Hit by a Train

I was crossing a rough set of tracks in a 28-wheel diesel truck in October of 2013 when to my astonishment and fear, the crossing gates suddenly dropped, the reds lights began flashing, and the warning bells rang. With not even time to think, all I could do was tighten my grip on the steering wheel. I watched the train come at me before I heard the metal on metal and felt the impact. Everything slowed to a deafening silence and darkness.

When I came to, blood was running down my face. It was over half an hour before someone showed up to help me out of my twisted cab. It took that long before the 107-car freight train could stop after pushing my trailer down the tracks more than a mile and a half and the engineer could reach me on foot. I fell limp into his arms. After a grueling ambulance ride to a clinic, I was emergency-evacuated by helicopter to a medical facility an hour away. A priest there told me it was a miracle I was alive.

I suffered a major concussion with loss of consciousness, contusions on my chest and lungs, and open lacerations on my face. Thankfully I had not damaged any organs. A nurse said God was not finished with me yet. After three days of stitches and morphine, I was discharged into the care of my wife who flew to North Dakota from our home in California.

We discovered weeks later that my jaw had broken and my wrists fractured. The right one got a cast and the left was left to heal on its own. Nine weeks after the accident, my jaw had to be rebroken, realigned, and held together with a titanium plate. I drank Christmas and New Year’s dinners through a straw. Even long after the surgery, it hurt too much to chew, and I remained weak, constantly dropping things. I had never known pain like what I had in my neck and back.

Making my way through 24 specialists, I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, nerve damage, and chronic back and neck pain. I went from being healthy and active to depending on a cocktail of sixteen drugs: pain meds, psychiatric meds, muscle relaxers, sleep meds.

The valley of the shadow of death was no metaphor for me. And told by my doctors that the pain and terrors would be forever, I set up camp in that valley. For several years, I could not drive from the trauma and hardly left my room. Most days I hid beneath the covers, hanging thick blankets over the windows because the dark felt safe, although it didn’t relieve the pain as I imagined it did. The nights were the worst with the horrible nightmares. And startled, I bolted up in bed anytime I heard the train pass.

Was this how the rest of my life was going to play out? The anxiety took a serious toll on my family. My uncontrollable bursts of anger was growing too much for my wife and damaging my relationships with my daughters. I was not the husband or the father my family knew.

Something had to change. I needed to change. I had cried out to God for help and heard that whisper, “Are you ready?” in answer. But no, I wasn’t. I had settled for what my life had become instead of fighting the good fight for His best for me. Seeing me in excruciating pain three months ago, my wife prayed, “Lord, I’m not even asking for healing at this point, just mercy and grace,” She heard back, “I have already healed him. The rest is up to him.” She did not know about the book by John Sarno that our blog hostess HW had encouraged me to read. But I was tired of hurting my family, tired of being estranged from caring friends, tired of all the medications, tired of the suffering, tired of living. I told God I was ready and picked up the book.

In Healing Back Pain, Dr. Sarno, who had freed thousands of people crippled from pain, explained the mind-body connection and how emotional pain seizes the opportunity of a physical injury to make its home there. Though he made no spiritual references, I was brought back to Biblical truths I used to teach on the importance of our thought life. I realized I had to see myself healed before I could embrace my healing. I changed my self-talk and stopped coddling myself. I slowly but purposefully started exercising and through very difficult withdrawal symptoms, weaned myself off the meds. I am down from 16 to 2, and am reminded that I need to hold that picture of myself drug-free.

Six years, four months and counting, I am free. No more bone pain throughout my body. No more anxiety and depression. No more PTSD. No more pain killers. I grab a gallon of milk with no thought. I recently drove over six hours from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back home, my back just fine. I work out regularly and the other week went skydiving for my 60th birthday. Eager to get back to the working life, I am at a new job and excited for what the year holds for me.

God sure isn’t finished with me. I am just beginning.

Dino Fulton

98 thoughts on “Hit by a Train

  1. What an incredible ordeal.

    Diana, is this part of a new series?

    Dino, I have so many questions, but I have to ask why were you on the train tracks? Was it a mistake by the operators? Were you waiting at a light? I suppose by now it doesn’t matter, but I can’t help but be curious.

    I hope you are proud of how much you’ve fought to have your life back. And skydiving! Happy you are pain free, thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Dino! Your journey is amazing, a beautiful retelling here. The author of the book should seek you for a testimonial because you’ve piqued my interest! Grace and peace to you and your family. – Vanessa

  3. Chronic pain and the trauma of an accident are huge obstacles to overcome. The only thing that can really help is calling on a higher power (for lack of a better way of putting it). There are some things friends and family no matter how loving can’t really understand.

    • JT, no one can relate exactly to the pain we’re experiencing, because it is very personal.. But there is One who will always understand. He suffered, died and was raised from the dead to help us through it all. That’s what kept me going.

  4. Human experiences like Dino’s is why with Faith, you need not fear for your life. If by chance survival is the outcome, then you have been given the opportunity to know where to put your priorities. A very compelling account of events that proves that there is a God. Thank you for posting this. Blessings to you.

    • I myself actually haven’t read it, but found Steve Ozanich, a Sarno disciple, compelling in The Great Pain Deception where he recounts his climb out of the Pit with the rope Sarno threw in the book. I got Sarno immediately (meaning, understood him) from his patient testimonials and the youtubes that are out from back in the day. I applied his teaching and pulled off a very cramped, uncomfortable flight cross-country with no back problems after persistent pain that had worried me before the trip. Wasn’t it cool when Sarno looked at images of a injured hip (the specialist somberly said needed surgery) and had the patient scan the other side? They often found the pain-free side with erosions from simple wear-and-tear and age.

      • Oh, yes, and as someone who walks around with a bulging disc and a herniated disc that I’ve had for years, I totally buy into Sarno’s theory. When I’m happy and worry-free, my body has no complaints. 😍

  5. Oh Diana, thank you for bringing Dino’s story, and his extraordinary recovery, to our eyes. And Dino.. I can actually fully empathize with you, because I too survived a similar trauma (without comparing details) – having fallen 10 feet through a bridge in Cambodia, which had been closed for repairs, but opened by locals too lazy to walk to a newer bridge further on. With an array of fractures and nerve damage, I was also told: a miracle. I well know the excruciating pain that lingers and shows no signs of waning, the meds, the helplessness, and much more. But I too learned, from much reading about healing, improving my nutritional intake, and listening to my bodywork practitioner – plus Abraham Hicks, Norman Doidge, and others… but NOT to the allopathic physicians, with their negative opinions! – that my brain and focused intention could help free me from the shackles of pain and limitation. I weaned myself off opiods, and like you, worked hard to move my body – yoga, swimming, LOTS of slow but steady walking… I’m SO relieved and thrilled to hear that you found your way too..Blessings for more good health and adventures ahead, Dino!!

  6. Thank you for an incredible story that is an inspiration. I am so glad that you recovered and I must say that your story is miraculous. And it is good to know that you are now living a full life. Blessings to you and your wife.

  7. an incredible experience thank you for sharing this with us. Yup, life throws curve balls at us. Dino, thank you and may your healing continue. Sometimes all we have left to do, is to surrender. And what a wake up call that is …

  8. Oh my, what a journey! What an incredibly traumatic experience. And what a turnaround. It’s truly incredible what the human spirit can endure and triumph over. Dino, if you’re reading, you’re a true inspiration and example of what we can come back from after a tragedy. You have my utmost respect. 🙏

  9. Hey Diana,
    Glad to have you back. Inspirational piece.
    “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” – C.S. Lewis

    God is always listening and communicating so to guide and help us to happiness. For happiness and peace is the purpose of His love.
    All we need do is be receptive. Once the driver separated himself from his anger then God’s message to him came through loud and clear.
    Too often when we pray we do all the talking. Better we will be if we but sit still and listen.
    -Alan

    • Thank you, Alan. The Lewis is a quote I am well familiar with, and you happen to speak right into the lessons my church small group is studying as we go through Whisper by Mark Batterson. I was pleasantly surprised, if not impressed, by Mark’s biblical anchor and heartened by his testimonies. Sequestering in the pandemic is as good a time as it’ll get for quieting ourselves to listen for Him. Take good care.

      Xx
      D.

  10. After what I’d seen growing up with my own father, been weaned on and off medication (schizophrenia)

    I did it my way too, no meds, i just learned to tune into myself and my own body eventually did the rest..

    I helped my mind work out my bodies true natural rhithym, my conscious self actually worked alongside my subconscious body..

    One size does not fit all, survival of the fittest is bullshit, some of our bodies are simply more sensitive too unatural substance.. it’s that simple.. 🙏💙🙏

    • Thank you, After healing from the train accident I contracted bacterial pneumonia during this pandemic, but I am healing from this too. I pray you and your family are healthy as well.

      • Dino, we see in and outside Scripture that those He intends to use in great ways suffer the most. I (SO) wish there were another way to build character. “but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. ” Your teaching carries more weight for what you have pulled through.

      • Oh Dino I’m so sorry to hear this. I will continue to pray for your full recovery from the pneumonia. At least is was bacterial and can be treated with antibiotics. We are well so far and keeping our social distancing in tact. 😊

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