(To anyone looking for the most recent Blogworthy Report, a new one has been published below at the same time as this story.)
A Personal Sharing from Austin:
To my memory, I’ve never used the opportunity of the Blogworthy to offer a personal sharing into my life. I experienced something pretty extreme recently that seems like as good a reason as any to break that trend. It’s something that I think some readers might care about, and more may at least find it at least interesting.
I’ll start with the preface: I’m okay, and should make a full recovery from this event (physically and mentally).
The short story is that I got shot. There was a shootout in front of my partner Kat’s house and I was a hit in the crossfire. It was in the leg, left calf, no bone or major arteries were hit.
The longer story has a bit more drama and speaks to the psychological experience of it – what I’ve been defining as trauma. I’ll offer a semi-detailed account with some personal reflections at the end. Warning, it’s a detailed account of a scary violent incident.
It was a beautiful afternoon. Kat was scheduled to move into her new home the next day and we spent all day getting her stuff organized for the move. We were in high spirits and very excited about the move. At around 5:30pm, I went outside to get my car from the street in front of the house to pull it around to the alley out back so we could load some stuff into it.
Kat’s yard is long and narrow, and her house is set back far from the road.
When I made it to the gate, about to open it to step out onto the sidewalk, I heard what I now know were gunshots coming from the nearby street corner. I then saw an SUV screeching out of control around the corner, turning in my direction. It jumped the curb, hitting the neighbor’s car and crashing fully onto the sidewalk. It was coming straight towards me very fast, so I turned and ran about halfway back down Kat’s yard as fast as I could.
The SUV continued crashing through all of the fencing and tree guards before it stopped directly in front of Kat’s house, taking out her fence and gate right where I was standing moments before.
(While Kat’s house is set back from the road, her neighbors’ houses are right up on the sidewalk. Her next-door neighbors have three young children who are frequently on the sidewalk in front of their house, directly in the path of the SUV. Thankfully they were not home.)
Kat heard the noise, rushed to her front door (in her bedroom – a typical shotgun-style house layout) and opened it. She saw everything that unfolded from here.
I turned and began moving towards the car to see if they were okay. I have a vague flash of memory of another car pulling up alongside it, and then another round of gunshots started directly in front of her yard. I began running towards Kat’s house again, and then fell down.
It felt like I had maybe just tripped, but in the moment I knew it was likely that I got shot. I could feel something wrong with my left leg. I looked at it and saw a bump on the inside of my left calf, but I didn’t see an entry wound (it was in the outer-rear, out of my sight), so in the moment I wondered if I got hit by something else.
I was on my hands and knees for a few moments (Kat says I looked frozen) before I glanced back and saw a man get out of the crashed car, jump Kat’s fence, and begin running towards me.
I did not know what was happening or why he was running towards me. There was a quick logic going on in my mind that it didn’t quite make sense that I was a target in any of this, but the look on his face and the way he was running made me think that he was coming for me, possibly to try to kill me. Before that moment, I knew my life was in danger; at that moment, the danger became much more immediate and frightening. Gunshots continued. (The police apparently recovered 30 shell casings afterwards.)
The next minute or two are the blurriest in both mine and Kat’s memories. Without knowing if I even could, I got up and ran literally for my life without looking back again. I remember distinctly thinking, “Thank God I’m able to run right now.” I wasn’t sure how badly my leg was hurt at that point. Kat later mentioned how shockingly fast I ran.
As I ran, I was shouting for Kat to close and lock the door, thinking that the man was chasing me and might come inside the house. I ran to the side door near the back of the house and made it inside and locked it without looking back to see what the man was doing.
Kat was at the front of the house in the bedroom with the dogs, and I went in there continuing to tell her to lock the door. She said she did, and then I told her, “Call 911, I think I’ve been shot.”
In my memory, I can recall even in this moment recognizing how utterly surreal this was, with such a violent, sudden departure from the reality of our happy afternoon together not a minute earlier.
It’s also worth pointing out the events from Kat’s perspective at this point. She heard a horrible crash, ran to the front door, saw me running as gunshots were being fired, and saw me fall to the ground. Then a man jumped her fence and began running towards me. It seemed as though I had either been shot dead, or was going to be killed by this man (who would then possibly proceed kill her and the dogs). I got up and ran, telling her to lock the door, and came in the side door, and into the bedroom telling her I think I’d been shot.
At this point I was aware that there was some blood on my leg but I still wasn’t sure exactly what happened. She got her phone out and I began to sit down on the ground, but became cognizant that I did not want to bleed on the carpet, so I told her I was going to the kitchen, and went in there and sat down on the ground.
My memory gets clearer at this point. I still did not feel anything specifically wrong with my leg, but I saw now that my shoe was filled with blood (my white sock was completely soaked red) and there was a significant amount of blood pooled on the floor. I didn’t know exactly where on my leg it was coming from, but Kat grabbed some paper towels and put pressure on the general area.
Kat was on the phone with a 911 operator, and eventually I took the phone to answer some of their questions. The woman just said to keep pressure on the wound with a clean cloth, and then continued asking me questions about what happened. I did my best to answer. She sounded very uncaring and unalarmed, but I don’t blame her for that. She never indicated that there was someone on the way to help, so I eventually said, “Is someone on their way? I’m bleeding pretty badly.” She said that someone was on the way.
Around this time, Kat looked outside and saw that the man who we thought was chasing me was in the alley behind her house. The operator then told me to tell Kat to go look for the responders outside.
Kat went to the front door and apparently saw a lot of firefighters kind of mulling around the crash, so she opened the door and shouted to them for help. She led them around the side of her house to the kitchen door, where apparently the man who had been running in her yard popped up from the alley and said, “I’m here, I’m okay.” I’m not sure what happened with him directly after that.
(To the best we can gather, he was the target of the shooting. One of the EMTs told me that the other car circled the block looking for him. We believe he thought it would be better to surrender to the police than risk running and getting killed. He was arrested for felony possession of a handgun, which he had tried to ditch in the neighbor’s yard, where young children play.)
The kitchen door was locked, so I reached up to unlock and open it, saw a flood of firefighters and police, and part of me relaxed knowing that the craziest part was over.
The firefighters came inside and immediately began tending to my wound. Police also came inside, and I was surrounded by men asking me rapid-fire questions about me and the situation. At a certain point, after my wound was fully bandaged and they let me sit up, there was a calmer moment and Kat (who had been watching from the doorway into the kitchen) asked if she could come sit by me and hold my hand. Through the shock I felt some relief knowing the situation would play out somewhat as expected at that point, so I told Kat a few times that we’re okay, and that I’m okay.
During these moments, the firefighters were talking calmly and with humor about the situation. Their station is barely a block away on the street the cars were on, so they apparently even saw the cars racing down the street shooting at each other. A young firefighter told me that as he saw the shootout from in front of their station, he thought they were shooting at him so he ducked. I sarcastically thought, yeah, well they got me.
The EMTs showed up soon after and began taking a closer look at my wound, asking me questions, and getting some more vital readings. They had a stretcher in the alley, so the firefighters helped me to my feet and helped me hop out of Kat’s door, down the stairs, and onto the stretcher. I remember thinking about how comfortable the stretcher was. I then saw the man who ran into her yard sitting behind Kat’s house in handcuffs, surrounded by police.
After a bit longer, I was loaded into the ambulance and taken to the ER.
To spare the details of the hospital, I was ultimately very lucky (given the circumstances). I was in and out of the ER in four hours, with the entry wound cleaned and the bullet still in my leg. (That is apparently standard care for bullets. If they are not actively doing damage, the conventional medical wisdom is that any surgery to remove them is more harmful than leaving them in. The body can heal completely around a bullet. I was shocked at this, as are most people I share this with, but it is apparently true.) Five hours after I got shot in her front yard, I sat on Kat’s couch eating a cookie, unsure if I was still in reality or not.
The above details were mostly written in the couple of days following the incident. As I write this now, it’s been more than three weeks since the incident. I am recovering well, though the frequent medical care appointments are getting tiring. I had to walk with a cane for a couple of weeks, but can now mostly move around mostly normally (though with impairment). I’ve been making frequent trips to my PCP. I’ve had a couple visits with a surgeon, to treat a massive hematoma where the bullet settled, and to see if the bullet might be able to come out (it’s still inconclusive). I officially began physical therapy this past week and will be going twice a week for a little while, to hopefully regain (mostly) full function of my leg. I have been looking for a therapist to help process the after-effects of the event, but I am not experiencing any severe symptoms of PTSD. I do have some lingering effects to my mood, attitude, and cognitive abilities, but nothing keeping me from returning to a normal, peaceful life. Thankfully, Kat successfully moved the following day, so we have not had to be at the site of the shooting at all.
I have also had ongoing contact with the police, but they are not very forthcoming with information about the investigation. The person/people who shot me have not been arrested yet. I have oddly thought very little about them. I do not feel any sense of anger or desire for retribution towards them, but it does concern me that these people armed with guns and with no care for human life walk society freely. For that reason, I’m hoping the police can find them and I will do what I can to help.
Soon after it all happened, as I was pondering the spiritual implications of the catalyst, I got a clear message from my inner guidance that healing was fully possible, and that the primary effect of this catalyst would be in an opening of the heart. I did not quite see how that would happen at the time, but since then I have felt it strongly settling into my heart and doing work there.
I am feeling an almost overwhelming sense of gratitude – for the fact that it wasn’t worse than it was (it could have been so much worse), for Kat, for all that I have in my life, for the first responders, for the ER doctors, for my PCP, for the hospital staff, for everyone who has offered support, for L/L Research, for the Law of One, for Gary and Trish (who have not only been incredibly supportive of my healing process, but helped Kat move the following day, which was a healing gift that can’t really be described), for you who is reading this. Really, thinking about almost any angle of my life surrounding this event, I just feel strong gratitude.
I can also feel that gratitude carrying a heavy weight. When I think about how grateful I am for these things, I also think about the people who don’t have the kind of support I have had, or who have gone through worse experiences and haven’t been able to find peace and healing. Whether it’s trauma or anything else, this experience has highlighted to me how important support is, and what kind of healing and transformation is possible when support is available. I’ve been amazed at the kind of support society has to offer someone like me (not to mention the direct support from friends and family). I want everyone to feel as supported as I have in anything they have to go through. I am so lucky. It’s feeling like a call to service, but I’m not quite sure what form that might take right now. I would like to find a way to pay that support forward, and work towards a society where others have the same opportunities I do. I’m going to continue letting it do its work on my heart as I heal and see what comes as I walk that path.
If you are still reading, thank you for witnessing and for caring. Sincerely from the bottom of my heart, I love you all.