I got home from my hiking trip in Arizona a week ago and I'm just starting to get used to living with a broken arm. Including typing with my left hand. Don't know just how the accident happened. My friend Jason was behind me at the time. He thinks a rock might have broken. It's also possible my foot slipped or I misstepped. Whatever, he saw me tumble head over heels twice down the rocky 45-degree slope before coming to a stop some 17 to 20 feet below the trail. He was down to me almost immediately and was amazed that I was conscious and lucid. We didn't know what exactly was wrong, but my right arm was in pain and i could not move it, so he made a sling for it, and immobilized the arm by binding it to my chest with duct tape. (Later, the doctor said he did an excellent job of it.) We didn't know if rescue would be coming, so he got me back up to the trail and we headed back. The trail between Beaver Falls and the Colorado River is very rough, and the accident happened only about a mile above the Colorado on our way back up after lunch at the confluence. Fortunately, some hikers had passed us and had alerted the ranger, who radioed back to the village. The helicopter was just quitting for the day, so they sent it down to look for us, and it got to us maybe 3 or 4 hours after the accident, when we'd hiked about another 3 1/2 miles. Jason says I cannot call myself a wimp anymore after hiking 3 1/2 miles on rough trail with a broken arm, but I disagree. It was only with his help and constant encouragement that I was able to do it, and i was whimpering the whole way. The helicopter got us up to the village, and eventually to the parking lot, and Jason drove me to the hospital in Flagstaff, AZ. (The clinic in the village could not do anything for me because they are prohibited by law from treating non-Indians, but they let me sit inside, out of the sun until the helicopter could get us out of the canyon.)
We got to the hospital around 10:00 p.m., and the triage nurse saw me around midnight, and by 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. I was in a hospital bed with some morphine and dilaudid in me to easy the pain somewhat. The accident happened at around 2:00 p.m. So it was about 12 hours from that time until I was properly ensconced in the hospital.
My right humerus was broken in two places and the ball had further damage. My lower right canine was broken at the gum line and my upper incisors were chipped. I had a nasty bump on my head and the thumb of my left hand was hurt, leaving it weak and with limited mobility. It's too weak now to use a nail clipper, so my good hand is on the immobilized arm and my good arm has a damaged and weak hand. I never felt the numerous cuts and scrapes on my arms and legs. I am extremely lucky that the damage was not far worse. I could easily have broken my neck. My legs are fine and I can walk without assistance. They operated on my arm late the next morning, and when I got out of the hospital a couple of days later, a dentist removed the broken tooth. Back at home, my dentist fixed the upper teeth, and in 3 weeks I'll see an oral surgeon about an implant. In two days I'll see the PA at a local orthopedist's office for a 2-week follow-up about the arm. Maybe I'll get an idea then about expected recovery times.
All my summer hiking is off, and I'm depressed as hell about that because they had some really special hikes planned for me. But I'm damn lucky to be alive. There are no pictures of me lying at the bottom of the cliff since Jason was in a hurry to apply first aid and didn't bother with pics. He might have gotten a picture of the slope before we resumed hiking. If so I expect him to include it when he finally gets the rest of the trip pictures to me.