In April 2015 someone hit me with a car. I lost consciousness, received multiple cuts and injuries, had an incisor chipped and spent a night in the trauma ward of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. I lived.
Before this happened I was depressed. I wasn’t living my life in accordance with what I valued and had been going to sleep each night speaking the words “please let me die” into my pillow.
Nearly dying didn’t change my perspective. I didn’t gain a sudden urgency to live. I checked that the driver was OK then watched passively as I was wheeled on trolleys through a series of tests.
I learned that even in an emergency I care about language though. I corrected doctors and nurses when they used the passive voice: I didn’t have a car accident and a car didn’t hit me. Someone hit me. With a car.
But I still blamed myself. What if I had waited for the next light? What if I had waited one more day for that haircut? What if I was deliberately running in front of traffic to invite death?
A lot of people blamed me actually. My father said he taught me not to run near roads. Several people told me that I shouldn’t have had wine with lunch. Many people told me that’s the risk I take when riding bikes on roads even though I wasn’t riding a bike at all.
Cass was excellent though. She took a week of carer’s leave to stay at home with me. She made me vegan cheese toasties, managed my medication and tolerated me between doses.
I took oxycodone, ibuprofen and paracetamol to cope with the pain in my ribs and head. Each time they wore off I became agitated and impatient. Without them breathing hurt.
The first time I acknowledged I had lost something was when I accepted that I couldn’t attend Alice Brown’s first birthday. Having this taken from me by a driver hurt more than my injuries. I still cry remembering it sometimes.
The second time was when my dentist explained that he’d drill away more of my incisor and replace it with a weaker composite. He told me I was very lucky. He also recommended physiotherapy for temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
I underwent physiotherapy for my jaw, ribs and knees. My lower jaw was alarmingly opening diagonally rather than vertically. To correct this my physiotherapist Meg had to painfully massage my ribs and the inside of my mouth many times over several months.
I also joined the Brunswick Baths. My trainer Connie created a program for me and I went three times each week. I strengthened specific muscles then recovered in their sauna and spa.
Some damage is permanent. I have a scar on the right side of my forehead and I think about my composite tooth every day. Everything else can be trained though.
I slowly returned to running. First a single kilometre, then two, until I was running as far as I ever have. After four months of training I ran the Run Melbourne half marathon.
One year later I was still prone to depression. A near-death experience didn’t change that.
But I lived. Someone hit me with a car and I lived. I’m proud of myself for that.