By Robert Haugh
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me … You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
— Walt Disney
Overcoming adversity is a true test of character, strength and willpower. Many of us have had serious challenges. Some of us take those challenges, lunge ahead, jump over the obstacles and persevere to be better, faster or stronger.
About 13 years ago, I saw my life flash before me. I was driving on the Watsonville Speedway clay oval and suddenly was spiraling out-of-control like an amusement park ride gone awry. I grimaced in pain, not fathoming what had happened. Blood streamed from my left arm. Heat radiated from all over as flames erupted on the mangled race car.
I honestly had no idea at the severity of my injury. Staring into the evening sky, laying on the soft clay, minutes passing by seemed like hours. I was carried away on a backboard to an ambulance, only to be driven away to the thunderous roar of a medi-chopper’s engine, as I was loaded into it for my first helicopter ride. I had a very interesting conversation with the EMTs as my severed arm clung together thanks to a couple 2x4s, ice, and a makeshift tourniquet used to compress the massive blood loss. Morphine surged into my bloodstream – I was impervious to the magnitude of the injuries I had just sustained.
I was flown to a trauma facility over an hour from the raceway. Several hours after arrival, I awoke from heavy anesthetics, knowing little of what just transpired. I couldn’t even begin to understand the miraculous efforts of the EMTs, surgeons, nurses and doctors that somehow saved my left arm, and possibly my life. My bones were shattered in multiple places. Nerves, muscles and tendons were completely ripped apart. It wasn’t pretty.
Ghosts of the life-altering evening occupy my bedroom closet: the bloodstained and scissor-cut fireproof racing suit, fire-eaten racing gloves, and dirt-enameled racing helmet. The memories of June 25, 2004 forever live where I sleep.
These items are reminders to me that life gives us obstacles – even though we may ask why at times. Faith, hope and love persevere through all,allowing us to overcome adversity and life’s challenges.