The only thing for certain is something unexpected is going to happen
As the early morning glow seeped down the hillsides and across the lake, I walked down the dock with my ski in hand and an excited grin across my face. I hopped into the boat and heard, “you’re up girl!”—I guess it was apparent I could hardly wait to get swerving.
As I began carving across the wake, I heard nothing but the sound of breaking water behind me and hum of the boat. I settled into a rhythm on my ski and did several passes before taking a breather and going once more—so stoked to be on the water again.
A little fatigued, I was finishing my last couple of turns when suddenly, smack!
The next thing I remember was swimming to the surface gasping for air. I had knocked the wind out of myself. I opened my eyes to a blinding sun that was so bright I could barely see the horizon. Uh oh… I remember this sensation when I fell off a 60′ cliff at Whistler and suffered a bad concussion four years previous…this wasn’t good.
The boat swung around to meet me and the guys pulled me onto the the swim grid. I lay there aching as they pulled my ski off and assessed me for damages. A big laceration and puncture at the back of my skull were bleeding, my neck was excruciating with pain and there was a strange bright flashing in my left eye. They told me I hit some waves which caused my ski tip to dig in and flip me head over heels and into a scorpion, with the back of the ski hitting me in the head.
“What’s your name?”, they asked me. Rachelle, duh. “Do you know what day it is Rachelle?” Saturday. “Where do you live?” Squamish. “What’s your favourite number?” Ummm 69? — Still coherent, they called the ambulance anyway.
The team strapped me into a neck collar, rolled me onto the stretcher and bumped me down the dock to the blood wagon.
I arrived at Kelowna General Hospital and while I waited anxiously for my CT scan, I lay in my neck collar and listened to the nurses outside my door talk about April Wine and sticky bras. …I considered if they didn’t seem too worried about me, I was probably going to survive.
Several hours later I finally left the hospital, cleared of any spine injuries. I had severe whiplash, five stitches in the back of my skull, a compressed occipital nerve, a puncture in my neck that nearly hit an artery, a punctured eardrum and pretty nasty concussion.
Well, it could be worse, I thought…
At the time of my accident I’d been visiting a friend at SilverStar mountain; mountain biking, road biking and waterskiing on Wood Lake. Fortunately this incredible friend offered to have me stay another week and help with my recovery and care for Kula. Instead of feeling stressed about being stranded away from home, I looked at it as an opportunity to give myself the critical rest I needed immediately following my concussion.
The next few days were rough. I made two more trips to the hospital to get the pain under control. The nerve injury and concussion were causing such an intense pain that I was throwing up, not sleeping and in tears of agony.
For those of you who haven’t experienced a bad concussion before, it’s awful. You’re dizzy, confused, nauseous and your nervous system is on fire. Every stress and emotion is magnified and for me, it was a sense of drowning in panic, gasping for relief.
By the end of the week, my friend had seen me at my worst—curled up the with fear that I’d never be the same after this concussion, criticizing myself for crashing, analyzing why it happened, worrying about the clients who were relying on me to fulfill their branding contracts and my Zesty Life blog that would have to be put on hold.
Don’t get bitter, get better
On the bright side, it seems the more shit you go through in life the easier it is to be resilient. After a fleeting moment of self pity, I considered how each painful event in my life had something positive come from it. Whether it was; a catalyst for change, a life lesson that made me stronger or a twist in the road that lead to something amazing.
We all face injury and illness at some point during our lives. It’s unavoidable, but these situations can teach you things and make you stronger—physically and mentally.
We’re all in the same boat
Before the accident my friend and I were chatting about life and when we’d met. He’d shared his first impression of me, which was: a confident and brave woman that seemed to have everything figure out, with little worries or stress. I was pretty amused by his comment…as I sat mulling over all my fears and insecurities.
After the recovery week, I asked my friend again, so what do you think of me NOW?!— laughing at of how tragic I must’ve looked. He said, “You’re still super brave AND you have all of the same fears and insecurities as everyone else.”
It’s true. I’ve had a lot of chats with friends this past year. I’ve heard a lot of life stories and had wisdom, vulnerability and secrets shared with me. Each person with their own unique experiences, heartaches and challenges. I noticed that the common thread that runs through each story is…no one has their shit together and everyone has fears and uncertainty.
If you’re waiting for that moment where you stop experiencing setbacks, stop making mistakes, where you attain happiness and completely have your shit together…you’re going to be waiting forever. No matter what age you are or how much money you have, I assure you no one has everything figured out and no one’s life is perfect.
Ask for a friendly squeeze
When life gives you lemons, you can always count on the sweetness of friends.
Returning to Squamish the following week, I was still in pretty rough shape. I couldn’t drive and could hardly get through a shower and breakfast before feeling dizzy and would have to lie down.
Living solo, there wasn’t much I could do except dig deep and ask for help. This was hard. I felt like I was inconveniencing friends and I felt bad for not being my usual happy self when they came over.
What I’ve come to realize, however, is that people WANT to help. That’s what friends are for…and they feel like hero’s for doing it! They want to help you because they love you, and the whole experience makes your friendship that much tighter.
Squeeze the Day
C’est la vie. Sometimes life gives you lemons, but with the right perspective you can usually squeeze something good from it. This experience helped me strengthen my friendships and I am so grateful.
I’m still working on my recovery, but I’m optimistic that I’ll be back to normal and back on my bike in a few weeks. Stay tuned for my next blog post on my: “Concussion Recovery”.
THANK-YOU to my Squamish family:
Andi my super sweet friend and Zesty Life superfan, Jason for your 24 hour care and laughs in the dark moments, Yuki for your heartfelt support, Anne for rescuing me from the backyard bear, Vic & Summit for the Kula runs, Alex for setting up my recovery bike trainer and everyone… you’re all amazing 🙂