It was slow motion as I slid down the rock cliff. I braced myself as I hit the rock ledge that waited for me. I knew what was going to happen and there was nothing I could do to stop it. My feet shattered as they took the brunt of the 60-foot fall. I held my breath as I plunged down to the water beneath. I could move my arms! I could move my legs! I kicked as hard as I possibly could towards the air. Trevor dove in after me. I could barley hold back the screaming while my boyfriend and the passersby held my body in straight alignment.
I waited. And I waited. And when no one came right away, I waited some more. I heard the boys scream and then run for help. I was absolutely frigid on that boiling July afternoon. People whitewater rafting paddled over to offer their assistance. I could feel my temperature plummet the longer I was in the water. After what seemed like years, the paramedics finally arrived.
It took them even longer to figure out how to get me out of the river without moving my back. They loaded me onto a stretcher and tied my broken body down to the board for secure transportation. They asked me the standard questions, my name, age, address, telephone number, if I had any allergies, etc.
I just kept asking, “Can you fix my toe?” The paramedics ignored me. They couldn’t give me an answer from a legal standpoint.
The ride in the ambulance was by far the most painful experience I have ever endeared. Every bump made my bones sear with pain. I was far too hypothermic to lose any blood so there was little mess. My veins were so deep within my flesh that they pricked my skin so much I felt like a human corkboard. It was an Aichmophobia’s hell. Seconds passed as though they were years. The 45-minute drive lasted eons. My body was screaming. I didn’t want to be touched or prodded. As soon as they admitted me to the emergency room, the nurse came at me with scissors.
“No! I can untie it!” I pleaded with the nurse.
“Absolutely not,” replied the nurse.
Then they tried frantically to warm me up. Blankets and blankets were piled upon me, fresh out of the dryer, but I couldn’t stop shaking. It was uncontrollable. They x-rayed me hundreds of times in hundreds of positions. And this was all without any medication, not even a small dose of Tylenol.
I was alone in a state four hours away from home. The doctors and nurses wouldn’t allow me to call my parents until the x-rays came back. Time was at a stand still. Eventually they came back. My injuries were far too severe for Randolph’s small community hospital to deal with so they were shipping me further down the line to a hospital more equipped to help me. The fall had shattered my back. My feet were broken in 17 places. My left anklebone was cracked all the way through, and they still were unable to answer my standing question of if I would be able to walk again.
I was finally allowed to call my parents and tell them what had happened. I had fallen off of a 60-foot cliff onto a rock ledge, and lived to tell the tale.
I scribbled a line and they released me. The it was into another ambulance, only this ride was for three hours and I was still without any painkillers. I could feel every bump, groove and crack in the pavement. My body felt limp, and now I was loosing blood because I was warming up. The new hospital, Dartmouth- Hitchcock, was waiting for my arrival. As soon as I was in a bed, I had an IV with a morphine drip. I was sent for hundreds of more x-rays. Eventually I fell asleep. When I woke up, my family was there.
My toe was back on and I was going to have surgery to fix my back.
The doctor’s told me I wouldn’t be able to walk again until after Christmas. I was headed for a wheel chair with a back brace. I kept hearing I was lucky to be alive, but I kept thinking of all the things I wasn’t sure I would be able to do again. I was sent to rehab to learn how to live while being in a wheel chair. I was released within a week because I learned as fast as I could so I could go home, but first my dad had to build a ramp to make my house handicap accessible.
At the end of September, I took my first step. By my birthday at the end of October, I was walking for semi-long distances on my own. A year and a half later, I picked up snowboarding. And while it is my first season, I am more determined than ever to appreciate everything I am able to do.