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The Rescue



I knew it was risky, which is why I've avoided it for several-- now many, years.

 

September 26, 2023


The impact was violent and quick. On a concrete slab in my garage. I took down my walker with me, its contents now spread over the floor. My head and my tailbone. A small (or not so small) miracle, I had put my helmet on just minutes before. But my tailbone. I struggled to get any air, to breathe. I immediately closed my eyes to rest. And breathe. My tailbone was killing me, yet I drifted to a blissful place that I hoped would not end.

 

After I don't know how long, I opened my eyes to deal with reality. First, I needed to work on my breathing. As I did so, I turned my head toward the garage entrance to see someone walking by. I tried to speak but couldn't make a sound. More time passed. A car went by and the driver must have seen me. He stopped and backed his SUV up, rolled down his window. "Are you ok?" Again, I tried to speak, yet still no sound. I put my hand up as if to say "help." He said, "ok," stepped on the gas and left me. I still wonder what his vision must have been; me laying flat on the concrete floor of my garage, my all-terrain walker on its side, clothes, sunglasses, keys and more strewn about.


Then I spotted my neighbor! He saw me! "Hi, how ya doin?", he said. He was across the driveway on the sidewalk, but surely he could see that I was in distress? By then, I could make a sound but apparently not loud enough for him to hear.


I faced the harsh reality that I'd need to get myself up to a standing position or get help another way. I thought I should get someone on the phone for help and moral support. But I'd already tucked my phone into the pack on the back of the trike's seat--- the top of the trike's seat.


I'd need to turn myself around, drag myself across the floor and then see if I could somehow reach into the pack and retrieve my phone. One thing at a time. Any pressure on my tailbone increased the pain. Unavoidable. Inch by inch, I used my shoulders and feet, legs, head to eventually do a 180; so my head was now only a few feet from my phone. That thought was interrupted by a new one-- maybe I actually could use the trike or my walker to bring myself to my knees, and then somehow stand...and I wouldn't have to wait for help. I turned myself over to my stomach-- a 10-minute exercise, banging my head against my walker's wheel in the final free-fall to my stomach. I somehow used my weight to leverage the walker to an upright position. Laying on my stomach makes it hard for me to breathe...forgot that. With all my strength, I willed myself up onto my forearms...for a second. Exhausted and breathless, I admitted that my attempt at a miracle to stand was futile. For a brief moment, I challenged myself to find another way to solve this ruthless game of Twister. I quickly came to my senses, however, returning my focus to the phone.


I edged myself to my side, clawing myself closer to the seat and the pack containing my phone. Propping myself onto both forearms, then letting go of one to reach up to the pack...I realized I had closed the zipper to the pack! By this time, I was mentally and physically exhausted as I have ever been. Down on my stomach again to recover, regroup and re-strategize for another attempt. 2nd attempt: the zipper was stuck, my fingers too weak to break it loose. Back down for recovery, then another attempt. I freed the zipper! Back down...then with all mental and physical capacity, I lunged through the air like a fish out of water, reached into the pack and grabbed the phone all in one, final motion...got it!


After a few celebratory minutes, I mustered the energy to make my first and only call-- to Kim, who fortunately answered. On a good day, my voice is difficult to understand, particularly on the phone. Thanks to Kim's unending patience, she eventually understood the situation. In a matter of moments, she texted Tami, who texted Jeff, who immediately left his office and broke all speed records and traffic laws to get to me. (Well, I don't actually know about that last part, but I like to imagine it.)


I moved my head at an angle such that the outer mold of my helmet formed a comfortable resting place for my head, and closed my eyes in, again, a moment of bliss. Help was on the way.

 

After what seemed like only minutes, "Amico," I think I heard. I tried, successfully, to hide my tears from him as he held my hand and rubbed my back-- comforting me, giving me space and time. I don't know-- were those tears of joy? sadness? catharsis? admission? the inevitable? the future? of friendship? all of the above? or something else?


When I was ready, Jeff got behind me and wrapped his arms under my arms and around my chest. "One, two, three, up!" With relative ease, I was standing. I braced myself using my walker while Jeff retrieved the wheelchair that I'd been storing in the corner of the garage. In a matter of moments, Jeff had me inside my apartment with an icepack, as comfortable as I could be, reassuring me that he was with me for as long as I needed. He then cleaned up the mess in the garage, made a trip to the store to get me some Advil, heated up and served me a nice, warm meal, covered me in blankets since I was freezing, and hung out until he was sure we could both see my way through the evening. He even took a couple calls for me while he was here, letting my friends and family know of my situation and status.


I am blessed to have family and friends who, like Jeff, would do anything for me. I know, not, the journey ahead of me. But I do know-- that I am not alone.

 

Promise to myself? Never attempt to put air in my trike's tires ever again.

 

STOP ASIAN HATE

BLACK LIVES MATTER



 


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1 Comment


Diane Sackos
Diane Sackos
Sep 28, 2023

Hi Pete,

I just wanted to say I'm so sorry this is happening to you. You're a good guy and a wonderful father. I'm so thankful Jeff and Tami were there to help you. You are right you are not alone. Praying for you and so glad to hear you were not seriously injured. Hope to see you again. You are the living embodiment of human resilience. Warm regards, Diane (Jeff's sister)

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