Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 25th, 2007
Today, September 25, 2007, marks 728 weeks or over 5100 days since I almost died. On this date in 1993, I was free-climbing a rocky cliff in Maine, slipped on some talus, and fell back, straight down, about 40 feet. I landed on some rocks and caused my lumbar 1 to completely implode. As one of my doctors said, “You didn’t break your back; your vertebra burst.”
I was told later that such a rock climbing accident could have killed me. Maybe it was the Yeti shirt I was wearing, or my sons that kept me alive, but the two weeks of operations in the hospital are a blur. I remember the five or six months of recovery, at first in bed, and being told that my nonsmoking was healing the bones quicker. I have foggy remembrances of the people that brought me soup and helped me get through learning to walk again and move my body.
That time was one of those moments where you take pause to think what you want to do for the rest of your life. I had weeks to ponder such things, as the doctors grafted part of my pelvis into my back and reinforced it with metal rods. Certainly, I never felt sorry for myself. Nor did I come close to comparing myself to war veterans or people who are disabled after such a fall. I was blessed that the L1 burst was a mm away from the spinal cord. I never lost the motivation to live, to learn how to swing a bat again to practice baseball with my sons, and eventually get back out in the field, researching and writing about cryptozoology.
Breaking one’s back can change how you view the world, and for me, I decided to leave my 50-hours-plus-a-week university jobs. If I was going to devote as much time to cryptozoology and my sons as I was wanted to, it was now or never. And so I did it, fulltime.
Without any savings, without any income, I decided to be alive and make that my biggest gift to myself. I never looked back. I’m through climbing cliffs, according to the docs, and I will always have pain in my L1 fused backbone. But I take in these last few years, of watching my sons grow up into men and writing all those cz books and more, as truly beyond belief to me.
Today is always when a certain series of awards are announced, and it always seems strange to me, the timing that is.
Another year will have passed without any MacArthur genius grants being given to anyone who is a cryptozoologist. Too bad. I really want to see that happen someday, in my lifetime. I think it will occur, probably to someone who is within academia. I’m realistic enough to understand it won’t be me, but, boy, do I want to see it be given to someone in the field. As I say to my friends, I’ve already been given a bigger grant fourteen years ago, when I fell off that cliff face and lived.
But the little gifts – all the different kinds – that you all give me are appreciated too, and I want to say thanks again, today. After the fall, I changed my life, and, truth be told, there are few ways for fulltime cryptozoologists to make a living. So, yes, if you are a fan, want to write me an email, are interested in flying me in for a talk, want to obtain some autographed books, or support my research via a modest Paypal donation (don’t use the button on this page, which goes to the blog administration), please privately contact me at LColeman@maine.rr.com to order or send along your mini-grants. My mailing address is Loren Coleman, PO Box 360, Portland, Maine 04112. Thank you.
One reason I like this photograph, beside the whole icon of Bigfoot, is because I can stand up. That’s something I didn’t think I would ever be able to do after the rock climbing accident of 1993. Another is that it dramatically reminds me of how white my hair became after the accident!