Den of the Beastly Bear
So, the chain so far is thus: as a consequence of flirting with the wrong woman I ended up in a cast.
As a consequence of having a cast, on my way to the doctor I was involved in a car accident.
As a consequence of the car accident...
The headache never went away.
It was a constant mind numbing pain that became the background of my life. I mean the kind of headache that under normal circumstances would send you to go lay down until it went away.
Then two or three times a week I got "the spike".
It started by a sudden light headedness before the debilitating feeling of someone driving a red hot spike through my temples. A pain so great it caused nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, and odor!
The only cure was to vomit, and go lay in a dark room, with the gentle whir of a fan blocking out any noise.
4 hours of sleep and I was "functional" again.
I ended up missing more time from school than I was there. I tried to make it into work as much as possible as I still owed money on my wrecked car, bought with a $1000 personal loan from the credit union. Only had PL/PD insurance on it so I could afford to drive.
This changed me...
My normal happy go lucky Dr. Jekyll attitude was being suppressed a Mr. Hyde type. Short tempered, angry and combative.
There were other changes as well...my much vaunted memory was failing me. School had always been almost too easy...I could listen to the teacher lecture on a subject, take minimal notes highlighting the core information, and take a test a couple weeks later and not score under a B+ without looking at my notes again!
Now...reading, by the time I got to the end of a paragraph, I'd have to start over having forgotten what I'd read. I had to drop out of our next play (in which I again had the lead) because I couldn't learn the lines... This had NEVER happened to me before!
But the scariest incident happened as I was leaving work one night. As we left, and I got in my car...it suddenly occurred to me I didn't know how to get home. Imagine that if you will...
I knew WHERE I lived, and I knew where I WAS, but how to get from one to the other???? Nothing!
I started to panic, how was this possible?!?
I tried relaxing, clearing my mind...nothing!
I tried to think in reverse, how do I get from home to here? Nothing!
Pre cellphone era I was literally trapped by indecision!
My final solution was to start driving until I saw familiar things. I knew the general direction from where I was...so that's the way I headed. After a couple wrong turns that didn't feel "right", I found my way home.
During this whole time I saw a bevy of Doctors. Our family Dr. was at a loss. I ran the gamut of tests. X-rays, EEG, EKG, CAT scans, Spinal tap to check for meningitis...nothing. Next, finding nothing physically wrong...it must be in my head right? Psychologists and Psychiatrists followed...with one positing the theory of PTSD because I hit a bus full of kids. ASSHOLE!
If he didn't listen any better than that...he was probably a pretty crappy Psychiatrist!!! The bus was empty AND she pulled in front of ME! I had zero guilt associated with the accident. The others found though mildly depressed I was normal. Well who wouldn't be depressed if your head felt like it was going to explode 24/7?!?
The final straw...and only a very few people know this.
After a fight with my sister, where something very minor she had done, on purpose to bother me had set me off, I lost it! Complete mental breakdown! I beat my sister with a rolled up magazine to it's destruction!
In hysterics I got in my car (a '70 Dodge Dart we'd bought for $50 from a guy my mom worked with) and left. In my pain ravaged and hysterical state, where no one believed there was really anything wrong with me. The solution came to me that a car accident caused this, a car accident would end it!!! I got on M-59 and opened her up...going 120mph (the most I could get out of her) running red lights...I would end my life!
Twenty miles I went...when it occurred to me that I might be doing to someone else what was done to me, I stopped. Still sobbing uncontrollably, I found a payphone and called home. My sister was fine, though shaken...my Mother and her boyfriend talked me into coming home. It took hours to calm me down enough to allow me to get some sleep.
Suddenly they started taking my problem seriously.
Finally I ended up at the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute under the care of Dr. Joel Saper.
I'll spare the long and short. Diagnosis was the portion of my brain which regulated blood vessel dilation was damaged in what we now call a "closed head injury". So any time I got angry, scared, happy, or excited adrenaline would constrict my blood vessels, and raise my blood pressure to a dangerous level in the classic "fight or flight" response. With no way to relax them again my brain started getting oxygen starved, causing nausea, pain and memory loss. I started getting a "spike" while at Dr. Sapers and my BP was recorded at 220/170!
It was decided I needed immediate inpatient treatment, at Chelsea Community Hospital near Ann Arbor, MI.
A six week stint while they tried different drug cocktails to get me relief. While I was in I only had two visitors that were not family. An ex girlfriend and my good buddy Ed Musiel (who I'm still proud to call my friend to this day).
Finally upon my release I was back to myself, thanks to a daily cocktail of powerful drugs. I would still get an occasional "spike" but had a separate fast acting drug to help counteract that. Eventually the problem would "self correct" they told me, but it may take years. I was on that cocktail for 3 years. And to this day need BP medication.
Most of the time from the accident to leaving the hospital is a blur to me with a few incidents standing out...
My Senior year of High school went normally. I managed passing grades in 3 of my 7 classes from the second semester of my Junior year, taking an "incomplete" in three others, but my Chemistry teacher (that Really disliked me) was having none of it and gave me an "F", the only failing grade I ever received...just for spite. Seems he thought if I could pass other classes, I ought to have been able to pass his.
When I graduated in June (I'd have had the credits to graduate early had it not been for the accident) I attempted to enlist, per "the plan".
Only to be rejected on Medical grounds. Not only would they not accept me because of the drugs I was on, but a report from a Neuropsychologist suggested another severe blow to the head could be catastrophic and possibly fatal. The military wouldn't touch me with a ten foot pole!!!
Not having the grades for a scholarship, or the money for college I went full time at the sporting goods store.
Thinking I could take classes part time, and somehow salvage the plan. Though my outbursts and attempted suicide while sick would have likely kept me out of both services.
Unfortunately rotating days off made it impossible to take classes, and I needed to work full time to help my Mother keep her house as she had divorced my step dad and need my help, so part time was out of the question.
When the store closed, I sold advertising for a while.
Finally I settled on a new plan...I learned to drive a truck, figuring I could make enough to take some college classes AND help mom. Bounced around a couple jobs before I landed at Perry Drugs, still unable to take classes as I couldn't plan anything! Not a 9 to 5 job, you left with a full truck and you weren't done until it was empty!!!
There I met the woman that would become Mama bear, and married her. We had Princess Bear.
After 11 years there, my wife's cousin Paige told us that for the first time in their history GM would be hiring "outside" drivers. I jumped at the chance to almost double my wages, and halve my workload!
9 months after GM hired me they sold the division to Penske! I worked for them for 18 months until our contract was up. Penske started talking cutting wages...and they offered us a chance to go back to GM.
It meant working in a plant, but I figured trucking companies come and go, in a hundred years there would be a GM...would there be a Penske?
So the one thing I told my High school self I'd NEVER do...is exactly what I'm doing.
One little bad decision...had such consequences.
Hope your decisions turned out better than mine did!