• David Smeltz

Saved By Grace

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

First and foremost, I would like to thank my Higher Power for allowing me to go through situations which could damage me physically and spiritually. Secondly, I thank this Power in my life for showing me mercy instead of justice. Today is the culmination from a week of pain, confusion, gratitude and subsequent awakening. My life is an open book. Nothing to hide with plenty to share. I find great freedom in being honest and accountable for my actions and I can only hope that someone may find benefit from my disclosure.

It's been just a little over a week ago on a Monday that I accidentally fell down an embankment and onto the beach at Euclid Beach Metroparks with a resounding thud! I lay in the sand for about 20 minutes attempting to breathe which was extremely painful and difficult. I had fallen directly onto my left side and landed on my ribs. You know how you have the feeling that if you didn't break something then you sure as heck should've? Well, that's what I was thinking at the time. Eventually, I was able to climb back up the hill to the bike path and sat on a rock for awhile trying to catch my breath. I slowly walked back to my home with intermittent standing rests along the way, not sure if I would make it home without passing out first. I prayed over and over just to make it to the safety of my residence so I could lie down and hopefully feel better. I finally made it home, opened the door and made a beeline to my couch. I sat, proceeded to lie down and screamed from the worst pain I had ever experienced. Praying again, it took another undetermined amount of time just to sit up. I never again want to encounter such pain as I felt at that time. I sat on the side of my couch gasping for air and seriously thinking of calling EMS. Of course, that male pride/ego thing outweighed my calling and I proceeded to envision myself driving to the emergency room which is less than 3 miles from my home. I worryingly struggled to get to my car. I then drove myself to the hospital. I told the admitting nurse I fell off an embankment and couldn't breathe. I was rushed back to triage immediately. I was assisted onto a gurney. It was way too painful to completely lie down so I straddled it. I was in intense pain. Years ago I had made sure that in the allergy section of my chart it stated I am allergic to narcotics. The attending Dr. brought that to my attention and he stated that I was probably going to go into shock unless he gave me something for the pain. I knew that Tylenol wasn't going to cut it! I asked him what he was thinking of giving me and he said Fentanyl. I had remembered reading in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous that there may come a time when some sort of narcotic pain medication is necessary. This was the time! My better half was now by my side when I asked him to give me a small dose and no more. Michelle looked worried when she heard me o.k. the medication. I reassured her I wouldn't be stealing her purse and/or car anytime soon (this, I pledged to myself as reinforcement..just in case!). As soon as the fentanyl hit my bloodstream I was able to put my other leg up on the gurney, lie down and tell the attending physician what had happened. Trust me, I wasn't thinking about getting high! I did know, however, that I could not have any narcotics after that. Especially, nothing sent home with me. I also knew that I would have to jump deeply into my recovery as soon as I was discharged. The x-ray showed my left lung to be partially deflated. He also said it appeared I had a fractured rib but could not be sure. A partially deflated lung was sufficient enough for starters. A subsequent CT scan confirmed the collapsed lung. I was admitted and given I.V. Toradol (non steroidal anti inflammatory) and Lidocaine patches on my left chest area for pain. The Toradol is contraindicated for ulcerative colitis so It was eventually acetaminophen, Lidocaine patches and Prayer! There was some pain abatement when I was discharged late the next day but it didn't last long. I definitely was not in as much pain as when I entered the hospital. Although, coughing and sneezing were and are currently a nightmare! It was Tuesday evening and I had four gigs coming up on that Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I told some band mates what had happened and all suggested I cancel the gigs. I really didn't want to disappoint club owners,patrons and band members and once again I prayed. I had a previously scheduled appointment with a pulmonary doctor regarding a lung nodule which had been arranged weeks before. I told the Dr. my concern about my upcoming gigs and she told me that the best thing I could do would be to sing so I can open up my left lung. So, that's just what I did. I ate a bunch of Tylenol, Motrin and Prednisone and sang while seated for all 4 gigs. I had another CT scan performed which had been previously scheduled as well which pertained to the the lung nodule (which I had pretty much forgotten about by now). I went over the results with another pulmonary specialist. He said I did have a couple of smaller lung nodules. He told me to come back in a year to see if they had grown any. Cool! That was a relief! We then went through the CT scan images together. He stated that my lung had reinflated. He also showed me that I had fractured 3 ribs! I could see that the bones were slightly misaligned and unevenly touching one another. He said the x-ray in the hospital probably didn't show the fractures and that my singing most likely separated each bone so we could see the breaks. Which brings me up to today.

I was given two opportunities to speak about my recovery this week. And I've been hitting meetings. I'm speaking openly about my recent unfortunate circumstances. But, are they really unfortunate circumstances? I've gained an increased faith in my Higher Power, an awareness that it's not so much about what happens to me but about what happens for me. By sharing my experience with others I'm able to demonstrate how I live life on life's terms with the help and guidance from a power greater than myself and a 12 step program without returning to active addiction. I no longer have problems. I have situations. Situations that I go through while being braced by grace so that I can get to the other side. The ongoing and gradually decreasing pain is now just a reminder of how truly blessed I am. For those that knew what was going on with me I thank you sincerely for your prayers and positive support. How can I be more grateful than I already am? Just watch me!

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