A bond almost broken - St Ann man left for dead walks again
Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
VILLAGE GREEN, St Ann:
UNDER A low and broad almond tree in Village Green, St Ann, Jody and his father, Wade, sat with friends, drinking and chatting. It was a time of laughter, hospital anecdotes, reflections, unadulterated happiness, and cheers to the survival of a young man whose bond with his father is perhaps beyond compare.
The weather on Friday, June 8, was sweltering, but it got even hotter as the warmth of brotherhood and camaraderie merged with the fury of the afternoon heat.
Wade called Jody his little brother with whom he toured Germany, and Jody said, "A the best man at my wedding, enuh!" while Wade beamed boyishly and looked across at him. Jody's 2008 wedding was featured in Flair Magazine.
The story said, inter alia, 'The groom's father, Wade Jackson, was his proud 'better-man'. It's a poignant relationship of brotherly and fatherly love that exists between them, but it almost ended tragically.
On Saturday, April 28, Jody was called to work on someone's sound system, after which he went to extend condolences to his bereaved uncle in Runaway Bay. He was also to go on a drinking binge with a friend, but for a few reasons, they just could not link up.
"When mi ready, him no ready. When him ready, mi no ready," Jody said. So, sometime after 2 a.m. on Sunday, April 29, he called it a night. But on his way home to his wife and seven-month-old son, fate had other plans for him, his friends, and loved ones.
"Mi wake up to go to work, but mi neck couldn't move," said the slot-machine technician. It was Monday morning, April 30. And the moment when it dawned on Jody of Tanglewood in Priory, St Ann, that something was wrong. He cannot recall anything about the moments leading up to when the pickup he was driving collided with a truck laden with sand along the Llandovery main road in the said parish. And from the looks of his mangled vehicle, you could say he was a dead man walking.
Yes, a man who happened upon the scene shortly after the accident and saw the person in the severely damaged pickup 'declared' him dead, and went to see what was happening to the truck driver. Upon returning to the 'dead' Jody, he was just in time to see him falling from the vehicle and hear him groan. When he saw Jody's face, he realised it was someone whom he knew very well. That was the beginning of many moments of anxiety and tears because the 31-year-old is a very popular sound-system technician in the area.
When Wade got the news from Jody's uncle, he was devastated because he heard it was serious. "The worst day inna mi life ... . Being my only child, you can imagine how a feel," he said. His brother went for him, but Wade said the 25-minute drive seemed to take two hours.
The first thing Wade did when they arrived at St Ann's Bay Hospital was to look over by the morgue to see whether there was a crowd. There was none.
In the hospital, Wade, relatives, and friends spoke with Jody, but he has no recollection of those conversations, even the ones in which he mentioned smashing up his father's pickup and moving his limbs. And there was a problem: the CT scan wasn't working. He was eventually taken to a private facility in Montego Bay, St James, and back to St Ann's Bay. He remembered that much. The results of the scan were electronically transmitted to the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), from which word came to say no one at St Ann's Bay should touch him. "A di fuss mi ever bawl so much inna mi life," Wade said.
KPH beckoned, and that was where Jody was taken by ambulance. Four doctors immediately gathered around him upon his arrival. It was decided that the dislocated bones in his neck would be realigned. He was conscious when holes were being drilled into his head to insert the contraption that would prevent it from moving. The man with a demeanour that is painfully calm said it was the worst day of his life.
He could feel the drill going down. "Even though they deadened the area, mi feel when it pierce my skin, and mi feel when it pierce another inner layer," he related. And on his back he laid for hours after the contraption was screwed in to weigh down his head. But it didn't work. He said when it was removed, he felt as if his head was going down into his body.
On Monday, he underwent an MRI, and a great number of relatives and friends visited. An operation was scheduled for the following day, and the prognosis was that he had a 50/50 chance. He could be paralysed from the neck down. In retrospect, Jody said he was not worried, but was now wondering what the anaesthetist meant when he asked Jody if he wanted some water, or whether he wanted him to say something to his family. "Mi say, 'Jus do yuh ting', then mi inhale the suppen two time an den mi gone," he recalled.
After Jody was taken into surgery, Wade cried profusely. "I played the supporting role after that. Mi say, 'Come, pardi'," Desmond Snow, a close friend of Jody's interjected. Snow took Wade drinking, and then to his home. Almost 10 hours afterwards, they heard that the surgery had been successful. It lasted nine hours instead of the estimated six because many bone splinters had to be removed, and a piece of bone had to be taken from Jody's hip to replace a fractured bone in his neck. To celebrate, Snow reached for a bottle of Remy, given to him as a wedding gift many years ago. And the two of them had no mercy!
Jody said when he came out of the anaesthesia, his body shook non-stop, and he was put back to sleep once again. Thursday was time for physiotherapy, and in the wee hours of Friday morning, when he realised he could walk on his own, he ate all the goodies left at his bedside. It was like a sudden rush of hunger, even a nurse asked him why he was eating so much.
Later in the day, Jody walked out of KPH, only his neck encased in a brace, and was taken home by his mother. Wade said that was the best day of his life. The worst was when he heard of the mishap. He was overwhelmed, but Jody's mother took it the hardest. And while everybody was crying, worried that he would be dead or paralysed, Jody said he kept his composure, and even now doesn't think of his near-death experience, or discuss it with his wife. "It wasn't that frightening," he said in his anxious-to-go-back-to-work tone. Yet, there is a feeling that he was concerned about whether his face had been damaged. "Nothing bothers him," his father declared.
However, Wade Jackson doesn't share Jody's nonchalance. If he had died, Wade said, "Mi no tink mi and yuh woulda siddung yah so. Wha mi woulda have fi live fah?" In reflecting on the incident, he said, more, and more he thanks God every day.
PHOTOS BY PAUL WILLIAMS