Saturday, January 28, 2006

It was 20 years ago today...

January 28, 1986. I was on my way home from one of the longest, busiest workdays of my life. The Space Shuttle had blown up on live TV that morning, and as a science writer for the Orange County Register, I had spent the entire day pulling together a package of articles and illustrations for the next morning's paper, researching everything that had ever gone wrong with the shuttle since the first flight of Columbia in 1980, and then -- the hard part -- working with a team of artists to turn that information into an infographic. I was almost at the end of my 6-mile commute from Santa Ana to Yorba Linda, California, when I got stuck in traffic at a railroad crossing. After the train passed, but before my part of the backup started moving, the young woman behind me drove her car right into mine -- she admitted later that she'd been flirting with the guy behind her and was looking into the rear-view mirror rather than ahead through the windshield. My car became the meat on a 3-car sandwich. I was pushed into the station wagon in front of me. Time seemed to stand still as I felt, for the first time in my 32 years of life, each and every one of the vertebrae in my neck and even the space between. Lots and lots of space between. And then everything snapped back together again, though not quite the way they were before. The occupants of all three cars ended up in the emergency room.

Despite the best efforts of all the doctors I went to, I was in pretty much constant pain from that moment until mid-2003, when I finally found some solutions. It isn't perfect, but it has made all the difference.

Today, 20 years after my head was knocked off its block, I can no longer wish that accident had never happened. I now have a whole new career in the healing arts, and in order to embark on that journey, I had to heal myself first, as best I could.

I'll get around to telling you more of my story eventually, but for now, I'll just say this: When the doctors tell you there's nothing more they can do, that doesn't mean nothing more can be done. There's plenty more: they're just not the ones who need to do it.

More soon.

"You are the most important physician who will ever deal with your case."
-- Dr. Roger Jahnke