Phillip McClary

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A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME

My name's Phil McClary, and these days I'm more of a minstrel, humming a different tune to the beat of a relentless ticking inside my chest. Sleep's become as predictable as a cat on a hot tin roof, offering me a stingy three hours or a charitable five, if I'm lucky. Sitting, standing, they're just different dance steps now, each lasting a mere one or two hours. Lifting anything heavier than a small dog - I wouldn't risk it. My sternum and ribs, they're a broken orchestra. This is the ballad of my life post the winter of 2021, post the accident.

Let's spin the vinyl back a little. Picture this: February 9, 2021, dawn was just wiping the sleep from its eyes. I was off to face another day of the grind, the falling snow painting a frozen apocalypse. And then, like a bolt from the blue, this grizzly of a car charges down the highway into my lane. There was no sidestepping this dance. I locked eyes with the terror-struck driver before the world erupted into madness. The collision was a sucker punch, sending my engine into a knock-out. The airbags jumped, but the steering wheel had a power move of its own - it slammed into my chest, breaking my sternum and seven ribs. Inside, I was a horror scene - ruptured spleen and intestines, bleeding together. A heart contusion sent me on a one-way ticket from the world of the living to the realm of heart failure. I managed to dial my wife and son, uttering those three words and a brief explanation about the accident before the curtain fell. The last thing I remember on this side of the living was the EMT saying "Stay awake Phil, stay with us. Don't close your eyes"

Enter, the coma. Six days of Dante's Inferno, only worse. My dreams were battlefields, first underwater, in a giant aquarium, chained down, struggling for breath, pleading for mercy to God to just let me die...it was constant. At one point a nurse told me if I wanted to die, just stop breathing. She was a demon in my head. Then, I was thrust into the trenches, fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with my brothers in arms, from thirty-plus years ago, all donned in Benedictine College uniforms. It was a college I had attended for only one year to play football. The bonds I made back there were stronger than I ever could imagine. These soldiers battling beside me, for my life, all donned patches on their uniforms that read...Ravens Fly High. This war was as real as the words I'm typing out now. Then, my Mary arrived, dressed in her red and white coat. She looked at me, a trembling wreck and asked, "Do you know who I am?" I knew, and I knew she was there to guide me home. Waking up, I found my vision of Mary to be no dream. She was sitting beside me as I came to, still intubated.

And here's a chuckle for you: when Mary asked me if I knew what they'd done to me in the hospital, I deadpanned, "Yes, they've removed my penis." She laughed, assured me it was still intact, to which I popped back, "So it's always going to be this small?"

I clocked in almost two months at the hospital. I was a shell. Numb. Pain was the puppet master, a stark reminder that I was not the director of this drama, titled "My Life". The big guy in the sky was calling the shots. It felt like a painful redemption for my past sins. But, the hospital's ICU team carried me through, pushing me to fight against the odds. Quitting was not an option. I had a wife and a son, waiting for me. I had friends praying for me.

My health struggle is a war that rages on, every day is a battle against pain just to keep existing. I still wrestle with my inner demons. Music remains my solitary solace, my only source of joy. But I wonder, for how much longer?

If you need me for an evening at your home or business, I am as ready as I will ever be....and as ornery as ever.

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