In 1995 I considered myself to bean athletic person. I biked sixty miles on free the weekends, hiked, walked three miles every day, even when I was 9 months pregnant I swam a mile every day to stay in shape for the birth, and water skied every chance I got. I grew up on a lake and spent every summer there until I was in my early thirties.
Life seemed to change for my family when the camp where my summer adventures existed was sold. Not too long after gangs moved into our town and started to pay more attention to my son then I liked. The school year ended; my son was at the time; the tallest and boy in town. He became the one they ganged up on. Trying to get him involved in who knows what. I decided to take my kids into the mountains of NH so we might live in a much smaller population. Therefore, we could avoid the gang situation and my children could continue their studies and sports in relative safety.
We had been living in the White Mountains for a year when my eldest daughter came to visit from Co. She had gone off to college a few years before and it was wonderful to have her home for a few weeks. My daughter Koren was 19 and my youngest daughter Adriane was 7. We decided to go for a hike together. Channing, my son was off with his friends at the time; and so, it was going to be just the three of us.
There had been a drought in the White Mts. for a few years and the water levels were very low, so we thought even though it was very hot out we would hike instead of swim. Hoping the shade of the trees would offer some solitude from the heat. We hiked for only a short time but did not find the solace we had hoped for time and Adriane was getting very tired. We returned to the car, rolled the windows down and started for home enjoying the breeze as we rode.
We were driving home when we spotted a boat launch on what looked like a pond. There was a sign that said swim at your own risk. We are all very good swimmers and the heat had driven us to swim; even at our own risk.
In the center of the pond there seemed to be an island with other people swimming and diving. We swam out to an island only to find out the other people were all teens. We decided to swim past them to a distant part of the island as they were drinking and I did not want my youngest to be around them. The water felt great, even with the fact the water level was very low, the water in this pond was very deep. Three feet from shore was over my head.
We rested on shore for a bit and before noticing a rope swing at the top of a two story climb up the side of a rocky cliff. Koren wanted to do it and so did "A". "A" is what my youngest liked for me to call her. It is short for Adriane.
I told "A" she could not do it as she was to young, but Koren said she would take Adriane with her. So up they climbed. When they got to the top Koren told "A" what she wanted her to do so she could go off the rope swing with her. I remember watching from the lake below. "A" wrapped herself around Koren like a spider monkey while Koren gripped the rope.
They took a running start then flew off the edge of cliff and released when they were as far as the rope would take them. They dropped neatly into the water.
Both of my daughters came up laughing and giggling talking about how great it was. Now it was my turn...I don't like heights.. I never have...but I also never back down from anything... I climbed the two story climb to the top kidding with my daughters all the way till I got to the top.
Having grown up on a lake and spent most of my adult life on a lake I was not afraid of anything in, on, or around water. I climbed up to the top of the cliff. I took hold of the rope and pulled back on it as I wanted to get it as far back as possible so I could swing out for as long as possible before dropping, after all, the swinging part was half the fun.
I started running forward, lifted my legs at the edge of the cliff and expected to swing forward. I couldn't I have known what was going to happen next, I had always ignored pain, as I always pushed my body till it could take no more. Water skiing being my favorite sport, the first ski of the year was always an hour or more long depending on how long the driver wanted to torture my body. I did the same to others when I was the driver of the boat. I didn't know as I started my run, the aches and pains which seemed to never go away were but a symptom of two undiagnosed medical issues Fibromyalgia, and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. What happened next or something like it was bound to happen at some point.
I ran forward fully expecting to swing way out over the deep water and drop in neatly, hoping the force of the drop would bring me to the bottom of the lake. I love to look up from the bottom and see the rays of the sun like rainbows sparkling through the water.
My feet pushed off and suddenly everything changed. I was not swinging forward but falling. The rope must have broke is the only thing my mind could comprehend and I was falling. At this point every slowed down for me, I looked at the rocks, roots and rubble which collected on the shore line when the water is low, I was going to be hurt badly, there was no way around it. Then I caught site of a small patch of sand and turned my body to the right aiming for the sand. I thought the sand would help to break my fall where the roots and rocks would surely be worse.
I have no idea how I turned my body while falling, but I was determined to do so. Yes to me the fall took forever, It seemed like at least a half an hour, but it truly was seconds. While looking at the rocks and roots, it came to my mind that even if I hit the sand I would have a big possibility of hurting my neck, head or back. I made the choice to land on just one foot; and so, I lifted my left leg up close to my body offering more weight on my left side, hoping after I hit I could force my body to lean towards the water and avoid the head, neck or back injury. Just the morning before, Koren had done a card reading telling me I was going to trip and fall and that fall would bring a man into my life. He would be about my height and a bit older then I was. We had taken the reading to mean something would trip me up and not a literal fall. I was single at the time and it would be wonderful to meet a man who seemed as nice as the reading said he would be. Time had inched a long for me, but for my two daughters it was fast and horror filled seeing me falling.
My right foot managed to hit the sand and I leaned hard to the left. I felt no pain when I hit, perhaps because I had my mind focused on where I would land or perhaps because the injury was too great. I landed in the water going under and coming up quickly. I treaded water wiping the water from my face. Koren swam closer to me asking me if I was in pain. I answered, "No I have no pain." I could hear the relief in her voice but felt a bone chilling realization. No pain was not a good thing, just as that thought entered my mind the words left my mouth. Both of my girls were behind me treading water as I lifted my right leg up and out of the water to look at my foot.
When my foot lifted above the water the water was no longer able to hold it and before my eyes my foot fell off. I must have been in shock to some extent, as I became interested in what I looked like inside. Grant it I had wanted to be a doctor all of my life and this was the only chance I was going to get to see. Koren came up behind me and started to scream. She helped me get in towards the shore so my left foot could touch.
Koren took charge right away. I was proud of her. Years ago I had taught first aid to a youth group she was in and it all came back to her. She yelled to the teens, who were now not far away, ordering one girl to take Adriane with her to the nearest house and call 911, and then keep "A" there so she would not have to see what was happening to her mother.
The teens were great. They all seemed to become sober right away. The girl took "A" before I could think past what was going to happen to my body and how I was going to survive this. I would not let Koren bring me all the way into shore, as I knew my body would go through muscles spasms and I did not want to be thumping against the hard ground. I thought the water would break some of those spasms for me. Koren put my foot which was attached only by only skin back to the ankle and wrapped it with a towel. She added pressure while giving orders to the teens. I was not totally in shock as all I could think of was I am in the mountains, on an island, and 911 was just implemented this week here.
I wanted to keep track of my bleeding and be ready to tell them when and how to do a tourniquet if I needed one and when to take if off so I would not lose my leg. I did not believe I had severed my main artery as there was not enough blood and was hoping I had not nicked it either.
I know it seems strange for all that to go through my mind, but my job in life though it was not as a doctor, was very medical and survival based. I worked direct care with dual diagnosed violent men. I used meditation to keep the pain under control, until the muscles spasms started. It was then I could no longer fight it, I screamed with each and every one. Time moves like a turtle now, unlike the slow motion of before.
The rescue team showed up, but I later learned they did not expect me to still be alive. It seems they has been dispatched to the wrong place and had arrived an full hour after the time they had expected me to expire. It took them a half an hour more to secure my foot so when they lifted me It would not tear off. Koren left the scene screaming now finally free of having to be in control. When at last she felt better she jumped in her car, thanked the girl for watching Adriane and drove "A" home to be with my son Channing and then to the hospital. She beat the ambulance and was both scared and angry to have done so. She did not know if I survived after she left and could not understand what was taking them so long. Heck, I was on an island; they needed to make me safe and get a boat to remove me before I reached the ambulance.
When I got to the hospital the ER doctor came and looked at my foot. The bleeding had stopped as all the blood veins had constricted and were no longer bleeding. I was lucky as I had thought my main artery had rolled and avoided being cut, or I would have bled out quickly. The ER doctor looked at my foot, she must have thought me unconscious as she said out loud," I am not going to deal with that." Shock or no shock, I have been an advocate for my clients for many years and have had doctors treat them terribly just because they were mentally incompetent.
I sat bolt upright, looked her in the eye and said," You will deal with this, you will get me pain meds and then put me out!" The woman looked at me shocked at first and then to regain some of her control she answered me with, "I don't even know it you need surgery yet." Oh don't fool with me I thought as I said, "Where did you get you license? I know it needs surgery!" She seemed to shrink and I felt I had won. Just then I noticed a soft pat on my left hand, I turned as I started to lie down again, totally exhausted to see this man a bit older then I was. He was softly patting my hand as she said, "You will never remember leaving x-ray." His name was Caz, well that was not his real last name, it was a nick name I would come to love this man for so many reasons. His real name was Dr. Caswell. He was right I did not remember leaving x-ray, surgery, or anything else for a day or so.