Growing Or Fire?
Working at the same forest service office, I quickly became friends with Alan. We still are to this day. Every day on my way to work, I would pass the apartment complex where Alan and his wife, Debbie, lived. I offered to pick him up once and it resulted in me stopping by the apartment and having morning coffee on a regular basis.
One morning I arrived at the apartment complex and noticed smoke coming from the rear passenger side of my car. Kneeling down I started looking under the car when I heard and felt an explosion. I was thrown backwards and everything went black. Opening my eyes all I saw was black. I literally could not see.
Going by feel, I made my way up the stairs and frantically started pounding on Alan’s door. My face was covered with hot, smoldering rubber fragments. Even my eyes were black. Alan has told me he didn’t recognize me until I spoke.
Debbie started washing out my eyes while Alan ran outside to keep the fire from spreading to other vehicles. Of course, I didn’t have a lug wrench and the one Alan had wasn’t the right size. So, with a socket set he managed to get the still burning tire off the car and put out the fire.
Alan then put me in his car and we sped off to a hospital. But, there was a problem, Alan didn’t know where a hospital was and I couldn’t see. We came across a highway patrolman, Alan explained what had happened and asked him to escort us to the nearest hospital. He said he would have to clear it with his boss. The patrolman returned and told Alan he couldn’t do that but he could call an ambulance. Alan got mad, really mad. He was mad then and thirty years later it still upsets him.
I was in a lot of pain but told Alan if he could tell me where we were, I thought I could guide him to a hospital. I’m sure it wasn’t the closest hospital but it was the only one I knew of. Between him telling me where we were and me telling him where to turn, we made it to the hospital.
Being wheeled into an emergency room, I knew there were many people in there. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them and could feel numerous hands touching my face. Some hands were removing embedded rubber. Other hands were washing my face and still others applying ointments.
I remember them talking. I cannot recall what they were saying because I was focusing on the intensity and the seriousness in their voices. I laid there not knowing what had happened but knowing most likely, it wasn’t good.
I’m not sure how long I was in the emergency room or for that matter the hospital but later they taped double thick pads of gauze over my eyes and released me. Alan says whenever we would walk by a window I would cringe. Light, any amount, any type caused excruciating pain.
For a few weeks, I sat in darkness. I went to the doctor, prayed, and listening, really listening to people. Many people said they would pray for me. Alan told me the wheel bearing on the car had frozen up and that is what caused the tire to catch fire. The doctor informed me I was considered legally blind for at least three days.
Back at the doctors’ office, the bandages were removed. Everything appeared blurry. My eyes were washed out and they applied some drops. Laying there for what seemed like eternity, I was scared to open my eyes. Light caused intense pain, but the pain was minor compared to the fear of what I would see, or better put, wouldn’t see when I opened my eyes.
Opening my eyes, everything was blurry. Then slowly, ever so slowly, things started coming into focus. For the next several months, my eyes were extremely sensitive to light. Over time, the sensitivity decreased but because of the scarring, I will never be able to wear contact lens.
It could have been worse, much worse. But that is one of the reasons our kids get flashlights, first aid kits, and yes, even fire extinguishers as gifts.