Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Brief Childhood Notes

The worst injury of my life so far happened when I was nine years old.  I was riding my bike in flip flops that got caught in the slats of the pedals and left me unable to control where I was going.  I ended up plowing into an old chevy's rear windshield head first and splitting a section of my brow open down to the skull.  I remember looking at my reflection in the windsheild seeing the blood and feeling mortified.  I went to the nearest house for help which was a halfway house as it so happens.  I asked the recovering crack addict/car thief there if I was going to die and he said no.  He got the ambulance on the way got a towel for the bleeding and was perfectly kind in every way.  At the hospital the doc needed to scrape bits of glass off of my skull before he put in the stitches and this I'll always remember as very awful.  Overall the wound wasn't anywhere near life-threatening but I still remember feeling very sore and bruised if if I had the flu for several days after.  I can't imagine what the pain must be like for people who sustain truly dangerous injuries, a bullet to the liver with the bleeding stopped just in time or what have you.

On that note I recall someone else in the North Platte ER at the same time.  A visitor from Arizona who found out the wrong way that a scorpion had made home in their luggage.  Any one-doctor clinic in Nebraska has rattlesnake anti-venom but of course there's none such for scorpion stings, why would there be.  So the ER doc was on the phone with a Phoenix hospital trying to find out how to keep the victim alive and in agony long enough for her immune system to break down the venom without help. I would guess with some confidence if she survived.  It would have been major news if someone had died of a scorpion sting in North Platte, probably talked about to this day even, and there was no such news.  Still though.


My classmate Tyler Heim (we weren't friends per se though we got along well enough) shotgunned the top of his head off in an apparent hunting accident out in the wilds beyond Imperial at the beginning of the 99-2000 winter.  All evidence, anyway, suggests that it was an accident.  They found the dead pheasant that he was apparently marching to retrieve when he slipped on a creek bank....; and of course deliberate suicides rarely have quite that much of an absurd spontaneity to them.  Still it is possible.  He was in some light legal trouble, harassing animals at the park or some such, and though he got only probation for it we all know how awful that first taste of trouble can be when you're young and you haven't experienced the real pain of ruin, mortality, existential dread.  He was also an infamously terrible student (as was I at the time) at a total loss for what to do after senior year was done. 

Still the evidence does point towards accident; and this brought great comfort to the surviving class of 2000.  Though at this point in my life I've no idea why.  The magnitude of my grief was based far more on being our first grief than whatever our personal closeness to the boy was.  He was buried at the Imperial cemetery, and I made the drive out to see him once or twice in my dying teens; feeling terribly sensitive and noble for doing so.  Now my grandparents are dead, my mother smokes at 57 and a pair of college classmates who were younger than me are gone.  Perspective. 

I've met Tyler's older sister three or four times in the years since and we've always get along well. She's married with kids teaching grade school in Denver or is it Littleton to be precise?  His parents kept the Christmas tree they were going to decorate on his return up for six months; all the way to the next summer when it had long gone to dead sticks. 

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