I Almost Died. And Then I Couldn’t Read.

banged up

Blurred Lines

7-4-13. I will never forget this past Fourth of July as long as I live. That was the night I suffered a severe pulmonary embolism and nearly died. According to at least three doctors at Ronald Reagan/UCLA Medical Center, if I had waited two days to go to the emergency room, I wouldn’t be sewing up this tight little word quilt for you right now. Basically, due to some minor injury suffered as far back as possibly three years ago, I had developed blood clots. The one removed from my leg via a four-foot-long catheter inserted into my neck and down to my calf was almost fourteen inches long! The ones in my lungs are being reduced due to steroid and metabolism shots as well as Coumadin pills taken every day.

Happy as I am to be alive, one very important part of life didn’t come back to me very quickly. For two months, I couldn’t sit and read a book. I would try over and over for maybe five minutes each time, holding the book inches from my face—but no matter how I tried the words would start swimming around and elude me. I couldn’t focus one iota. It was beyond frustrating. I am a life-long lover of books and the written word in general—and while getting a second lease on life was great, a life without books seemed bleak beyond belief. It made me volatile to no end. I’d get pissed off and throw the illegible books against the wall. How else can a writer feed his brain without the fruit of new and wondrous sentences? I could only hope it was the drugs and not some permanent new condition. I decided to throw myself into my work. I focused on promoting a short comedy film that I had written and acted in. I wrapped up voice-over work on two cartoon pilot projects and began diving back into my blog, the words for which admittedly came slowly. Then about two weeks ago, I found I could actually read a real book again. The words stood still on the page for me, and I devoured them. I can’t climb comfortably into a novel just yet, but I’m reading short stories galore. It’s only now that I feel I’ve really got my life back. Now that I can read again, and visit stories beyond my own. // Eric Lawson