In 2015, I fell 20 to 25 feet out of a tree.
All of my medical records list different heights since no one knew the precise distance — that detail feels important to me. The person I had been climbing with said we were near the top of a redwood on the University of California, Santa Cruz’s campus when I turned to her and said, “I have to get down. Now.” Then, without waiting for a response, I scrambled downward until I was out of sight. A moment later, she heard two smacks followed by a thud.
Before I fell out of the redwood, I was drinking alcohol every day. In fact, I had been drinking pretty consistently since the age of 14. To say I simply had a “drinking problem” would be a gross understatement.
Often, I’d get Cs (or lower) in classes at UC Santa Cruz simply because I’d forget to turn in an assignment or get hammered and decide not to write an essay. One teacher’s assistant, after grading a paper I had managed to get in on time, handed it back to me, marked with an A, and gave me a line similar to the one Dr. Octavius gave Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2: “You’re brilliant when you turn things in. Imagine if you were more diligent.”
In my head, I translated this to: “Imagine if you weren’t depressed, ... if you weren’t a drunk, ... if you were just a better person.”
Instead of being a better person, I’d get drunk and climb trees. Usually, I avoided redwoods when I was three sheets to the wind, but I had a tolerance — a couple of beers wouldn’t stop me from climbing. The friend I was with on that fateful day said I had only had two beers. I can’t confirm or deny this because I have no memory of my fall or the entire day that preceded it.
My family wasn’t given a specific prognosis because chances were that I wouldn’t wake up.
For ten days following my fall, I was in a coma, my vitals monitored at every moment at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California. My family wasn’t given a specific prognosis because...