Disclaimer: This story contains mentions of drug use which may be upsetting to some.
“I’d never really thought much about my death until the day I jumped off my roof. I should have died. By some beautiful miracle, I didn’t.
When I jumped that day, I gracefully superman-dove off the tippy top of a 2-story house. I promptly smashed my face into a section of the roof that jutted out, breaking my fall. I then tumbled down the remainder of the roof, rolled off the edge, then free-fell another 15 feet and landed on my back on the cement next to my garbage bin. My body shattered like a smashed China doll.
The initial impact knocked me unconscious. When I came to, the first thought that ran through my muddled mind was, ‘Ummm, so why am I not flying? Ugh, WTF man?’ But let me back up in the story. When I jumped off my roof, I wasn’t feeling suicidal. I already thought I was dead. Instead, I thought I was going to fly up and dance in the clouds and stars. This was because I had been drugged by a guy I was spending a lot of time with. Plot twist.
You see, I thought I was drinking a tea that only had mushrooms in it. (The magical kind with psilocybin. I would occasionally use them as part of a healing and meditative practice.) But while the tea was steeping and I was getting ready in the bathroom, this guy (let’s call him B, as in ‘Betrayal’) slipped some Acid (LSD) in both mine and his teas. I imagine B did it thinking it would make the experience even more fun. He then withheld this critical information from me, and I drank the tea. Within 3 to 5 minutes, I started tripping.
I was scared and had to lay down on my living room carpet. This was alarming to me, and I couldn’t understand why I was feeling the effects so fast. I’d done the same batch of mushrooms a handful of times. It’d usually take 30-40 minutes to kick in, and I’d never felt this amount of crazy before. Long story short, it suddenly occurred to me he was being dishonest. We got into an argument. B became evasive and annoyed and told me he was going outside. He asked if I was fine. (I was still a drooling, blubbery mess on the floor, but I rolled my eyes and said, ‘Yeah, sure.’) He then left me alone in my crazed, psychedelic trip.
Shortly after he left, I fell down a rabbit-hole of crazy. We’re talking Alice in Wonderland-level psycho. I was hallucinating so hard, I thought a meteor had hit earth and I was convinced my brain had exploded across the walls. I thought I was dead and trapped alone forever in my home. It was pure horror.
At one point, a surge of explosive energy took over my body. I jumped out of bed and sprinted across my home to the front door. I live upstairs in the attic apartment of a home in Salt Lake City, and when I flung open the front door, I stepped out onto the balcony. Had I looked down below, I might have noticed B chilling on a chair in the garden. As it was, I looked upward into the sky. It was the first calm moment for me.
Now, this is where it gets more weird. I truly don’t remember how I accomplished this, but somehow, I climbed up onto my roof. I’d have had to hop up onto the very skinny railing of the balcony, without falling over the edge, and then pull myself up onto the roof using my upper body strength. I have no memory of doing this. I was told by medical experts and professionals of all kinds afterward that one side effect of Acid is experiencing crazy bursts of energy and having almost superhuman strength. Also experiencing gaps in memory.
I climbed to the top of the roof and stood up. It was Memorial Day, the end of May, the weather was perfect, and it was nearing sunset. The neighbor’s fluffy dog started barking at me, and I giggled stupidly. I then had this overwhelming desire to fly. I thought I was dead, and I was sick of being trapped at my house in this strange After World. That’s when I jumped. And that’s when I crashed. I’ll never forget the jarring, cement-smacking impact.
B found me soon afterward. My right arm was pinned under my body, and I was confused as to why I wasn’t flying and couldn’t move my limbs. I wasn’t really feeling any pain, probably due to the drugs. He sobered up real fast and called the paramedics. I was so relieved to see him again because it meant I wasn’t alone in death. But I couldn’t understand why he seemed so panicked.
The paramedics arrived and did their thing, stabilizing my neck with a brace and getting me onto a stretcher, all while I was blabbing like an idiot. At one point, I tried lifting my crushed and broken left arm, and a lady with a no-nonsense ponytail quickly said, ‘Don’t move your body if you ever want to walk again.’
It was shortly after I arrived at the hospital that the pain started to kick in. What had seemed like a strange game I was playing in some bizarre Hell was quickly turning into a real-life nightmare. I remember being rushed on a stretcher down a hallway and doctors saying things like ‘Jumped off a roof,’ ‘Possible brain damage,’ and ‘Might be paralyzed.’ It was when I was receiving a full-body CT scan that it finally hit me: I wasn’t dead, and this was my real life. I began sobbing and thought, ‘Oh God, what have I done?’
When I started begging for morphine and for the doctors to knock me out, I was told they couldn’t give me anything yet, I needed to stay awake in case I had brain damage. I remember having a somewhat calm and lucid moment where I thought to myself, ‘I don’t care what they tell me, I will walk again. I believe in miracles, and I will use the power of my brain to heal my broken body.’
I went through all kinds of physical exams, all the while wondering if I was indeed paralyzed. I cried as they gently moved my broken limbs. I screamed with each new jarring movement of my body. A doctor administered a test to check my sensations. He ran a finger up and down my feet and legs and even inserted a Q-tip up my ass. It was a great relief when he determined I had full feeling and wasn’t paralyzed.
The X-rays were the worst part of that night. It took an hour for them to X-ray my entire body. The technicians had to manipulate and move my body into the most excruciating positions to capture the images. I screamed and bawled helplessly for a solid hour. There was one nurse, Cameron, who helped me through that hour. She had blonde hair, light blue eyes, and a kind face, and she tried to keep me distracted. She asked me if I liked to travel (I do) and had me talk about the solo trek I once took across Europe. And each time they had to move my body into a new painful position again, she’d count down from 5 for me.
I’ll never forget the moment I sobbed to her and told her I had fucked everything up. She smiled down at me and said with conviction, ‘No you haven’t. This is part of your life story, and you’re going to be okay. You’ll be so strong because of this, and you’ll do great things in life.’ She was literally an earth angel, and she filled me with courage. I’ll always feel gratitude for her. After that, I was taken to a hospital room.
Once again, I cried as splints were made for my broken right foot and broken left arm. I didn’t sleep that night, and I was taken straight into surgery the following morning. My best friend walked beside the stretcher as they wheeled me off to surgery. My family was going to be there when I woke up, she told me. When I asked why B wasn’t there with her, she shrugged her shoulders but told me he was okay. He hadn’t answered my phone call a nurse had made for me from the emergency room the night before either. I was greatly feeling his absence.
A surgeon explained I was about to have a surgery to fuse my spine. I had a burst fracture at L2 along my vertebrae and had very nearly been paralyzed as a result. If I was ever to walk again, I’d need this surgery to fuse L2 with L1 and L3. I had also cracked T1 and T2, but they weren’t going to mess with those vertebrae in surgery. They were also going to do surgery on my right ankle. I had broken my Talus Bone, which is the main weight-bearing bone. The surgeon had oodles of forms for me to sign, and I was so weak, I could only run my right finger nimbly across the iPad.
They told me this was a somewhat risky surgery and there could be major complications. I looked at my best friend, and later she told me she had the same thought at that moment that I’d had. ‘What if I don’t make it in surgery?’ Obviously, I survived that surgery and there were no major complications. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same with the next surgery. I had broken my left humerus. In fact, I snapped it completely in half. There were breaks around my elbow joint as well. Basically, my left arm was a hot mess express.
It ended up taking them 9 hours in surgery to piece my left arm back together, and as a result of them having to re-route and move my Ulnar Nerve up over the bone, I ended up with major nerve damage in my left hand. My whole left hand swelled like fat sausages, and I could no longer feel my ring or pinkie finger, and I completely lost all grip strength and fine motor skills in that hand. Oh, and on top of it, I also broke my nose in 2 spots, had road rash and bruises across my whole body from rolling down the roof shingles, and had hematoma in my head (A massive pool of blood below the scalp). Lovely, right?
I ended up spending 2 weeks in the hospital. My new wardrobe consisted of oversized and heinous hospital gowns, I had a catheter and wore diapers, I had a neck brace on, and I had to lie flat pretty much the entire time. I ended up being a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale for a solid month and a half. I had to quickly get over any body shame as well. Dozens of different nurses, CNAs, and aids saw me naked, gave me sponge baths, and wiped my ass.
The hospital staff was very kind, and I had an abundance of family and friends visit me. My room was a jungle of plants and a hot energy-bed of healing crystals. Yet B was very absent. I called and texted repeatedly, pleading for him to come see me and to just hold my hand. I also begged him in every message to forgive me for the mess I’d created. Everything was my fault, I assured him, I must have just taken too many mushrooms I guess, and I loved him and hoped he was okay. I couldn’t understand why he ignored every message.
He was always so sweet and charming and used to love-bomb me with flowers and dinners (while also manipulating me and playing all kinds of head games). Where was he now when I needed him most? B finally came to see me after 5 days, and only because my best friend literally made him. He couldn’t look me in the eye and merely held my hand for 5 minutes. When I asked if we could talk about what happened, he said he didn’t want to. After a moment, he said, ‘Wow, I can tell you’re in a lot of pain.’ He then excused himself and left. He continued to ignore all my calls and texts.
After my long hospital stay, I was transferred to a skilled nursing rehab in northern Utah. It was very lonely to leave Salt Lake and all my friends, but I would be closer to my parents and sister. While in rehab, I fell into the depths of a depression so cutting, it felt like it had teeth. This couldn’t be real – this couldn’t be my life. I had been such a physically active person before this. I was always out hiking trails, or hitting up the gym, doing yoga, or hopping on the back of my friend’s motorcycle. And I was a creative writer who typed away and I played piano. To suddenly end up stuck in a bed, then eventually a wheelchair, and having no fine motor skills in one hand was truly a devastating and shocking loss for me.
B finally came to visit me one single time while I was in rehab. I had been begging him to come see me. Ironically, he only lived 10 minutes away (he used to drive to Salt Lake City and stay at my place on the weekends and had his own key), but he had so far refused to see me. When he visited, he wouldn’t give me a hug and sat on the opposite side of the room from me. He had his body turned away so he couldn’t make eye contact, and his body language was so cold, it was shocking to me. It was like we were strangers. And as we talked, he made it seem like he was doing me such a big favor to even be there. He also spun a very elaborate story that had me convinced at the moment everything was my fault.
When I asked him why he had abandoned me while I was having such a bad trip, he said I had been so cruel to him and had said all kinds of awful things to him, and that’s why he’d left me alone. I was confused because I remembered confronting him about being manipulative and dishonest. I apologized repeatedly for hurting him that day. He then told me he needed space from me, so he could ‘heal’ from everything I did. Never once did he offer any kind of apology or take any of the responsibility for the shared experience we went into together. He then gave me a small gift (a trojan horse exchange), told me he’d try to come see me after his vacation to Yellowstone (since I was again pleading with him), walked out the door, promptly blocked me on social media, and never spoke to me again.
I spent 3 weeks in rehab and started occupational therapy for my hand and elbow and physical therapy for my back and foot. It was painful and bleak and very lonely. Since I was still in a wheelchair, I couldn’t return to my home, which has a lot of stairs. My parent’s home is all stairs as well. This put me in a tricky situation because the rehab facility wanted to discharge me. So, I ended up moving into an assisted living center with all elderly people. That’s right. For the next 2 months, I lived in a facility where I was decades younger than every other resident. It was hot grandma summer.
I realized early on in my healing process I could either pass the time with a hopeful and more optimistic attitude or I could feel like cat shit every day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of depressed days where I’ve wallowed in self-pity. But I feel like I did a good job of gracefully embracing the pain, feeling grateful I was still alive, and even finding humor in it all. I also went on the ‘Fun Bus’ outings with the elderly and participated in a lot of the outings with my dear friends. They once hooked up a foam machine and we had a bubble party out back. I rolled through mountains of bubbles in my wheelchair just laughing like a little kid. That was my favorite.
I spent 3 1/2 months in my wheelchair, and the day I was in a walking boot and was walking out of the assisted living center was a day of mixed emotions. I was grateful to start walking again and was happy to go home, but I knew I’d forever cherish my time with those cute oldie goldies.
Going home was difficult. I found myself back in the place where it all began. The emotions were so difficult, and I missed B more than ever. I had to work again, despite being in chronic pain, I had the aftermath of a tsunami of medical bills to clean up, and I was still in physical therapy and occupational therapy. (News flash, I’m still doing occupational therapy 11 months after my accident.) Let me tell you, PT and OT are a special form of torture. I joked with my therapists that they were very kind sadists.
Eventually, I fell into a new normal. A new rhythm of living. And I’ve chosen to celebrate each new milestone and achievement, as small or as big as they’ve been. 3 weeks ago, I suddenly realized I could fully straighten all the fingers on my left hand without effort. They aren’t curled up like little witch claws anymore. I was absolutely tickled by this.
Next month, May 31st, marks one year since my accident. I wish I could say I’ve fully healed in all ways, but I haven’t. I just had one final surgery on my elbow. I needed a bone graft since there was still a small crack in my humerus. They took bone from my shin and inserted it into my arm. (Insert line from song: ‘My shin bone’s connected to my elbow bone.’) They also swapped out the metal hardware (I’m practically a walking cyborg) and cleared out scar tissue. My whole left hand is still tingly, but it’s getting stronger all the time.
I look forward to the day I can play the piano again. My back and foot feel pretty amazing, all things considered, and I’m beyond delighted by that. I’m patient and very hopeful my left elbow and hand will also feel more amazing with time. I’m still healing emotionally from the cruel betrayal of B as well. I’ve been doing EMDR therapy and have been able to recognize the narcissistic and manipulative traits he’d used with me. And after working with additional experts, I was able to put 2 and 2 together about him drugging me. Above all, I feel empowered again and I’m grateful he’s out of my life.
When I reflect on that terrifying night in the ER, the nurse who helped me, Cameron, was right. This is part of my life story. And I can truly say I’m a much stronger, more confident, more empowered, and more compassionate person as a result. As for my death? It turns out I wasn’t ready to meet ole Grim Reaper. I plan on living to be at least 102. And I hope I’ll still attend a foam party in a yellow speedo and hobble through a mess of bubbles with a childlike smile on my face.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Matt Jaggi. You can follow his journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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‘I think I can do a handstand on a kettlebell!’ It was a dumb way to get injured. The room began to spin.’: Woman has stroke after a fall, ‘I had more time to pray and think during my recovery than I’d ever had in my life’
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