I fell head first and hit the ground hard. I felt a ZING run across my neck just above my shoulders, and immediately I went limp. My legs went limp. My right arm flopped across my neck like . I could see my elbow pointing up into the night sky, but I could not move it. I had landed on the back lawn in a small patch of dirt that the gophers had dug up. That dirt filled my mouth and nose. I lay there, unable to move for half an hour, maybe longer. I lay there in a heap, beginning to panic, surprised at what had happened so suddenly. I was home alone. It was ten o’clock at night. My son was out with friends and wouldn’t be home for hours. My phone was in my purse inside the house – not that I could use it anyway. Another day of drinking had come to this.
I couldn’t move, but I could breathe, and my brain seemed to be functioning despite the alcohol. Questions flooded me. Should I yell out for help? Would anyone hear me? Should I lay there and wait for my son to come home and then yell out to him to call 911? Was I going to be paralyzed for life?
I refused to believe I would be paralyzed for life. I refused to be paralyzed, period. I refused to lay there and let my son find me lying in a heap in the backyard. I began to will my legs and arms to move. I struggled endlessly. My brain kept telling my body to move, but my body wasn’t responding. I begged God to help me. I begged my Aunt up in heaven to help me. Slowly my right leg began to move when I asked it to, then my left leg moved. I used my legs to scoot myself forward toward the back door. I spent what seemed like an eternity trying to get my right arm to move. It finally did. I rolled from my side to my belly and continued to drag myself across the patio to the back door. I don’t remember slithering in through the back door, the kitchen and the living room. I eventually found myself on the floor of my bedroom, and with one final effort, was able to use one leg to lift myself up onto the bed.
The next morning, to my amazement and relief, I could walk. I took a shower, but was unable to raise my arms above my head to shampoo my hair. My hands were numb and tingling. I did not want to go to the hospital. As usual, I did not want anyone to know what I had done to myself. I did not want anyone to know this happened because I had been drinking. But luckily my functioning brain assisted me in making the decision that a trip to the hospital would be a good idea. Although I did not hear him, my son did come home some time during the night. I dropped the idea that I could hide this one. I decided I needed to be honest for once and tell the truth about what I had done to myself. I walked to his bedroom door and asked him to take me, and without question, he grabbed his keys and we headed for the hospital.
I walked into the ER on my own, slightly off kilter. Surprisingly, there was no one waiting at the intake desk. I sat down and explained what had happened. They took my ID and insurance cards, told me to sit down and that I would be next. Two minutes later, I was being triaged. A cervical collar was placed around my neck and I was taken to room 10. Although I could walk, my arms and hands were still numb and tingling. I had difficulty moving my arms much at all. After X-Rays and an MRI I was told by the ER doctor that I had a contusion on my spinal cord between C4 and C5 vertebrae. A Neurosurgeon explained to me that as the bruising and swelling went down, I would regain function of my arms and hands. The numbness and tingling would go away, and I would get better.
The Neurosurgeon told me that I was going to be ok. He told me that I was very, very lucky. He didn’t have to tell me how lucky I was. I already knew.
So this was the bottom. The bottom was Mother Earth herself. I had hit it hard. I had tasted it. Luckily, I wasn’t 6 feet under it. Needless to say, I haven’t had a drink since.