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February 4, 2011

Posted by Dr. D , 15 September 2012 · 340 views

On February 4, 2011, I was dying.  I had three bullets in my body and my life was oozing away in crimson pools.  I was sitting in my car in Monterrey, Tamaulipas, Mexico, calmly entering the parking lot of a business when a gun battle erupted between cartel members.  It was one of those wrong-place-wrong-time things.  I was not their target, I was only between them and their target.  9mm slugs passed through my car door and window..  One fractured my scapula and I couldn’t move my left arm.  Another tore through my stomach and intestines, exiting and somehow missing my dog, Oliver, who was seated beside me.  The third I refer to as my “Horace Gump wound” and even though it was not as serious as the other, it gave a whole new meaning to the well known pain in the ass phrase.

The violence moved quickly toward the distant corner and people started to near the car and gaze at me.  People are funny.  They would look with mouth agape and walk away without an offer of assistance.  At last, a man opened the car door and the fresh air was a relief.  He was crouched low, fearing more gun shots.  “An ambulance is coming,” he told me, “but we have to wait until the firing stops.”  Ambulance personnel will not enter scenes of violence in Mexico.  I didn’t answer; there was nothing to say.  I wasn’t at all sure I could survive until help arrived.  Oliver sensed my distress and was licking my face and growling at the man.  He was confused and couldn’t tell who was friend or foe.

I wanted to laugh.  I looked down and saw the blood filling the depression of the car seat; my new car.  I hated to see it stained and damaged with holes in the door and blood marking the upholstery.  It all seemed funny at that moment to think of such things but it would hurt to laugh.

Oliver pushed his body close to mine.  He is very small, the runt of the litter, but he pressed against me as if the support would somehow help.  I held him with my right arm and whispered that everything was going to be okay.  His eyes told me that he didn’t quite believe me and in that moment, neither did I.

You can lose only so much blood.  You begin to get sleepy and a heavy weariness weighs upon you.  You have no option but to surrender to it and enter that dark space it offers.  Death waits there somewhere and you know it.  It is not dreadful or filled with fear.  It is simply there and you accept it because there is nothing else you can do.  It was like entering a dark nothing and becoming part of it.

I awoke in the recovery room.  Oxygen, tubes and that damned IV they put in the back of your hand.  Geez, how I hate those.  The operation was five hours.  Nothing vital was hit.  Four inches higher and the bullet would have gone through my throat, assuring death.  Four inches higher and the other bullet would have pierced my heart.  Internal bleeding would force a second operation a couple days later but in a few weeks they started talking about physical therapy.  Getting mobility back into my left arm was a battle.

I had entered a UM blog on December 29 of 2010 and would not do it again until 2012.  That time was devoted to recuperation and a lot of thinking.  I will remember the wrong-place-wrong-time experience the rest of my life.  And yet we somehow forget the right-place-right-time events that enrich our lives.  The chance meeting that defines the rest of your days.  The acquaintance who remembers you when an opportunity arrives. The moments of uncanny luck bringing victory or fame.  They outnumber the wrong by legion.

Maybe death wanted to see what it would be getting someday.  Maybe he told me something I failed to remember.  Maybe it just wasn’t my time.

This week was my last physical therapy session.  Complete mobility and strength.  I have been repaired like an old clock or hard drive.  Clamps, snips and stitches, the quality control called physical therapy and the product is back to normal.  But they couldn’t repair the memory.  The dark place where once I went when my life was ebbing away in tides of blood.

You have been through it my friend; happy you are still with us.

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I am glad you are still in this world; it's a nicer place for your presence.
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I'm glad it wasn't your time
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Vernon the Great
Sep 16 2012 02:30 AM
I come on here each day just to read what you write.  It's rare to find someone who writes like you.  I didn't know you got shot but I am thankful that you have recovered so well.  God bless you and the beauty you bring us every day.
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Lucky you didn't die there, and whoever stared a chance of death in the face shown a will to survive such horrific circumstances. +
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Sep 16 2012 05:07 AM
Amazing story, not to mention very commendable writing skills. I'm very glad you're still with us, and that your friend Oliver made it through with you as well. =)
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Wow I'm speechless Dr. D, you have me crying right now. That is so horrible...I'm so sorry and my heart goes out to you and I'm really glad that your still here with us.
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Sep 21 2012 04:23 AM
You are an impressive writer. Soul catching. Thank you for sharing.
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