"NO, kids, we're NOT getting a Cat: Daddy's allergic…."
At least, that's what I told them when we settled into our new house in 2006.
Truth is, I've always been a bit wary of cats. Oh, I get along with them well enough. They're cute and cuddly, and a massive hit on You Tube, but they always seem to know a bit more than they let you in on.
Plus, almost every breed bears enough likeness to its Leonine ancestors that I can't sleep comfortably in their presence. I fear something might snap, deep within their Lizard Brain, and I'll wake up in a pool of my own blood with the odor of Meow Mix in my nostrils (if I'm lucky enough to wake up at all).
And I really am allergic...
Dogs? Dogs I can do. Love 'em to death, except the yappy little mops with pushed in faces, underbites and chronic halitosis . Give me a Beagle or Dachshund, Shepherd or Lab, and I'll play with them for hours. Their boundless energy and unconditional loyalty is refreshing, and a model for human behavior.
But we don't have a fenced in yard, and "indoor" hounds are, well, yappy little mops with pushed in faces, underbites and chronic halitosis. So Dogs are out…
What kind of pet, then? How do we begin to impart responsibility to our children, and the daily obligation of caring for another living creature? (Dream on, Dad: we all know who's going to be dragging that used litter out to the curb while Daughter is buried in her Droid and Son is battling level 10 of Angry Birds).
Hamster? Too mean.
Guinea Pig? Ix-nay on the animals other cultures breed for ood-fay.
Birds? Meh- high maintenance, and we have tons of them around the house for free. Ditto Lizards, Spiders and Snakes. Let's not forget, the key word here is "pet", both Verb and Noun.
We decided a pair of Mice was the best option, one for each Child, and I was delighted for, at 99 cents a piece, the start up costs were minimal. Great fun, Ocean and Cutie: energetic, inquisitive little creatures that enjoyed being handled. They travelled to school for Share Day, and seemed to relish their maze of plastic tubes, which we soon scrapped because cleaning it was a well below average experience.
However, it wasn't long before the inevitable happened. I was cleaning the cage while the kids were at school (no surprise, there), and noticed that Cutie had adopted an odd sleeping posture: flat on her back, legs in the air; either holding her breath or… aw… poor little creature!
Further inspection confirmed she had, indeed, opted for the Big Cheese in the Sky, which brings me to an important point about Household Pets.
Aside from their companionship and entertainment value, they can be an important "grief bridge". The loss of a family member, albeit a different species, is one of those Teachable Moments when we gather together and talk about our sadness and remember the deceased with tears and smiles. It's often the first experience a child has of that nature, and a chance to impart the value of enjoying every day in each other's company. Dipping our toes into the Pond of Sorrow, so to speak, before we plunge in after the death of a bi-pedal loved one.
But that wasn't going to happen on that day. Off I went to Petco, and before Son returned from school, Cutie 2.0 was spinning the wheel in her new home… soon to be surreptitiously replaced by Cutie, Version 3.
Ocean's passing was a greater challenge, for her coat was unique: a cowl of light brown from her forehead to behind her shoulders. I scoured every Petco and Petsmart in the greater L.A. area, finally finding an acceptable replacement in Monrovia. Not a perfect doppelgänger, but close enough, with a slightly darker mane.
I didn't have long to gloat over my intrigue, though. "Daddy, why does Ocean's fur look different?", came the question from my omniscient Daughter. "It's because she's shedding her winter coat," I replied, without hesitation (aside from being a Teachable Moment, pet death can be a parent's further immersion in a Big Fat Lie, but I considered it minor in the face of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus). Since authority and conviction are more important than accuracy, she bought it…
"Daddy, now can we get a Cat?", they asked, as we tamped down the soil over the 5th occupant of Crypta Mus Musculus.
After some research, and exhaustive negotiations, we determined a rabbit would be the next member of the household. We found a viable candidate at an Animal Shelter, after a brief explanation of what was meant by the sign next to the cages: "If you let your Bunny loose, she doesn't become Free, she becomes Food."
Pure white, with a touch of brown on her ears, the Attendant assured us she had a great personality, which turned out to be true. What a wonderful pet, Snowball is!
Yes, she chewed up the couch and peed all over it and the newly finished parquet floor, but she soon adapted to her straw litter box, and only leaves a few droppings outside it to mark the territory she considers hers.
Everything she did washeartbreakingly cute. Standing on her hind legs, forepaws together in prayer fashion, and grunting as we offered her food. She would "lamb chop": lying on her belly with both hind legs stretched out to one side, an indication that she was perfectly relaxed, with no intention of lapsing into "flight" mode.
When we take her outside to play she "binkied", suddenly leaping into the air and flicking her head to show us she was genuinely happy and all was right in Lagomorph Land.
She was friendly to the kids and let them stroke her, but didn't demand constant attention and played with her toys like a child at Christmas.
And Snowball was so smart! She'd flip her food bowl over, loudly, when she wanted a refill. She"d hop over to her dining area when she heard the fridge opening and continued into the kitchen if she heard the crisper drawer slide.
The one drawback was that her fur was more hyper allergenic than that of a hundred cats. Gossamer threads of eye watering dander that flew around the room as if we left the window open in a blizzard; but I suffered through it just to lay my palms on her silky soft coat, and she licked me sweetly when I groomed her.
All in all, a joy to be around.
Little did I know, at the time we brought her home, that Snowball would be instrumental in saving my life...
I was a guest on Off-Ramp twice in 2010- a locally produced radio hour about Life in Southern California that airs on our NPR affiliate in Pasadena.
The first time was an interview about my forthcoming odyssey to Burning Man, where I serve as a Public Safety Volunteer with an organization called the Black Rock Rangers.
The second time I read an essay I'd written about my upbringing as a scion of Hollywood Royalty. It was a mild rebuttal to another guest's suggestion that celebrity tends to destroy one's soul, because my life was magical and I've nothing but admiration for my parents, Hope Lange and Don Murray, and my stepfather, Alan Pakula.
That those two disparate facets of my life would collide with a violence that would alter the course of my future, on the same day as my essay was aired, seems more than coincidental.
If you factor in my encounters from earlier that year, it was as if I stepped from the snug confines of the Moen Broadcast Center, into- curl your upper lip and say it with me: "The Twilight Zone."
Moab, Utah, May 1st, 2010.
Having just completed a five day canoe trip down the Green River, my friends and I had a day to relax before returning to the obligations of our daily lives. It was an exhilarating, but exhausting paddle, and I joked that we should commemorate our hardiness with a pilgrimage to Blue John Canyon, the site of Aaron Ralston's gripping tale of survival and self mutilation in Between A Rock And A Hard Place. This was more than my macabre sense of humor at play; I knew Danny Boyle was in the area filming 127 Hours, the on-screen version of the book.
I confirmed his presence two days later. While admiring the simplicity and practicality of a classic Mid Century Motel, I was nearly flattened by a brand new BMW SUV that screeched to a halt behind me. Five guys got out, gleaming in Sensible Layered Outerwear, glanced once at the Motel, then scattered to different spots, pulling out their phones.
"Producer, Writer, Director, DP and Location Manager," I muttered, hightailing it away from that laughably Hollywood tableau as fast as I could (I bet they made the Writer sit in the middle of the back seat).
My fascination with 127 Hours was waning, though not out of disrespect for Mr. Ralston- he's a God, in my eyes. I feared Hollywood would simplify his ordeal in Blue John, polishing it into a 2 hour version of Man v Wild. Besides, I'd reached my threshold of admiration the day before, when I'd gone hiking with a woman whose story, though less publicized than Aaron's, is no less awe inspiring.
Danelle Ballengee, known as the world's "winningest" Endurance Athlete, was out for a short training run near Moab in December, 2006, when she slipped and plummeted 60 feet, shattering her pelvis and sacrum when she landed on the dry riverbed below.
With her legs attached to her body solely by her skin and connective tissues, she survived 56 hours of sub-zero nights and blazing hot days, before her dog, Taz, led rescuers to her side.
Her trials were dramatized in an episode of I Shouldn't Be Alive, but what they missed was her completion of the Adventure-Xstream Endurance Race only 5 months later, a mere 9 weeks after she started walking again; biking, paddling, running and navigating to the finish line of the 60 mile course in less than 12 hours.
She'd entered as a solo competitor under the Team Name of How's This For Rehab…
Showing zero disability 3 1/2 years, and two baby boys, later, she bounded effortlessly up the khaki sandstone around Kane Creek, without so much as a hitch in her gait: Wonder Woman in fleece, I mused, as I struggled to keep up. Taz kept doubling back to check on my progress, then bolting ahead as if to encourage more speed- good thing he wasn't a Cat, or we'd have had some serious issues…
Neither encounter was particularly fresh in my mind as I headed north for Burning Man the following August. I'd received both praise and vilification from my fellow Rangers for my tongue in cheek comments about the Festival on Off-Ramp, but that was to be expected from such a diverse and opinionated crewe.
I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to stay the entire week, but I wanted to be with my Dad when he received CINECON's Career Achievement Award at the Egyptian Theater and attend their screening of From Hell To Texas, a film of his I'd never seen. The TV series The Rifleman was based on the character Dad played in the film, but he declined the Network's offer of the title role due to contractual conflicts.
After considering 40 other actors, the producers settled for former Boston Celtic and Chicago Cub Chuck Connors…
The trip seemed ill fated from the start: it took forever to pack and I ended up leaving LA in the grips of rush hour traffic. A freak landslide had shut down the 395 south of Olancha, so I had to backtrack nearly 100 miles through Ridgecrest and the Panamint Valley just to fetch 12 miles of northward progress around the closure. Black Rock Desert was freezing cold at night and I was unprepared for it, and the rain turned my campsite into an ungainly bog of oatmeal sludge.
Though there were some amazing works of art, and other displays, on the Playa, it was hard to immerse fully in the Event, because my early departure was always tugging at the back of my brain. However, the company of my fellow Rangers was enough to see me through the mental quandary, so I headed for the Exit Road with a grin on my face.
I thought I'd gotten enough sleep. Even though I stayed up to watch the sunrise, I put a good 6 hours into Dreamland, which is usually enough. Packing up was easy: just throw it all in the Forester and deal with it when I get home. Anyway, a good deal of what I'd brought was left in the Port a-Potties…
My intent was to spend the night in Lone Pine, halfway between Reno and L.A., then continue to the Egyptian the next day. It seemed an appropriate place to stop, being the gateway to the Alabama Hills where From Hell To Texas was filmed, along with countless other Westerns (and Gunga Din); plenty of time to clean up and be presentable for the screening and the banquet the following day.
"Why don't you sit in the shade here- we'll look for your phone..."
That was the voice of Angel #1, a Paramedic Nurse whose car I had recently passed. He'd managed to tear the door off of my flattened Subaru with little effort while Angel #2, an EMT, was summoning CareFlight on his radio. He'd been 1/4 mile ahead of me and saw me roll 5 times and land, shiny side up, in a cloud of dust on the side of the road.
I don't remember much of that scene, for I was mesmerized by the shape of my left arm. It looked like you'd sliced a baguette in half, scooped out the soft, chewy part, and filled the crust with chicken cacciatore.
I'm pretty hardened by the injuries I've sustained: 125 sutures in various parts of my frame, a broken clavicle and several concussions. I once stitched up a gash in my arm with dental floss and a sailing needle during a gale in the Bermuda Triangle, using a poultice of Alka-Seltzer and Neosporin as an anesthetic… while my artery wasn't spurting blood like it does in Slasher Movies, I had a sneaky suspicion this was more than a standard First Aid kit could handle.
I remember the sound of cardboard and duct tape being torn, as the Angels fashioned a tourniquet. I remember the sound of the radio in the Highway Patrol vehicle that soon arrived, but the silence of the desert overwhelmed it all.
Then came the sweetest Music I ever heard: the rhythmic chop of helicopter rotors, growing louder until they touched down on Highway 447. Two more Angels appeared, silhouetted by the setting sun in their form fitted, Dark Navy flight suits. As they lifted me into their ship I reverted back to my usual charming self: "Did you see Dante's Peak? I played the helicopter pilot, so if you get tired I can fly us into Reno…"
The last thing I remember, before succumbing to the morphine drip, was my regret that I was lying on my back and unable to see the view as we sped over Pyramid Lake to Renown Regional Hospital.
"Degloving, crush injury to left forearm… revascularization of left brachial, radial and ulnar arteries… chipped elbow, near amputation", read the injury report. "Your nerves were just dangling in mid air, with nothing to grab onto," the Orthopedic Surgeon later explained.
I woke up two days after the crash, though the word "awake" had little bearing on my actual state of consciousness.
My memories of that time aren't a sequence of continuous events, more like the edited parts of a movie that ended up on the cutting room floor; disconnected and hard to reassemble. The morphine already had me in the palm of its hand, and was slowly tightening its grip...
I remember my wife visiting, along with the stream of Rangers who stopped by with words of encouragement and relief. I remember the EMT, Angel #2, smiling at the foot of my bed and handing me a crystal to aid my recovery. Doctors, nurses, friends, phone calls, cards, gifts and emails (the only thing that survived the wreck, other than me, was my laptop)- every time I opened my eyes I had some kind of new company, but I didn't want any of it. I wanted to rest, and kept hitting the morphine button like I was playing a game of Space Invaders.
Then another Angel appeared: Dad, tall and handsome as ever, the creases around his blue eyes barely masking his concern.
How ironic, that I had left the Festival in a hurry to be by his side in a moment of celebration, yet Fate had reversed our courses and he had rushed away from his own festival to be by my side.
In my Off-Ramp essay, which aired as I was leaving Black Rock City, I mentioned that the greatest gift I had received from my Hollywood heritage was time with my Father as an adult. While I never achieved his celebrity status, I did well enough in my career that, without a 9 to 5 job to worry about, I could take off on a moment's notice to join him at Golf Tournaments, Premiers, Autograph Shows, etc., and we worked on both Stage and Screen together (though never as Father and Son). I also expressed regret that those occasions had decreased due to my own parenting obligations- that our family visits were more about wrangling his grandchildren when all I wanted to do was "veg out in front of the NFL on TV" with him.
In the hospital, that dream came true- we watched football, the Ryder Cup and Sports Center, but the main thing I did was Veg. The Morphine's tentacles were firmly wrapped around my Cerebral Cortex and I soon discovered that more, fast acting drugs were available, if I described my pain above 8 on a scale of 1-10. They were kept in a time release safe so I wouldn't OD, but I looked forward to my dosage as much as I looked forward to my daily cup of real coffee from the hospital's Starbucks.
The days passed in a semi euphoric haze, but nighttime was an absolute terror. I was convinced that I was being kept alive for fresh body parts, and that Dad was there only to comfort me in my final moments. I woke up in the ICU once, unexpectedly because I'd hemorrhaged during surgery prep; surrounded by the electrical discharge of various machines, and the groans of other patients, the ultimate horror greeted me when I saw a gray haired man go by on a gurney and I thought "Oh, no! They got Dad, too!"
I started planning my escape: I would jump the Nurse, knock him cold and flee. I managed to get my arms out of their restraints and loosen my oxygen feed, but I could never get the Nurse close enough to carry out my plan. Other nights, I would stare at the parking structure, wondering if I could hot-wire a car, or at least hail a taxi to the Amtrak Station, but my bed was surrounded by alarms so I couldn't even get up to pee without a pair of Attendants rushing in.
The only relief was when I went down to Surgery, because that meant General Anesthesia and pure, unadulterated, sweet, sweet Sleep. Every time an Attendant introduced himself as "from Transport" it was a moment of celebration, because I knew there was a bottle of Sleepy Time with my name on it somewhere in the Basement. And Dreams… you never know how much you appreciate dreaming until narcotics deprive you of that privilege, for, in my dreams, I had two perfect arms.
"You smoke?" asked the Plastic Surgeon. I hadn't thought about cigarettes for a while, attached, as I was, to a constant flow of oxygen and immobilized by restraints.
"Used to, on occasion," I replied.
"You gonna smoke on my graft?" They had decided that enough circulation had been restored to my limb to start prepping me for the final repair.
"No way," I reassured him… I lied, but it was his fault for planting the seed. My Opiate soaked brain decided that what I REALLY needed was a dose of nicotine, so I hid a pair of pants under my hospital gown, told them I was going for a stroll in the Garden, and snuck into the Parking Structure to change.
I must have been quite a sight: Open backed gown hastily tucked into dusty jeans, paper booties and a huge pump attached to my arm, like the Astronauts carry on their final approach to their ship. The clerk didn't even bat an eye, as he handed me my cigarettes and change- Renown Regional isn't exactly in the Beverly Hills of Reno, so I guess he'd seen worse…
Finding a place to sit outside the range of surveillance cameras, I was sucking down coffin nail #2 when I heard the Music again: CareFlight, delivering another broken package to the ER. The beauty, the grace of that dark blue ship, barely missing the skyscrapers of Renown and initiating a perfectly choreographed ballet as it touched down: Cargo Bay and ER doors sliding open simultaneously; Doctors, Nurses, Transport ducking under the rotor wash to receive another takeout order from some unknown catastrophe far away.
"That's it," I muttered as I stubbed out my last butt, "if those guys can show that kind of control, I should be able to do the same…". I tossed the rest of the pack into the trash with a vengeance and headed back to Room 720 for an appointment with my favorite Specialist: Dr. Dilaudid.
The grafts were a success, the staples, mostly, removed, and, 5 1/2 weeks after entering Renown Regional Medical Center I was on my way home.
There were two important stops to make. First, Costco Pharmacy for… Precious, oh, my Precious… then, the junction of California State Highways 41 and 46 in Cholame, some 370 miles to the Southwest. I felt drawn to that spot, where a 23 year old Cal Poly student named Donald Turnupseed steered his Ford Coupe into the path of a Porsche Spyder named Little Bastard, snuffing out the Supernova of a 24 year old screen idol who didn't survive the wreck.
That's right: 2 months since I'd seen my children, and all I could think of was gloating over the fact that I was a better driver (crasher, actually) than James Dean. Did I mention I was a Junkie?
There's no formal monument at the site, only a homemade plaque and a faded panoramic photo of the scene attached to the fence. A black and white image whose background eerily matches the same mountains in the distance. There's a monument 900 yards to the west, fashioned out of the same kind of aluminum as the body of the Spyder, and a cafe containing some memorabilia.
It was a short visit, but my favorite part was ice cold Pepsi: the bubbles soothed my throat and the dark syrup tasted like ambrosia after two months of uncarbonated, unsweetened beveraging.
My morbid curiosity satisfied, along with my thirst, it was time to point towards Los Angeles, where a whole new journey was to begin.
In the hospital, all I could think of was getting back into the care of my two favorite doctors on the planet: Dr. Jeff, my GP and Dr. Harry, my Dermatologist. I'd known them most of my adult life, and felt they could help me sort through the months of recovery I had before me.
Dr. Jeff spent a good hour cleaning the wound, gently scrubbing away the dead skin cells around my grafts to stimulate new growth.
Dr. Harry, known as the Dermatologist's Dermatologist, said "You're a mess," the most honest assessment of my injury to date.
I told you he was the best in the business…
Beyond that, there was little either of them could do, but they opened up a panoply of referrals similar to Russian Nesting Dolls: Orthopedic, Lymphedema, Vascular and Burn Specialists. Hyperbaric Chambers, JAS Splints, Dyna Splints, CPM Machines and Stellate Ganglion Blocks. Occupational and Physical Therapy. My vocabulary increased exponentially every day.
However, the Specialist whose field had the most impact worked in Pain Management.
It was a Simple Plan: get my pain under control so I could tolerate Physical Therapy. The problem? There's no objective way to measure pain; no way to quantify it without asking the Patient "On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your pain level?"
"Eleven," was my customary response.
Reference to Spinal Tap aside, it was true. "Pain" didn't come close to describing the feeling from the top of my head to the tip of my left fingers.
Inflate a surgical glove. That's what my hand looked like: a globular mass of palm and backhand, with puffy Vienna Sausages for fingers, like the Mickey Mouse hands in Steamboat Bill. It felt like someone was standing on it… in golf spikes… on hot asphalt.
Although the bleeding from the grafts had stopped, my arm was 8 different shades of blue: stitched together like a Tim Burton character, the skin from my upper thigh soft, white and hairless; totally out of place in its new home on my forearm, along with the purple furrow of my new Brachial Artery, pirated from the inside of my right calf.
That assembly felt like it was being twisted in opposite directions, under an oven broiler, with the chef constantly poking it in different places with a frozen ice pick.
Like I said, "Eleven"…
Oxycodone was the first remedy of choice, for they were reluctant to send me back down the rabbit hole of more powerful Opiates. Totally ineffective, in my case, for "this was no boating accident!" I didn't have to work hard to up the medicinal ante with Pain Management: all I had to do was ask.
"Eleven" was the magic word, and I was back on the Oxycontin Highway.
When the Therapy sessions were still painful rounds of trying to manipulate my frozen digits, they added Dilaudid to my daily dosage. Sweet!
It was all feathers and fluff, the first couple of weeks. The worst part was getting dressed for my trips to Therapy, because having to get out of bed was the ultimate buzz kill and I had to walk the 2 miles to the Wellness Center. Friends volunteered to give me a ride, but I was feeling increasingly anti social and wanted to bank their kindness for longer trips to my various doctors. I caught up on movies, wrote emails to friends and well wishers, gushing with love and emotion. My heart was always on my sleeve, thanks to my daily dosage of Hillbilly Heroin.
I was happy to be alive and had no problem letting everyone know, until the Darkness started closing in.
The problem with Opiates is you have to let them build up in your system before they take effect, then you have to increase the amount slowly, or you're not getting enough.
By the time 2011 arrived I was up to 60mg of Oxycontin a day, plus another 12mg of Dilaudid. The irony was it had no effect on my pain level, just my attitude about it. Instead of Pain Management, it was Pain Circumnavigation.
I had to be diligent about timing my meds every 8 hours, for if I fell asleep before my evening dose, I would awaken in the middle of the night staring into an abyss of terror that H. P. Lovecraft would have reveled in describing. Anxiety? I wish… I understand anxiety: as a Parent and Actor I've had plenty of it. This was totally different: pure, unadulterated horror, emanating from deep within my guts, near where I'm sure my Soul resides. So incomprehensible and out of control, I finally concluded that suicide was the only relief.
It was pointless trying to sleep during these episodes, so I would wander out into the garage and weep, sometimes for hours. The shame I felt I'd brought onto my family, the notion that I would never be able to function on my own, was overwhelming.
I was a burden on my wife, unable to prepare food for myself, and on my children, unavailable to take them out to play or help with their homework. A daily struggle with despair and the notion of packing it in, convinced that my kids were better off with no Dad than half of one.
That's when Snowball came to my rescue.
Rabbits are crepuscular, that is, most active during the morning and evening hours. Makes sense: they're an easy target in the bright light of day, and it's unlikely they'd be enthusiastic about a nocturnal hop when there are genuine Wild Things about.
In spite of her domestic captivity, Snowball was a creature of those habits, spending the days and nights reclining in her various nests, and hopping around during breakfast and dinner.
That's why she took me by surprise one night, as I was sweating through another missed dose on the couch in the wee hours. I felt a light brush of fur on my ankle, followed by the appearance of pointy ears and a twitching nose above the seat cushion, as if she'd detected a Disturbance in The Force and come to investigate.
Then she did a most unusual thing: she hopped up onto my chest, looked me straight in the eyes and inched forward, settling with her nose on my chin, where she began grooming me.
Odd, because my Daughter, born in the Year of the Rabbit, is the only one Snowball allowed to pick her up. She let me stroke her, but if I reached out to her with both hands she'd scamper away from my grasp.
Yet there she was, a creature one one hundredth my size and weight, offering her services as a source of comfort and tranquility. It became a nightly routine, and I would enter her domain in the Family Room to find her perched on the Ottoman, ears spread wide as a TV antenna, ready to minister to my pain.
It worked. I realized that gradually increasing my dosage of Opiates to keep the Evil Thoughts at bay would have an inevitable tragic end, so I decided to wean myself off.
It was pure Hell, but Snowball helped put out the fire. Even if she wasn't engaging me directly, I would watch her every move. I thought it was extraordinary, that an animal who existed in a world where everything except a plant was a Natural Enemy or Predator, could be so peaceful and calm. A two pound puffball of reassurance that I could weather my internal storm and live to see my children grow.
Friends told me I should be on an episode of I Shouldn't Be Alive, but nothing would be farther from the truth. Those people survived as a result of their own heroic actions. Extraordinary feats of determination, willpower and ingenuity.
Danelle Ballengee is alive because, immobilized and unable to even crawl, she tapped her toes on the ground to prevent frostbite, and did "head sit-ups"- raising her head toward her knees for hours on end to keep her core warm.
Aaron Ralston drank his own urine and cut off his hand with a dull, cheap multi-tool!
I'm alive purely through the heroic actions of others. I didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of surviving my accident, but the Angels intervened. And I was given a chance to survive the nightmare of addiction and withdrawal by Snowball herself.
However, if they ever produce a Reality Show titled I Should Be Effin' Dead, I'll be the first sign up...