It’s been a long time since my last post. Why? Read on.
Just over seven weeks ago, I was celebrating my first overnight backpacking trip. I spent a Saturday hiking a local state park with twenty-five pounds on my back. It was a short hike—about six miles—but it wasn’t about the miles; it was about the experience. What does it feel like to carry a fully loaded pack? How would I manage, setting up my own campsite? Is being solo something I can handle?
It was the first of many planned training hikes to prepare for my July 10th backpacking trip—Section K of the PCT (California), to be exact. This is an area near Lake Tahoe and goes through the Desolation Wilderness. I had my permits, my maps, and my gear. All I needed to do was continue my training.
I came home from my experimental trip with some new-found knowledge. First, my secondhand tent leaks in the rain. Second, carrying a twenty-five-pound pack isn’t easy, but it’s do-able. Lastly, and most importantly, I discovered a sense of confidence I wasn’t sure I had.
I could do this trip! I will do this trip.
But all plans are vulnerable, fragile. Mine were taken away from me in a matter of seconds when a truck coming the opposite direction swerved into my lane to avoid rearending the car in front of him. This happened on our way to school/work the Monday after my short solo backpacking trip. One day I was feeling accomplished and excited for the summer, the next, I was just thankful to be alive and that, other than a few bruises from his seatbelt and a yanked back, my son was uninjured.
Me? I ended up with a broken right ankle and a fractured left wrist. I took my first-ever ambulance ride to the hospital, where the doctors reset my ankle and told me I would be having surgery on it the next day. I ended up spending three nights there.
When I left the hospital, it was with a monster-sized leg cast and a walker I could barely use because of my broken wrist. The only mobility I was allowed for two weeks was to hop my way to the bathroom, using my clunky walker to keep me from falling on my face.
Two weeks after the accident, the orthopedic surgeon switched out my post-surgery monster cast for a normal-sized fiberglass cast. I chose a beautiful purple-colored cast, in case you’re wondering. I also switched to a wheelchair to get around. Turns out I’m pretty good on wheels.
Four weeks after the accident, the surgeon removed my staples and I got to choose a new cast color. This time, I picked red in honor of the upcoming 4th of July and Canada Day holidays. I was still wheelchair bound and would be for the next two weeks.
Now, seven weeks post accident, I am about a week into wearing a “walking boot.” My doctor wanted me to switch back to the walker, but since my wrist is still healing, that proved to be as awkward as it was the first time I tried. Instead, I decided to try using crutches with the reasoning that either way, my wrist was going to suffer. It actually feels better with the crutches than using the special “platform” attachment on my walker meant to keep my weight on my forearm instead of my wrist.
I’m getting around pretty well with the crutches and putting weight on my ankle. My doctor likes the way I’m healing and is impressed with the relatively little swelling my ankle has. His outlook is positive. My son’s bruises have disappeared, although he is visiting the chiropractor twice a week to ensure his back, which got a bit tweaked in the accident, goes back to its pre-accident level of untweakedness.
Truly, I have a lot to be thankful for. I tell myself everyday it could have been worse, that because of the nature of the accident, it could have been fatal… but it wasn’t. I could have lost my son… but I didn’t. My children could be motherless… but they aren’t. These reminders are a life preserver in a sea of disappointment. I cling to them when the negative thoughts crash into me and threaten to pull me under.
I’ll save the non-physical impact—both good and bad—the accident has had for another post. There are always lessons to learn and new ways to grow in every circumstance, and this has been no exception.
Meanwhile, here are some photos of my car, my cast changes, and my Frankensteinish post-surgery ankle. And, in case you’re wondering, the driver of the truck, who was at fault and had obviously been distracted at the time of the accident, is fine.
This next photo is the final one, and if you’re squeamish, I’d skip it. Just a warning.