As last Monday immediately started off with a urinary infection, I knew it was not going to be an easy week for me but I’m rather proud of myself for how I handled it. I was able to make the best of the situation and not dwell and mope about how things were not going my way. I accepted what I had to deal with for the most part and continued to do as much as I could being careful not to push the limits. That is until Thursday afternoon when I pushed by limits for the fun of it and had an unexpected surprise.
On Tuesday I woke up not feeling too great but I had decided the night before that I was going to tennis so that was what I was going to do. At the moment tennis is much more of a social activity for me than a physical activity. I have been playing in my power chair so I have been attaching the racket to my left hand and driving with my right. My left side has a bit more recovery than my right but my right arm is still stronger and much more coordinated. While hitting the ball it probably goes over the net 2 out of 10 times but it’s possible I could get better with practice.
After tennis my bladder was still cooperating so I headed over to the center for some tutoring fun. I was nervous of course because I tend to lack confidence in myself concerning certain areas of my life, but as usual everything went well and I enjoyed my time spent. I actually helped someone with mathematics which is not my forte. Granted, it was only multiplication but it’s a start.
I was planning on attending class Wednesday morning but I had a horrible night sleep and was unable to get up in time to go through all the necessary preparations for the day and make it to class. I was disappointed but I accepted it and moved on. I decided that I had to come up with something to make up for it so I headed over for another session of tutoring. I’m supposed to get 20 hours by the end of the class session so I’m trying to go over there more often. I planned to spend a couple hours there and then meet my dad at the gym for a round on the FES bike. I ended up however getting real involved with a woman working on her science and time for the bike came and went.
I love science and I enjoyed working with her on the subject. She was a fun, spirited lady so we got to joke around a little bit while we worked. One reason tutoring has been great for me is it’s allowed me to converse with people I would not normally talk to or run into on a normal basis. I believe this will help in breaking down the ingrained stereotypes of people I have developed over the years. Many people in this world have a rough exterior but when you take the time to sit and talk with them, that rough exterior fades away and you find the true nature of the person.
Another thing I have discovered while tutoring is that I’m actually quite good at it. The woman who was working there on Wednesday was full praise about me and for the most part I feel a good vibe between me and the pupil while tutoring. Sometimes I feel as if maybe I’m confusing them more because I’m constantly coming up with different questions. In the midst of a question we are trying to answer I will switch it up a little bit to see if full understanding has been reached. I figure it is good because it makes them think more but I wonder sometimes if it’s just more important to focus on the question at hand. If I do decide to keep up with the tutoring I’m sure I’ll learn better techniques as I go along.
As I had hoped, I woke up Thursday morning feeling much better and the spasms seemed to have completely disappeared. It was my goal to feel better by Thursday because I was supposed to go waterskiing for the first time this summer and had been anticipating the event for quite some time. Along with the anticipation there was a foreboding sense of nervousness as well. I only got on the monoski twice last summer and by far did not become an expert.
My nervousness is definitely understandable for waterskiing is not exactly a safe activity under my condition. When the inevitable time comes when I lose control of the ski and go crashing into the water it is my responsibility to hold my breath and not take in water until the jumpers have flipped me upright again. This is why waterskiing tends to be very nerve wracking for me because it is not the most comforting feeling to know that if I fall there’s nothing I can really do about it except to trust that the jumpers will be able to reach me before I breathe water into my lungs. And if I do take on water, as a C-five Quad I’m not able to cough, therefore someone would have to do a Quad cough with me which is basically abdominal thrusts or the hiemlich maneuver.
Knowing these dangers are involved, whenever I am up to ski the entire ASAP staff and volunteers are a bit on edge and nervous as well about how things will go. They take tremendous measures to ensure my safety and if conditions and preparations are not exactly right I’m told I’m just going to have to wait. Even when I start whining and complaining they hold their ground when they feel the conditions do not provide me with ultimate safety. This has frustrated me in the past but I understand the dangers involved and if it wasn’t for their efforts to provide safety then I wouldn’t even be given the chance to participate in such an activity in the first place.
My original ride bailed on me that day so my dad was nice enough to offer me a ride. My stomach bubbled as we made our way down the freeway and my mouth was slowly becoming dry. I wasn’t trying to fight the nervousness so much because I knew it was an emotion which had every right to be there but it’s not easy to be comfortable with nervousness.
After arriving at the lake it got to the point where I had no spit to swallow and every time I drank some water the moisture seemed to dissolve upon contact with my tongue. I really wanted to hop in the water so I could at least become comfortable with myself in the new liquid environment but it was very busy down on the dock as the first couple of skiers were being sent out. Eventually my turn arose and I fully realized my thrill ride was about to begin. I took deep breaths as they lifted me up and sat me on edge of the dock. I was slowly slid into the water and also into the arms of two lovely young ladies. Surprisingly, my mind was so geared towards what was about to happen that I don’t even remember if the water was cold or not. I told them I needed a moment to compose myself but in actuality I could have used a lot longer than just a moment. I took some deep breaths again, moved my arms around a little bit decided it was time to face my fear.
My buttocks slid down into the seat as they pushed the ski under me and I grabbed ahold of the bull horns displaying my bulging biceps. I think a couple of girls might have passed out from the site. The boat was ready, the jet skis were ready, volunteers were ready, and I was not ready but I said so anyways. The boat gave a slight tug on the rope and it was then up to me to signal that I was ready. Some kind of acknowledgment squeaked out my voice and the engine gurgled and accelerated as I held on tight making sure not to lose my grip.
Right from the start the ski began to drift hard to the left. I pulled with my right arm and tilted my head to the right to adjust and the ski slowly made it to the inside of the right wake. I tried to sit up straight and balance myself but the ski shot to the left again. Once again I leaned hard to the right and made it to the right side. If my memory serves me correctly this continued to happen several times and I realized a crash was inevitable. Somehow I was off-balance which was causing me to swerve back and forth. I probably looked like some sort of a hot shot swerving back and forth, skimming the wake, but in actuality I was just trying to go straight.
We made the first turn around the bend, leaving the dock out of sight when the ski shot to the left again. I continued to lean in the opposite direction until I felt the point of no return and knew I was not going to make it. I tried to inhale a deep breath but didn’t get much oxygen. My instinct many times is to try and inhale with my chest before hitting the water but my lack of chest muscles will not allow this and really I must breathe in with my diaphragm. Last summer I remember focusing on breathing with my diaphragm as I’m skiing so I’ll be ready to take the breath of needed but this time I was not thinking. I crashed into the wake and entered the sounds of the water. The sound of sudden silence with the background noise of bubbles, muffled voices and vibrating engines. I struggled for a second trying to get a breath but then realized staying calm and patient was more important. Then something quite unexpected occurred.
I suddenly felt a blow to the back of my head. I quickly realized I was just hit by one of the jet skis and I waited for the moment when I would pass out but yet it didn’t come. I remained completely conscious but the blow completely eradicated any calmness or patience I had in waiting for my able-bodied friends. A few seconds passed when I felt a hand grab ahold of the bullhorn and flip me up right. Ahh, the sweet taste of air. I began to grimace and hold onto the back of my head and told them I was hit by the jet ski.
“Am I bleeding?” I asked as I felt the back of my head and then looked at my hand. Watered down blood dripped down my fingertips. I expressed a few choice curse words to vent on how I felt about what I just saw.
I believe someone announced I’d cut my head followed by some shouting from the boat, “Someone call 911! Get the first aid kit!”
Everyone began asking me questions to see if I was all right which I was. I had a slight headache and was bleeding but other than that I felt fine. I am ashamed to say that I was not being all that cooperative, for I suddenly felt very angry about what had just happened. Usually my nervousness and anticipation over an event is not worth while and things turn out much better than expected. I figured this would be the same. I would get up on the monoski, tear it up Ballin Colin style, and pretty much be hailed as the best monoskier of all time. Instead I wipe out in 10 seconds, get hit by a jet ski, and from what I was hearing from the people behind me, got a pretty nasty cut on the back of my knoggin’. Not exactly the outcome I was hoping for.
I was lifted up onto the back of the boat with my legs hanging in the water and we slowly made it back to the dock as someone pressed something on top of my cut. I continued to be angry about the situation, voicing my opinion several times on what I thought about it. Looking back on the situation now, I feel kind of bad about being so angry. Ultimately it was nobody’s fault. Everyone tries to do their absolute best to ensure my safety and sometimes shit just happens. I think that maybe precaution for my safety went a little bit too far which led to the jetski hitting me. Getting my face out of the water quickly when I go down is important but not if it puts me at risk of greater injury. Getting hit by a jet ski could cause injuries much worse than a little cut on the head.
By the time the boat reached the dock the bleeding had stopped. I figured it was nothing to worry about since I felt fine and was not bleeding anymore but a lot of other people felt different. So I soaked up a little bit more of all the attention I was getting and then headed to the ER. Luckily, no one actually called 911.
45 minutes later I rolled into the ER as my dad parked the van. I had this bandage rap on which had slid up upwards making me look like some sort of a conehead slash Frankenstein. A nice gentleman let me go in front of him seeing the bandage and I approached the desk expecting someone to immediately ask me if I was OK. Instead the receptionist looked at me and then looked away. “Did she really just do that?” I thought. A couple of nurses glanced in my direction but said nothing nor acknowledged me in anyway. It was rather humorous to me that I had this bandage on my head that no one seemed to notice. I sat there for about 20 seconds smirking until I finally said, “Excuse me, uh, I hit head”, upon which I was given a card to fill out.
By this time I was feeling a bit out of it but mostly because I was hungry. We got into see the doctor rather quickly and she cleaned me up then put four staples into my skull. I thought I was going to have to shave my head but apparently this causes greater infections, so I still have my hair which is a blessing to some and not so much to others. I think it’s a 50/50 draw.
So that’s my story. I hope it kept your attention. To any ASAP people out there, I’m not mad. I am more than willing to put myself in harm’s way so that we can all learn from our mistakes. I plan on doing it again very soon. Maybe I should wear a helmet next time.