We had a recent post on teens and dangerous games where we highlighted a game called ghost train. The purpose of the post was to emphasize how teens will forever invent new ways to push limits and often act impulsively. That post inspired one of our readers to have her son share his story about the dangers of rope swings. Elliot is a 16 year old who was trying to impress friends one day by swinging on a rope swing attached to a tree. The consequences were very unexpected: he had a long hospital stay and rehabilitation. Elliot graciously shared his personal story with teenology101.
A Guest Post by Elliot Harrison
I started 10th grade like a normal teenage boy. Excited; Rambunctious— a risk taker. School had just started, and the days were still warm. I gathered up some friends and we rode our bikes down to the car show downtown. We decided to take a detour first and go down to the park where I was going to show them “something really cool.” We parked our bikes and walked down a treacherous quarter mile trail. Once we got there, everyone smiled. A rope swing! And it wasn’t just any old rope swing; it was a rope tied to bike handlebars that hung down from the tree which you held on above you with your hands and swung out over a dirt hill with trees and rocks and logs. It was awesome!
We all took swings, and it was fun and all, and then I decided to take it up a notch. I was going to swing out and kick the top of a tree at the bottom of the hill. That’s right the top of a tree. A tree! That’s like 20 feet tall. My palms are sweaty from the heat, but I was confident. (Total recipe for disaster by the way.) I ran as fast as I could—faster than ever before—and then leaped. I swung out, but this time, the rope jerked! My hands slipped. Time seemed to slow down. I fell through the air, and a million thoughts went through my head. What’s happening? Will I get hurt? Why did I swing on his rope? Oh… this is going to be bad. Real bad. I’ll be ok though. I’ll be just fine. Wow; this is a long fall. Please be a dream. And then my mind went blank. I closed my eyes, and thought of nothing. There was nothing more to think of. One question remained in my mind: would I ever open my eyes again?
That’s when I hit the ground. First my feet, then my back and finally my head, with a hard whack. The next thing I remember was laying in the dirt with my friend bent over me. People say that I bounced and rolled over stumps and logs, but I don’t remember any of that. I felt fine, so I tried to get up. That didn’t turn out as expected. I threw up, and felt horrible. I couldn’t breathe, but strangely enough, I didn’t feel any pain. Wow. Was I screwed. I looked at my wrist, and I was surprised to see it all bent at a wrong angle. My first thought was, “Dang! There goes my record of no broken bones!”
The rest of that day was a blur. The paramedics picked me up in a time that seemed very short, and I was brought to Harborview Medical Centre in a matter of minutes. The ambulance ride was short and very smooth; no bumps. I made sure to thank the paramedics for their hard work, and speed. Once I got to the hospital, they put a bracelet on me and it had my name and date. I realized that the date was 9/11. What a coincidence. I noticed a few IVs in my arms and somebody said they were pumping me with morphine by the bucket-load. There were about six doctors surrounding me, each one doing something different. One doctor that I remember was the hand doctor, and he was a doof. He would yank on my broken wrist, and try to get it back in place. He tried and failed about a thousand times and then gave up. He would yank on it, which was incredibly painful, and then apologize when he turned around and bumped it.
I really don’t remember much of the first week in the hospital. It was full of doctors, and nurses, and heart beats, and inhales, and exhales, and—oxy codon. Probably as a result of the heavy pain medications that I was taking, the whole stay all blended together. Even though there was a TV and my friends loaned me an iPad, the stay was quite boring. I was never hungry, and I couldn’t see very well from all the drugs. I had a chest x-ray taken every morning at 4 or 5, and a CT scan every few days. I must be glowing green by now! I had multiple operations; none major, but all necessary. Over the course of my stay, I had 13 tubes in my side, sucking the fluids from my body cavity where my liver leaked, and I had surgery in my arm to put it back together with screws and a plate.
During my hospital stay, I was really out of it, but I realized just how many friends I had. I think that over 50 different people took the time to drive all the way down to Seattle jut to see me. Some, multiple times. My childhood friend would skype me every other day, and my brother’s friend’s mom came almost every day to talk. I realized how lucky I really was. I got a ton of cards, and money, and my parents got meals to help feed the rest of my family while they were at my bedside. I concluded that the three most valuable things anyone can have are life, friends, and happiness. When I look back on his whole ordeal, I know that I am a changed person. I guess it takes a near-death experience to realize how valuable life, friends, and happiness really are… or does it? I, for sure, have changed a lot in pursuit of friends, and happiness, now that I have life, and I believe that all of my friends and family have gotten slapped in the face by importance and the value of life.