In l988, Marilyn Macmillan had a brush with death on a Canadian highway as she was trying to avoid killing an animal. While doing this she hit black ice and spun on her side of the highway six times, then rolled over the median and killed a traffic offender who was driving illegally. The ambulance doctor said she’d be a vegetable, but she has a life after this rebirth. She is a new person. After a lengthy coma, she, in diapers, was unable to remember, talk, move or eat. That crossroads in her life journey was a considerable challenge.
Our medical and psychological help are awesome for their huge effort with the jaws of death. A magazine, Maclean’s, had an article about an Edmonton athlete Terry Evanshen, who faced the same trial. So many similarities boggle the mind, such as: Marilyn had a tracheotomy and was in a wheelchair for several years. She no longer has a number of her senses, but reading this article revived one of those lost faculties. It brought a tear to her eye. His movie, The Man Who Lost Himself, amazed her in that someone else had walked in her shoes.
Marilyn was sent to a health care facility for brain injuries in Texas. What an experience this was. Five-pointing was a remedial demeaning action that no human should know about let alone condone. She thought she was in hell for a sin she couldn’t remember committing. Then she thought she was in jail for a crime she knew nothing of. She spent some time thinking she was the ‘it’ in a game of tag, and would touch people, including family, as hard as she could to make them be ‘it’! This evolved to thinking she was asleep having a nightmare, and when sent home some years later, her fervent hope was that she’d wake up from the nightmare. It turned out that her life WAS a nightmare. For many of these years she knew she was a nonentity because of not ever being treated as a real person. While experiencing all this difficult stuff, Marilyn was also undergoing nicotine withdrawal and menopause. While professional medical help is valuable, it is apparent that TIME is invaluable in any recuperation from such a trauma. If it weren’t for the healing effects of time, we can be sure that a miracle occurred. Maybe it did!
A few years ago she received a huge judicial settlement from our courts against the provincial government. The money doesn’t matter, but the key thing was that the ruling in her favour removed her guilt. Marilyn felt she was responsible for negligent driving, leaving her job abruptly with no notice to her employers, abandoning her ten and twelve year old sons, not knowing herself and being expatriated. As the courts showed, this trauma was because of the Ontario government’s not sanding of roads with black ice on them and not reporting weather conditions that created this problem.
While her intuition that she’d had a lobotomy after her accident, she knows know that what was broken in the accident was the ability to retrieve data which was somewhere in her noodle. She has no shyness, so has given four significant orations in the past few years on interesting topics related to Brain Injury. One of these was to medical college of UWO, at their invitation, where she discoursed for an hour on Memory. She also publishes a newsletter quarterly called Marilyn’s Musings. This is subscribed to by some significant people, and deals with her thoughts on anything. She is regularly published, as her writing appears to have taken over from many of her other faculties.
Having this trauma in l988, becoming divorced and remarrying another alcoholic, and having been criminally assaulted, Marilyn absolutely knows that she can ride chaos.
She lives for the minute, makes each minute as good as she can, and finds
humour wherever possible. Her description of herself is an upbeat word
that brings a smile to anyone’s face. Because she got her brain shattered,
and is eccentric, her word to describe herself is ‘crackpot’. She knows that
she can face whatever life throws at her, and is aware that each of us can
only do our best with what we have. Let’s keep on trucking by always
looking at our cup as half-full not as half-empty.