Accident reminds editor of life's value - Word&Way

Accident reminds editor of life’s value

I experienced my first ride in an ambulance on May 12 after suffering the first traumatic injury in my 60-plus years.

Bill Webb

I had been thrown from a bicycle near the end of a leisurely ride with my wife, Susan. I was about a block from my house and she had already turned the corner and headed for our garage. When I didn't show up immediately, Susan ran back and discovered me facedown on the pavement, bleeding and unconscious. She held me, repeated my name, slapped my back and coaxed breath out of me before an ambulance arrived.

Emergency-room personnel in Jefferson City stabilized me and quickly transferred me to the University of Missouri Health Center in Columbia for trauma treatment. Treatment there included stitching up a cut in my forehead, adding stitches in my mouth, treating scrapes on my arms, knees and face, and surgically repairing a broken nose.

The impact resulted in bruising my brain and some light bleeding around it. After a few days, I was transferred to nearby Rusk Rehabilitation for two weeks of healing and physical, occupational and speech therapy. Now I am home doing therapy and other outpatient follow-up.

Physicians have not released me to return to work, even on a part-time basis. But I asked to pen this column.

I am healing from my injuries. I originally assumed all I needed to do in rehabilitation was finish healing from my visible wounds. What I learned quickly is that "brain-rattling" (my term) requires more time and more rest.

I have realized that I need the prescribed afternoon nap that refreshes my brain as well as the rest of my body.

I am indebted to so many people but I must start with thanks to my wife and first-responder Susan, who gave me 24-hour care those first few days, ran me to so many medical appointments and has encouraged and challenged me continually. My son Justin has helped me significantly at home, and my son Mark in nearby Illinois was with me for the first few days of injury and has tried to talk with me daily. My broader family, including grandkids, siblings and others, has been supportive, too. My mom has faithfully prayed for me from her assisted-care facility in southern Illinois.

I am grateful for the care of medical professionals at St. Mary's Health Center emergency room, the UM Health Center, Rusk Rehab, Jefferson City Medical Group and the Capital Region Healthplex. My recovery is a product, in large part, of their collective wisdom and dedication.

Dozens of people dropped a note of encouragement in the mail, sent emails or gave me a quick call. While I was in hospital and rehabilitation care, some friends made brief visits.

I am grateful for the Word&Way family and their faithfulness while short-handed. Associate Editor Vicki Brown, Marketing Coordinator Ken Satterfield, Communications Assistant Jan Conley and Bookkeeper Margene Neuhart all have my gratitude. They and our board chair, Kevin Payne, and his fellow trustees have enabled me to focus exclusively on the task of recovery. For a person who had missed work for as many as five days only once in 30-plus years, this has been a tremendous gift.

I've learned or have been reminded of a few things since May 12. First, unexpected things happen in life. They catch us by surprise. Often they jolt us.

Second, the physical body is a magnificent creation. I am not a great physical specimen — a lot of people are bigger, stronger, better looking and more intelligent than I. But what I have experienced is a body beaten up in an accident healing more quickly than I would have guessed. As the Bible testifies, God's human creation is wonderfully made.

Third, prayer is an intimately powerful force. I don't know just how many have joined in prayer for my smooth and rapid recovery. Daily reminders of prayer support continue, and are encouraging.

Fourth, God is real. He is real in my life and in the lives of others. He answers prayer. From a different perspective than I have previously observed, I have seen this to be true in my life, in people close to me and in fellow patients struggling to recover from injuries and maladies.

Fifth, love itself — whether from God or prompted by God — is powerful. It has been expressed to me in ways very simple and in ways amazingly profound.

Finally, unexpected experiences offer all of us a chance to reevaluate our lives and adjust our priorities. I am in the midst of that process. I would not have wished for an injury accident, but it has prompted this needed opportunity for personal reflection. Thank you once again for every expression of concern and support. I'll be back soon.

Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.