How falling off a balcony made me appreciate the little things in life

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Sydney Hammer, Staff Writer

Most situations hold two options: stop and think until you’ve reached a reasonable solution, or rush into answers without thought. 

When I found myself locked out of my apartment, I chose the second option. I should’ve thought things through. 

In November of 2020, I fell off my balcony. 

My roommates and I had gone out to dinner, all of us assuming someone else grabbed their key before we left. 

After an enjoyable night of delicious food and plenty of laughs, the already terrible year of 2020 became drastically worse in one night. 

When we arrived back home and realized we were locked out, I came up with the bright idea to climb our 13-foot balcony and sneak in through the window. 

I got up to the railing thinking I had saved the day, until my left foot slipped and I went crashing down onto the concrete below.

At that moment I feared for my life. All I remember is turning over, looking up at my roommate and wiping blood from my mouth.

After being completely out of it for 30 seconds, I realized I couldn’t move my leg… or my wrist… or my entire arm. 

My friends began freaking out and didn’t know what to do, we were all in a state of shock. There was no getting up. I was completely helpless.

They tried to pick me up off of the cold ground but my agonizing screams prevented them from getting me anywhere.

I realized that I had to get to a car in order to get help, so I shrieked through the pain of being carried.

We arrived at the emergency room after the most excruciating car ride I have ever experienced.

Doctors came running out and rapidly laid me over a stretcher. My friends had to leave immediately due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I was terrified and alone.

Being moved from the stretcher onto the hospital bed brought another gut-wrenching pain. But it felt so nice knowing I was in the right place getting the help I desperately needed. 

After what felt like a lifetime, I was taken to get X-rays and find out the damage I had done. 

Waiting while they took a million X-rays brought different levels of anxiety.

That’s when I heard the words, “you’ve broken your femur.”

I also learned how I had broken my left elbow and wrist, but that felt like nothing compared to learning I had broken the strongest bone in my body.

After waiting ten hours to go into surgery, I was finally worked on. They put four screws into my leg that will be there for the rest of my life. 

But the worst was yet to come. 

The three months post-surgery will be a time of my life I’ll never forget.

Through December, January and February, I was stuck in a wheelchair with a cast on my arm. 

I felt useless, and my mother had to wheel me everywhere. Things as simple as going to the bathroom became the biggest challenge. 

My whole life I have been very independent. I carry that with pride. With a broken femur, I became completely co-dependent. 

Weeks of laying in bed were ahead of me, with the excitement of physical therapy once a week. 

Sydney Hammer takes her first steps with the help of handrails after recovering from surgery on Jan. 31, 2021 at Kaiser Permanente in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Hammer broke her wrist, arm and femur from falling 13 feet off her balcony. Image courtesy of Sydney's mother, Sandra Hammer.
Sydney Hammer takes her first steps with the help of handrails after recovering from surgery on Jan. 31, 2021 at Kaiser Permanente in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Hammer broke her wrist, arm and femur from falling 13 feet off her balcony. Image courtesy of Sydney’s mother, Sandra Hammer. (Sydney Hammer)

I felt like I was losing my mind, sitting down for days on end not able to bend my own leg. 

Towards the end of my recovery, it was time to learn to walk again.

I remember taking my first steps at the doctor’s office with the help of two handrails. It was the most amazing feeling in the world.

I nearly had my life back.

After a year, I still struggle every day with my leg. I often push through the pain in my everyday life, and that will affect me for many years to come. 

No matter how much physical therapy or issues I’ll endure. I’ll forever be grateful my accident wasn’t worse than it was. 

You never know how lucky you are to have the ability to walk until it’s taken from you. 

Take your steps with gratitude.