I was in the hospital after suffering a catastrophic brain hemorrhage and waking up from a medically induced coma. My mom was at my bedside and, at one point, she said to me, “Well, you’ll have to put this part in your book!” She was assuming I would write a whole book about nearly dying, because I have a big mouth and anything that happens to me usually ends up on the page not long thereafter. As far as I was concerned, she assumed wrong.
“Mom,” I told her sternly, “I’m NEVER writing about this. I’m never telling anyone what happened to me.”
Now, you gotta understand how out of it I was when I told my mom that. I was doped up and occasionally hallucinating. I was brain damaged. I was disabled in ways I hadn’t even realized yet, and some of them permanent. Mostly, I wanted to get the fuck out of that hospital. I was alive. I was fine. AND WHY THE FUCK DO THESE NURSES KEEP WHEELING ME TO THE REHAB WARD TO ARRANGE CONES ON A SHELF? I didn’t need to talk about what happened. My accident—I’ve taken to calling it an accident for lack of a better word—was unnecessary. It was inconvenient. It was inexplicable. Even the fucking doctors couldn’t tell me why I had collapsed the night of Dec. 5, 2018. No one knew, so I considered dwelling on it to be a waste of time.
I dwelled on it. A lot. I ended up writing a little about it, of course. That’s what I do. But the night still haunted me after that. It haunted me in some ways that I could readily perceive. I was deaf. I couldn’t smell. I couldn’t taste. For a while I couldn’t see straight, in the literal sense. But the night haunted me in other, more insidious ways as well. Ways that I could NOT perceive. That’s something I should have known about brain damage going into it, but was now too brain damaged to grasp. It’s a hell of a thing to wake up inside a mind you don’t know, especially when you’re still under the impression that it’s the same mind you always had.
Pieces had been stolen from me, and for a very long time all I cared about was getting those pieces back and becoming fully myself again. And I did get some pieces back, but not all of them. Thus I remained, in my mind, forever incomplete, which I wasn’t willing to accept. It was up to my wife, and my friends, and the colleagues who saved my life that night—many of whom would go on to create this fine website you’re now reading—to tell me the truth. To hold a mirror up to my destroyed head and tell me this was who I was NOW. To make me understand all of the sacrifices they made to get me to this point, and to make me understand that just because my life was different now, it didn’t mean it had to be WORSE.
So I wrote the goddamn book, just like Mom said I would. This is The Night The Lights Went Out. It features interviews with over two dozen people, including the doctor who cracked my skull open, about what happened to me when I died, and about the long road I took forward from there. This is my story, but really it’s theirs. Because I don’t belong to me anymore, and I never have.
The Night The Lights Went Out drops October 5, but you can preorder it right now if you’d like, through all the links listed here. There are also a few reviews up on Goodreads already if you want to make sure it’s not a piece of shit.