Comebacks: Dead Man Talking

Local journalist Brian Hickey was lost to the world for a month after being left for dead on a South Jersey street by a hit-and-run driver. He reports his own story of what happened and his miraculous recovery

I regained enough smarts to not only text from my BlackBerry (the messages didn’t make perfect sense yet), but also to go onto Facebook to see how my wife had used it to update everybody on my condition.

On January 16th, I went home from Magee; Charlie Dawg, my pooch of more than a dozen years who sat at the door every night, waiting for me to come home, was standing by the front of the house.

NOW THAT I’VE mentally redeveloped through my infancy, youth, teens, 20s and the first half of my 30s, I see life a little differently, and have one particular new philosophy: If I can survive a speeding car, I’m either indestructible or blessed with enough luck to live to 120.

Really, who can deny that any dude who can say “I was in a coma” is anything but badass?

Emotionally, I’m just about back to as loony as I was before all this happened. The journal I kept once I got home alternated from bad (“10:50 p.m., 02.12.09, Is my brain OK? I mean, sorta blurry vision this morning. Mood swings still around even though my wife is nothing but kind and supportive, this thing has really screwed me up, for the time being I hope”) to good (“7 p.m., 03.16.09, Holy fucking shit. Got a letter from Elway!” A friend had a connection to the ex-Broncos quarterback, my childhood hero.)

And I accept that had I bounced a little bit differently on the street, I’d be dead now, but what happened at Magee helped me shake the fear that another car was coming for me. Within two months of my head getting cut open, I accepted that what happened was random, but my recovery was not. One of my neurosurgeons put it to me like this: “I don’t know what it is, but you have a lot more than luck working for you.” Translation: The brain is a mysterious thing. So take it and run with it.

Sure, alcohol’s banned for a while — and God, do I crave a beer — but the parade of supporters, and the letters and stories written about me, answered the “What will your funeral be like?” question. (Packed, and not overly dour, just like I’d always wanted.)

Plus, the injuries made Angie go out and buy not only a comfortable new bed, but a recliner to rest my weary back. The Wii Fit, outpatient physical therapy, and throwing the tennis ball to Charlie Dawg worked me back into shape after I dropped 30 pounds initially.

I put most of it back on by shamelessly gorging on Sicilian pizza. Nobody could force me to alternate between sips of ­liquefied hamburger meat and Diet Shasta anymore.