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Healing a fractured life

Senior Mikayla Alex injures spine on homemade zip line

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Healing a fractured life

Senior Mikayla Alex recovers from compression fracture of the spine.

Senior Mikayla Alex recovers from compression fracture of the spine.

Photo by Jayden Warren

Senior Mikayla Alex recovers from compression fracture of the spine.

Photo by Jayden Warren

Photo by Jayden Warren

Senior Mikayla Alex recovers from compression fracture of the spine.

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It’s pitch black and there’s nothing but silence all around.

She feels the pain before she realizes what is going on. Suddenly her eyes flutter open and she hears the sound of her rhythmic heartbeat.

Pain pulses all around her back, pushing and pulling on her muscles.

Senior Mikayla Alex traveled to Houston,Texas to celebrate her uncle’s 70th birthday on March 23. In the midst of the party the next day, she decided to give in to her cousins mocking words and teasing and take a trip on a homemade zip line tied from one tree to another. At 12 feet in the air, her hands started to slip, and without a harness she was the only support she had.

Soon she could hold on no longer and her body plummeted.

“[The doctor] said it was a fracture and I honestly freaked out,” Alex said. “I was thinking ‘Is this the end of me?,’ ‘Is this going to ruin my life and my future?’”

The results of the fall were far worse than Alex and her family expected. In the span of seconds, Alex fractured her spine in four places completing a compression fracture in her mid spine. Her emotions scattered rapidly, filtering through all of the possible effects this could induce in the long run. Fear, sadness and pain engulfed her mind completely.

“I was scared the most at the instant moment of me falling and I thought everything was done for me because I have never broken anything in my life,” Alex said. “The pain was the worst feeling ever.”

While being bedridden for one week, Alex soon would begin physical therapy in order to return her body back to normal. The doctors assigned her a brace that had to be worn in order to keep her body aligned properly, yet it limited her clothing options and her movements.

“Going to physical therapy has been a struggle; I hate working out,” Alex said. “School wise I can’t go up the stairs and I have to use the elevator. When I first had the brace I couldn’t wear regular clothing and [had to wear] baggy clothing. I just didn’t feel normal like I couldn’t run and be athletic.”

Once it became time for her to return to school, nervousness overtook every thought. She analyzed every instance and obstacle she would have to face; the simple things that used to pose no challenge became her biggest ones yet.

“I was honestly scared and nervous coming back to school because I wasn’t sure if I was able to sit down because I was bedridden for about a week,” Alex said. “I wasn’t sure if pain would come and stay the whole day, but then I came back and had friends who were very supportive in helping me when they could.”

When her closest friends heard word of the incident, a multitude of emotions circulated within them. They wanted to know every detail of her condition and help as much as possible so Alex could recover as smoothly as possible.

“When I first found out I almost cried because I realized the traumatic and severe extent of her breaking her back because I thought she would’ve gotten paralyzed,” senior Darius Wells said. “I was really scared for her because she is a really good friend and I would be sad if I lost her.”

Her best friends Wells and senior Haley Ivy were greatly affected by the incident with fear of losing their friend. With thousands of good memories shared, losing her would be unfathomable.

“She means so much to me since we became great friends since freshman year,” Ivy said. “We also have a lot of good memories, she’s almost like a sister. I feel that if I didn’t meet her freshman year I wouldn’t be the same person.”

Through physical therapy and her supportive friends and family, Alex is recovering successfully despite the hardships and pain along the way. Though she has to modify her life plans, exchanging her original plan of becoming a nurse to a career that is less hands on, she is going to strive to continue normally.

“I just want to go back to normal because it is senior year and there are things I would like to do but [can’t],” Alex said. “But it’s getting better.”

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Healing a fractured life