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Diary of a Centaur in a Human's World #8 - The Day Everything Changed

Based upon requests of various interested persons, I've started a diary of my experiences after the EVENT. Hopefully they well help other centaurs with problems. And, of course, any others who have other problems that need solutions or have alternate suggestions should feel free to contact me at mwbard@transform.to.

And, since I at least try to write, I've tried both to keep true to my experiences, and make it at least a little enjoyable to read.

Oh, and (of course) places and names of others have been changed to protect the innocent and all that. So let's get started and this time go through over two weeks!

Feb 16, Day

I awoke.

It was almost a dream but somehow I knew that I wasn't dead. Maybe it was the dreamy detachment, but I think it was actually the strong and deep ache all along my side. And my leg itched. I tried to move my tail and I think it moved but I wasn't sure. Slowly opening my eyes I looked around trying to ignore the deep ache in my left side.

I was in a dark room, and I could see lights and hear the beeping of monitors. I could feel tubes coming from various private parts and could feel some kind of mask on my lower face and tubes blowing cold air over my breathing slits.

I wondered how they'd figured that one out.

Then, slowly, I realized that I wasn't standing, but was instead hanging in some kind of sling. One strap ran below my chest just behind my forelegs; the other strap ran below my chest but just in front of my hind legs. There was even some kind of harness under my shoulders that I guessed was holding my upper body upright.

So where was I?

It couldn't be heaven/hell/purgatory or whatever, because in any of those cases why would the straps be needed? It likely wasn't a dream or a delusion because I was restrained and had never dreamed of that. Of course, there was always a first time. Maybe it had all been a dream.

Did I want it all to be a dream, a delusion? It might make an interesting story, although probably depressing. But then wasn't all Canadian fiction supposed to be like that? (read Survival by Margaret Attwood - her thesis is that all Canadian literature ends up with either nature or the animal winning and the POV character getting killed, frozen, or whatever). Of course usually the POV character didn't die doing something heroic, although I hadn't saved the girl for that reason.

Gradually my mind started coming more awake. I decided to assume (knowing what that means) that my memories of the past week hadn't been a dream since it either wasn't a dream, or I was still within it. Oddly though, my memories felt like memories and not like watching or reading a story which is what most of my dreams seem to have become in the last few years.

My mind started to clear.

Ok, assume that I'm in a hospital. That means that I survived the accident, but at what cost. A cold chill rolled down my spine - was I paralyzed? Is that why I felt so detached? But then I could feel my right-hind leg itching and now I could feel something pressing on it. I tried to twist around but could only move my head, and even that took all of my concentration. Slowly I moved it just enough to see some kind of cast...

"Mr. Bard - don't move!"

I stopped, not twisting back. I wondered why - I could move, and twisting my neck hadn't caused any additional pain. And why was my mind so slow? It was like the last time when I'd been put completely under when they'd had to pull out a caught stone with a pair of tweezers...

Had I been put under?

"Turn your head slowly back."

After a while I slowly complied as the room gradually grew brighter. Eventually I was facing forward and could dimly make out a blurred white figure. Where were my glasses? I felt liquid flowing from my bladder. Was I making a mess?

"How are you feeling?"

"Feeeelllllliiiinnnnnnggggggg.......?" I could barely speak and my voice was a muffled whisper behind the mask. I wondered if they had more than one IV feeding me. In fact I could hardly hear my voice as the rasp of my breathing in the mask was so loud.

"You've been unconscious for just over two weeks to give you body time to heal. It'll take a while for the drugs to fully clear from your system."

Drugs? Oh, the gas. "Aaaaaa liiiitttttlllllleeee paaaaaiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn." I found it was easier to whisper.

"Do you need something for the pain?"

"Aaaaaaa liiiiiitttttttttllllllleeeee?" I wondered what would happen if I had to use the washroom the other way.

I think I saw her injecting something into the IV. "You're healing fine. Right now you leg is in a cast, and the scrapes on your side are healing."

"Thhhaaannnkkks." My mind was finally starting to clear, a little anyway. It seemed to be getting lighter and I could make out splotches of colour behind where the nurse or doctor was.

"Just rest. There's a button taped to your right hand - buzz if you need anything." And then the person turned and left.

Button? I thought I could feel something in my hand like a wand. The pain was fading away. Probably the button was on the end of it.

Breathing loudly I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep as the pain faded away.

Feb 17, Late Morning.

I awoke some time later and my mind was much clearer. The dull ache was back in my side and it felt cold and chilled. I felt myself urinated again but didn't hill any dribble of liquid. In fact I thought that I could feel a tube sticking out so I must be in a hospital. It was day and I could recognize that the coloured blotches were flowers. I recognized roses, but there were also others although I could scent nothing. Looking around there seemed to be an awful lot of flowers. Remembering the person from earlier, I carefully and slowly turned my head first to the left. My side wasn't bandaged but it seemed to have some kind of artificial thin sheet pressed onto it. A portable heater was nearby and I could tell that it was on. There looked to be some kind of bloody redness beneath the thin sheet and I could see it stretching a little bit as I breathed. I decided to take shallow breaths. Then I slowly turned to face my right side.

My right side looked a lot healthier as my fur was still there. My right hind leg was in a cast from my, I guess, thigh down to just above the knee. At least they'd left a slit so that my tail was free to move. The fur was noticeably shorter around the cast and had probably been shaven when the cast was put on. Just to make sure about my spine I tried to move my tail a little bit and saw it swish the little bit that I wanted. Thank God.

Slowly turning my head back, I pressed the button and waited, trying to breathe shallowly. At least if they were feeding my oxygen that would be doable. Then I waited. A few minutes later a nurse came.

"Mr. Bard, did you call."

"Yes." I kept my voice quiet to be safe and then motioned her closer with my right arm and then tried again. This time she understood.

"What do you need?"

"What happened and what should I not do and what should I be careful about?"

"I can't say what happened in detail, but I have been instructed to ask you to minimize your movement as much as you can."

I nodded. "Can I see a doctor? Nothing against you but just so I can find out what happened."

"Dr. Mills will be here in a minute."

I slowly nodded.

"Would you like me to contact your family and let them know you're awake?"

I nodded. "Do you have the number?"

"Yes." She turned and left.

I started to say something, but then decided to wait. I would rather be over cautious then rip something open or damage something.

A few minutes later another woman arrived and walked over to me. "How are you feeling today Mr. Bard, and please speak softly."

"A bit sore. Are you...?"

"I'm your doctor. Now just relax and minimize your movements as much as possible and I'll explain what happened."

I slowly nodded.

"You were brought to us with two major injuries. The first, and comparatively minor one was that you right hip at your rear was broken in two places. The second, and by far the major injury, was on your left side. As you slid on the pavement you scraped away your hide almost completely until only a thin layer of tissue was left. When they moved you onto a stretcher they almost lost you when the tissue burst but fortunately they recognized what was going on and kept anything from spilling out."

"What about the little girl?"

"She was fine - just some scrapes. The driver was fine also - his airbag prevented any major injury although he did have whiplash. He was charged with dangerous driving." He smiled. "His car was totaled, so at least you won there."

I smiled back a little bit. "What now?"

"Well, the hip is healing as well as can be expected, and we immobilized the leg to give it time. The problem with a broken leg in a horse is that the horse won't keep it still. I trust that you will?"

I nodded.

"I do have one other question for you, of critical importance. Think carefully and calmly before you answer."

I swallowed and nodded.

"As far as we can tell your spine has suffered no injuries, but we can't be sure. The fact that you felt pain is a good sign. Can you feel your lower...rear body?"

I almost laughed as I slowly and gently waved my tail back and fourth. "I already checked. I can also feel my legs and the cast was causing an itching sensation. It's fine now."

"Good. You're going to be with us for a while, and the worst is past, but there are some instructions that you must follow. First, don't move your leg or any part of your chest. New skin is growing and we have an artificial skin to add protection but the layer is thin. I know you have to breathe but keep it as shallow as possible. Fortunately your lungs are in the lower portions of your lower body and the severest part of the injury was fairly close to your spine. Still, try to breath as shallowly as you can. Don't take deep breaths and don't laugh. Normally we'd put you in an oxygen tent but we didn't have much luck due to your unique respiratory system. For now we need you to keep the mask on."

I nodded.

"We also want to keep you off of solid foods, in fact off of any kind of solid or liquid intake, to give the skin as much time to grow as possible. We are giving you plenty of liquids through the IV and as much nutrition as you need. If you need to use the washroom, either way, then just relax and let it flow. Don't worry about any kind of mess and don't try and force it. We want to minimize any chance of movement in your chest as much as we can."

I nodded. "How well do you think I will recover?"

"How well? Well, the worst is over. Your hip is healing well although there will be some bruising on the bone. You chest is also healing - it just needs time."

"Well I be able to gallop?"

"Gallop? I think so, but I'm not sure. All we can do is wait. I'm sure you'll at least be able to walk."

Closing my eyes I forced myself to calm down. My one remaining joy couldn't be gone - I refused to believe it. Whatever it took, I would learn to gallop again. "How long?"

"Well, the cast should come off in another 2-3 weeks. As to your side...we're not sure. It'll be at least another month before we can do anything, probably 2-3 months before there is even a chance of it being healed well enough to let you loose. We would much rather be cautious than risk damage."

I closed my eyes for a moment. So I'd lived. But, I might never be able to run again; I was probably going to evicted at the end of the month; and somebody was probably getting ready to sneak in some night and kick my chest in. "Do I have any kind of protection?"


"For when the hate mongers come in to kill me."

"What? What are you talking about?"

"Those persons who threw eggs at me, kicked me, sent me hate e-mail, and all that kind of thing. Right now a few eggs would probably pop me like a water balloon."

"That won't happen. You're a hero."

I forced myself to keep my voice to a whisper. "A what?"

"A hero." He motioned with his arm, "Look at all the flowers, and this is only a fraction of all that have been sent. We've been turning away well wishers for the last two weeks."

"Well wishers?"

"We've saved some papers for you and as long as you promise to move your arms gently you can read them. We'll bring in a table for you to use."

All I could do was nod as he turned and left.

A hero. Could I be a hero? Of course, saving the life of a little girl was one of the clichéd ways, but the fact that saving her could make me a hero had never entered my mind. I simply did it because it was the right thing to do. But I guess that others would consider me to be a hero because of it. Was that why I had been changed into a centaur? But then why all the others?

I heard a soft rattle and rustle of wheels and looked up and watched the doctor wheel in a table whose top was raised and tilted which contained a copy of the Globe and Mail. It sort of looked like a drafting table. On the front page was a large colour picture of me being lugged into an ambulance by four people while a woman and daughter looked on. Someone had cleverly made sure that the blood and gore on the road could be seen in the corner of the photo. The headline read: "TORONTO CENTAUR SAVES GIRL" and below it in smaller print, "Human driver talking on cell phone charged."

Maybe things had changed. After all, apparently I was a hero.

And that felt good.

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There, that takes care of the legal stuff.

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Copyright 2002-2005 Michael Bard.  Please send any comments to him at mwbard@transform.to