They Day Flamin' Amy Died (And I Almost Did Too)

Hello, Lovers. I've had ten emails just in two hours - ridiculous for a post from this rat-trap blog - wanting to know about my near death experience. No, I do not think this is gruesome or prying. Now keep in mind, because I am a Norwegian Viking Warrior, no scars nor blood was shed in my near death experience. In fact, I only woken to permanent, catastrophic pain on September 29, 1999 at 3:15PM on a clear, sunny day in Seattle.

First, one should know that by age 26 still nobody has ever trained you on what to do when a 1990 Kenworth from CTI (complete with second trailer) full of broken cement is out looking for trouble. You yourself don't have to snort cocaine to be effected by it. So if you send email questioning what to do after your spine is inevitably turned to liquid I do know now. Teachable moment.

On that afternoon I was driving home on Highway 167S which is a known gridlock generator full of semi trucks and people driving to Auburn or Puyallup (or the "Paris of Washington" as I like to say). Other trucks on the road are jacked up accidents waiting to happen, built up as if there are no paved roads just 20 miles south of Seattle. My 1979 Dodge short bed was just a plain ol’ pickup. You know, the kind you use for work and not to feel manly about or compensate for a lack of understanding physics.

I don't remember this. Three days after, I shouldn't be walking. Then, I couldn't.

Predictably, after driving 55MPH for about 5 miles the gridlock grew and I came to a stop. My arm was out the window. The stock AM radio was playing “Greatest hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s” and I was listening to chatter from truckers on the CB. C’mon! Great day right?

As I was singing along with Manilow I glanced into the rear view mirror (as all good drivers do every 5 seconds or when coming to a stop). What befell my Rootbeer Brown eyes was a Silver Kenworth dump truck about a mile back coming at me quick. What caught my eye was the second trailer visibly jack knifing. Not good.

Highway 167 South is 3 lanes in its direction. The carpool lane is on the left. The “fast lane” in the middle and the “slow lane” is to the far right - the lanes were in the right place but as usual the drivers were not in their proper lanes. I was in the middle lane and there were no cars behind me.

I can see the driver correct for the jack knifing trailer and then wheel from the center lane into the carpool lane but there is a car right along side him and he veers back towards me and that’s when I knew I was going to take a massive hit. The driver had made the choice to rear end me rather than crush the car beside him into the divider.

I had time to actually consider getting out of my truck and making a dash for the grass and trees on the side of the highway but quickly reasoned that the best protection I had was the Detroit Iron I was already in. I took one more look with my own eyes out the back window. To keep from adding to the change in velocity I was about to experience I threw the truck in neutral, let off the clutch and brake (not unlike Obi Wan lowering his light saber when facing Darth Vader) and heard Manilow sing to me,  "This ones for you," and said, “SHIT!”


By that time, it was lights out. Cocaine Kenworth crunched to within 3 feet of my body/head and had wiped out over 20 cars before I “awoke”. I don’t know how long I was out but there was not one thing in the cab of my truck bolted down that wasn’t thrown lose, including me. The initial hit had my head knocking out the rear window immediately followed by being pushed into the next car in front of me, knocking my big 6’3” 240 pound lifeless body into the steering wheel. The steering wheel bent at 90º and left marks on my cheek bones to this day. Still, no blood or tears came.

Courtesy rear window pop out via head.

This Norwegian oaf was shook out of it first when one Washington State Trooper, one Kent Police officer and one King County Sheriff were gently pulling me out of my truck. I only remember apologizing for being so big. When asked for my address I gave them a mix between my childhood homes and my childhood best friends home, none of them current in more than a decade.

I remember hearing one of them saying, “he’s dead.”

And that is where Adam 2.0 started. The shock of running 6 minute miles and dunking basketballs and lifting cars off people - gone in the blink of an eye. My brain is still sure I can do it, alas, it cannot. Think of every possible physical pleasure you enjoy - diminished by 50% or completely - forever. 26 and life to go, Mr. Smith.

The good side.

I remember coming around and saying, “I’m a hero!” That’s just my style - supposed to be funny in dire straits and I’m glad my brain quickly filed back to a good place despite a severe concussion and spine completely on fire. My body tightly strapped down to a board to prevent further damage, including my head taped down and on the floor of a speeding ambulance I remember my back hurting so bad my hands felt cold. I spent what mental faculties I could focus on by reassuring the medic. I asked him if I was in a General Motors vehicle and what engine was under the hood. He replied that it was inconsequential because the semi had wiped out over 25 cars and there was no traffic between us and the hospital.

The bad side.
Some details for your pleasure. Tailgate at 45º angle.

Use your signals. Give a semi 5 seconds of signal before changing lanes in front of one. Finally, submit to the fact that even if you do all these things and the driver is coked up and jamming gears that he is going to do some urban renewal on your body. 

I suffered three burst discs, L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1. These immediately were the thing that set my spine on fire. The concussion, which was only termed "severe" made my whole body flinch every time I blinked my eyes. Newborn Adam, brave new world.
I don't remember this. (Taken three days after accident)

Anesis Pain Clinics - A Pain in the Anesass

My close friends all know that I am the survivor of a Near Death Experience (NDE). In 1999 while sitting in my 1979 Dodge Truck, which I loved, a semi driver high on cocaine plowed into me while he was doing 55-65MPH. This changed my life forever.

I'll describe the action packed event in a different blog (because if you do survive, only to be injured badly it is kinda exciting to think back on - if only it was a ticket to ride the most violent thing I think I could have experienced behind the wheel of a vehicle).

As you can see, Flaming Amy's thick American steel is a bit wrinkled. My head knocked out the rear window.

This truck had no damaged body panels on it before contact. The tailgate was flat and straight.

Today I'd just like to write about my experience after my beloved doctor retired after 17+ years of saving my life, keeping my body moving with as little pain as possible and generally just being a super person. Dr. Edward Hartzler is no longer practicing and I hope he has his toes in the sand, sailing his boat that I helped make payments on over the years.... maybe even building a nice bungalow with his own bare hands because he was that kind of guy. He also has a rarified 4.85 star rating since practicing medicine in Washington State since 1973.

Anyway, onto Anesis Pain Clinics.  The news you hear about opioid nastiness and overdoses and deaths are not in question by me. People who use them for fun times are playing a risky game. That being said people who are prescribed them because of nerve damage, severe spinal injuries or severe maladies such as cancer or other horrible, godless diseases do not get high off these opioids. It helps them manage their pain so that they are able to function, as best they can, dealing with life. Some, it helps be more physical (thus able to manage weight and do work), others it helps get along with family and friends or to sleep.

I'd wager that Anesis Pain Clinics will end up causing more harm than help to their clients, in the name of the almighty dollar and not doing their due diligence in listening, customizing and contouring their treatments to different cases.

I'm one of the people in the latter category. I have nerve root compression on two levels of my lower spine thanks to Mr. Cocaine Kenworth of CTI in Kent, WA. That truck still is driving by the way - I see it once or twice a month. Good on Kenworth for building such a tank; Kenworth is a Renton, Washington company and I take pride in that.

Opioids do not make me loopy, make my hair stand on end or give me a high. They do a job that surgeries, electrostimulators, IDETsmicrodiscectomies and myriad other treatments have not accomplished: Relieving people who suffer chronic pain due to an injury.

In this way you'd think your Pain Management Doctor would work with you when you spent  5 years trying all sorts of plans with your doctor team to find a balance between slowly killing you with nasty chemicals and you killing yourself because pain is so constant at best and at worst will put you onto shock and drop you to the floor (think Captain Kirk when he's beset upon by some superhuman alien with the loud screechy noise bringing him to his knees). Yes, it sounds funny but in real life it is shocking, painful and the cherry on top of the shit sundae, embarrassing. Followed then by having a nice 15 year run of life.

Anesis Pain Clinics have no interest in helping the latter. If you're injured, too bad. Their aim is to use guidelines set out by... someone.. to be your drug dealer... and hold back until you are on the razors edge of pain. So, all my fellow Square Pegs, prepare to be pigeon holed into a round receiver. You will be assumed to be at risk, assumed to have nefarious reasons for requiring pain assistance even when armed with 15 different MRIs from neurosurgeons, spine surgeons and overwhelming evidence from just about any venue you can imagine.

For instance, I recently tore the meniscus in my knee and will be going into the University of Washington Sports Ortho to have it repaired. My doctor at Anesis told me that they'd want me to stop taking my meds for surgery. She didn't consult the UW, call my doctor, verify my injury (either of them) she just told me to stop taking my pain meds. Cold turkey. I believe this was the most inhumane thing I've ever experienced including being rammed by a 180,000 pound semi being operated by a cocaine addled driver looking to do some urban renewal on Highway 167 in Kent, Washington. Lack Of Communication! (This to to keep you entertained).

My doctors at the University of Washington, of course, said, "no such thing!" 

So, I am about to make my second visit to Anesis. I fully suspect to not be listened to, to be tracked further onto their agenda to be yet another copay, another gateway to take your money only to be treated like a common criminal from these licensed drug dealers armed with the backing of?

I hope you haven't ever needed to make the decision between long term liver and brain alteration and being able to walk, work and function. But if you have, this is one chain store you can skip out of hand. I try to avoid Wal*Mart type operations but I am treated more humanely and kindly at Walmart, by strangers as well as employees!

I do believe I was stuck behind my pain management doctor on the way to work today.


Post appointment followup.

PS - My doctor, a Xi Chen, mis-instructed me two weeks ago and to cover her mess she walked out of my appointment when I followed said instructions. I hate to tell you my fellow injured and chronic pain sufferers, there is no help for you at Anesis. You will be treated like a McDonalds Drive-thru except there is only one thing on the menu: Working you down to being in pain but still come back and pay copay after copay as they are The Purveyors of Vice for Profit. There is no other explanation for their behavior, ineptness and complete lack of sympathy.