It reminds me I survived

Bex Hall
2 min readFeb 24, 2022

June 2014

Ashland, KY

38° 28’ 48”N, 82° 38’ 40”W

Behind the wheel, at a red light, I can see the intersections ahead and know I need to turn left at one of them. The names swirl in the fog inside my head. Which street, or is it an avenue? Who am I going to see today?

I turn and all I see are four lanes of cars headed toward me. They’re speeding up, I can tell. Horns blare and I yank the wheel left into a parking lot and I watch in the rearview as the cars rush by.

I do not remember how I got home. You would think me inebriated, but I wasn’t. I had quit drinking 14 months previously.

Cleveland Clinic

41° 28’ 8.256”N, 81° 59’ 7.429”W

I’m in a small office with my husband and a doctor. Her mouth moves, but I can’t grasp what she’s explaining. The words flow around me, but they don’t stick.

If I smile and nod, she’ll think I’m okay. But I’m not okay. Is this what dementia is like? Do I have dementia? Her expression looks stern. I am afraid to look her in the eye. Anymore, when I look at someone’s face, I see what they see and it makes me queasy.

“I don’t understand,” I blurt as my eyes fill up.

She’s so patient. I’m a child now and she’s the parent, drawing a picture on a napkin she pulls from a container on the wall. She clicks her pen and writes what I am experiencing in words I’ve never heard before.

“Hepatic encephalopathy” with a frowny face beside them and two underlines, so this must be important.

Confused → lethargy → coma → death.

You know how a roulette wheel works? That first spin, the ball bouncing and careening — that’s how I felt sitting there, waiting for the ball of truth to land in a slot of understanding.

She drew a rough sketch of the abdomen and tried her best to show where I was on the confused/lethargy/coma/death scale.

The drawing helped. I *understood* it was serious, but all I knew was I wanted this to be over. I wanted to go home.

It was later that month I met the criteria to be placed on the transplant list for a new liver. I keep this napkin as a reminder I survived.

This is the 8th story in the Objects as Waypoints Writing Project series.

For more information about organ donation: https://unos.org/transplant/facts/

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Bex Hall

Bex is an artist who writes and a writer who arts. Current WIP: memoir about cheating death, 2nd chances & the power of kindness. Blogs at bexhall.com.