
I was eager to see the world again – even with an impaired vision.
I had just survived and I can’t wait tell the whole world about it.
Visitors weren’t allowed to get in so I walked to the entrance where my sister Elaine and her husband Jay was waiting.
About ten minutes away from the hospital, Jay dropped my sister and I to work where I had parked my car 3 days ago before the accident.
It was warm and breezy in the yard.
I had cloudy and double vision and could not use both eyes without getting dizzy and lightheaded.
My body was weak and hard to move. I had light headaches and pain both from internal and external injury.
My balance was off and could barely walk without a walking stick or holding on to something steady.
I was far from the wild and rugged adventurer. Far from the self sufficient and independent traveler. Far from the “I can do it all” mindset.
I was back at ground zero.
The wind brushing my face and skin, the grass moving beneath my feet.
I felt the leaves, wind, birds, dirt and grass and all that was special about the yard.
My eyes were closed but I could feel it and it was as real as anything else.
It was here on the same spot 4 years ago, I was at my rock bottom, hopeless and ready to give up.
The same spot I gave myself a chance.
Just one chance.
Whatever happens after that I’d give myself permission to end my life.
Since then I’ve poured my heart out to get up on my feet once again.
Day and night I worked long hours until I finally learned to move.
And then one day, I was on a journey of a lifetime.
I’ve traveled to places far and beyond what I had imagined. Done things I dared not dreamed about. Experienced many life altering moments I could no longer count. I’ve endured in the harshest of places and lived life to the fullest.
But now I’m back to where it all began.
Older and more brittle.
Was it all worth it?
Did I waste my life for nothing?
Was it all a failure?
I’d waited for this moment.
But this wasn’t what I expected it to be.
The sun poured down my face. Warm grass beneath my feet. Birds chirping. Leaves dancing.
I bowed my head down and smelled the grass and soil.
Still trying to make sense of it all, I thanked the gods, the universe and all the people.
“Thank you. Thank you all” I said.
It was undeniably clear, I was alive.
I breathed in and then out slowly feeling every moment.
The cold breezed my face blowing the leaves in the trees like it had something to tell me.
To be continued…