I am Katie McKenna -- writer, sometime comedian and professional fundraiser living in Brooklyn. I got run over by a truck, a big 18-wheeler, and lived to tell the tale.
Most of my earlier writing had been never-ending journals since I was 8 years old and stand-up bits for open mic nights around New York City. Creating something that makes another person smile or laugh gives me joy. I delight in laughing at myself.
This memoir began as a journal entry on a borrowed laptop during my extended hospital stay. I had finally regained use of my hands, and it was the best way to psychologically work through the intensity of my debilitating accident. It felt like my written musings became one long stand-up set -- a way to make light of the terrible, but surprisingly hilarious, things that happened when I was 25 years old and had just been run over by a truck.
Yes, that seriously happened.
I actually know what someone means when they say, “I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck,” because I was. Twice, if you count the axles (and I do). On the morning of October 2, 2007, I went from being a 25-year-old girl riding my bike before work to a traffic victim with deep tire tracks across my stomach.
After 10 hours of emergency surgery, I woke up horrified. My body was fractured, stuck with tubes, covered in fresh wounds and surgery scars. I looked down at legs that were attached to my body that refused to do what I asked them.
Everyone has had a moment where they feel like they have been run over by a truck. One pivotal moment that breaks apart everything one knows to be true. My truck moment was literal, but others are figurative. We all have a choice: either mourn the life you lived or fight to create a new life so beautiful that you can’t help but fall in love with it. This memoir is a record of that fight.
My new life is here with awkward, hilarious, heartbreaking and amazing details. If Inkshares publishes “How to Get Run Over by a Truck,” I hope to be a source of inspiration and strength for others who have gotten knocked down by life. Those looking for a story that will help them believe that they can get up again.
My first recommendation is to ride a bicycle. This is specifically for their fool factor – every time I saw someone riding a bicycle it seemed so innocuous. It was low-impact exercise that was good for you. Lance Armstrong rode a bicycle and he beat like one million kinds of cancer. Does that not promote the idea of health and well-being in regards to the bicycle?
I live in Brooklyn and all of the hipsters ride bicycles: they have messenger bags and wear vintage glasses and they make riding over the Williamsburg Bridge look cool and sweat free. I thought that if those pasty skinned music lovers could handle riding their bikes in Brooklyn so could I. I mean hello! I was an All County Track Champion in high school, I am completely jacked and awesome. I knew I could own that bicycle. I’m not just talking about owning it in the actual “I purchased it kind of way”—–I mean own it in the frat boy way, e.g., “we totally owned that keg last night.” That was the way I was going to own that bicycle.
I actually did, for almost a year. I rode my bike for errands, I rode my bike to work, I rode my bike to my friends’ apartments in the neighborhood, locking it to stop signs and feeling eco-conscious and thoughtful. In the summer I even took myself on romantic bike rides—and let me tell you that bicycle had moves. Stopping in McCarren Park at twilight made me feel like I was in a foreign film sitting on a park bench drinking wine in a black beret and a scarf, when I was in fact sitting on patchy brown grass, wearing sports shorts and running sneakers and drinking a Bud Light Tall Boy in a brown paper bag.
When I woke up early on October 2nd, the day that I got run over by a truck, I won’t tell you that I had a premonition, or that there was a hand on my shoulder that told me to not go out that day – because that would be untrue. But I did get the feeling that someone was trying to tell me something I obviously had no interest in hearing. These were my signs from God: 1. My bike tires were flat; 2. I almost fell down the stairs trying to get my bike out of the apartment; and — most important — 3. I did not wear any underwear.
Most lazy twenty-four-year-old people when faced with the fact that the tires on their bike are flat would say, “Fuck it, I’m not going to bother.” Nope not me, not Katie can-do, I was like, “I’ll fill up my tires and get in a workout – this is going to be the best morning ever!”
Then my bike tried to attack me as I took it down the stairs. We got out of the door just fine, but as we went down the stairs the bike started to bend and fold as if it was trying to fight me to get back into the apartment. I should have seen it as a cry for help. Bob the Bike knew more than I did – he didn’t want to die either. He was trying to stop me, but I wasn’t listening. I wanted to be thin, to get that endorphin rush, and on top of that I wanted to see the sunrise – I wanted it all.
As a child I was told to always wear clean underwear, the...