A few days ago, I went on a lovely hike with two of my adult children. I heard the gorgeous chords to “Waterfall Dreams” in my mind. Just before leaving that morning, I uploaded my newest composition onto the Insight Timer app.
I was very tempted to name this post “Waterfall Nightmares.”
Before my accident . . .
I felt fit and strong as I hiked. I appreciated being in the shade near a bubbly stream on such a hot day. The destination was a lovely waterfall and I was bursting with joy that my two children were enjoying this day with me. I bragged aloud that it wasn’t bad that I could manage so many stream crossings with ease at the age of 59.
My kids took lovely pictures with the backdrop of a frothy waterfall. After that, we all sat down on rocks and relaxed. I took out some snacks to share with them while we discussed where we would go for lunch after we got back.
We were on our way back from the waterfall and I was looking forward to my air-conditioned car.
There were at least another 20 stream crossings to navigate, though. I teetered a little on loose rocks and logs and occasionally my foot landed in the shallow water. I wore old tennis shoes and they seemed fine for this.
I keep replaying the accident over and over because it was so sudden and shocking.
I was going up a slope and I walked around a few big boulders. My kids were in front of me. But as I was stepped to go down, the soil gave way. I lost balance and my left foot twisted. I pitched forward without any way of stopping the fall. I felt sharp pain and crunching in my ankle as I fell.
My daughter cried out and was so upset that she wasn’t closer – she believed she could have prevented it. My son called 911 and people were everywhere. I was on my back in the dirt with the hot sun beating down on me. My foot felt numb and I was in shock.
There were two wonderful women with first aid training that stayed with me for over an hour. I will never forget them. They put ice on my leg and attempted to clean off blood and dirt. I was grateful I could still wiggle my toes and I drank as much water as possible. There was no shade nearby so I put a hat over my head. My music played in my mind and helped me stay calm.
It seemed like a long time before help came. Two paramedics showed up first. They stood me up with support on either side, but I almost fainted. It was determined that the best way to get me out would be in a wheelbarrow. A whole crew would be coming. While waiting, they kept checking my vitals.
When a large group firefighters showed up – I felt like the cavalry had arrived. I was slid onto a board and secured with ropes like a mummy. It was a thrashing ride! I had six men on either side of me, they were so close that I could hear them grunting and groaning. The leader shouted commands as they bounced me over many stream crossings.
There’s not much to see, but below is a 2 second video my son took:
Eventually the team reached the trailhead. After that, I had a wild ambulance ride on a bumpy dirt road. It was another hour before we reached the hospital and I had a nice conversation about meditation music with the paramedic sitting near me.
Once the ambulance arrived at the hospital, I was told to sit in the waiting room until I could be admitted. As I sat there alone in a wheelchair, I was seized by leg cramps and moaning in agony. When my children found me, I wiped away my tears. The hospital did not offer me anything to drink, but my children brought me food and Gatorade.
Finally, I was put in a freezing room where my cramping continued. My daughter requested a blanket and my son massaged my cramping calf muscles. Finally after a few hours, x-rays were taken. Then we had to wait again to get results from a doctor.
This was an opportunity for me to spend a lot of time with my two children. Despite the tension and stress, I was proud how they were there for me.
When the doctor finally came in, he was very brusque and annoyed that my insurance was Kaiser. He said he would have taken me for surgery immediately, but couldn’t, due to my insurance. I would need to go to a Kaiser hospital as soon as possible and tell them to “schedule it.”
I wasn’t transferred. I was discharged to deal with it. I was very worried about what my insurance would determine, including the high deductible I had.
My son drove me home and there were incredible challenges. With a neighbor’s help, they both lifted me up the few steps to my apartment. It wasn’t easy for them at all.
Instead of crutches, I was given a walker. I held onto it tightly and hopped, but it was exhausting and very slow. The distance from the car into my apartment seemed like miles. Within a day, my arms were too sore to hold me up and it was extremely painful.
I was able to get an appointment the next day at Kaiser and my daughter took me. A wonderful friend met me there and loaned me a portable wheelchair. It would make things much easier because now I could roll around my house.
The Kaiser surgeon agreed that I needed surgery. He planned to insert a plate and screws on my broken fibula. There was an opening the next day, but he said my foot was far too swollen and that posed a risk. So surgery was scheduled for 3 days later.
I asked when I could play tennis again. He said it would be a long time and at the very least six months. I was told that another surgery to remove the plate and screws was likely. It was going to be over two months before I would even get a walking cast.
I was so grateful that I did not injure my wrists when I fell. During the months of my recovery, perhaps I’ll compose something new. Despite being in a cast, I hope to still get out and perform like before,
A recent post shared my excitement of leading a healing retreat at the end of July. I won’t be able to do it because it’s not a wheelchair accessible facility. But it has been rescheduled for later in September.
My surgery is tomorrow. I’ll be relieved to have it behind me. I don’t like taking painkillers and don’t plan to if I can help it. I hope the pain won’t be horrible and I admit I’m a bit scared.
Temporary is a great word and I am applying many healing thoughts to help myself through this. I think I’m in shock. It feels unbelievable, like a bad dream.
I’m going to let “Waterfall Dreams” be my comfort.
It was a great distraction for me to create a video excerpt for my blog this morning. I am thankful for a lovely tennis friend and traveller, who shared her incredible waterfall pictures with me.