Today is 11-11-11. Sixteen years ago, on 11-11-95, I was walking my dog — a German Shepard/Rottweiler mix named Socks — and somehow tripped on his leash and hit my head on the asphalt really hard. I mean, hard enough that I was bleeding out of my ear and had to be airlifted to a trauma center. He was a puppy, only 6 months old.
I don’t remember much about the incident. I do remember lying on the kitchen floor of my parent’s house, on the cold tile, while my mom was frantically trying to figure out what to do. She had my sister and my cousin was over at the time (thank god for her; she was the one who ran inside to tell my mom what happened). My dad was out on a business trip. It was a holiday.
I remember my mom driving to the doctor’s office and me resting my head on the middle console, on a towel with blood oozing out.
I remember going into the doctor’s office and then being asked questions like, “Tiff, what day is it?” … “How old are you?” … “What is your mom’s pager number and PIN?” (I was nine back then and I used to have to page my mom when I got home from school everyday).
I answered everything correctly. And FAST!
Next I’m in a chopper headed to the hospital. Mom is with me. I feel strong gusts of air from the blades starting up. Don’t remember landing or being wheeled out.
Then I hear “We might have to shave her head.” #@!?%
Luckily, that didn’t happen. My neurosurgeon only had to cut a small hole, the size of a quarter. Thank you, Dr. Manwaring. Really, thanks. I was diagnosed with an acute subdural hematoma.
Remember this is back before we all had cell phones. Dad only carried pager, so mom had to call his secretary to track him down because she didn’t have an itinerary (oops!).
Dad notified. Dad now at airport trying to catch next flight home.
Surgery happened. Everything was fine. Stayed in hospital for a week. Didn’t shower. Wanted to shower. Mom and aunt brought me fried rice and soup so I didn’t have to eat hospital food (even though I really like that hospital’s cafeteria).
Dad back in Phoenix. Everything good.
I can’t believe it’s been 16 years since that happened. I have NO side effects. I wasn’t allowed to play contact sports, so football was out of the question, but everything else went back to normal. I am so thankful. Since then, I graduated from high school, college, and graduate school. I got a hole-in-one (true story, ask my dad). I met and married my best friend and love. I became a homeowner. I got an incredible job. I got another awesome job. I’ve traveled. I made my first major move across the country. I became an aunt! And there’s so much left in store for us.
I am really lucky to be alive. It sounds cliche, and I don’t talk about it out loud very often, but every once in a while I think it. I am beyond grateful for how good life has been to me so far, largely due to the amazing support from my mom and dad, my family, and friends. So thank you to everyone I’ve met on this journey so far; you’ve all made an impact on my life and have helped shape who I am today. I can only hope to pass this on to our future clan. And by clan, I mean a max of 4 (total). Just for clarification.
*Of course, this is only the story from my perspective. I’m sure my parents would love to chime in.