It was April 2008. I was ready for a long night ahead. The Relay for Life of Sanford was underway at the Central Florida Zoo. We had just finished a wonderful survivor dinner inside the Wayne Densch Center. Gary, my brother, was sharing the “spotlight” with me that evening as we gave out a variety of prizes to survivors and caregivers. All donated from area businesses, we had received a lot of giveaways that year. So, instead of just giving them out inside after the meal, we told guests we would meet them at the outdoor stage to continue the fun. We had more prizes to award.
Gary and I had just be given several thank you gifts for serving on the committee by Survivor Chair Carol Ann Pohl. We had put them down at our campsite and made our way to the staging area where the festivities were underway. Once done, I told Gary I was returning to our site to make sure all was well. We had left our youngest brother, Michael, at the site to keep things going while we tended to other things. Since this was his first actual Relay at the zoo, I wanted to make sure he was okay. Most of my team members had also made their way to our campsite, so this was my chance to say hello to everyone.
I was standing at the site, less than a foot away from my walker and cane. I was simply talking to Michael and Gary, who had just arrived. At some point during the conversation, I began to “turn.” At least, I think that’s what I did. As I moved (I was going to get my walker and begin heading off to visit other sites.) I felt myself falling. Obviously, I was unable to stop the motion. It felt like I was falling in slow motion ... the sensation was so strange. And when I finally landed, the pain that I felt was “all too familiar.” The searing pain through my left leg was definitely “familiar” in a horrible way. I immediately knew I was seriously injured. I began to scream. “Gary, I can’t go through this again!” I shouted out! “I can’t do this again!” Without actually knowing what I had done, I was already feeling this horrific pain. That all too familiar 100 level on the scale of one to 10.
Gary didn’t even realize immediately what had happened. One minute I was talking to him and the next, he almost could not comprehend that I was down on the ground. He had been standing right behind Michael (on the other side of our site’s table) and the three of us had been casually chatting. Now, I was screaming at the top of my lungs! Gary radioed for emergency help. Fortunately, he had requested on site paramedics who were there in an instant. (They were on bicycles.) Elaine Raymond, our Event Chair, arrived quickly and was down on the ground with me, holding my hand.. attempting to calm me down and assuring me that help was on the way. Meanwhile, my daughter, Adrienne, who began screaming “Mommy!” was pulled away as she tried to get down next to me. Someone pulled her away, explaining that they needed to clear the area for the paramedics. Gary had also told someone to find Edward, who had began walking around the area.
The following moments are a blur. I know an IV was put in, and I was told I was being given a pain killer. I was screaming away! The pain was so excruciating! I could hear comments like, “Look at her leg!” “You can see the break!” I could not see anything but I sure felt the pain going through my body! Even before I had the X-ray, I knew I had broken my left femur.
How in the world did this happen? I had broken my right femur just three years earlier in 2005, but I had tripped over a curb. Now, I was simply standing.. talking .. I moved very slowly and did not even complete my move and I went down with such a force that the largest bone in my body had broken! I could not comprehend it at all. But, this is what I did know. It had taken years to get back to some degree of normalcy. Now, after finally feeling so much better, all I could imagine is “years” of more therapy. Months of being in a rehab center, then more home care, weeks of outpatient physical therapy and then, more work on my own. Yes, it would be “years” before I could even think of being “normal” again. At that instant, I was not only in physical pain but emotionally/mentally I was a broken person.