Hello friends and family, and followers. I want to share something very important to me with you. I want to share the story of my dear friend Launa. I put a lot of work into this photography project, and we both put a few tears. It is long, but i ask you to please read it and be inspired by her strength as i have been.
2007, Kolob Utah
was headed back to camp with her friend Jordan,
after going repelling with their church group. They had gotten
separated from the group and were making
their way back
to the main trail. Launa focused on following Jordan
rolled her ankle—and began to fall.
The cliff that she tumbled down had a
straight drop off
and then gradually became less steep
“I couldn’t stop myself,
I had to let myself fall,
I hit my head on a
that’s what stopped me”
A few yards from where she stopped,
there was a second cliff about 100 ft tall.
didn’t realize my body
wasn’t working together,
I thought blood was everywhere,
I thought my head was
going to explode”
With the pain so excruciating that
she couldn’t think,
Launa felt herself drifting away.
Jordan somehow got to where Launa
lay, put her head on
her lap and began to pray vocally in a voice that to Launa,
was very heavenly, peaceful, and
was at that point where
I had to decide. Before then
I wasn’t in the right
I didn’t realize I wasn’t breathing.
It wasn’t an okay thing
to give up, but it
choice whether to do so or not.
know that that is something
that Heavenly Father did
for me. He lifted a portion
of the pain so that I was able
do my part to survive—if I wanted to.
It didn’t take away everything.
had trouble breathing.
I still had so much pain in my head,
but it he eased it
enough to finally breath”
As soon as she decided to try and
breath, she noticed that
the Jordans voice was not as angelic as it had been
“I can’t describe the pain to
you that was in my head.
Something happened as
soon as I hit my head.
I couldn’t think correctly
Jordan came down.
things were lifted up.
when I came out of my own little
world her voice became
really real—and very worrisome”
Jordan needed to go get help but was
torn because she didn’t
want to leave Launa alone.
”I wanted her to stay. It was
for me and hard for her,
but I knew that she needed
to do it. My sister passed
away when she was little,
I had never met her, but that’s
why I fought, I could
there with me”
As help came Launa continued going
in and out of consciousness,
hearing small portions of the commotion. A nurse had been at camp
and was one
of the first to the scene. She kept everyone calm
and tried to give Launa
“We’ve been here
We’ve been here 42 minutes,
we need to get her off the mountain”
Throughout this time, Launa could
not open her eyes.
The only sense she had was her hearing. She heard chainsaws
and trees falling as they tried to make a path for the helicopters to get to
getting really hard,
it literally takes every fiber of
your being, you don’t
how much a breath of air takes
and we do it every second.
I began to have thoughts like
'Why am I even doing this?'
and 'why not just take the easy way out?'.
I couldn't inhale as fast at I could exhale.
I was losing hope, getting frustrated,
and it was dragging on.
It was such
an enduring thing.
The choice to breath
was a choice
I had to make over and over again.
I heard ‘Get the Oil’
and my mind was opened that’s
when I knew it was going to
that the Lord was with me and was
going to help me fight this”
and she blacked out again
Getting Launa off the mountain was
the biggest challenge.
They couldn’t move her because they weren’t sure if she
had any broken bones, there were complications getting
a helicopter to pick her
up as well. Finally a third helicopter
came all the way from Arizona to pick
When she came to in the helicopter
she heard calm voices
around her. It registered that that she wasn’t on the
anymore but she wanted to signal that the pain in head was
unbearable and breathing was still difficult.
“I realized I couldn’t move
or open my eyes.
That was one of the most
disappointing and frustrating
in my life—realizing
that I couldn’t even do that for
myself. I can't even explain to
you what it is like to be paralyzed.
All I wanted was to move my
hands to my neck and sign that I
couldn't breath. I was angry at
Disappointed to be in a state
where I couldn’t even open my eyes.”
The medics gave her a Glasgow score
of 3 which indicates
deep unconciousness. 85-90% of people given a score of 4
or lower die two days later or remain in a vegetable state.
But Launa woke up.
And when she did the biggest hint that everything was
to be fine was that she was no longer paralyzed. Though she
partial mobility, she lost something perhaps more dear.
“my mom was there and I didn’t
even make the initial connection
that that was my mother”
“waking up and there are
cards, and memories,
and people that say hi…
and you have no idea who they are.
I felt loved, and that people were
worried, but I didn’t know
who they were.
I felt stupid,
They told her
that things would come back as she interacted with her
peers and got back into
a normal routine.
hard, She had to relearn how to walk. Though she
hadn’t broken any bones, her
body could not remember how to
walk so they started with the principles of
walking. She progressed
from crawling, being in wheel care, to using a walker.
Finally, a month
later, she was able to walk on her own which
was a feat she conquered pretty quickly compared to others in similar situations
“That was definitely a blessing.
I had to
be thankful step by step
because I was making progress
I wasn’t’ supposed to be
though she made tremendous progress
in her physical restraints, trying to regain her
memory was a
challenge that took a bit longer
“when they put a chart in front
you with a hammer and ruler and
you can’t name those things,
The hard thing with brain injuries
is that no two are the same so
they can’t say ‘you’ll going to make x amount of
progress this year.
Because of these struggles, Launa was academically
stay in a public school. The only thing the schools in her
near Las Vegas could offer was to put her into Special Education.
Fearing that doing so would hinder rather than help her get back
up to a normal
level academically, her parents decided to move to
Provo where she could be put
in a private school and be sure to not
use the accident as a crutch that would
keep her back from being
the best she could be.
After being told by doctors that her
memory would come back
as she interacted with her friends and at school, Launa
extremely reluctant to leave
“I was so mad at my parents
making me leave, I wanted to
learn more about myself, my
past, and my family. Looking back
though, that really was the
best thing they could have done.
Myfather left his
Vegas and came to Provo without a job,
and miraculously the BYU
Center was hiring. My parents
had to be separated while they
house. They sacrificed
so much for me and all I could
think of at the time was
I was at them”
The move was a really frightening
thing for her. She had a new school,
she had to make new friends in a place
where everyone was really smart.
Place that on top of her circumstances and
you’ll be able to picture
just how vulnerable she was.
“My vocabulary was really low,
it’s hard to judge where
I was at because you can only
be tested on so much,
just don’t know what you
I knew my alphabet,
I had to relearn how to tie my
I began to write my numbers
Though most my basic math skills
It was hit and miss.”
The first year was the hardest.
Launa had constantly faced the
question of “do I just not know that, or does
everyone not know that?”
She began the process of reclaiming
her memory and a learning new
and old things every single day.
“I would remember certain words
were connected, so I would
say things like ‘what clock is it?’
when I meant
‘what time is it?’”
three years after the accident,
Launa found herself still learning
what she had forgotten. In a history class where they were
a diagnostic test, so that the teacher could gauage where to go
this lessons the rest of the semester.
“He had us read what we thought the
answers were to each questions. I knew
my turn was coming up soon and was
terrified. I got a question about 9/11 and
I didn’t even know about it. It
fun situation, people laughed, but they
didn’t know my circumstances.”
When Launa explained to me her
process to recovery she said that
some things came to her as a memory, and
some things were totally new
again. It was much like reading a book for the
second time, you
remember a few plot points but the details are fuzzy until you
read them again.
Soccer was one of the things that
came back to her pretty quick.
It was through a soccer league that she joined
that she met some
friends and gained the courage and confidence to finish high
school at a public school.
Launa has come impressively and
miraculously far since her accident.
It’s no longer something that she is
fighting every day.
She has noticed that now she is
able to work really hard at something
to complete it.
“I learned that I could do pretty
much anything from
working so hard and
enduring it for so long, simply because I
had no other
choice but to do so.”
“A lot of people don’t notice it
become a little closer with me and start
to notice there is
something a little off.
I not fully aware, or maybe I don’t understand
simple things, but it’s not
something that I could be picked out
of crowd for”
There were some things that were just plain old different
about Launa after the whole ordeal. The progress she has made
and the person she has become has been inspiring.
“I was really OCD about things like
my clothes, or sharing my things, but after
my accident it was like a I
had a personality
change, I was much more laid back.
Part of it was the injury
to my head,
but going through something so hard just
made me realized what’s
There are a ton of people out there
accidents, strokes, age, and other
difficulties. We don’t often
take the time
to recognize what trials others are going
“I see a new light. A new light on
on what people are and their meaning.
They are human, they are going
real trials. I have a new outlook on what
relationships with people
should be like
and what is truly meaningful in life,
It just became easier to treat
Labels: Art, photography