It had been a beautiful day at the little swimming hole and there wasn’t a worry in sight. New memories were made and the day couldn’t have been better. All packed up, we were ready to climb back out of the bowl, up to where the brush would intersect with the trail. From there it would be roughly one mile to get back to the trailhead, but first we had to cross the slippery waters once more. Wooden staff in hand, I was bracing myself while my eyes scanned the rocks to determine which route I would take. I was last to cross and just like the snowshoeing incident where I crashed hip deep into the snow, this would become one of those incidents where I was happy not to be alone. I don’t know how I didn’t see it before, but I just didn’t and perhaps I didn’t scan out ahead far enough to notice. I was concerned with my immediate footing, one step at a time I guess. And there it went, “put your right foot out” I was setting down on one of the rocks that didn’t seem to have much algae on it. It seemed like a safe step and it was, for a moment at least. My left leg was already in forward motion as all my weight shifted onto the right foot, circling in on the rock that would support the next step. Except that there was a snake sitting right on top of it. I’m sure my eyes widened big, my mouth opened wide, pure terror, “oh shit”. What followed happened all in the split of a second, yet it felt as if I was trapped in the slow motion of the nightmare to really hit home. Left leg in motion I was quickly searching for another spot to plant my foot. Anything would do other than stepping on top of the snake and the slippery algae presented no concern anymore. My weight shifted while balancing the right leg on the once believed to be safe rock, which would prove in an instant that it wasn’t all that safe after all. My supporting right leg pulled out backwards from underneath me as if I was standing on a sheet of slippery ice. My entire body launched face forward into the water, right on top of the snake. With arms extended forward my instincts automatically kicked in to brace my fall, but the horror of landing on the snake was something entirely else. I think it scarred me for life. I took in a good mouth full of water, until I could scream “Snake” to signal for help. I frantically threw my head around to find the snake to the left of me within a short distance. It was black with yellow strips and coiled on another rock out of the water while hissing at me. I had to get out of there and in a panic I tried to push myself up and out of the water. It was then that I realized that something was wrong. I couldn’t push up and noticed the bone of my left elbow staring me in the face. I had never gotten hurt or broke a bone in my entire life, but I believed that I had dislocated my elbow.
I hit hard on the granite Boulder and besides the elbow I discovered all the scuffing and scraping on the balms of my hand. The would feel sore and bruised for weeks to come while the scratches would heal quickly. My left shin had slammed down onto a jagged rug and was bleeding. There was an intrusion and the bone seemed bruised and raised, but not broken and I could walk. Catching my breath after getting out of the water and holding my arm that was just weirdly and out of place hanging on the side of my body, we made a make shift sling out of my towel to support my arm. There was pain, but the adrenaline and my high pain tolerance made it bearable. However, I still had to climb out of the bowl and over rocks that usually require two hands to hold on to. I had to grit my teeth a few times along the way and I required help and a push from behind to push me up and over. I couldn’t rely on pulling myself up with the arm and that’s why I was glad of not being alone. I’m sure I would have done it somehow if I had to and the survival instincts would have kicked in, but it would have been with a lot more pain I would Imagine.
Back on the trail, we hiked towards the car and were soon on our way. It would take about 1 1/2 hours to get to the nearest ER and all I could do is sit there and brace my elbow as I could feel every bump in the road.
At the non so emergency emergency room I waited for another nearly two hours before somebody would finally see me. Apparently patients with a common cold were more important and took priority over my elbow. I was raised to wait my turn, to be respectful and not expect special treatment, but common, my arm was starting to turn blue and I was beginning to go into shock until somebody finally acknowledged that I had suffered enough. Later I was told that I could have lost my arm if I had sat there for much longer. Thank you for your sense of urgency dear medical staff.
After being butchered with the IV needle (nobody ever finds my veins) and X-rays, it was indeed a dislocated elbow. Dislocated so unusually that I became the guinea pig of something you don’t see every day. The entire student medical staff was standing around my bed while the doctor explained what would happen next and that there is a decent success rate in putting everything back into place. Decent he said, very comforting to say the least. He further noted to having to put me out and that everything would be done and over with when I wake up. Luckily everything did go well and I even was able to get out of the physical therapy they initially ordered for me afterwards. I did have major swelling though from the violent way to put my elbow back into place and eventually got a cast to immobilize everything to stillness. It was the only time in my life I ever got seriously hurt and required a cast.
“The day I could finally kiss my cast goodbye”
At that point I started to research more about the snake sightings and their meaning. It was said that change was upon me and that like a snake I would shed my skin to emerge a sleeker version of myself. The snake being a ground dwelling close to the earth would be a sign to keep me grounded through the transition so in order I could emerge as a whole after shedding my skin, just like the snake emerges whole. The snake was said to be powerfully connected to the life force and primal energy. Again signaling a transition and a change while representing the source of life. It was also linked to healing opportunities for myself and others while manifesting increased energy. The snake spirit is said to be reminiscent of unconscious drives and primal instincts.
I believe that it was then that I started to become my own healer while feeling a desire to help others. It was also right after that, that on the 5th of January, the year after all the snake sightings, I left the ugly beauty store and wouldn’t go back to work until October of 2015. It was the rebirth of myself, the primal energy to survive and to shed the things that no longer served me. Without a doubt it was a great transition period, filled with pain and healing, trying to understand and ultimately slowly finding my way back to myself. I still travel this path of great enlightenment to reinforce and nurture what matters while trying to eliminate the toxins that restrict my life one by one. To emerge as a whole but sleeker, to utilize what I have always known, only wiser and stronger. To live my purpose instead of the expectations and values from an old fashioned society.