After the Crash: Celebrating Life in Death Valley

May 10, 2016

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

It had been four months since my near-death experience.  Flying cross-country was challenging enough – I really was not aware of the obstacles that lay ahead. Death Valley, California.

Death Valley is the lowest place in the United States with the highest recorded temperature (134°F in 1913) in the world.  I wanted to celebrate the fact that I was alive and loving life, so what better destination?

Much of Death Valley National Park can be toured by vehicle, which was great for me. You see, a few months prior while traveling in South Africa with my brother I was involved in a horrible car crash. I don’t remember being hit, and I was in and out of consciousness during most of the rescue. The only thing I remember is hearing the raw anguish in my brother’s voice as he tended to me, his gut-wrenching pleas for medical help when he saw how badly I was hurt, and feeling his hands on my face and a kiss on the top of my head.

Even in my altered state, the agony and torment in his voice broke my heart into a billion pieces and that 10-second memory haunts me every day.

They had to use “Jaws of Life” pneumatic cutting equipment to extract me. Moreover, I sustained a ruptured diaphragm which resulted in my stomach and intestines herniating into my thoracic cavity, a collapsed lung, my left femur being completely severed, six pelvic fractures, a broken wrist, and multiple cuts, bruises, and contusions. Multiple surgeries, seven nightmarish bed-ridden weeks in a South African hospital, and months of physical therapy ensued.

But here I was, determined to take on the world again, albeit still with a substantial limp, residual pain, and assisted by a crutch. No complaining from this girl as I re-entered my world of travel. I was well on my way to a 100% recovery. Life is too fantastic and precious to not work hard toward making it all you want it to be.

Read the rest of After the Crash: Celebrating Life in Death Valley in Epicure & Culture.


  1. Comment by Laura @ Grassroots Nomad

    Laura @ Grassroots Nomad Reply May 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Congratulations on working so hard on your recovery – you deserve a wonderful travel adventure!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply May 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Awwwww, thanks Laura! That’s so sweet! It’s full steam ahead now….

  2. Comment by Arnie

    Arnie Reply May 26, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    I am speechless! Your strength is an inspiration to us all. I’m not sure I could have remained quite so positive. Best for a continued complete recovery.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply May 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks so much for your encouragement, Arnie!

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