I wrote this one a few years back when submitting stories for a book dedicated to back pain. Never got published, so here it is to share. And yeah, it’s what I get for being a daredevil!! 🙂
The water a couple of feet above me looked so calm and peaceful especially with the afternoon sun piercing down into the water creating kaleidoscope images that looked like they were painted across the face of the lake. I was however, unable to move having just landed in the water after jumping from a perch on a rock face some fifty feet up. “You came down straight as an arrow”, my brother-in-law Peter, who was cliff jumping with me would later say; but when I splashed down, my body curved underwater a little bit. In a split second, a cross-current took hold of me and violently snapped my body straight causing every single muscle in my back from my neck clear on down to my waist to lock up. It was in that moment of unbearable pain that I cast my eyes up towards the surface of the water which seemed so far away, and my mouth fell open and I silently uttered the words, “I can’t move…I’m not going to make it!”
I floated motionless and helpless, suspended in place by the very water I had just jumped into. I felt the very breath of life leave me for a minute or two before my brain finally took charge of my body and instructed my arms and legs to move and get me out of the water. The pain climbing this wall of water to the surface above me was so intense I could feel my muscles screaming in pain as I moved them, and as it became harder to breathe and capture air, my lungs felt as though they were going to explode. As the noise of the boats and the people jumping from the rocks into the water and those cheering them became louder, my brain pushed my body harder to make that final push to break the surface which looked like a sheet of glass. A rush of wind and fresh air filled my lungs as my head finally cut through the water and bobbed like a float at the end of a fishing pole as the boat my family was on approached me. From the look on all of their faces, they all realized something was terribly wrong.
“Are you okay?” my panicked mother said. “Something’s wrong with my back, I, I can’t move it and I’m starting to feel cold” was my stuttered reply. “Well, we need to get you out of the water while you’re still somewhat mobile” Peter said; and with that he reached over the side of the boat, grabbed both of my arms and pulled me up out of the water and into the boat. The pain was so excruciating that I thought I was going to pass out, but it felt good to lay flat on a towel on the floor of the boat rather than at the bottom of the lake.
Once back at the cottage we were vacationing at, I was immediately rushed into my bedroom where a pain relief gel was put on my back. It smelled horrible and felt white hot as it sunk into my back to loosen my tight muscles, but was well worth it for the relief it provided. I also felt a bit more relieved when Peter came in the room and said that after he jumped off that very same spot, his toes tingled a bit from the force of hitting the water from such a height.
The trip back to Toronto, between sitting up and lying down in the car and the frequent stops because of the back spasms that constantly attacked me, was the longest I had ever experienced. Like I felt that I would never get out of the water; I felt like the trip home would never end. When we did get home, it was the first time I never had to help empty the car. I was told to go lie down and rest my back.
A few weeks before this event, I had been to see my friend, Richard who is a shiatsu therapist. He was really great for working the kinks and stress knots out of a back. During the massage, he commented how straight my spine was. I now dreaded the phone call I would have to make to set up an appointment to get his opinion now that I had the accident.
As I walked into his office on the day of the appointment, he could see the pain creased across my face and took me straight into the therapy room. “Yep, you’ve really done it this time. Your spine feels full of knots and is no longer straight. No straight spine for you!” he joked as he massaged and worked on the painful pressure points on my back, “it’s a good thing you came in when you did; at least I can work at relaxing your muscles so you won’t be in too much pain. You’ll be stuck with some pain for the rest of your life though.”
After a few visits, the pain did diminish a bit; but to this day, I still feel some pain especially when the weather is cold and rainy. Fortunately it is a minor pain and is more or less just a cruel reminder of what happened when I tried to be a “silly daredevil” as my mom called me.
The year after the accident, while on vacation at the cottage, Peter and I did return to the same spot…and yes, since we both were branded with the title “silly daredevil”, we did go jumping. This time however, we jumped from rocks that were much closer to the water. As we stood on a rock with only a drop of a couple of feet to the water below, we looked up to the perch where we jumped off and hurt ourselves the year earlier. Peter’s toes tingled and my back tingled from my neck clear on down to my waist. We both agreed we weren’t enough of a “silly daredevil” to dare going up and jumping from that spot ever again!