Thursday, June 29, 2017

Happy Not Dead Day!

Today is my anniversary guys! Not of marriage, no, although that is also a special day to me. But no. Today, as it turns out, is my 30th anniversary of Not Dying When My Neighbor's Dog Tried To Eat My Whole Face.

Hmm. That does not so easily roll off the tongue.

How about this? 

Today is the 30th anniversary of my Not Dead Day!

Yep. That's better. Happy Not Dead Day to me.
That's me in the middle, with my heart sticker, being enthusiastically Not Dead.
So here's the fun story, if you're interested, of my Not Dead Day. To start with, I was 3 1/2 at the time. (even though I seemed negative 8, because WOW ASHLEY YOU DO NO LOOK A DAY OVER 22. RIGHT??? ....RIGHT??) Well, never mind that then.

For you city folk, these are pigs. We call them hogs.
So I was 3 1/2 and in Iowa and on a hog farm and.... are you having difficulty picturing it? It was kinda like this:

And in the 1980s when you lived on a hog farm in Iowa, there was more... freedom. To say, wander your property. To explore your whole universe.  And also, to go meet the neighbor kid who lives on the hog farm next door.

So I did that. He had lemonade and some chocolaty pastry snack which I can't remember more specifically, and I was feeling kind of shy because I am a person who is occasionally kind of shy, so when the boy's dog ran up to us, I went to pet him. I knew this dog. He'd always just kinda been there.
Like this. But with my blood.

But this time it went... different. Wherein, one moment I was reaching up to pet his head, and in another I was flat on my back with his paws on my chest and his teeth on my head. I was panicked. I opened my eyes once, there was fur and teeth and all of it covered in my blood. He saw me look though, and left me with scars over my left eye. I tried to hold him off with my hands, he bit half way through the left one of those too. I remember my little friend screaming, I remember he ran to the house to get his older sister. And I remember that at some point, for no explicable reason, the dog just... left. Got up, trotted away. Done.

My friend's sister came up to me, obviously panicked, and would not hold or touch me, but instructed me to follow her as she guided me back to my mother. My mom covered me in a sheet to stop the bleeding, and called 911.

About 45 minutes later, the ambulance arrived. We lived in the country in a small town, and GPS wasn't yet a glimmer in its father's eye at that point. So I bled and I screamed and I cried in a sheet in my mother's arms.

At first, it was very scary. I can't say I knew much about the idea of death, but I did know that what was happening was very, very bad. Then after a bit, it started to hurt. It hurt so, so very badly. And when they threw me in the back of the ambulance, somehow it hurt so much worse.

I learned later they didn't expect me to survive that night. The dog bit deep into my head in multiple places (they had to remove the entire top of my skull from behind my ears over my face to repair the damage) and if I did survive, they predicted severe neurological damage.* 

Back of head scars. Plus, thanking Jesus for thick, hidey hair!
In the end, turns out I survived. Didn't even need a blood transfusion. I was out of the hospital in about a week and a half and besides the Frankenstein scar on my left hand and the weird looks I get sometimes when my hair is pulled back, I am fine. I mean I'm still not joining any German Shepherd fan groups, but I'm fine.

My point here? I guess... life is precious. I have been stressed out and upset and anxious and frustrated, and today I got this beautiful kick ass moment to think, WOW. Remember how fracking lucky I am to even be here? How lucky I am to even have seen age FOUR?!? 

I have a home and a Master's degree and a husband and a career and four hilarious and beautiful children and... dang. I am so. Ridiculously. Lucky right now. What is stress, in light of that? What is frustration? What is fear? Fugazi, my friends. It is nothing.

Our lives are precious things. Our children, our spouses, our friends and families are precious things. And they're not guaranteed. So until we're ready to start Nuremberging off the world's supply of German Shepherds, we need to accept the fact that tragedy will sometimes strike.

Of course, this all means I'm actually going to have to turn 40 in a few years. 

*Whatever joke you want to make here, I heard it like, several thousand times in junior high so, ya know, that's enough out of you.

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