Spent a lot of time over the last few days in email exchanges and phone calls with long-time readers of Capitol Hill Blue.
Some are are mad. Some are concerned. Some just wander what the hell is going on.
To put it simply, what is going on is me and what is going on with me is not good.
But what is going on started more than nine months ago when, while riding my Harley Davidson late at night on a return from a newspaper photographic assignment, I laid the bike down on a down on a dark road to try and avoid hitting an all-black cow hidden in the darkness.
I’ve discussed this in general terms here before but I had not revealed the full extent of the injuries suffered on that night when the emergency room doctors advised my wife to summon a priest to administer last rites.
When I laid the bike down, my helmet struck the pavement, which knocked the face shield off. The loss of the face shield allowed my face to come in contact with the asphalt, ripping away the right side, dislodging my right eye, breaking virtually every bone from my nose to my right ear and inflicting what is called traumatic brain injury (TBI).
My engine guard on the bike collapsed, trapping my right leg and breaking it in four places. In addition, a bone in the right side of my neck was broken, along with ribs and my right ankle.
An MRI showed extensive scarring and bleeding in my brain.
When deputies from the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office brought my wife to the hospital in Roanoke, Virginia, she was told I probably would not live through the night.
Somehow I made it through the night. When doctors prepared the first of several surgeries, an orthopedist told her that there was only a 50-50 chance of saving my right leg and a less than 50 percent chance of not losing my right eye. If the leg and/or eye could be saved the odds were strong that I would not be able to walk on that leg or see out of that eye.
The brain damage, she was warned, was so severe that the odds were strong that if I woke up, I would not know who I or she was and I would probably have the mind of a child.
I would be 25 days before I was awake and able to ask where I was or what happened.
If I survived, the best estimate was that I would be in the hospital or in-patient rehab for the next six months.
I walked, with assistance, out of the hospital 54 days later in what the doctors,therapists and rehab experts called “a miracle.”
But this “walking miracle” still has a long way to go in a recovery that continues with physical and mental threrapy and rehab that is expected to last well into next year. My latest MRI shows healing of the brain but scarring remains. I suffer balance problems, sometimes slur my speech, have short and long-term memory issues and have lost 75 percent of the hearing in my right ear.
And while several of the predictions about life, leg and eye loss did not come true and I do have some — but not all — of my memory, the one prediction that did prove accurate was that the person who woke up in that hospital room on Dec. 4, 2012, was not the same one who existed when his motorcycle crashed a little more than three weeks earlier.
Readers tell me my positions on issues have been all over the place since I returned to writing. A review of some of the articles and columns show they are right.
Perhaps I tried to come back too fast. Perhaps I need more time to return to what I once was. Perhaps I never will be the same. It is too early too tell.
To those who have found me off the wall or impossible to deal with, I am sorry. At the insistence of my wife, doctors and staff here at Capitol Hill Blue, I am stepping back from day-today involvement in editing. My columns, articles and comments will be reviewed by others before they are posted.
To those who feel I have insulted them or not listened to reason, I apologize. The road back has been longer than I have realized and I am not the best person to judge my recovery. I will depend on others as guides.
I offer this explanation not as any excuse for what has happened here recently but only as information on who I was back then and who I might be now.
I can continue to concentrate on my recovery and, with your help, work to move on past the problems of the last nine months.
If, as has been suggested in strong words in emails and phone conversations, some of you decide that I and this site or not worthy of your support and help, then that is something I must learn to accept.
Or perhaps we can work together to move on, continue and hopefully improve on what we started on this web site nearly 19 years ago.
I need your help and support to do so but some of you feel betrayed and abandoned. I hope we can move on together.
But if I or this web site, in your opinion, is not worth the effort, I understand.