The Accident: My Living Nightmare
April 16, 2011 – A Special Day I Will Never Forget
After competing in my first NPC show in the fall of 2010, I was addicted to the world of fitness competitions. I made it a resolution of mine to get in the best shape of my life and compete as much as I can. First show on my list for the New Year was the WBFF Fitness Atlantic Championships.
I wanted to compete with the best of the best, and this is where I heard it was at. I had trained hard, but I knew I had to bring it up a level. I stepped up my cardio and intensity in training in order to make sure I was ready. In spite of all my nerves and anxiousness, I was extremely excited to get on stage. The weekend of April 16, 2011 is one I will never forget.
Winning 1st place in my Short Fitness Model class, and receiving Pro status was incredible; it was my ultimate goal at the time.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited in all my life. After flying back to CO, I started my training for the World Championships. I was gearing up to bring my best to Toronto in August.
May 16, 2011 – Don’t Take Anything for Granted
Exactly a month after achieving Pro status; my world changed completely. It was a beautiful Monday in downtown Denver in which three other girls and myself were working a promotional event. For this particular promotion, we stood on Segways on the sidewalk and handed out flyers to convention attendees. We had already completed day number one of the promotion, and with the improvement in weather, it was already looking like a much better day. It was a great day; it was a great job, which was brought to a halt almost immediately.
That Monday was one of the scariest moments of my entire life; it was literally, a living nightmare.
Our day started at 7:30am and only about 15 min. later I looked up to see an SUV and white car collide. The white car had tried to make an illegal left turn from the middle lane, hitting the SUV which was then headed on a straight path (driving at a good 30mph) directly for me and one other promotional model. There was no time to act, and before I knew it I was pinned in between the SUV and a steel fence; with my legs completely crushed.
At the time I wasn’t sure if I’d survive a head on hit with an SUV, but God saved me.
I was still conscious, and with the lower half of my body pinned, the upper half of my body was hanging over the fence. Thank the Lord the upper half of my body was protected by the steel fence. My flight response kicked in immediately. I couldn’t see straight, but I knew I had to get out of there. I was screaming for help as I fought to pull myself out from the SUV and fence.
I was so thankful to be alive, but scared to discover what happened to the lower half of my body.
I ended up blacking out while trying to pull myself out and a trauma doctor who happened to be attending the conference helped lift me out. I regained consciousness after the Doctor placed me on the ground. Not only were my legs destroyed, but my heart was broken. My mind was flooded with thoughts of my family, and the horrible implications this accident would have as far as training, competing, modeling, and personal training goes. I wasn’t sure at the time if I’d ever be able to bounce back from this terrible experience.
I was screaming in pain; and when I realized I was the only one screaming, I became concerned.
I looked back to see the other girl lying in the middle of the parking lot not making a sound. I wanted to help, but I laid there helpless, unable to move my legs. We were surrounded by convention attendees who called 9-1-1 and driven to the ER with serious injuries. I had a compound fracture in each leg and a compound fracture in my left ankle, as well as a ton of bruises, scrapes, and bumps that would take awhile to heal.
They operated on both legs that afternoon, inserting rods in both legs.
My legs were covered with 35 staples, in addition to a good amount of stitches.
Then, due to blood lost during surgery, I needed a blood transfusion to increase my red blood cell count. They started physical therapy with me the day after the surgery, having me use a walker to make my way to the hallway. I’ve never struggled with something so simple in all my life. The next day they had me use crutches and taught me how to work my way up the stairs. I stayed overnight for two nights and was released that Wednesday.
My life since returning home has consisted of lots of time on the couch, appointments every day of the week, and making sure I am consistent with my medications. I’m in a constant state of pain, even with medication, but have hope that things will improve soon. The other girl involved in the accident is still in the hospital with head trauma. Our lives will never be the same. I am so thankful for the love, support and prayers I’ve received from so many people.
God has been so good to me,
and I’m so blessed
to live another beautiful day.
May 16, 2011—? (Waiting…)
My passion for fitness is put on hold for an indefinite amount of time. Prior to “my living nightmare,” I would spend 2-3 hours working out 6-7 days of the week, with gym time being my favorite time of day. It was my release; I loved every minute of working out. I thrived on the challenge of reaching my fullest potential as far as my physique is concerned.
Receiving my pro card with the WBFF ignited a new fire in my heart to reach the next level. I was counting down the days to the World Championships, and I absolutely could not wait until August.
My world was flipped upside down on May 16. Every day since the accident, I can’t help but wrestle with the fact that I have no option but to rest and wait for my legs to heal. My legs are in a constant state of pain, and I lack the ability to walk on my own. Trips to the bathroom and light arm weight exercises are the only forms of physical activity I can get in a day.
While I was always very consistent in my workouts, I would have down days from time to time where I’d make excuses not to work out. All the excuses in the world seem so ridiculous now; especially when I just want to be whole again.
My legs may have been crushed, but my heart hurts more than my body.
I am broken. My eyes well up with tears when I think about the fact that the World Championships are out of the picture this year. I have a long road ahead of me to get back to the way I was prior to the accident. I feel so helpless; I have no choice but to sit and wait for my body to heal. I’m in a place I never imagined I’d be, and I am more thankful for life and every little blessing now more than ever.
I long for the day when I can start training again and compete with the best of the best at the WBFF World Championships; but for now, I have no choice but to wait.
Links to additional photos and videos:
Carissa is on the ground on the left, Kaitlyn is on the right
Slideshow from the original news story
An interview of Carissa on Denver 7