Falling Asleep At The Wheel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can remember things now. I was driving down from Lake Tahoe to Sun City Arizona the summer of 1981 to go for a job interview when it all happened. It had been a long drive and I should have slept more before taking off. I had a six pack of Red Bull to keep me awake for the long drive and was going to stay at the Hyatt Hotel when I arrived with the interview being the next morning. I was probably sixty miles out from Sun City when I caught myself getting real sleepy. My head nodded but I caught myself and grabbed a Red Bull to keep me awake. I was still driving and about an hour into the ride after the last episode of falling asleep it happened. Unknown to myself at the time but I feel asleep again and the car and I drove off into la la land. The car traveled into the other lane and we went head-on in a pickup truck driven by a young man and his child.

I was in a induced coma for a week because of the swelling in my brain. I woke up with the worst headache one could imagine. Every bone in my body was sore from the trauma I had sustained. The nurse who was taking care of me was in the room when I woke up. Hey Mr. Henry? About time you woke up. Everything was a little blurry at the moment I opened my eyes but standing in front of me was this nurse. Glad to see you are finally awake. How long have I been out? The nurse replied, one week.  You have been in a coma induced by the doctors here to let your brain heal up a bit. There was swelling on your brain from the impact of your accident. What accident I asked? You fell asleep while driving and collided with a pickup truck. The other driver you hit and his son didn’t survive. I couldn’t believe the words she had just told me. My heart skipped a beat and it was surreal at the time.

I was discharged from the hospital and my brother and his wife picked me up. The nurse wheeled me out of the hospital and placed me into my brothers car. One the way back home I started to remember bits and pieces of the accident. I remember someone holding my hand through the ordeal. I remember someone holding my head to stabilize it incase I fractured my neck. One guy with sunglasses on kept calling my name, Sir Sir , your going to be alright. I can remember now the helicopter ride to the hospital, the rotors making their noise with blades cutting the air. I now remember being wheeled down the hallway of the hospital with people watching from the edges of the hallway as we were passing by.

The conclusion of this story, or the point of it all, is that when you feel your getting tired when driving make sure you pull over and take a short nap. The other thing is to make sure you get some fresh air and drink a coffee or something before venturing out again on the highway. This story could have been written about anyone and we all have friends or even been there before. Drive safe everyone-Also put down the cell phones- No call is worth dying for.

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