It’s been 20 years since I almost lost my life.
A second chance
Today is my rebirthday.
I know the value of my life and continually appreciate it, no matter how ‘tough’ things may get.
On September 15, 2001, someone made an attempt on my life.
I’ll admit it. Before that fateful day, I was just a jaded, jagged, and miserable human being.
I was always pissed off at the world. I continually wanted to know when the universe would stop shitting on me. I bitched at everything and everyone. My temper roller-coastered like it was my full-time job. I had your typical bad luck, bad girlfriends, bad relationships, bad jobs, etc, etc.
Yeah, I was a mean. I can’t say ‘positivity’ was part of my repertoire. I was going nowhere fast, and I just couldn’t seem to get a leg up. I was simply treading water.
Then someone tried to kill me.
I needed someone to try and steal my most prized possession (my life) for me to truly appreciate its merit.
Yes. You read that right.
I first blogged about this in 2008 (hard to believe). Every year I re-share the original blog post. It’s cathartic for me and my loved ones. It’s important to me because I want the reminder. I want to remember and never forget the gift I was given.
If this is your first time reading my story, I’d like you to have the reminder too because life is fleeting.
Let me tell you a story (in the original words that I wrote several years ago)…
It’s been 7 years.
This time of the year always has a special place in most of America’s hearts. September 11, 2001 is a date none of us will soon forget. It changed the face of our nation and impacted our world in a way none of us could have ever imagined.
At the risk of diminishing or making that day any less than it really was. This time of the year has a very different meaning for me. I do remember September 11th. I do remember what I was doing that day. I do remember how I felt and how the world around me changed. But it’s not what is in the forefront of my mind.
September 15, 2001
It’s been 7 years.
It was a Saturday. (Yes I remember it that well)
There was a time in my life when I was not active in healthcare (It was a short time). I had stepped away from the healthcare setting and returned to my career in retail. Retail had helped pay my way through college, and then it was the way to put food on the table after college was over. My career in healthcare wasn’t paying the bills, and retail was a better option (at the time).
It was a typical Saturday night. I was one of the midnight managers on duty. Part of my responsibility as a manager was to hold the night-shift meeting with the over-night employees.
This particular night we decided to have an open forum concerning the difficulties people may or may not be having with the current state of affairs. The terrorists attacks were affecting everyone, and we wanted to let our employees know we cared.
I can’t say I remember how it happened.
I can’t say I was prepared for it.
It happened in time ‘slices’.
I was talking with the over-night group of employees. It was me in front of approximately 20 others. Half-way through the meeting and in mid-sentence I can vaguely remember an ‘itching’ or ‘biting’ feeling on my neck.
It wasn’t anything out the ordinary. I chalked it up to one of the bodily aches or pains I have no explanation for. (Like when I get a shooting pain in my finger that comes a goes in a matter of 7 seconds)
It got more quiet. It was like I could only hear the fans of the air conditioning running. I guess the only way to explain it… is things seemed to slow down.. immensely. Like the slo-mo option on a VCR/DVD player.
I don’t know what happened next. Or should I say I don’t know which came first. The banshee-like shrieking screams or the shadow of a person coming out of my left peripheral vision. All I know is that it was a startling moment.
And I reflexively look to my left.
I remember saying to my self, “Hmm, why is Jane (we’ll call her Jane for identity purposes) standing so close to me. She should be sitting out in the crowd with the rest of the group.”
She’s now advancing towards me. “What is she doing?”
Her left arm is raised in the air. I think she’s going to take a swing at me. So out of reflex, I block her left arm. I block her arm with my R arm and grab her swinging arm with my L hand. Then I grasp her swinging arm with both hands.
I can’t quite figure out why she’s trying to hit me?
Another handful of screams.
Through the tussle and wrestling of her arm I realize my hand is full of blood??? In fact I have blood on both my hands?
“OK. Who’s blood is this?”, I blurt out with a sense of sarcasm.
Wait a minute.
What’s that in Jane’s hand?
Wholly SH#T. Jane has a knife in her hand.
“The blood is YOURS! She cut your throat. You’re bleeding from your neck!!!!!!”, a voice from the crowd cries out hysterically.
Now, I’m no idiot. I know the inner workings of the human body. I’m pretty well versed in what anatomical structures are located in the neck.
I know I’m still breathing. I’m not chocking. Not having any trouble moving air.
At the same time Jane is tackled by a single employee from behind. Then another, then another. And then more. It takes close to 5 people to get her down.
I put my hand on my neck.. and sure enough … nothing but blood.
Yep. It’s a true story. I was attacked from behind with a swiss army knife by an employee of mine, in front of approximately 20 people. She sliced my neck almost from ear to ear.
Here are the finer points of the story:
– she used a very dull and old swiss army knife
– she did not use the blade side of the knife and drag it across my neck to cut me. She used the knife in a stabbing motion and scraped the tip of the knife across the length of my neck
– she never spent a night in jail. She had a psychiatric evaluation. Her medications were adjusted. And that’s the last thing I was told (Please don’t ask.. I don’t know what the heck happen concerning her lawful conviction)
– Yes, I have a Keloid scar that has taken 7 yrs to slowly diminish on my neck. (The intent of the ED physician was to use the smallest/thinnest suture possible so to NOT leave a scar, and it did the exact opposite)
-The only entertaining piece of all this was that when the 911 call was made. All the EMS arrived expecting to see a decapitated man. And I mean ALL of the EMS. For the small town I was in, I think I counted 4 Ambulances and 6 marked Police and 2 unmarked Police cars.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that day. It changed my life. We always whine and complain about some of the most ridiculous things in life that seem so very important at the time. Everything from being late for work, being stuck in traffic, having to wait in line in the grocery store, having a poor wait staff wait on you at the restaurant, or having to sit in coach for a 4hr flight… the list is endless. Everyone hates having a bad day.
I touched on my theory about life and how bad your day really was in a previous blog post: Blinking & Breathing, I can’t complain.
I’m not perfect. I do have stress in my life. I do have those ‘Pull out your hair’ moments and those “all I wanna do is scream” moments. But I’m always grounded and reminded by my profession and by my past that maybe you and/or I not having THAT bad of a day.
September 15th is my Re-Birthday. I was given a second chance at life. For some strange reason, I survived that incident. I will never know why. I questioned it for a long time, and never got the answer I wanted until I realized there was no answer. I’m here. I’m staying here. I’m not going anywhere. And while I’m here, I’m making the most of my stay.
Here’s what scares me sometimes when I think about my attack.
As an employee for the retail store I worked for, each employee is issued a box cutter. The only reason I’m still here is because Jane had bad aim, and a dull swiss army knife.
What if she would have used the box cutter instead of her swiss army knife?
I don’t have bad days anymore.
In 2013 we moved to a new city. With the move came new friends. When my face was still new, I had a friend comment on my ‘positivity’ and being ‘always happy’. I told her there was a story behind my obsessive passion for being happy, but that I’d explain it to her later. I shared this post with her.. (Thanks, Allison).
This is the reason I’m always positive. Why I greet every morning with my:
I get to be here another day.
Many great things have happened to me since that scary day.
I became a registered nurse, I met and married my soul mate, and now I’m working as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, a job I truly love.
I’m here. I’m staying here. I’m not going anywhere. And while I’m here, I’m making the most of my stay
I’m not too sure where I’d be today had I not gone ‘under the knife’ so-to-speak. I can admit that I wouldn’t have the abundance of happiness I possess now.
What I do know is that I took a tragic, frightening and possibly life-paralyzing event and turned it into something positive. Positive for me, and hopefully positive for anyone who’s around me.
This might sound a bit cliche’… or it might sound a bit phony…
but I needed someone to try and steal my most prized possession (my life) for me to truly appreciate its merit. And for that, I couldn’t be happier.
Sigh. 20 years. That’s a heavy feeling when I say it out loud. I’ve tried my best to live a positive life. I’ve tried to earn the gift I was given. Do I still have bad moments? Of course. I’m not perfect, I’m human. I’ve had struggles, I’ve been angry, I’ve been less than happy. But through it all, I still try to remember that I’m still here.
The scar has almost completely faded, but that memory will never fade. In fact, I’ve got the date tattooed on the inside of my left arm with the initials E.F.A.R. Everything Happens For A Reason. There’s a reason I survived.
I’ve met more amazing people both online and in person over the past two decades. I hope to meet so many more.
Thank you all for being a part of my life.