On August 24, 2010 I took one small step that changed my life.
While scouting locations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia our group went to visit the local National Theatre which had been suggested as a venue for possible filming and to meet local acting talent.
When we went into the dimly lit interior I photographed the theatre from the back of the room. I then proceeded down the aisle to walk the few steps up to the large black stage at the front of the room to take a photo of the reverse view of the hall from on stage.
But as I took that last step, I suddenly found myself in free fall and plummeted almost twenty feet straight down. The stage had been lowered to the basement level but its absence was totally indiscernible to myself and any of the other members of my group who were befuddled by my sudden disappearance - I appeared to them to have disappeared through the floor of the main stage - like a Houdini trick.
They heard the thud of my impact and my howl of anguish and rushed over to the lip of the stage to see me lying on the ground below. I really can't remember much of what happened next. Later they told me the only way they could get to me was to raise the floor back up to their level, which must have taken some time as it felt like I was down there alone forever. It was a real "touching the void" time for me, as the pain I could feel was magnified by the fear of what I could only imagine had happened to my body.
The next thing I heard was our production designer Dan Dorrance yelling at someone NOT to move my body without putting me on a wooden board to stabilize me. Thank you, Dan! You were my first angel.
Then I remember an ambulance ride from hell. For some reason I was sure that I was sliding backwards out of my stretcher on the bumpy ride through crowded Kuala Lumpur traffic. Dan and our local driver Tiak were in the ambulance with me, and they held me down tight with their strong arms. Thank you, Tiak, you are my second angel.
Arriving at the hospital and taking x-rays and cat scans and getting the diagnosis of the multiple fracture to my crushed heel and the damage to my pelvic area are all pretty much a blur as I write this post, but what I can recall are the other friends in my group, David Willis and John Thompson and Jamie King who stayed by my side and gave me their strength and love and support while I moved through the process of admittance and surgery and the beginning of my recovery. You guys are the best team anybody could ever hope for when the chips are down.
I am writing this 4 days post-op and each day is a new miracle for me. The first 48 hours really tested my will in ways I have never experienced, as every little basic thing we take for granted and that constitute the ground floor of being alive - moving, breathing, eating, drinking, passing, sleeping, dreaming, seemed slightly beyond my ability.
Jamie King gave up her own trip back and her obligations at work and with her own family to stay here with me through this really hard time. I will always be grateful to you, Jamie. You are the best!
Yesterday morning I was able to eat my breakfast for the first time, I got out of bed for the first time, and with the help of the wonderfully caring staff here at the hospital I took a shower in the wheelchair.
The water rushing over my body gave me a feeling of euphoria I cannot describe. I was here. I was alive. I could feel again. I was alive.
Tomorrow we will have a Skype account set up so I can see and talk to Elsa and Diego and Natalie and Miro and be connected to those amazing people I am so lucky to have in my life. And Elsa's brother will arrive to take the baton from Jamie and be my best friend over here through the incredibly hard work of re-hab.
I'm working hard first of all to quiet my mind. The only road ahead for me is the next hour, the next meal, the next step forward in my walker. None of us know anything about the future - each moment of our lives contains within it one small step. Who can imagine where that step will take us?
As I couldn't see the deep chasm that lay ahead of me last Tuesday, nor could I see the rainbow of WONDERFUL loving connections I have made in the days since then. So really there was nothing false or true about that step - it is just what happened then, and all this is what is happening now.
Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog and Elsa's and written in with your encouragement. Your words are a balm.