I was twenty years old and I’d spent the summer in the US competing in Triathlons. This was followed by a couple of weeks in the South of France in the Ardeché Gorge Rock climbing and having a most excellent time, then a week in Chamonix - the centre of world alpinism. Life was good, very good. I had a dream of becoming an International Mountain Guide which would have meant a life of sharing my passion for mountain sports, rock climbing, ice climbing skiing etc etc.
On the last day of the holiday in Chamonix, a friend and I decided to have an easy day on the Glacier des Bossons. It should have been a calm, low key, no stress day. It wasn’t. I slipped and banged my head, knocked myself out and ended up 40ft down a crevasse unconscious. The upshot was I had sustained one or two bumps and bruises. I had in actual fact broken my right leg in four places which had to be pinned back together, I had a compressed wedge fracture to vertebrae in my back at level L1 & L2, and I’d broken my nose.
What we didn’t know at the time was that I had also fractured my skull. This didn’t become apparent until a few months later when the trauma started to subside and Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) started dripping out of my nose. I thought I had a cold. A cold it was not. At the time I was having regular orthopaedic checkups. I been told that it was likely I’d be on crutches for at least six months, in the world of Chris that was a challenge and to me, I was going to do without my crutches in three.
I had my regular appointment with the consultant and had shown him that I could walk without the aid of crutches. However I did let him know that I had been having really bad headaches, at which point an urgent X-ray was arranged. The results revealed that I had been taking outside air up into my cranium which had compressed my brain to two thirds the size it should have been.
I was asked to go home, pack a bag, and to get to the Queens Medical Centre for seven pm, that would be great. I was given antibiotics and an 8 hr operation (Anterior Fosa-Craniotomy) followed by a week on the Neurological ward, and thankfully that was enough to seal the hole that was in my head.
That was nearly thirty years ago. People have since called me stubborn; I prefer to see myself as determined and strong-minded. I listened to what people said (my family - I thank you) and made my own mind up. I believed I would get better and I have, and I’m stronger because of what happened to me. It may seem strange but I’m happy it did happen because I can now use my experience to help others. I had to put a few things on hold, but hey that’s life! Life is not a rehearsal, so get out be kind to those who need it and enjoy it.