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June 29, 2009 / Mark Kerrigan

That Fateful Night


craniumIt was April 8, 1989, and I had pestered my parents to let me go out—only to the video store, or the grocery, or something. Their acquiescence would come to haunt them for many years to come.

Rain had just started falling, and because I only had my driver’s license for five months, I did not instinctively know that the roads would be slicker than it had been raining for hours. See, the oil and grease—along with the dust, dirt, pollen, etc.—was still on the surface of the road.

Anyway, I decided I would take a small detour and get a taste of adrenaline at this intersection I had been shown by a friend.

Long story cut short, I lost control of the car and careened down an embankment into a tree—but years later, I learned it may not have been a tree.

The police and an ambulance were called to the scene to extricate me from the wreckage. (Of this I have no recollection.) The police report stated, based on the skid marks, that I must have been travelling 70 to 75 mph when I left the road.

I was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where the staff called my parents. I imagine that they fished my wallet out of my pants and removed my license to know where I lived.

Vanderbilt is about 20 minutes from where we lived, but within only about 10 minutes, my parents walked into the ER.

My mother has since told me that I was in surgery for about 6-8 hours for the doctors to remove the two subdural hematomas (aka blood clots on the brain). And for the next four weeks, I would look something like the Borg (from Star Trek, the Next Generation). I had feeding tubes running into my nose and down my esophagus, a gauge with which the hospital staff could monitor the pressure on my brain.

I lay there in PICU, unresponsive, for the coming month.

More later…And once again, I welcome comments and questions about brain trauma, head injuries, and strokes, and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

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