By Marjorie Stradinger
Carl Andersons hopes for a music career and playing his violin were altered June 23, 1998, when his Camry was struck by a delivery truck. He describes his recovery.
Broken bones? I asked.
Many, many, many. If you want me to go from top to bottom He pointed to his head: Traumatic brain injury. My skull was never fractured, so that was a mercy of God right there. What they saidmy brain twisted on the stem and rubbed up against the right side of my skull. Thats what put me in a coma. Major gash on the left side of my skull. The scalp was open, so I had stitches there. Going down, my left collarbone was broken.
I couldnt resist. You had your seat belt on, right?
Thats what saved my life. I wore my seat belt and the air bag deployed. Both my arms and both my legs were fine, but everything else in my torso was messed up, except for my back. All my ribs were broken, resulting in both lungs being punctured.
My pelvisthats a big bonegot broken in five places. While I was in a coma, they werent able to move my legs until my pelvis healed. Calcium deposits started forming under my kneecaps completely shifted my kneecaps out of their normal spot. When I emerged from the coma, I didnt have knees, I had lumps and wasnt able to walk.
After more than five months of rehab:
I came home the day before Thanksgiving. I was so thankful to God that I was alive, so thankful to be coming home, though my emotions were a little dampened. Things just didnt seem as . My emotions were pretty numbed. I did start trying to play the violin. I wanted to play for Carol Sing, like I had done in the past. I tried I really did. It was frustrating. My left hand doesnt work. I did play, but it wasnt at the level I wanted.
Carl put his violin down after that.
Its neurological damage something is messed up between my brain and my hand.
What do you think about that?
All right, God, what do you want me to do now? I thought I was going to be a music teacher, and I cant do anything musical, really. I think God was saying, trust me, Ill lead you. It ended up being experience gradually learning to trust God. There is still hope that I could play the violin. That has never left.
He took classes at Rock Valley College that fall, then returned to Hillsdale.
I was thrilled to be back, but things werent as I remembered. I wasnt quite so Im a lot sadder, more sedate than I was used to being. He struggled to explain the loss of emotion.
He did graduate from Hillsdale, earning a degree in music pedagogy.
Music pedagogy was kind of a major they made for me. I have head knowledge, but I cant do the physical expression.
He was distracted by a young woman he knew in the restaurant. They bantered about winter break and school being superior to employmentreality.
Reality sucks, Carl said. Stay in school as long as you can.
He was sheepish, realizing this was more candid than what he was saying to me.
By 2004, Carl was weighing his options.
Its (music) still a hope, a very distant hope, he said. If I were able to play again, I think I would (get back) the emotion again.
The music itself would bring it back?
I think so.
Hes now studying counseling at a seminary in St. Louis.
Whats happening inside, Carl? I asked.
Im really not sure. I feel to a certain extent a little lost direction.
Is there purpose in all of this?
I know there is I dont know. I know there is one. Ive never had a normal lifeeven pre-DAO (Divinely Appointed Occurrence), thats what I call my wreck. God does not cause sin, but he has a purpose through it and that is a mystery that, this side of heaven, we will never be able to fathom.
Are you OK with that?
I am more than OK with that. He paused. I should be honest. There are other things coming into play.
He described social struggles. Hes 25. Its a difficult young adulthood.
What you want back is your passion for life?
I think were still talking about perfect pitch, I said. Emotional perfect pitchknowing what youre missing. It hurts.
He reflected. I had hit a chord.
His friends were IMing again.
Do you mind if I check my phone?
Marjorie Stradinger is a free-lance writer residing in Roscoe.