When we last left off, Weiss informed us that we'd be going through another class 3-4 rapid, but he didn't tell me to hold on for that one. He did, however, tell us that if he yelled "lean in," we should get low and lean into the middle of the raft.
So we're paddling through this rapid, having a grand ol' time, when Weiss starts yelling, "Lean in! Lean in!"
I started to lean forward, but a split second later a wall of water hits my back, I feel my paddle get ripped from my hands, and suddenly I was under water.
There's video of this. I'd just like to leave a disclaimer: it looks really anticlimactic and lame. Actually, it's legitimately the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. But I promise, to live it was terrifying.
WHY IS THIS SO FUNNY?
My first thought was, "oh s#*%, of course I'd be the one to fall out, are you kidding me?"
My second thought was, "oh s#*%, people die like this!"
And then it became, "OH S#*% I NEED TO GET TO THE SURFACE!"
That, my friends, was more difficult than anticipated, mostly because, y'know, whitewater. We were in the middle of class 3-4 rapids, not a serene swimming pool. I struggled against the waves for a few seconds (momentarily terrified that I might be under the raft), but made it to the surface... and was immediately smacked from behind by another wave. But I had no idea what to do because I'd head exactly none of the safety speech on the bus. So I was trying to suck down a few breaths while I got my bearings, and luckily noticed my mom not far upriver from where I was. I had no idea where my dad was, or if he was okay. I turned back down river and saw another raft from our group paddling in our direction, so I started struggling towards them. (Swimming against the current ain't easy, lemme tell ya.) But as we got closer, all the people on the side of the raft closest to me stopped paddling in unison and held out their arms for me to grab onto. So even in survival mode, I remember thinking, "...this is actually a thing that is happening. This is absurd."
I must've grabbed someone, or someone grabbed me, and I was somehow heaved on board. I sort of slumped at the back of the raft, shaking from a combination of terror and adrenaline and cold (the water was 45 degrees), unable to comprehend what had just happened. I literally just sat there panting and shivering. I had no idea what to even do. I did, however, see my dad in a raft, so that was a nice relief.
Pretty soon, my mom and Chris were both pulled on board as well. This raft was on top of their game; they rescued three people, several stray paddles, and a shoe. Everyone else ended up back in our original raft. But speaking of shoes, both of my water shoes had been ripped off my feet, which I was starting to notice were definitely not feeling okay and were already starting to swell.
All the rafts in our group pulled off to shore to reassess and get medical attention to anyone who needed it. It was around when I went to climb out of the raft that I realized I definitely didn't want to. First of all, because I was now barefoot and there are rocks on the ground, and second of all, my right foot was already turning purple and it felt like several toes might've been broken. So I was allowed to stay in my rescue raft, while most of the hubbub was surrounding the group in my original raft. I didn't really know what was going on over there, but my mom went back and forth a few times to check on both my dad and I. The guides seemed pretty concerned about me, but I told them my pain levels were perfectly tolerable and that, since we were so close to the end of the trip, I could hang out where I was to get back.
So that's what happened. The people that rescued me were incredibly lovely and very concerned about my feet, and I would've thoroughly enjoyed my time with them if I hadn't been shaken and freezing and in pain. We still had one section of rapids to get through before the end (which was very much not fun), but we made it back safely. That was when I learned that my dad had not only lost his glasses in the river, but his knee had been sliced open and was gushing blood. So all the activity when we'd pulled off to shore was to bandage up my dad and stop the bleeding. COOL. (We were the only two that were incapacitated in any way, mind you. Eight people ended up in the water, and the only two that were injured beyond just being banged up were me and my dad. Amazing.)
I was carried onto the bus and we were off to the check-in center, where I was then carried off the bus so my dad and I could get further medical care (read: ibuprofen and ice and some bandages) and get changed into our dry clothes. I discovered that I could walk; not particularly well, and very slowly, but I was able to hobble around under my own power. The lovely people at Echo Canyon felt terrible, so they gave us all of our raft's GoPro photos and videos for free (and thereby making these blog posts possible, thanks guys). My dad thought he might need stitches, and I needed to have some X-rays done to check for broken bones, so it was then off to urgent care.
We'd been in good spirits about the whole thing since the moment the shock wore off, but it was in urgent care that my dad and I completely lost it. He walked in there with bloody gauze over his knee and a lump on his forehead, and I hobbled in there with just socks on my feet (it hurt too much to put on my shoes). We were standing at the counter to check in when we looked at each other and literally just burst into uncontrollable laughter. The whole time we were there, we were continuously cracking up because how f$*@ing absurd was this?
I kept noticing new bruises. When I went to bend my left leg I realized there was a giant lump above my knee, and when I shifted in my chair I noticed that the entire back of my right thigh was blue. I was completely covered in bruises. My mom's pinky finger was rapidly swelling and turning purple, and she had a sore ankle and a nasty bruise by one of her knees. My dad, in addition to the bloody knee and lost glasses, had a nasty bruise on his other knee and a sore shoulder. We were a complete mess... but we literally couldn't stop laughing.
My dad ended up not getting stitches, and X-rays showed I had no broken bones, just a sprained foot and "multiple leg contusions." (Oh really? I hadn't noticed that my ENTIRE LOWER BODY WAS PURPLE.) But they gave each of us a shot of painkillers (in the butt. Awesome) and told us to take lots of ibuprofen and ice everything, and that was kind of it. We limped back to my apartment to have dinner (at 9 p.m.) and spent the entire next day recovering.
And they carted me out in a wheelchair. Because MY FEET.
But! Want to see how bruised I was?
Actually, in hindsight it doesn't look that bad. Because this is what they look like now, a week later.
HOW GROSS AM I? At least my foot pain is mostly gone so I don't have to limp anymore. But I'm still avoiding wearing dresses to work because I don't want to mentally scar anyone. #employeeoftheyear. But seriously, when I looked down at my right leg yesterday I literally burst out laughing because of how disgusting it is. You'd think getting beat up by a river would be more traumatizing. I don't know why I keep laughing like a hyena about it, but here we are.
So, yeah. Getting dumped into the Arkansas River: 0/10, would not recommend. And if you happen to see me and I'm sitting funny... you know why.