Wanted to do something a little different today. One of the first questions people have is ‘what was it like’ and one of the follow-ups is often along the line of ‘why aren’t you moved yet?’ Here's a bit of it. Understand, some of the memories from around the time I was hit may be fuzzed up a bit. Go figure! It’s another reason I want to share this as if you or someone you know has a close encounter, there’s good reason to get checked out even if you think it missed.
I’ll skip a lot of the background, and will say that I don’t remember any lightning anywhere close to me at the time. There may have been a strike several blocks away, but nothing close. It was a habit to do flash/bang calculations of distance while watching storms, and I knew from that and radar that the storm was moving off and more than a mile away.
Our best guess is that the lightning strike that got me hit a tree just off the porch and that some of it came over to say hello. How much is a good question, and the sad answer is that we don’t know and there is no way to tell. This is especially true since it took a couple of weeks for us to figure out I had been hit. More on that in a bit.
I think I remember that I had just put down the phone, which is in an insulated case, before the strike. In fact, just after I had done so was when my world went white. I remember thinking that I had clenched up out of fear, and yes I had the thought ‘this is going to hurt.’ Even as I thought that and my world went white, there was a roaring sensation — not sound — in my head, and it felt like my brain was vibrating at a very high frequency. Then my world went black and I remember part of my mind thinking ‘bleep, power’s out we will have to reset every flippin clock’ followed by the thought of wondering if I would see Hell, Heaven, or something else when the lights come back on. I really didn’t want to see Hell, but also remember being strangely calm and curious as I sat there locked up.
When I could see again, I was still on the porch. I was much relieved, and had several thoughts along the lines of ‘wow that was close, too close!’ I was surprised the phone was still working and that the lights were on inside. I will note that the radio in my car, which was parked partially under the tree at the time, was later found to be fried.
Since I was alive, I obviously couldn’t have been hit. Cough. Just take it as a given that in a case like this, you might not be thinking clearly. Add that to my normal Captain Oblivious state, and I didn’t have a clue. No major blast or burns, so again, I couldn’t have been hit. The most common injury reported in lightning strikes are concussion symptoms, and there is data that suggests that burn and blast injuries may not occur in a majority of cases. Keep that in mind if a doctor tries to tell you that you/other don’t need to be checked out after a close encounter because you don’t have such. Keep in mind that most doctors never see, and even ERs may only see one or two lightning hits in a year or years. The linguistic/cognitive therapist who worked with me (wonderful lady!) was told she would only see one such case in an entire career. She has now seen two.
Now, let me take a moment to give some thanks and note a couple of miracles that morning. After all, one of the things I did after going inside was to give thanks to God and the Blessed Mother that I was alive and it had missed. Yeah, off a little on that last. First miracle, the entire bolt did not hit me, as at least some portion took out my car radio, and I suspect some went into the ground. Second, I wasn’t dead on the spot. If I had been sitting on the other side of the table, the electricity that did go through me would have gone directly through my heart, with the most likely result being me dead right there. Instead of the left, it went down (mostly) the right side of my body. Why do I say that?
Let’s chart the damage. In my right ear, I no longer hear any higher frequencies. The associated nerves are dead. My heart took some damage, but I was alive. There was a small, black hole in the ball of my right foot, and when I checked the shoes I was wearing that morning, you could see where rubber melted at the matching spot on the sole and where rubber had melted and reformed in lightning-type shape as the electricity ran to ground. I had concussion symptoms out the wazoo, and still have occasional moments of something similar to vertigo. The EEG and MRI show no tumors and obvious physical damage to the brain, but more on that in a bit. There may have been some other, non-permanent things, but if so, I missed them.
The cardiac issues were, in many respects, somewhat straightforward. The first indicator I noticed that there was damage/issues was when my BP hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 214/148. Two weeks (pretty much to the day I think) after the hit, the BP sent me to the ER though I just knew something was off. Visit to my doctor’s office the next day slowly started the ball rolling. I reached out to a very nice, helpful, and sadly retired MD who used to treat lightning strike and electrical shock victims. It was her gentle questioning that resulted in my learning that I had locked up, not clenched up, and it was somewhat amazing I was alive. It also led to my finding the hole in the ball of my right foot, which looked almost like a large-bore needle hole, but instead of the red track down through your skin and such, this one was black like carbon. It was also hard to see given the suddenly large callous. More on that in a minute.
My GP and I never did do a thorough search in my scalp and back, given that about three weeks had passed at that point. I really do wonder though if we might not have found an entry point back behind my ear given the number done on the audio nerves and other parts of the ear.
This was also the time of the Great Referral. With the BP issues continuing and increasing, time for a cardiologist. With the concussive effects and various issues cropping up, time for a neurologist. Issues were cropping up with the right foot, time for a podiatrist. No partridge in a pear tree though. Took some time, as only select doctors take my insurance. Cough. For all that it is not the best out there, and quite a few don’t take it, I will take a moment to note in thanks that for the last year and a half they have stepped up and done more than I ever expected. That could stop tomorrow, but it’s been a major factor in not moving as fast as I would like to do, as it will not move with me.
Let’s start with the podiatrist. It took a few weeks for my GP’s office to find one they liked that would take my insurance. Then we had to find an opening in his schedule. By then, it was painful to stand and walk on my right foot. Got in, he looked at my foot, and was the first doctor who believed me from the start. Even my GP had been skeptical. But, as the podiatrist looked things over, he sat there and told me how he wasn’t surprised it had exited there, why, and some other interesting stuff. He also was the first referral not to recommend surgery. Instead, he grabbed a scalpel and started back towards my foot. Think my reaction may have hurt his feelings, but it is better to tell me ahead of time what you are doing when approaching with sharp objects. He cut off a large amount of dead stuff, recommended custom orthotics and regular visits to a nail place to keep it trimmed, and since my insurance was not going to cover the orthotics, how to modify store bought to work. Great guy, if I ever need a podiatrist again, would go back in a heartbeat. While I bought some things to work on the callus, I did have to hit a nail place a couple of times as they wield the cheese grater far better than do I, and for about six to eight months after the strike it grew like the dickens.
We'll pick up here tomorrow, as this is going to be a two or three day event.
Again, my thanks for your gifts and prayers!