I knew that when Amy and I were in
I would finally be meeting and thanking those who saved my life. I knew that it would be an intense and emotional part of our journey. I also knew that I would be listening to stories about an entire month of my life that I don’t remember. What I didn’t know was what all of this truly meant. Missoula
I have known for a year now that I almost died, but it was much different hearing it from the nurses and doctors that witnessed everything. One of the people that I met was Karl, who was one of my respiratory therapists. Karl told me how serious the issues with my lungs really were. He told me that he didn’t think that I was going to make it, and then went on to say why.
He explained that the average room has about 21% oxygen, and the average healthy person takes in at least 90% of the oxygen their body needs. I was on 100% oxygen and was only able to absorb about 51% of the oxygen that I needed. Then he went on to explain that even if I had made it through the trauma, he was scared that I would have major brain damage due to the low amounts of oxygen over a long period of time. It was at this moment that I realized just how close I was, and how lucky I am.
Karl helping me after I woke up from the coma
One person that played a key role in what I do remember was Nurse John. When I woke up from my coma I had an instant connection with John. I was told that when he would enter my room he would direct most of his conversation towards me. Although I was in a coma, he would tell me stories about what was going on in his life. My brain must have been taking in his stories even though I was in a coma. It was a strange but extremely strong connection.
I had been waiting almost a year to not only meet John, but to be able to tell him all of this face to face. That moment was everything and more than I ever expected. John was the only person at that time that I trusted with my medical needs. Everyone else either made me nervous, or completely scared me due to the drugs that I was coming off of. So you could imagine how great it was for me to finally tell this man thanks for everything that he did.
One afternoon Amy and I had the pleasure of going up onto the life flight deck and meeting the men who were on the helicopter that day. We got to go out onto the roof with the life flight helicopter and talk about what they remembered. Because we were able to see Mt.Jumbo, they were able to point out exactly where I crashed as they explained everything they had to do to get me off the mountain. They also went on to explain that my crash prompted collaborative training sessions that involved the life flight team, fire department, and ambulance service. They have since set up a mock paraglider crash higher up the mountain from where I crashed. All of them worked together on getting up to the paraglider and safely getting him down in a timely fashion. They also scouted out all the possible places to land the helicopter on Jumbo, and also on the other mountains facing
. It made me really happy to know that my accident played a part in better preparing them if there ever is a next time. Missoula
As we made our way closer to Lovell, I began to get more and more nervous. I have never felt anxiety like this. Preparing to meet the man that not only saved my life, but was the only eye witness that I knew of proved to be more intense than I ever imagined.
We met William outside of his local gas station and followed him to his house. As if he hadn’t already done enough, he offered up his room to Amy and me so that we didn’t have to set up our tent in the middle of the night. We woke up in the morning and made our way over to a beautiful overlook, where we were going to do an interview with William for the documentary.
After we got the cameras rolling, I began asking about the day that I crashed. William went on to tell me about what he saw. He said that when he first saw me everything was going just fine. He even thought to himself that speed flying was something that he should get into. As he reached into his pocket to grab his phone to film my flight, things started to go wrong.
He told me that my canopy was no longer fully inflated and was twisted around. At that point I was no longer in control, the canopy decided where I was going. As I made my way down to the earth at about 40 mph, he began running in my direction. Although William didn’t see me hit the ground, he said that he was able to hear the impact.
Moments later the life flight team, fire department, and ambulance service were all making their way up the mountain towards me. Once they were on the scene, it was a group effort to get me down to the helicopter and over to the hospital. The life flight nurse told me that William did not stop stabilizing my neck until he was certain that someone else was ready to take over the responsibility. If it wasn’t for Williams’s quick thinking, and knowledge on traumatic injuries, my life would be completely different, or even worse, it would be over.