First off I just want to say thanks to my good friends Don Hurzeler and Nick Selway who helped me more then you can imagine on this night and the days to follow. As you can see in this photo I am having a bad night. Nick is helping me lash my foot to my leg with a tripod leg, camera strap, and my belt. Don is getting the images that I can't take at the moment. Why is all this happening? Well one bad step out of the millions I have taken in my life. On a hike out to photograph I stepped to the edge of a crack that we needed to cross and a rock on the edge gave way. A moment later I was 20 foot below ground in a 3 foot wide crevasse. The crack is much deeper then what can be shown in the image. I was in the depths beyond the rubble pile.
Looking up all I saw was the flashlights of my friends desperately trying to get to me. Looking down I saw my foot at a 90 degree angle to my leg in a direction that it dose not normally move. I knew this was bad. Nick climbed down a bit and relayed my camera bag and tripod up to Don. There was no way they could lift my 190lb body out of there without ropes. I knew I would have to climb out on my own. I also knew that the adrenaline from the fall was going to wear off soon and pain would set in fast. Using my arms and one good leg I moved over to a giant bolder that had wedged itself in the crack you can see it in the photo above. After climbing up on top of it Nick and Don were able to help me out. Unfortunately the only way out was on the wrong side of the crack so this added one more obstacle to our trip out. Nick helped me immobilize the foot and Don hiked the gear back to the car. After Don got back Nick and I had already crossed the crack so I put an arm around Don and one around Nick and we began the mile hike back. The longest mile of my life over uneven terrain with a shattered ankle. After getting back to the car we realized our first aid kit of one bandaid and two ibuprofen just wasn't going to cut it. So we GPSed the hospital and were on our way. It was over an hours drive to the hospital, witch was made longer by the GPS taking us out into the boonies to where the old Hilo hospital was back in 1950.
Finally a hospital! The nurse actually asked me if it would be ok to cut my jeans off from around the ankle. To me a funny question as the jeans were already shredded from the fall and climbing up razor sharp lava rock to get out.
Who said drugs are Bad? At this moment drugs were very good. Thank God for morphine. I was a happy man despite my unwarranted fear of needles. The shattered ankle no problem. The IV needle I could have almost passed out. But afterwards I was feeling no pain and I was a happy man.
The first X-ray after they tried to set it with man power. The first doctors attempt was a no go. So in came an orthopedic surgeon and I was given a choice, leave it like this or surgery. So off I went to get put under and in turn loose about 3 hours of time after counting backwards from 10. This was my first time every being put under. Weird feeling when you wake up as though just a few seconds had gone by. I guess my doctor went to ACE the helpful hardware place, because this is my X-ray after surgery.
Seven screws on one side with a plate, two long screws on the other side and tape on the outside of the incisions. Get er done!! At the time I didn't know if I went to a doctor or a redneck mechanic.
After coming out I had to keep asking Don if we were still on for dinner that we had planned that night. This was my gauge to see how bad it was. If we were going to dinner it meant I would be out of the hospital and going home. If not then I knew that it was sever. This was my first broken bone and I did not know what to expect. I geuss in my effort to succeed in all I do I couldn't just break it clean, I had to shatter it and do it right. Go hard or go home!! Needless to say we didn't make dinner that night. And my poor wife, up to this point all she knew was I got hurt and was on my way to the hospital. I had called her when we got to the car at 7am but she had no update after that call, as I didn't get out of the recovery room until about 12pm. At least I got to have a romantic dinner of hospital food with my wife, as she came to spend the night in the hospital with me.
I named this blog no longer invincible because up until this point in my life I have never sustained any serious injury. Given my lifestyle, it has been an amazing run. As I say most people learn their not invincible in their 20's I'm in my mid 30's, so a good run indeed. It's Steve Irwin syndrome. How Steve Irwin spent his life tackling crocodiles, sharks and handling venomous snakes. Any of these could have killed him in at ant moment. Then he gets killed by a petting zoo pet that they let 5 year olds play with. Here I spend my life on the edge of an active volcano, hanging off cliffs and swimming a mer 20 feet from where the lava meets the sea. When do I get hurt? On the hike out!! The safest part of my journey. What I did learn is that while I am not invincible with a good doctor they can rebuild me as seen in the photo above. Thanks again to all my friends and fans for helping me through this. And thanks to Don Hurzeler for taking the time to record the ordeal on film as I'm sure these were not the type of photos he thought he would be taking on this morning.