After traveling many corners of the world such as camping in the Sahara with camels, scaling the walls of the Coliseum in Rome, zip-lining in Costa Rica, and running the Boston Marathon, my traveler’s luck ran out late last month on September 27th. Finally, after all of my adventuring and evening hiking a 3,100 ft mountain the day before, a naughty tree in my driveway in Poughkeepsie, New York (Hudson Valley just 1.5 hours outside of NYC) decided to fall on me.

Yes, without a sign or warning a very large tree limb tackled me and left me unconscious to be taken to the nearest trauma center (limb shown to the left).  Never in an accident previously and in basic good health, this took both myself and family for a very treacherous ride. The tree hit my head straight on and caused a skull fracture, internal bleeding, as well as a broken neck vertebra.  My husband was in the ER with me for the first day where they told him I was in very serious condition followed by four CT scans.

He also had the duty of calling my parents one in Boston, one in Fort Lauderdale, and then various colleagues of mine also scattered throughout the continent.  All were in shock and many in route to the hospital. I don’t remember anything from exiting the house before the tree accident until the fifth day in the hospital where I was in an immobile neck brace with beeping monitors and nurses visiting numerous times per hour to check on my pain, vitals, and the like.

Not a good patient, I was itching to move and progress to the next stages.  Having never been in such a situation, everything was strange and rather limiting.  But, Thursday (5 days after being admitted) was the big day in which the neurosurgeon took me to operate on my vertebra and successfully fused the broken vertebra with metal :).  Since that day, I have been in recovery.  The first day was without any movement, but it was a miracle that my first steps were just two days after surgery.

Although it will be a long road to getting Ms Injured Pants back to Ms Traveling Pants shape, I am so lucky to have survived such a freakish accident.  It really put my priorities and values into perspective.  I have always believed that you should learn each day and above all have FUN, but sometimes with the daily grind and pressures, those things loose out.  So, as I make my way to full recovery through walking everyday, sporting a neck brace looking like a NFL superstar, and progressing to more challenging foods, I want to make myself a promise to remember the quote that started this blog,

“Every occasion in life can be categorized as either a good time or a good story.”

The tree falling and tackling me into a multi-month recovery certainly was not a good time, but I believe it is a good story that will be the basis of many good times in the future. It will limit my travels over the next three months, but I am certain that my daily adventures and insights will be material enough to draw upon.

To my family, friends, co-workers, and followers, I appreciate all of your support, calls, jokes, videos, flowers, cookies, and more.  I cannot repay you in any other way than getting back to my happy, vivacious self that explores new places, foods, wines, and cultures with my friends, family, and unknown people that will soon become part of the gang.

Keep you posted on my walking adventures to recovery. And to all, be cautious of trees. If you own a property or rent a property, please take this month to take care of limbs, branches, and general health of your trees so that no one else falls prey to a tree tackling.

0 Responses

  1. Wow! Life is so very random! I’m glad you are going to be okay and I love that quote. The fact that you have such a great outlook on life will surely be helpful for recovery.

  2. All the best to you for a speedy recovery. With your determination I would expect to see you on the road again in the not-too-distant future (hopefully no sooner that appropriate due time!). Good to hear from you and to hear your progress.

  3. Heidi, Your so very lucky and agrees with all that you said, your a very strong willed woman with lots of determination and your quote is wondeful. Best Wishes for a speedy and full recovery. And Yes accidents definately if severe enough put your priorities in check and your life as well as i did when i had my severe accident made me see things alot clearer and and my life and its values…..

    take care hugs


  4. Heidi: Thank goodness you’re on the mend now. What a story to tell!

    We miss you in pilates and all send best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Hang in there.


  5. Goodness! What shocking news… well, I can only say how relieved I am to hear that you are okay and in recovery. I’m pleased that you’ve got such a great perspective on the whole experience. Take care and best wishes to you…

  6. HEIDI! Having gone thru this experience can only mean that you have many more great things to accomplish. Take care and all the best!

  7. Wow Heidi, what an experience to go through but I’m so happy to hear that you’re so positive because it will definitely speed up your recovery. Keep those positive attitude and wishing you a very speedy recovery.

  8. Hi Heidi,

    I see from later blogs that you are well on the road to full recovery (perhaps there already!).
    However, I am writing to comment on this particular blog where you mentioned that the incident put “priorities and values into perspective”.

    We all need to “stop & smell the roses along the way” … we must change our habit of being busy without taking time to enjoy our time on Earth … for we are here but once.

    Warm regards,
    Tunku Iskandar

  9. On this day, not far from Thanksgiving, I am certainly thankful this year. Thank you to all that have added comments, sent me positive thoughts, and have helped me smell the roses on my journey.

    I am getting better each week and look forward to getting back to “my normal.”

    Keeping my fingers and toes crossed to see (and/or meet) you all FULLY RECOVERED in the near future.

    Ms Traveling Pants
    (aka Heidi)

  10. Wow Heidi… I had no idea it was this serious until I actually read the story behind it all. Oh my!… I’m really sorry you have to go through this, and at the same time I’m so inspired by you and your optimistic heart~ so true that everything can be categorized as either a good time, or a good story. I try to live like that, but only realized it until you verbalized it.
    You’re wonderful, strong and insightful and I’m sure after your recovery, you’ll be trekking again with more interesting stories to tell and absolutely NO trees messing with you!
    I wish you the best and hope to see you in 2010.

  11. This is tragic. I read with horror your story. How can you travel around the world, survive life threatening events (skydiving?) only to get a fractured skull by a vicious tree? Looks like however you are back on track.
    You don’t need a parachute when you skydive. You only need a parachute if you skydive twice.