Four and a half months after my accident, I decided to leave the past behind me and had agreed to attend the Pink Ball, a charity event raising money and awareness for breast cancer prevention. In my mind I thought, “ by November I’ll be totally fine”.
At 4pm I limp up the stairs of my apartment, book in hand. I leave my crutches at the foot of the stairs and slowly use the railing to push myself up one stair at a time. I throw the book onto my bed and head for the shower. Laying towels on the floor, I undress and crawl on my hands and knees into the shower.
I relish being able to shower myself, to sit on the floor, shave my legs, shampoo my hair, and just feel the water fall over me. The privacy is so sweet, I savour every minute of independency. It is a stark contrast to the constant exposure my deformed and scared body had, when promptly at 7am the hospital nurses would clean my body with wet cloths and soap, one limb at a time. They would slowly remove the hospital robe, gently lift the catheter bag on to the bed, disconnect the cannula on both wrists, and lightly lift the four surgical drains which were inserted into my feet, hip and spine, each drain would pool blood from the area into a bucket. Once I was clean I lay there naked whilst the seven surgical dressing around my body were changed. All the nurses would manoeuvre around the external fixture surgically attached to my thigh bone. The metal would protrude out of my leg, attached to ropes and finally a 8kg weight that would hang at the foot of the bed. 2 hours later I was wrapped in blankets and ready for the team of doctors which came every morning at 9am.
I crawl out of the shower and sit on the floor of the bathroom on another towel, drying my body, and then I delicately wrap the towel around me and crawl into my bedroom. I plug in the hair dryer and start drying my hair. In the mirror across the room I notice the scars on my feet, purple, deformed and swollen I notice how the skin looks so different both in colour and texture. I sometimes imagine if I had chosen something different where would I be?
No man ever cross the same river twice,
For it is not the same river
and he is not the same man.
I shake my head and dismiss any thoughts about “what if’s” I hoist myself onto the bed and limp over to the wardrobe I put on my underwear and my dress for the evening, braid my hair and put some eyeliner and mascara on. I walk back, limping to the right, dragging my right leg slightly I sit on the bed and mentally work out how I’m going to wear flat sandals, this will be the first time I wear shoes. By now my feet are so swollen that the straps wont do up, so I decide to tie them together with cotton strings and just hope that it will last the night. With crutches in hand we leave for the ball.
As we enter the ballroom area the room fills with people, beautiful men and women grace the floor; their colourful gowns and suits decorate the foyer. Dresses, skirts kilts, I’m the only person “disabled”, but I had decided to leave it all in the past, the accident, the injuries, I was going to be a normal girl going to a ball. But the truth is I cant leave it behind, somehow this is now a part of me in every way imaginable, the more I hide it, the more it comes blaring through in it’s bright coloured way, it was now my weight, and it hung to me like any other limb.
Ina walked over towards me, her cream gown elegantly slinked from side to side as she walked. “I had my back fused a few months ago” “I was in so much pain and the doctors told me I needed a fusion, that if I had it done the pain would disappear”. “It never left, Im in constant pain, I don’t know what to do, every time I go to another doctor all they want to do is more surgery, on my sacrum, on my hip, it never ends”. Ina spoke softly, her eyes sore with regret.
“What happened to you”? Ina asked
“I had a rock climbing accident” A friend and I climbed an outdoor rock-climbing wall unharnessed, it was just fun until the peg came out at the top of the wall and I fell onto a bed of rock and gravel. I fell about 5-7 metres from the top. I had no insurance, I had no harness. I was in hospital for 6 weeks”. Ina looked shocked and I could see she felt silly for complaining about her back pain.
What was injured? Ina asked
The impact from falling from that height along with the surface of the floor I landed on had destroyed a vertebral body in my Lumbar spine, it disintegrated into tiny pieces which exploded into my abdomen. I was rushed immediately to emergency surgery for a posterior spinal stabilisation procedure. This is where they insert metal rods on either side of your spine to make sure that the rest of my spine didn’t collapse into the space that had been left. In the weeks that followed I had an external fixture inserted into my femur attached to a 6-8kg weight. Unbeknown to me at the time my right foot had ruptured through the skin and had partially come out. The foot was cleaned and inserted back inside my body, stitched and bandaged. I had an anterior spinal surgery where they inserted an artificial vertebra through the cavity in my right lung. My right pelvis was reassembled with metal rods and screws, my pubic bone was reattached with another rode (which was later removed) and both my feet were reconstructed.
As I spoke I remembered the feeling of falling, floating though the air, seeing a hand try and grab me, missing it, and feeling everything crush as I landed. Rolling to my side in a foetal position I held my chest with both hands and listened to the beating of my heart, it was the only sound not blurred by shock, it was the only sound that kept me conscious. I waited for 45 minutes, completely broken and bleeding for the ambulance to arrive.
Ina looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “You’re so brave”
“I’m not brave, I was very stupid for doing this to myself, but you never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have”
Truth be told if I were to ever have the gift of being able to change something in my life, I would, without a second thought immediately erase everything leading up to the moment I climbed that wall and fell. That’s not brave at all. In fact it has been the war of my life, and now I’m a scathed coward in retreat.
“Are you in pain”Ina asked
“No not at all” I replied,
“Sometimes awkward, after being completely immobile in a hospital bed for 6 weeks and after that a wheel chair for 2 more months, I’m still teaching my body how to move, how to walk”
I could see her eyes light up, “What are you doing”
Initially I thought I was going to be paralysed, I thought I would never walk again, My right foot was completely numb, I couldn’t feel it and I couldn’t move my right leg. I knew what that meant, and so I was completely taken aback with fear, and I rode the wave of conventional medicine. I let them pump me with medication, drugs, painkillers, blood thinners, blood transfusions, antibiotics, anaesthesia, morphine, every hour for 6 weeks. I watched myself slowly get thinner until the day I left hospital weighing 48kg I could barley lift my arms, I couldn’t read words, concentrate enough to watch a movie, I peed myself and had no knowledge until my legs felt wet beneath the sheets, my stomach ached from all the medication, it was bloated and sore and distended, I cried, I wanted to give up because enduring this was too hard, too painful, every part of my body was in agony. Shooting electricity, stabbing me until every tear came out of me, until I was so delirious from pain that I couldn’t breath.
When I left hospital I had decided to do everything in my power to make myself better, without pain medication, without doctors. I was determined to give everything a try. I knew that I choose this. I choose this life, I chose to climb that wall, to continue. I choose my fate and now I had to find a way to get out of it.
This whole story comes down to this. If I can get better, so can everyone else.
I look back on it now and I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know how I had the strength to endure it all. The truth is, Im not 100% there yet, I still crawl on the floor but I’m not ashamed of it. I am still in discomfort, I cant sleep on my right side, but when I think back to when I left the hospital I know the magic that’s happened inside me. What I want to say to everyone out there is that you will get through this and when you start to see some light and start to have hope here are a few things that helped me get better.
10 Tips For Healing yourself
- Listen to your own body, go at your own pace. Make sure everything you decide is because it’s right for you. Sometime we hand over our power to people of authority, like doctors and care givers. Yes they are extremely knowledgeable but at the end of the day you are an individual and you need to do whats right for you. There were many times doctors tried to persuade me to have more surgery, but I urged them to find another way, because I asked they found one.
- Nourish your body with good food, organic pesticide free, wholesome food, cooked at home and fresh. The first few weeks out of hospital I drank 1 litre of organic vegetable juice everyday. My family and friends made me vegetable soups, roasted vegetables and raw salads for every meal.
- Vitamin C Therapy: Vitamin C is an extremely potent healing vitamin. At the Dubai herbal treatment centre you can have an Intravenous drip of Vitamin C (However you must consult the local DHTC doctor before)
- Ozone Therapy helps to bring more oxygen intravenously into your system, the extra oxygen helps to speed up the healing process. (DHTC)
- Exercise: For me this is the most important aspect of my healing journey. When I left the hospital I couldn’t walk and was in constant pain. Initially I started with hydrotherapy, swimming everyday for an hour, now I do pilates for 45 minutes every day. It’s kept me pain free and is the reason I am walking. For anyone with any type of injury make sure you mobilise the area when its ready and then start some strength training, the stronger your muscles get, the more they support the skeletal structure and diminish pain.
- Let your friends and family be your support. You will not get through hardship without them. My friends and family still look after me to this day and I will always cherish them for it.
- Sleep: My family set up a hospital bed for me in our living room, there I slept 22 hours a day, the following month it was 18 hours a day and then 14 hours a day. Yet each morning when I woke up I could feel the difference. When I went to sleep everything started healing and my body was fixing itself. I would wake up the next day with the ability to do something I couldn’t do the day before. Now I sleep 8 hours a day, but every few days I can feel something has changed.
- Detoxing is extremely important, as our bodies are not able to function optimally if they are undernourished and toxic. There are many ways to do this from coffee enemas to colonic hydrotherapy.
- Count your blessings, things can always be worse and when we focus on the negative its hard to see the sun. Keep you mind on the milestones you have achieved and focus on setting yourself realistic goals that keep you motivated and moving in the right direction.
- Love and Time: it sounds silly as these are the most intangible concepts of human existence but if you give yourself a little love and enough time, all wounds heal.
Ina and I walked down to our seating area as the Pink Ball started, although the accident had not left me and probably never will, I know that I was helping someone else find a solution for their own pain, even if its just the courage to continue.
Lots of love