I was going to be living in St Anton, Austria, for the ski season working as a physiotherapist for snow sports. 31st December 2015, my friends and I decided to hike up the mountain from Ochsengarten to see igloos that had been built at the top and celebrate new years eve with fireworks. It took us just under 2 hours to reach the top. I remember during the hike up, turning round to one of the girls and saying “we are sleding down this later, its so steep".
At the top of the mountain, it was amazing. The igloos were beautiful, we were dancing round a fire and just enjoying life. I had recently been bought a bridge camera from my friends back home so I was fiddling around with settings and trying to take pictures of the fireworks that were on display. I just remember feeling how happy I was.
About 2:30 am we decided to pack up, head torches on and start sledding down the ski run on a zipfelbob (plastic sled). On the way down, I remember laughing uncontrolably, every now and then, struggling to control the speed and distance I was going as only had my feet to use.
Between 2:30-3:00 on the 1st January 2016, along a narrow section of the slope, I accidentally sled 50m off the side of the mountain.
I don’t remember this and not sure at what point I became unconscious which I think is a good thing. That season they had been struggling with snow fall so I landed head first on rocks, wrapped around a tree stump. The next couple of paragraphs are from what I have been told as I remained unconscious.
The rest of the guys I was sledding with got to the bottom of the mountain and realised I wasn’t with them. 2 of them hiked back up and managed to find me. Mountain rescue was called. They had to climb down the side of the mountIain to get to me. Mountain rescue turned up and also climbed down to me. They couldn’t move me for about an hour as they had to wait for the neck brace, stretcher board and ropes.
Once I was immobilised, they hoisted me up the side of the mountain where the snow groomer (piste basher) was. I was taken off the mountain and taken by ambulance to Innsbruck Hospital where I was kept in an induced coma.
I sustained 4 skull fractures, traumatic brain injury on the right side which involved frontal lobe, temporal lobe and cerebellum, fracture C5 (cervical area of spine, neck), fractured transverse processes of L2, 3, 4 (Lumbar area of spine, lower back) and avulsed nerves C5 and 6 from the spinal cord on the right side (nerves that are included in the bracial plexus which innovate your arm muscles were pulled out of the spinal cord at level C5 and C6 of where they come out of the spinal cord in the neck.
They kept me in a induced coma to monitor the swelling on my brain and investigate further. Day 7-11 they were reducing the medication that was keeping my induced for me to wake up but I wasn’t responding.
I have been told that I had only 7% chance I would come out of the coma and if I did make it out of the coma, there was 30% chance that I was going to have a minimally conscious state and if I was able to make it to a much more conscious state, there was 30% chance that I would not remember anyone or anything.
I was starting to move more. Starting to touch my face with my left hand and the medical team were worried about my pulling on drains, leads and tubes so they tied my hand to the hospital bed to avoid me causing harm to myself. Somehow, I sat up, leant over to my hand and pulled out the breathing tube. I was awake, out of the coma and off the ventilator.
That was the start of the new chapter of learning everything again and my new life.
There is so much more I want to write about this but I wanted to let people know that have started reading my blogs, following me on instagram, that there is a reason that I am now hiking up mountains. There are so many occurrences, variables, life path changes etc that have lead me here but eventually I want to write a book and I feel will be much better documented in a book.
Please keep following my journey, send me positivity and I hope reading the process I have been through/going through encourages others, no matter what happens, to keep going. Change what you don’t like, what doesn’t make you happy. Be vocal about your wants and desires, have goals and live the life you want.