Seeing Red

10743147_4b188c04f6_zThe Event:

Throughout my short 21 years of life, I have had a few near death experiences, but there is only one in particular that had a profound affect on my life.  It is one of my earliest and most gruesome memories I have.  I was young, around 3 or 4 years old, and we were going on vacation to our small beach shack on the coast of Baja, Mexico with our family friends.  I remember that it was late in the afternoon, and the winds were blowing hard.  The other kids and I were eating popsicles on the front patio, while our parents were out back. My hands were covered in popsicle juice so I decided to reach up and grab a paper towel.  Little did I know that my dad had put a giant abalone shell on top of the paper towels to keep them from blowing away.

The next thing I knew, blood was gushing out of my face, and in a matter of seconds I was drenched from head to toe.  My body started to shake, and my legs went numb as I collapsed in on myself. The other kids had ran away in sheer terror, and the winds were so strong that my parents couldn’t hear my screams.  By the time my mother found me, I had lost so much blood that she thought my eye had been gouged out.  I still to this day remember her heart wrenching screams when she found me lying in a pool of my own blood.  The shell had sliced my face from eye to eye, but as a nurse, my mom was able to stop the bleeding and steri-strip my face back together.

The worst of thoughts:

Being so young, I struggled to comprehend the gravity of the situation in which I could have bled to death.  However, while I was on the floor covered in blood, writhing in pain and screaming for my parents, I remember feeling a paralyzing sense of fear.  I was in a state of utter shock that lasted for several hours, and I couldn’t help but cry as I tried to fight off feelings of overwhelming terror and confusion.  It was a living nightmare.

I remember walking out on that patio a few days later and bursting into tears when I saw the enormous blood stain that could not be scrubbed out of the wood.  I kept trying to understand how that much blood could have come out of my body, but my mind simply could not grasp this concept.

The aftermath:

In the following weeks returning from our trip, I had a reoccurring dream about that day, about all of the blood, about that fear I felt.  I would wake up screaming, believing that I was back on that patio drenched in my own blood, and all I would see was red.  It was incredibly difficult as a young child to get through such a traumatic experience.  I had two black eyes for a month after, along with stitches right across the bridge of my nose.  Every time I looked in the mirror I would fight back tears.  What was even worse was watching my mom struggle through her own pain and guilt, knowing that I could have died that day.

This was an incredibly profound experience that affected a large part of my childhood, and my scar was a daily reminder of what I had been through.  As the years went on, I began to move past the traumatic feelings of fear and horror that had so deeply affected my mental well-being.  I only think about that moment from time to time now, but it is still one of my first, and most horrific memories I have to this day. 

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