Rayna 101: Thanksgiving 2013 and Why I am Thankful.

As many of you know, Christian is my fiancé and my second shooter. We’ve been together for almost seven years and moved across the country together in 2010. It was scary, but we packed up everything we owned and our two cats and moved to Colorado without any source of income lined up, just a rented apartment. It was terrifying and awesome. Being so far away from family has been tough but I think it’s safe to say that these last three months have been the hardest for me.

Many of you also know that Christian was in a very serious rock climbing accident on August 16th of this year. I knew something was wrong all day, since the moment I woke up that morning. I remember it very clearly, sitting up out of nowhere, wide awake at 7:04 am.

I received the call at around 12:30 from one of his rescuers but had no idea what had happened. Only that he had taken a lead fall and hit his head. I knew he’d be life-flighted out as soon as they could get him off the mountain and get a helicopter back there. He was back on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.

5 hours later (and 10 hours after his accident) he was on his way to St. Anthony’s and so was I.

I found out there that, go figure, his accident had occurred minutes after 7 am that morning. He had fallen 50-60 feet total, but had hit multiple things along the way. He broke C2 in his neck and had burst fractured at both T6 and T7 (essentially, two of his thoracic vertebrae had exploded). He also broke 6 ribs, had two skull fractures, a broken left scapula and his left lung was punctured. He was also up talking to me and he somehow managed to forgo any nerve damage at all. He could walk. Quite well actually, since he managed to climb to the anchor after the accident.

It’s been 3 months and 12 days since his accident. His back is mostly healed from his 6 level thoracic fusion and we found out yesterday that his neck has a bony union and he will not be needing surgery. In his surgeons words “wow… your neck healed a lot better than I thought it would”. This was the best news we could have received and we’ve both been glowing since.

The last three months have been hard. Watching Christian struggle through the limitations of the accident, having to leave him 4 days a week starting three days after his accident to go to my internship, financially since our household’s main source of income has been extremely limited.  We’ve been emotionally impacted as well, since my best friend almost died.

So yesterday was the most amazing news we could have received and it came just in time for Thanksgiving, the holiday where you celebrate what you’re thankful for. The things you have.

So… I  am thankful for (in order of occurrences and not importance)…

1) The rescuers on Longs Peak. Mike and Dave who immediately abandoned their climb to get to Christian, who removed his rack from his neck and set up the anchor to get him safe. Bruce, our friend and Christian’s climbing partner for the day that held Christian to keep him warm and who sat on the snow to protect Christian from it, even though he hates being cold as much as I do. Johan, the paramedic who was on scene within minutes, who took control of the operation. Tommy and Jonathan, both professional climbers who were filming that day, who called off the entire thing to set fixed ropes and to hike all the way out to the ranger station to get the litter. Everyone else, Rocky Mountain Rangers included, who stood by to help, donated clothing or provided medical care and time to get Christian down.

2) My friends Martha, Amber and Amy, who spend the first few days with me after the accident. Who kept me strong and smiling through it all and who have been there consistently and without complaint through this entire ordeal.

3) Most of the staff at St. Anthony’s who gave Christian the best care they possibly could and a perfect back fusion. For letting me sleep in the chair next to him for all 18 days of his stay there and for the nurses that went above and beyond.

4) Christian’s mother, Laura, who came and stayed with us for 6 weeks. Who took care of Christian when I couldn’t be there and allowed me to focus on my internship because I knew he was in good hands. Who helped clean and cook through-out that time, and gave extra love to our four cats when we couldn’t.

5) My family and friends, who have provided support both emotionally and financially through this time. And to all of the strangers who have done the same. You have opened my eyes up in a way that I couldn’t image.

6) And for Christian, my best friend in the entire world and my partner in crime. I am so thankful that I still have you to spend my life with, to travel and play with, to snuggle with on cold days and to have RAARing fights with. My life would not be the same without you in it and I can’t put into words how thankful I am to still have you in it. (P.S. Raaaaaaaar!).

Hopefully I didn’t forget anything important. Incase it’s not apparent, I am VERY THANKFUL this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Feel free to share what you’re thankful for below.

Why I am Thankful - Christian is still with me