Monday, February 22, 2010

Black Ice

January 24, 2010
Dear Diary:

I’ve been lying in the driveway now for about twenty minutes. The soft mist is still falling and freezing as it touches the ground. Around me is darkness punctuated by a few lights. I can see the cars going by on Main Street just a block away. Life oblivious to my cries of: “No! No! This can’t be happening! Help! Someone please help! Bob! Bob!” I don’t expect any response – there’s no one around on Sunday evening at five o’clock with the football play-offs in full swing – but I can’t lie here doing nothing.

I was just going to do my workout but first I’d thrown on a ski jacket over my shorts and t-shirt to pop over to see my mother before she went to bed. I’d been in and out of that door all day but in classic New England capricious weather in one hour the ground had transformed from harmless mush to lethal black ice. For those of you who’ve never experienced it, it’s the element most feared in our neck of the woods – more so than six feet of snow or our occasional tornados. It's the invisible, uncaring enemy that spins unsuspecting cars off the road, turns familiar walk ways to booby traps and fills our hospital emergency rooms. It’s the thing we warn each other about and the thing that always ends up surprising us.

Tonight, I’m lying six feet from where my first foot touched the top of the mound. The speed with which it happened amazes me. So much so that I have the notion that it would be easy to turn back the clock just that nano-second and life would be the way I had it planned. Say goodnight to mum; do my work-out; warm up the lamb shanks from last night and have some down time with Bob over a glass of pinot noir. Tomorrow begins the count-down to one of the most important events of our year – our Global Sales Conference starting in Scottsdale a week from today. People are coming from all over the world. It’s been a year in the planning.

No! No! This can’t be happening!

Part of my brain is marveling at the experience. Yes, it took less than a second but there was another dimension, as well – the “time stood still” dimension – that moment when I left the ground and waited to return transcended time. Waiting, waiting for the eventual impact. When it happened it shot my spirit out of my body so that I was looking down on myself and moving farther and farther away until the physical part of me became a tiny, insignificant spot railing against the universe. I looked ridiculous in the immensity of it all.

Well, I can’t lie here forever. A girl could freeze to death. I’ve got to roll over and get to the back door somehow. Hold my breath – roll. Made it. Now start moving. How?

“Are you all right?” The wicked part of my brain wants to say, “Oh, I’m fine thanks. Just testing out this new yoga position.” The practical part of me says to Cody, my 15 year-old savior: “Would you run up those stairs and tell my husband I’ve broken my leg?” Seconds later, the door flies open, Bob flies down the walk-way and slides on the same ice. He careens towards me. I think it’s funny.

Cody, brilliantly, pulls a phone from his pocket and dials 911. Clearly, he wants to save us from ourselves as fast as possible.

The police are the first to arrive and stand guard waiting for the ambulance. Here it comes reversing down the driveway. I hope they know where I am!

I’m suddenly overcome with a sense of relief and gratitude that’s hard to contain. I think of Haiti and those people still waiting for attention from exhausted doctors. I can’t envision such courage, such suffering. I count the people who have surrounded me in minutes – seven – all trained and all with one thing in mind. But right now I don’t want anyone to touch me. I’m holding my leg together with my left hand that has transformed itself into a vice and refuses to let go. Please don’t move me, just leave me here; I’ll be all right tomorrow.

But they have this wonderful gadget that’s a stretcher in two parts. One part slides under my left side and the other under my right. The medics push gently and the two sides lock into each other. Whoever thought of that should be in the Gadget Hall of Fame. A gentle lift and I’m slid into the back of the ambulance. It’s then I remember that I have no underwear on under my shorts and t-shirt, but I did give myself a pedicure yesterday and that’s really all that matters.

It’s a short trip to the hospital but one that represents the beginning of a new chapter, the beginning of a new experience, the opportunity to find out more about myself. This is going to be interesting.