So there I was helpless and cold, lost down a remote mountain pass high up in the Black Range mountains of New Mexico and little did I know what was about to happen. Not just one but a series of miracles which would allow me to be here to even write about it all two years later. I know that many are already familiar with my story but today is special, it has been two years since I was rescued from certain death. When I say that I should not be here I really mean that I should not be alive right now. On the scale of chances for rescue from the situation that I had gotten myself into, I would put my percentages of survival at less than five percent. That is it because if you could see where my SUV had rolled off of, the fact that my car was not even remotely viewable from the road above or below it, I consider myself to be unbelievably lucky.
This morning, one of the first things that I did was to write a note to the people who found me that morning two years ago today. I will forever consider them my Angels. Rhonda Wheeler, her husband Cory and Rhonda’s brother Aaron Rogers are the three rescuers that I know of by name. There were others involved in getting me out of harm’s way that day but I never got their names. Actually, there must have been probably 30 or so people who helped me that day. It was a very well-organized effort to get me out of there. As far as I can remember, Cory and Rhonda were on their way down to New Mexico to visit family but there was concern that the road winding through the mountains was becoming dangerous and treacherous because of an impending snowstorm.
Aaron, Rhonda’s brother who was living in New Mexico decided to go up and see what the road conditions were like and if it was going to be a safe option for her sister and brother-in-law to travel. The two cars met up unexpectedly and they just happened to stop within earshot of me. That is a miracle that I had no idea had happened until late 2015 when Mark and I met up with Aaron for dinner in Silver City. He went on to fill me in on that details of that harrowing day. He said that his brother-in-law was constantly being slowed down by a herd of deer that had decided to walk on the mountain road and slowed their progress. Had it not been for those deer, the two cars may have met at a totally different place entirely and I would have never been found.
As Rhonda and another woman got out of their cars to greet and hug each other, that is the moment that they heard my cries fro help. At first, Rhonda asked the other woman if she heard a voice yelling in the distance. I remember that I could hear them both indistinctly and I gave another try to get their attention by crying out even louder. I recall being quite weak but I knew in my heart that this was going to be my best and only chance to be rescued from certain death. Thankfully, they both heard me and then went down the road to see where the sound was coming from. Although they could not see my car because of the trees, they let me know that they were going to get someone down there.
It is here where I am not quite sure about the details but I believe that Aaron told me that they initially tried to call for help but there was no phone service available. He drove off and went back up the mountain where he was able to get the attention of a snow plow driver who was up at Emory Pass scenic view, a mile up the mountain road. The driver called up emergency rescue and made his way to see what he could for me. Soon, I heard the sound of feet breaking through brush and rocks and two men, Cory and the snow plow driver got down to where I was. Cory stayed with me after they made contact and assessed the situation. They offered me some Dr. Pepper and tried to keep me calm as they told me not to move and to stay awake. The plow driver made his way back up and before you knew, there was a full-on massive rescue operation going on.
Highway 152 was shut down in both directions for several hours and emergency vehicles were all over the road. They had to set up this elaborate cable rescue device in which they would end up attaching my stretcher to a cable and then several men would lift the stretcher as the cable pulled me up the mountainside. I remember how absolutely painful it was to feel those bumps and the impact of being put down on the rocks as the guys and gals got rested up from getting me out of there. My body was so broken and the memories that I have of being pulled out are still blurry to me to this day but all I know is that it was a monumental effort by lots of good men and women.
When I got to the top, I knew that everything was going to be alright. I was in so much pain and I recall that I was first placed in an ambulance but then was taken out when they found out that a helicopter was there to airlift me to the closest trauma center. I was placed into the helicopter and as it lifted, I had no idea what was in store for me. I arrived at the hospital probably 40 minutes later and was placed into an ICU ward as they got to evaluating me and assessing my condition. It was a long day and I was just so thankful that somebody had found me. They immediately cut away my clothing and began to look at my injuries. I was put into an MRI machine and the news was not devastating at first but then the realization of the fact that I had broken my C1 atlas bone, C2, C4 and my T6 along with the pinging of my spinal cord, it is not hard to conceive that I was not doing too hot. I felt like I had been pummeled and beaten to a pulp. I had no use of my hands and I felt as if my head was going to fall off of my neck.
It was around 5 in the evening that Mark finally got a hold of me at the hospital. I heard his voice and his sense of relief in knowing that I was indeed alive. He told me that he was worried sick for me and how glad and thankful that he was that I was finally safe. He wanted to make it out to see me but he had to arrange for travel because he did not own a car. I told him that it was okay and that I would love to see him whenever he could make it down to El Paso. He said that if the weather was not too snowy that he had arranged for a transwoman and friend of his, Kelly Winters, to give him a ride on the 1st. We hung up after I found out that my sister was on another line at the hospital and wanted to talk to me. My hands could not grab a phone, so I asked the doctors to tell my sister to call me on my phone. That was a phone call that I am still waiting to receive. I expected my sister to call but she never did. She never has and I honestly I do not believe that she ever will.
Upon speaking to my mom, she was quick to say that although she was grateful to God that I had been spared, it did not change the fact that she believed that God had allowed this to happen to me in order to give me a wake-up call to abandon being a transsexual. My ex, whom I had been separated from since November of 2013 and who had served me papers of divorce in January of 2014, had nothing to offer me in the area of encouragement. She wondered if I was going to submit to the recommendations of the doctors to undergo a complicated and risky seven to eight-hour surgery to fuse my neck. I was told that I would have titanium fixators permanently placed into my neck and that my range of motion would be greatly reduced and life would never be the same. I found out later that none of the doctors in that hospital had ever heard of anyone surviving through the type of injuries that I had to endure. The number that I was given for survival with surgery was at 25%. That was it, if I did not get the surgery, my chances for long-term survival were much less. Looking back, I am so glad that Mark encouraged me not to follow those doctors or my mother’s or even my ex’s advice to go under the knife.
What pained me more than anything was not the physical pain that I was suffering with but with the emotional pain that supposed loved ones caused me. The constant snide remarks and casual blame, the cold and stoic non-response of children who I had a relationship with the year before, the utter abandonment that I felt at that moment were more crushing to me than feeling the impact of my car against the rocks and trees as it cartwheeled down the mountainside the night before. I was truly alone and I had no one until Mark arrived the next day.
People will never know the true sense of rejection that many of us in the trans community have to endure. Our former families think that they are the ones that have been abandoned but I would say that the opposite is what is true. It is a true test of humanity and unconditonal love to have the opportunity to extend a hand of help and love but instead to choose to turn away and look in another direction entirely. That is what happened to me and that is what I have had to try to overcome more than any physical injury that I had to endure. This pain and desire to make the things right with my former family has driven me to make many enemies in the process. I have attempted to reconnect with my meaningless childhood faith in an effort to hug my children one more time. I have said things that have hurt many in the trans community, demonizing them by trying to explain their condition away by my fundamental Christian beliefs. I really regret that I hurt so many in doing so. Good people who did not deserve to be told those things. I did it and I am so ashamed of what took place. I thought that I had learned my lesson last year but towards the end, I blew it yet again and why? Because of my overwhelming guilt and sense of rejection that I have had to deal with.
I am so glad that I stopped detransitioning because my problem was never in being trans but in feeling guilty about it. The thing is that no one cared, no one cared about Mark, so why should we? We have each other and love is my greatest gift and I have that in him. We are going to start off the new year afresh and will be focusing on better things, things that bring wholeness, positivity, health and wellness for the two of us. We will be starting off the new year with a 30-day water fast and we will be documenting our journey along the way. My husband has had to put up with so many of my ups and downs and it has taken a real physical, mental, spiritual and emotional toll on him. His body is dealing with the effects of detransitioning three times in the past two years. His body has been nursing a nagging and chronic rotator cuff tear and more recently, past dental work that he had done is starting to cause him real problems. This fast is a real attempt to get out of the way of our bodies and to finally let our bodies heal what is broken.
I am very excited about the new year and what lies in store for the two of us in 2017 as we are finally able to enjoy ourselves and the beauty of being married to my twin flame. We hope that you find a place in your heart to forgive us and to let us show you that we are just good people with pure hearts who care about you and want to see you all live wonderful lives filled with love and peace for all. Thanks for following my journey and that of my husband. To all of you Angels (and you know who you are) again I say a very big thank you. May we all, in the end, become the best version of us that we can possibly be. Let us all strive to live lives that give, love and share. Remember, we are all here to help each other along.