IT WAS LATE, WELL AFTER MIDNIGHT. Daniel Goldberg, a 28-year-old sous-chef at a District restaurant, was exhausted after working a long shift. But he was almost home. Eight-tenths of a mile from his par- ents’ cozy redbrick house east of Olney, Daniel glimpsed
a flash of something—maybe headlights—through the
windshield of his old sedan. He startled. After that, he
remembers nothing but the sudden, terrifying realization
that he’d lost control of the Oldsmobile and was careening o; New Hampshire Avenue. A police report dated
June 23, 2012, fills in some of the gaps: Goldberg’s car
struck a utility pole, spun across the lawn of a United
Methodist church and hit a tree. He was ejected through
the rear window.
Just down the road, his parents, Andy and Sharon
Goldberg, were awakened by the sound of sirens.
;e next thing Daniel Goldberg remembers is waking
up in the intensive care unit at Suburban Hospital in
Bethesda. His parents were at his bedside. ;e first
words they remember him saying were, “I’ve got to get
to work.” ;ey cried. Goldberg had been in a medically
induced coma for a month. He’d been so seriously
injured in the accident and had lost so much blood that
he had died twice, once on the operating table, when
he stopped breathing, his heart stopped beating and his
blood pressure tanked. One of those times, his parents
recall, it took doctors 10 minutes to bring him back—
Lazarus-like. His pelvis was crushed. His right leg and
left arm were mangled. He was held together with metal
plates and rods. He would never again be sturdy enough
to work as a restaurant chef. It was unclear if he’d be
able to walk.
Goldberg, now 34, walks with two canes to steady
himself. On a recent afternoon in his parents’ sunny
living room he wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the word
A;iction. He lifted the shirt to reveal scars that run along
his spine and down his buttocks. ;e scars are as epic
as his story. In just six years, he’s lived some of the sig-
nificant medical trends of the age: the ability of expert
trauma surgeons to save critically injured patients, the
rise of prescription opioids that dull pain but can ruin
lives, and the dawning of legalized medical marijuana.
Daniel Goldberg plays one of his
favorite guitars in the back garden of
his parents’ Ashton home.