It’s been almost four years since I was hit by a 4,000-pound hunk of steel while riding a bicycle. I had a race the next day and was doing an easy ride to stretch my legs when someone drove by at 65 mph, either looking for a sandwich or playing with their phone. Both stories have been proffered, and there’s no telling what’s true. They swerved off the road and felt a bump, and I was the bump. My bike collapsed under me and ground to a halt in the dirt and grass on the side of the road, almost every weld broken or cracked. I fared better, flying like Superman through the air for a hundred feet until gravity yanked me back to earth, the impact breaking my brain and shoulder and a bunch of bones and teeth.
This is a letter I wrote to my daughter to let her know about certain…weirdnesses I’ve experienced since then. As I tell her, I make no effort at an explanation but just report.
Date: Thursday, January 27, 2022, at 11:04 PM
To: Dennis Mitton
Thanks for the reminder to write a quick review on Amazon! Your voice was loud and clear, and reading it [Can I Fix My Brain? about TBI and recovery…] made me feel like you were telling me your story. Got teary on a few parts, and I am so very thankful you are with us and writing books.
Glad I am with you too, R. And the entire family. Just plain glad I’m here. Give everyone a big hug for me.
This is a weird email, so stay with me. Mal is used to this weirdness now, but I still get funny looks. I’ve decided to send this to everyone thinking that they might like to hear more about my recovery and some things that have happened.
Regarding my post Floating with Jesus, I’m rewriting all my blogs into one. It’s messy and far from done, but this is a real story, and I’m for-real-life not sure if it was a dream or real. Or is a dream real? Another kind of real? When I read the Bible now, I notice that there are lots of places where ‘the word of the Lord came to me in a dream…’ and wonder if this is true for me. It was as real as anything when it happened.
This post about floating with Jesus kind of goes along with new thoughts I have after my accident. When I first went to Shepard, I was assessed by my doctor and therapists for a week. I don’t remember any of it, but they told Mal that I might walk in a few years and might go to work a couple years after that. So, Mal – you know how she always wants the truth – said, okay, my husband won’t walk and won’t work again, right? The doctor said, well, we don’t know, but that might be true. You might already know that I walked in five weeks, ran in six, and went back to work in five months.
When I was being discharged from Shepherd, I met with a guy we all called the Bone Doctor. He was an older guy – older than me – and his job was to check patients in and check them out. I spent about a week with him before I left. He had a stack of papers at our last meeting, and he kept fingering through them, groaning like there was something seriously wrong. By the time he was done going through the papers, I was ready to hire an attorney to sue the hospital where I was first put back together. Finally, the doctor said that I had to promise him I would see the people who worked on me at McLeod. I don’t know what they did, Dennis, but I’ve been through your paperwork about three times now and can only tell you that this isn’t medicine. Whatever they did was some kind of magic. You should go say thank you and that the doctors in Atlanta have no idea what they did to put you back together. I have the before and after pictures, you know, and can’t even find a break on the x-rays we took last week.
Then, I went to my doc here in Florence for a checkup, and we talked about my condition and why I still hurt. We did all the medical talk that he was probably taught to do, but he scooted closer and said he was going to tell me the secret about medicine. He said that anyone who goes through med school can stitch a finger or give a shot: it’s all good and easy to explain. But for the big things, medicine doesn’t really have a clue. It’s all statistics. Why does someone fall down at Walmart and never walk again when I am hit by a four-thousand-pound hunk of steel going 65 mph, and I’m back running and acting mostly normal? (That mostly normal part is for Mal…) And the brain? Really, he said, anyone who thinks they get it, doesn’t. I told this whole story to a doctor at Shepherd when I went back for an assessment, and she told me it was totally true across the board, especially about the brain.
Then there is weirdness at work. When I first got back, a guy saw me from across the yard and started yelling my name. We talked for a bit, and he got real serious. Lowering his head so he could look over his glasses, he said, you know, don’t you, that G isn’t through with you yet?
Huh? I was flummoxed.
G isn’t through with you yet. By any measure, you should never be back here at work. You probably shouldn’t even be alive. But here you are. G has things in store for you, brotha.
Then – this is really weird – I’d been back for about two months, and I was walking into work after listening to a podcast. It was about a writer I know of who also had a brain injury. Her seventeen-year-old daughter was taking care of everything for her. This writer went to sleep one night and prayed that, if this was to be her daughter’s life, taking care of mom and the family for the next forty years while mom lays in bed, well, she would just rather die and let her daughter have a life. That was her prayer: let me die tonight if that’s how my daughter’s life will be. Let me die tonight and free her.
Honestly. I had never thought of praying for healing before. I was so happy just to be walking. But walking into work, I wondered, Hmm. Should I start praying for healing?
It was as clear as if you were talking to me. In fact, I stopped and turned around, thinking I must have been talking aloud and someone behind me was joking with me. But I heard this voice, like a real voice, like someone talking, who said, “Why would I want to heal you? You’re finally in the place where I want you: humbled and broken.”
I have no explanation for any of this. I don’t know if it’s real or if I’ve been eating lots of rotten food that plays havoc with my dreams.
But – here’s where it all leads me. You haven’t heard me talk much about these things over the last couple of decades – but, if I’ve come to see anything, it’s that there’s no logic to explaining G. Every systematic theology book and every denomination and every belief that THIS IS TRUE is limiting. It’s like we’re bacteria in the colon of a fish swimming in the deepest depth of the ocean, meeting with other bacteria to talk about how stars are made. We all funnel G down to a list of facts and actions and G laughs at the paucity of our imagination.
So, I leave you all with this. I have no idea what you will make of any of it. I have no idea myself of what to make of it half the time, but it makes me more forgiving and accepting, and positive only that I’m positive I don’t’ really know anything. I think I am somehow inching closer to Jesus saying that If you believe, you can tell this mountain to jump into the sea and it will.
Have a great day!
And just for fun…a friend who is just as old as I am keeps trying to convince me that we’re old guys and I keep arguing that we’re not. I think this pic makes a strong argument for his side. But – this is weird – did you know that here in SC they call this hat a toboggan? It’s a run-of-the-mill stocking hat to me, but people at work call them toboggans. The first time anyone said, hey, nice toboggan there, I did what I do best and argued that THIS IS NOT A TOBOGGAN. WEIRD!