Friday, February 13, 2009

Miracles VII: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

One November afternoon I decided I was going to hook the little utility trailer to my ATV. It is a fairly simple operation using a sort of pin-type hitch. I anticipated no problems. Except the trailer was buried deep in snow. That wasn't a problem in itself either -- the ATV was fully capable of plowing through the deep snow and extricating the buried trailer. The problem was, I would have to flounder through the knee-deep snow to perform the hitching up, which normally I could do almost without thinking about it, but just out from rehab after Thanksgiving, and starting over again at PT, I wasn't feeling especially confident.

I remember hitching up the trailer okay, but something happened after that that I cannot remember at all, and I just remember laying alongside the ATV on the snow, seems like a long time later, listening to the exhaust of the ATV motor. I don't remember why I was laying on the snow, or how long I was there. It could have been as much as an hour. People in the house could not see me in the position I was in. They did not know I was running the ATV or hitching the trailer, and had no reason to be looking. But I knew something was wrong, and I tried getting up. I had a pretty hard time, because I felt sick and weak, but I got on the ATV and drove it with trailer near my bedroom and went to bed. Note that my private bedroom is in the garage separate from the house, so I still talked to no one, asked no one for help, just went in to my bed and started the nightmare of lone, private suffering.

At this point, I started having a series of "shark attacks", pretty much alone, and convinced that they were going to kill me.  After a few of them, I honestly wanted to die, and I prayed between attacks that I would die. I implored Heavenly Father to release me from this anguish, because I feared the attacks and the pain, and could not stand another minute of hurting so badly. I just wanted it to end.  But it continued.  My body was racked with spasms. I cried out, and I think I fainted many times because I could not tolerate such agony. Passing out was surcease and relief. I hoped I would never wake up. But each time, eventually, the gray would begin to clear a bit, and I would begin to realize the pain anew.

I vaguely remember trying to talk to my dad Friday night. We had a discussion about hospitals. I resisted. I implored him to let me wait until after the weekend, convinced that I would die before then, and that it would spare me the indignity of doctors again telling me there was nothing wrong with me, or that I am too young to be having strokes, or something equally useless and offensive to me. I ended up convincing my dad, and I turned my face to the wall, and again made my most honest effort to make my life stop. I willed my breath to stop, my heart to stop beating, and my lungs to stop taking breath, but beneath it all, my God-given will to live continued to burn, in spite of the agony of the attacks of pain that continued to rack my body with uncontrollable spasms, leading to blackouts and blissful unconsciousness, and long periods of unawareness. Every time, lucid thought would come floating back, with the miserable realization that I was still alive.

I whimpered. I panted. I moaned. I groaned. I breathed heavy, and light. I held my breath. I screamed and shouted. I whispered prayers. I demanded from nobody. I implored. I surrendered. I made bargains. I tried rationales. I tried everything.

Nothing helped. The attacks continued, seemingly without mercy,through Wednesday, into Thursday and Friday and Saturday, and I was exhausted.

Finally, Sunday.

The attacks mostly stopped. A few occasionally, but not fast and furious like through Wednesday and Thursday.

People were scheming secret things. I lay in my bed, none the wiser. I thought we were going back to UVMC on Monday. My sister Ruth and her family were coming for Sunday dinner. I should have been suspicious then, but was too tired.

Ruth and Darrin arrived, Ruth cooked a great meal for all of us, and all had lots of fun.

Then they started springing the conspiracy.

Darrin and dad administered a priesthood blessing. In his blessing, Darrin stated clearly, and by the authority of Jesus Christ, that I would live for a number of YEARS to complete my mission here on earth. This was significant because it was rather a dramatic contrast to what I had been asking for from similar sources. I think the latter answer has proven to be more definitive, given other compelling evidence.

The next development of the secret conspiracy was Ruth's announcement that I was accompanying her to the U of U hospital NOW, so go pack a suitcase. It was not presented as an arguable option. I packed a suitcase, and we prepared to drive away.

Thus began Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Snail Hollow, where I reside, is on US 89 south of the junction with U6. We travelled north toward the junction of US 89 with US 6, but unbeknownst to us, there had been a serious traffic accident at the bottom of Spanish Fork Canyon, where the highway runs down out of the mountains, and traffic had been backing up in the canyon for more than two hours.

We got to the junction prepared to make the westward turn, and found a solid line of cars, lined up all the way down the canyon, as far as you could see, over five miles long. And not moving an inch.

I wanted to just turn around and go home, but Ruth had other notions. She drove up next to a big rig truck driver and climbed out to talk to him. I heard none of the conversation, but when she got back in the car, she had a look of steel determination. She said the truck driver told her there was a fatal accident blocking traffic at the mouth of the canyon, but if she needed to get her brother with a stroke to the hospital right away, just drive down the wrong side lanes, and get through any way she could.

She took him at his word, and started down the wrong side of US 89. I wanted to crawl under the seat. People were screaming obscenities and trying to step in front of the car as we weaved through the obstacle course on that wild ride down the canyon. They waved at us, they yelled, they made every rude and obscene gesture. Mind, most of them had been waiting for hours for the line of cars to start moving, and many of them were growing furiously angry. They took license to express every frustration at us.

My dad was following us in his truck, but he soon abandoned the wild ride and ducked back into the lanes of marginally sane traffic, to wait for the accident to clear. But not intrepid Ruth. She forged ahead, ignoring insults and dodging the attempted roadblocks.

Finally we reached an impenetrable Jam of emergency engines and police vehicles, all obviously responding to the wreck. Ruth pulled up just short, and with firm resolve, and baring plenty of cleavage, she climbed up onto the step of the nearest engine to beg for mercy from one of the heroic firefighters. It was an inspired approach. The emergency crew was galvanized into action, engines and rigs were moved, and within minutes we were following a police escort out of the canyon toward the I 15 freeway. I still wanted to climb under the seat, but I was very proud of Ruth, and glad to be riding with someone so bold.

A short time later, we arrived at the ER at the U of U hospital.

Next instalment:  Doctors Let Me In The Door


Anonymous said...

In all fairness, I did beg my husband's forgiveness for having prostituted my body for the sake of getting you to the hospital. He gladly forgave me. We had a good laugh about it.

And who is to blame a kind fireman for wanting to help out a damsel in distress? That's just what they do. Right? You know - "Just doin' my job, ma'am." I just gave him an opportunity to do his job. ;)

Jim Cobabe said...


There was nothing for most of the men to do but sit freezing in their engines and watch the horrifying human tragedy. One of the saddest things about a big wreck is that so few men can actually get in and help. Most just stand and watch.

I know, personally. Just yeterday, one of my neghbors and friends from the volunteer fire group was in a critical accident. We saw the wreckage of the cars as we travelled in for PT, and I said, that truck looks familiar, I hop to God it's not! But turns ou it was. Another tragedy of human wreckage, their lives smashed and devastated. Why?

I don't know answers. I don't understand what we must learn by going trough all this pain and suffering. But come what may, it is all the same. We LOVE life! And remember, we said YES to it all. Emphaticaly, unequivially, unitedly, with the greatest possible antipation and entusiasm, we all stood together and said YES!!

Anonymous said...

One thing that is interesting to me, particularly since my near-death experience, is that we are so mortified by and terrified of death.

In truth, what awaits us is nothing but the sublime, even in all but the rarest of cases (those would be the Sons of Perdition). Our Father who loves us perfectly has a reward for all of his children who followed him in faith, and agreed to come to earth. That reward is more lovely that any of us can imagine in our limited mortal capacity. Would you give your children any less, in your limited mortal capacity?

As Paul said, "We see through a glass, darkly." Our view is so limited. We cannot understand, in our limited comprehension, that suffering and death are not really all that bad, and that these are things that draw us closer to God, as surely as breath is drawn to sustain life.

Perhaps the test, big brother, is not in remembering that we said yes back then, but in learning to say YES! now, every day, and amidst every trial and pain. Maybe this is the lesson we should learn from the pioneers.

"Come, come ye saints. No toil nor labor fear, but with joy wend your way . . ."

Jim Cobabe said...


Did you get a chance to read the talk from Elder Holland about Liberty Jail? It speaks very much to this point. I wish you and Darrin had been here last Sunday to hear dad's talk. I have never heard a better. Every member of the congregation listened carefully, even though he went over time. I looked, and not one old man was sleeping! Many people were openly weeping. It was truly inspired of Heavenly Father.

Try reading Elder Holland, pretending it is dad's voice. That might give you some idea. The thre main concepts he emphasizes are key,

Jim Cobabe said...


As to the hymn, I have learn new emphasis to the words, "...and should we die, before our journey's trough, HAPPY DAY!, ALL IS RIGHT!"

I have always sung this with the congregation in hushed sombre tones, almost sad and depressed, but this is written intentionally as the HAPPIEST STANZA of the HYMN!

I just never realized it before. The pioneers knew that to die on the journey was an end to the suffering, and the happiest possible way to end a life! We think cashing in on a big insurance policy is more important today. Where are our priorities?

Patricia said...

I have to say again, Jim, how much I appreciate your telling these stories. In this case, it helps fill in blanks for me, because plenty were the times, while I was talking to you here, I wondered what was going on and just couldn't figure it out. I didn't know what to do. I'm very glad that your folks and Ruth stepped in and rescued you.

I know I keep saying this, but it's important to me: I have learned a tremendous lot here. I'm grateful that you were patient with me while you suffered through all that pain and uncertainty. It's really been a gift to me to witness and try to learn.

Thanks again for letting me hang out with you.

Have you gotten the latest card yet?

Anonymous said...

I read the Holland talk last week. It is very moving, and offers great wisdom. I know dad's delivery would be even more so. He is such a good speaker.

I brought up those particular lines of Come, Come Ye Saints because they focus on the living. They focus on living with joy, in spite of the difficulty.

Everybody dies, whether in difficulty or quickly and with relative ease. It is inevitable. There's simply no escaping it.

The trick is in how we choose to live through the ignomeny.

I choose to live my life with passion and joy. Others choose to live their life in anticipation of their death. I think that's a waste. That's all.

Jim Cobabe said...


Card recieved, and much enjoyed by me and by many others!

Thank you for that and for your ever kind thoughts. I am always happy to have one of such understanding and wisdom share their insights.

Jim Cobabe said...


I add that Elder Holland's message hits very much to heart for families like your own too, where sacrifice and suffering have made your place into a sanctified, holy temple, very much like unto Joseph's Liberty Jail experience. Privation and suffering can purify us even under the most miserable and degrading of human conditions, where we think the very worst would come out. Instead, the refiners fire can produce the spiritual purity and sensitivity that is unequalled under heaven. I pray for this kind of purity and attunement in my daily walk, and hope that I might meet others who are already there.

Patricia said...

Jim, I"m very glad you liked the card! I enjoy hunting for fun and appropriate minstrel cards to send your way.

As for your references to Holland's talk, I'm in complete agreement with the idea that in cases like yours and ours "sacrifice and suffering have made your place into a sanctified, holy temple, very much like unto Joseph's Liberty Jail experience."

I wrote a post over at AMV titled, "The Rhetoric of Stealing God," wherein I say something like this, only I come at it from a different direction.

If you're interested, you can read the post here: