Pascal Derrien

5 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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I Can't Speak

I Can't Speak

Soft feminine voices inviting me to follow them this is what I recall alongside this small but very bright light at the corner of my line of vision. I feel calm, restful and secure.

I open my eyes, the first thing I feel is this massive headache, my body aches from head to toes in part it feels so numb that the pain is almost unbearable how much of a paradox is that? The room is white and clean, there are monitors all around me,I realize very quickly that something is not right.

S*it I have a tube in my mouth, what is this place? What am I doing here? f*ck this is a hospital what's going on !!!!

The nurse on duty has noticed my eyes are now open and following a protocol shared all over the world she speaks calmly to me and asked me to squeeze a hand when I hear the letter A, I nod yes with my eyes indicating that I understand the process. She then checks my eyes with a soothing light and asks me a bunch of other questions. I think I must have passed the test successfully allowing the consultant to engage in a unilateral discussion.

My head is about to explode and I can barely hear what the guy in a white gown is telling me. He seems to have engaged in a monologue but I remember a few things and this is what I have managed to pick up. I have been in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for 23 hours at Longjumeau General Hospital near Paris. Passed the initial context he further explained I had two surgeries almost back to back but what is not clear to me is if I was induced in a light coma or whether my mind shut down under the shock. I suppose it is difficult to accept that a sea of morphine and other floating painkillers have had an anaesthesia festival on me for so long.

It would take longer than a stock count inventory to list the number of distresses and damages my body went thru so I will keep it short. All the left hand-side of my body has taken a massive hit while being catapulted thru the windscreen from outside to inside the car. My leg is numb but I can feel my toes, some of my ribs are bruised, my hands and face are covered with white bandages and I have a mosaic of dressings and other compresses all over my limbs. The consultant pursued by saying how lucky I am (no kidding mate :-) ) as my carotid artery was one millimetre away from giving in and would it have been the case this conversation would not need to take place.

It is with an immense relief that I am told the tubes dancing around my throat will now be taken away. Before doing that, the consultant breaks the news that I am now the lucky owner and recipient of one hundred and twenty-seven stiches on my left jaw, he adds that is probably why I can feel all sorts of sensations on my face and rear head now, great news but I suppose it must get worse before it gets better. The tubes are taken away and I vomit life with relief and anxiety.

I am asked if I feel OK, and regaining composure I am about to say yes before I realize that there is no sound coming out of my mouth, I try again, I try again a second time and I try again a third time……. S*it it hits me now I am not stuck on a replay…. I can’t speak……. my face is f*cking paralyzed……

The nice nurse sees me crying and gently wipes the tears around my eyes most probably by fear that this would contaminate my wounds but I want to convince myself it is out of sheer compassion. I start to panic inside and fair to say I do not process well what is going on, what is this f*cking mess, this is a f*cking nightmare!!!

Two days later I still cannot speak but in the meantime, I have been explained that two central nerves on my face have been touched (don’t know their names & could not care less) the last two days have been very hard to me as I had to come to terms that I may just have to mumble from now as a mean of communication (cannot get any better hey!!!)

I was explained by a visiting plastic surgeon that I was on a 50/50 % scenario; it would be touch and go for a little while and really nobody knew for sure how it would evolve, the best thing I could do was to remain calm and stay positive. I should follow instructions from the medical staff always. He added with good intent that all we could do now was to pray for the best outcome, ah super mate I don’t do that either I have no f*cking religion so I guess I am in the s*it now :-), that’s what I wanted to tell him but obviously, I had to keep it for myself as I had become tongue tied, silent, mute, speechless.

2 weeks later I have regained the partial usage of my voice but I am still partially paralyzed and would later develop a significant weakness on my left jaw. To date I can still speak with an upper Billy Idol lip impression taking advantage on the lower lip when I am very tired. Other days some shards and other glass fragments tend to resurface at the least opportunistic moment. If nothing else maybe it is a reminder that nothing in life is granted.

If you happen to have a voice, use it because who knows when will be the next time you will be able



Car crash

Photo Credit

Man, with a bandage

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Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #42

I cannot describe it as I don't have necessarily the right words but let say I grew up very quickly that week it was the start of a journey......

Claire L Cardwell

3 years ago #41

Glad to hear that you made a good recovery Pascal Derrien - what a life defining moment - it must have been beyond terrifying waking up in hospital!

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #40

Oh no worries what does not kill you makes you stronger according to the old adage :-) there are better ways to enter into a car I give you that :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #39

cc Jason Versey

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #38

thanks for the comment it was a defining moment indeed Dilma ☺

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #37

many thanks David you live you learn as they say you nailed it perfectly with your comment ☺have a great day

David Navarro López

5 years ago #36

When I started to read your post, I thought it was not a real life experience, and I was impressed about your capability to describe such a bad situation. Then, when I realised that it was a real thing it happened to you, I could understand why you could do it so perfectly, and for sure the best lesson of it is in your words "If nothing else maybe it is a reminder that nothing in life is granted.If you happen to have a voice, use it because who knows when will be the next time you will be able TO SPEAK UP" I went through a process in which along months I thought I was not going to make it, some 12 years ago. When one faces an experience that can make such a terrible change in your life, or even lose your life at all, then one understands what is important in life and what isn't. Since then, I suppose like yourself, I am grateful for every day, and live my life waking up in the morning as if it was my first day, with illusion, and end my days with the conviction I have done in my day everything the best I could, as if it was my last. It was a terrible experience, but as well an awakening to life Sadly enough, many people won't learn it unless in the hard way.

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #35

Debesh Choudhury it is unfortunately and extraordinarily common.... thanks for the kind words :-)

Debesh Choudhury

5 years ago #34

Your narration is real Pascal Derrien .. It is unbelievable, but it can happen to any of us

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #33

fully agree Vincent Andrew :-) fully agree ....

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #32

Ren\u00e9e Cormier many thanks Renee, I think it made me a better person, I joined the people with a difference battalion and I grew up very quickly I was 16 and half, I have lived longer with the consequences of this accident than without :-) it put things in perspective....

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #31

Gert Scholtz yep not a single day pass when I find difficult to get interested or involved by skirmishes , people gossips etc.. I have just no interest life is larger than that.....

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #30

@Susan Botello, thank you , you are very kind these are just a few words put together happy it read well :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #29

Dean Owen ah my friend your wife's taste is shedding some light on a few things now (only messing :-) ) I need to check the Bowie story I am not sure about that one :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #28

Ken Boddie indeed a while back but not a single day I dont think about it in any shape of form, not just the fact that I carry and wear some visible consequences of the car crash but also I am grateful. I am maybe a damaged good but I am good :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #27

Lisa Gallagher I cannot stress enough the fantastic work of the medical staff across the world they are the true heroes..... day in day out :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #26

many thanks for your comment to your point I actually had relived this numerous times I had many nightmares the first few years after the crash, it does come back and visit me every now and again just to make sure I suppose I don't take things for granted as sometimes survivors develop (wrongly in my opinion) a feeling of invincibility :-)

Mohammed Abdul Jawad

5 years ago #25

Pascal Derrien Oh, you have narrated a very, very painful happening of your past. Sometimes, it takes lot of courage to dig your memory and pen down by rehearsing those moments, agony and restlessness. Shouldn't we all be grateful unto the Almighty Lord for providing us faculties by which we see, hear, smell, speak, feel and touch?

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #24

Wow, you were obviously in a very bad car accident Pascal Derrien noted, it must have been years ago but the trauma can last for years if not a lifetime if people don't find a way to unload their past traumas. Everything you described, I've seen way too often when I worked in healthcare. Patients like yourself are so vulnerable when they are in the hospital and as you stated, scared Sh*tless. I'm not happy this happened to you but I thank you for sharing such a painful experience in your life. Many of us that worked in healthcare often wondered how patients fared after such traumas. I think I use my voice too much, ask a few that know me well 😉. I won't take my voice for granted though and thank you for this vital reminder!!

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #23

I'm guessing that this was a long time ago, Pascal, but you have related this tale of trauma, pain and confusion, as though it was yesterday. Next time my wife gives me an ear-bashing, I'll try and remember your advice. 😔

Dean Owen

5 years ago #22

Beautifully written. Fortunately I've never woken up in a hospital, but now I have a sense for what it must be like. I think David Bowie got his discoloured eye from an accident didn't he? Getting the Billy Idol lips can't be a bad thing as my wife thought he was super sexy back in the 80's!

Gert Scholtz

5 years ago #21

Pascal Derrien A moving post Pascal. One takes so much for granted - this reminds to be thankful for everything.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #20

Those tough times are a gift in so much as we get to appreciate what is left as well as what we had all along. We also receive the opportunity to find our inner strength and to understand that it actually has no limit. So glad you are still with us.

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #19

always the right words Franci :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #18

yes I know I am full of tricks you would like to invent it you would not come up with those stories :-) Deb

You survived and that is what matters. We become stronger because of unexpected life events, which make us who we are. Thank you fpr sharing, Pascal.

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #16

thanks Laurent no kidding you know that hospital :-) Now I did not want to make people cringe but unknown to me that very night my dad had been transported the same evening for an internal bleeding fighting for his own life two levels above me....

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #15

indeed Deb I had written about this in Speaking Of Witch but I had flown over this particular part very quickly and I had to go back, it was triggered by something I saw on TV two weeks ago and since then I knew I had to write about it probably selfish in a way.... :-)

Laurent Boscherini

5 years ago #14

Thank you Pascal for sharing your insightful experience, so tremendous by your courage.It reminds me, my stay in the same hospital in ICU too, when I was 14 year old...The closest available from my boarding school !

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #13

John White you be pleased to hear that I am good now but I seem to have unintentionally tricked readers with the use of the present tense :-) I am good now I am a survivor as they say but this has happened nearly 30 years ago when I was 17 :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #12

thanks Flavio kind words much appreciated :-)

John White, MBA

5 years ago #11

Pascal Derrien, I too was very moved by this piece and will keep you in my prayers for a fast recovery. God speed my friend!

Mamen 🐝 Delgado

5 years ago #10

Ok, I just read the accident was about 3 decades ago. What an experience!! No wonder you must think about it every day and feel grateful for being here. I am very grateful it is so. 😘 As you say, nothing is for granted...

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #9

I think I have unintentionally tricked readers with the use of the present tense :-) I am good now I am a survivor as they say but this has happened nearly 30 years ago when I was 17 :-) Thanks for reading Mamen :-)

Mamen 🐝 Delgado

5 years ago #8

OMG Pascal Derrien, I confess at some point of your story I've gone to the end trying to find some clue telling me it was not a real story from you. I have a bad feeling in my body right now just trying to imagine what you've been through. All my love and my energy is with you and your recovery, and I deeply hope it will come soon. Here we are if you want to "speak" or if there's anything I can do for you. 💞 💫

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #7

indeed Donna what does not kill you makes you stronger as they 3 decades on there is not a single day I don't think about how lucky I was to survive the crash :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #6

thanks for the kind words even though I speak about it using the present tense this happened almost 3 decades ago :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #5

thanks David even though I speak about it using the present tense this happened almost 3 decades ago

Fran 🐝 Brizzolis

5 years ago #4

Sorry for your acvident. I hope and I whish you get well soon. Much encouragement!!

David B. Grinberg

5 years ago #3

I'm so sorry to hear about your accident and resulting injuries, Pascal, that's absolutely awful. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Another thing I would mention about voice, is that writing/blogging is a very powerful and effective means to express oneself without speaking. You know that old saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword." Stay well, my friend!

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #2

Thanks Laura Mikolaitis there was definitely a before and an after ☺

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #1

Thanks Aaron Skogen , it is not a unique story and I think many of us may have had a similar or even a more steep hill to climb , I am glad too I am here to tell the story. Everyday is a bonus day as far as I am concerned :-)

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