In most of my blogs the main focal point is me expressing how you only have one life so you've got to live it right. I talk a lot about following your heart and chasing after those dreams you have stored in the back of your mind. Well, for me, I have something called a "bucket list". The essence of any good bucket list consists of overcoming fears, achieving goals, realizing dreams and even simple pleasures. Whether it’s an exotic adventure half-way around the world or something simpler, like spending more time with your family or friends, what matters is that you experience all the good and phenomenal things Earth offers before you bite the dust. So two weeks ago I decided it was time to cross another event off of mine. I headed up to Montrouis to the mountain side to hook myself up to another dude and a massive kite and jump off the side of a cliff and being swept into the air to enjoy a peaceful ride taking in the beauty of Haiti. Well, that's what was supposed to happen at least. Paragliding was number 34 on my bucket list, and unfortunately, it's going to have to stay there (until I am able to redeem myself). Instead of gracefully being pulled up into the air by the large kite and enjoying the view below, I fell and got dragged into a pile of rocks and bushes for twenty feet and then of course had a man land on top of me- I broke his fall at least !! Just as I was about to pull myself up and say "Ok, let's try this again!" I began to start to feel the lower half of my body and the rock that was stuck beneath me and created my hip/lower right abdomen to make a loud "pop" sound. As Justin and Chris turned me over I realized that my shorts were all torn up and that blood was covering my legs. My body went into complete shock and I began to lose consciousness. Chris sat me down and talked me through it. Finally my adrenaline was so built up that I refrained from letting the men carry me back up the mountain side and insisted I would make it up on my own. As I got to the car Chris's friend ran over with water as once again, I was about to pass out. They then rushed me to a nearby clinic to get my wounds clean. While we were there they decided that I needed to go to a proper hospital as there was great concern about my hip. I was given some pain killers and then once again was loaded into the car and headed back to Port Au Prince. I don't really remember the drive, or falling for that matter, but I do remember arriving at medishare, having an ultrasound and being told there was "independent fluid"in my abdomen, and then being rushed in for a CT Scan. Of course, Haiti had to show it's true colours and take the power away during the CT Scan. Eventually we were able to get it done. They kept asking if I was wearing any metal during the scan and kept coming over to check me out. After they completed the scan they asked if I had swallowed any metal. I thought that was a very strange question as "metal" was not normally a part of my daily diet. It appears that when I fell, I swallowed something shiny ? Still trying to figure that one out.
As I got back into the ER waiting room a nurse walked in and told me I needed to get the next flight to Florida. This is when panic mode began to set in as I was generally calm throughout it all. They had thought I had ruptured my spleen and that I had internal bleeding and needed surgery as soon as possible. Everyone began scattering around trying to figure out how I could get to Florida and who would be going with me. Chris offered to use his airmiles to get me there. I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell my parents of my accident but when I realized I would be shipped out of the country, I figured I should probably give them the heads up. Maeve and Mike arrived and offered support and made me aware that I would not be going to Florida alone. As I was about to be escorted from the hospital and put on the next American Airlines flight, the surgeon (and owner of the hospital) walked in and was going to give me an assessment. We chatted for a bit and when I expressed to him my concern of not having insurance in the states, we spoke about surgery options in Haiti. Since I did not want my parents having to give up their homes or taking out massive loans to cover my medical fees, I decided that if I needed surgery, then it would be done in Haiti. I met with the Anesthesiologist and filled out all of the required paperwork. I was ready for surgery. However, at the last minute the surgeon came in and ordered for another CT Scan- this time with contrast. Yes, I had to drink the nasty dye- but luckily a doctor had some water flavouring and added that to the mixture to make it taste not as bad. After the hour was up of me drinking the contrast at 20 min interval's, it was time to head back under the camera. They injected me with the dye and proceeded to look at my insides. I was wheeled back into the ER waiting from as the Doctors discussed the results. I was beginning to get nervous about the procedure when the nurse walked in and said "looks like the bleeding has stopped, everything is looking okay". No one could understand it, I think we were all in a little shock, but also totally relieved. They kept me for observation and I was given more pain meds as I began to feel other parts of my body- such as my hip, ribs, knees, and all of my scrapes and bruises. After I was discharged from the hospital I was brought to Servhotel where I would be recovering for a few days (thanks to Mike!!).
To cut to the positive stuff- I am now doing a lot better. After having some infected wounds and breaking out in a weird rash, I am on the mend and things seem to be going smoothly. Yesterday was my first day without the crutches- and of course I overdid it, it is still a battle with my hip, but I am SO HAPPY to be able to walk again. I was going absolutely stir crazy just sitting in my room all day.
I would like to thank Justin Parkinson who once again stood by me and helped me with EVERYTHING and for sitting at my bedside playing crazy 8's and watching movies for hours on end. Huge thank you to Christian Laplanche for also being there during this chaotic event and keeping me calm and also standing by my side and giving me a hand with anything and everything. Big thanks to Mike Weeks for rushing down to Port Au Prince to come to my rescue and for keeping me laughing through it all - also for putting me up in the hotel so I could have a peaceful recovery and for taking the thorns out of my hands (although I think he enjoyed it a little too much). Thank you to my best friend Maeve for also rushing down to Port Au Prince and for making sure I received the proper health care- for changing my nasty bandages and cleaning my cuts- for helping me change my clothes- and for laughing at me and telling me I walk on crutches like a drunken crab. And also thank you to all those that came to visit me, who drove me around since I could no longer hop onto the back of a moto, who called to check up on me, and who offered lots of support and love. I truly have the most amazing group of friends.
I celebrated my first Easter in Haiti yesterday and honestly, I could have not asked for a more perfect day. In the morning I was woken up by surprise breakfast in bed, Justin and I spent the morning watching "The Color Purple" (one of my all time favourites) and then after church Justin and I ran all over the house hiding the kids candy bags we had made up for them the night before. It was so funny watching them and the excitement that crossed their face when they found the bag with their name on it. I think we were all on a sugar high and the banana bread that Justin made did not help the situation. I decided to take a quick nap and once again was woken up by a surprise - my friend Harry. He had been away for a few days and came to check up on me- he showed up with one of the president's ATV's so I of course, insisted on us going for a little drive. I was worried about my hip and how I would be able to tolerate the bumps, but the seat in the back was like heaven- couldn't feel a thing ! We raced up to Petionville then to Pelerin to one of his friends houses. There is nothing more freeing then driving up the mountains with your hair blowing in the wind and enjoying the beautiful scenery in Haiti. There ended up being a group of us, and some mutual friends that I had not seen in awhile. We sat and had a drink and chatted about life and enjoyed some music. It was the most relaxing and fun afternoons that I've had in awhile. We hoped back onto the ATV and headed down the mountainside. Riding on the ATV reminded me of my summers back home and made me feel a little homesick. I have finally decided- and this decision was a difficult one to make- that I will be returning home in June for 2 months to work for my dad and to make a little money so I can continue to support myself and the kids here in Haiti.
After we got back to the house it was dark out and we had no electricity. Val had taken off somewhere so we were stuck in the dark and unable to cook food since both of our generators had not been working. We grabbed some prestige and turned on the speakers and jammed to some good ol' country music. We had some guys from down the street come with a massive battery to try to get the generator started for us. Finally, we had lights !!!! We made some pizza and then watched another movie I love called "The Valley of Elah". All in all - it was an amazing day with my kids & friends.
Since my accident I have had many people criticize me for making the decision to go paragliding in HAITI????!!!!!!!
And I have thought a lot about that. When making the decision to do it, I didn't really consider falling I guess. I have always been one to think positively so clearly that came into play in this situation. But to be honest, I do not regret my decision at all. I believe everything does happen for a reason. And now when people ask what that scar is on my leg, I can tell them I got attacked by a shark ;) Makes for an awesome story.
I have always been a crazy child. Loving the outdoors and doing things that aren't always in my best interest necessarily. But that is who I am. It is different now having nine children who depend on me, and I will always put them first. But I want them to grow up living life and over coming fears and not following the crowd. So is me going paragliding, or better yet, is me chasing a dream that I have had for quite sometime and trying to overcome my fear of heights such a bad influence on them ? Yes, maybe things did not go as planned. But Sh*t happens. You have to take risks or else you remain sheltered. I would not be here in Haiti if I had not chased my dreams in the first place and I have learned to overcome many fears by living here and indulging into this culture. I have also learned that many people, especially ignorant ones, will want to punish you for living your life the way you desire and for speaking truths. You have to remember, I was also criticized for coming to live here. I take a risk everyday by stepping out onto the streets or by even driving around. This is how I was built. I would not be where I am today if I wasn't. So please, hold back the criticism. Accidents happen. It is a part of life. I am alive. I am well. And yes I am going to do it again.. because "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" - W.C. Fields