Monkey see, monkey do
X-ray of my chest
If your sister jumped off a cliff,
Would you jump too?
Apparently the answer is yes…
My sister came to visit me on a coastal holiday a few years ago.
We are better known as ‘Double Trouble’.
When we get together the strangest things tend to happen to us.
The first day that we went to the beach, two men offered to buy us drinks and bought us four shots, each, before midday, on a Wednesday.
That was day one.
She is also quite the adventurous type, constantly pushing people to their limits. Forcing you do to things you really don’t want to though you usually end up richer for the experience with unforgettable memories. Not this time though.
She had received a video of a friend jumping off a cliff into a lagoon on Uvhongo beach in the South Coast. Turned out it was one of the things on her bucket list and now that the opportunity had presented itself, she would not let it go. She nagged until we finally relented.
Once we were on the beach we began to search for this fabled cliff, took a few selfies in front of the lagoon which was lovely, and then spied a few boys climbing up into some shrubbery. We knew that was where we had to follow. The only way to get there was to swim across. This tiny detail created a niggle of fear in my heart but I brushed it aside in the name of adventure! Right?
The cliff is on the top right
Once there, we picked our way through the trees, over the rocks, under the vines, careful not to slip in the mud until eventually we reached the top. The group of boys we had seen previously were all sitting on boulders, none with the intention of venturing any further. My sister and I stormed in, looking for the launch pad and found it, giving them front row seats.
We tiptoed our way to the verge and peered over. The water was a long, long way down.
I later discovered that the drop is 3.5 stories or 11m high.
I had no idea how deep the water was. My biggest fear being that we would encounter unseen rocks and go to sleep for an extended period. But there just so happened to be some swimmers below. I shouted down asking how deep it was and their response was a green light.
So I stood up, took a deep breath, tensed my muscles and… nada. That thrill of fear had paralysed me entirely. Though I didn’t know the exact distance, my body was like- 'no bro, I’m not doing that!'
After a minute or so of inner turmoil, I looked up in time to see my sister leap, scream and eventually splash.
If your sister jumped off a cliff would you jump too?
If she is your baby sister and there is an audience watching?
And so I did.
It took a few tries of back and forth, ready and not ready until I closed my eyes and leapt.
I can’t quite capture the experience; all I know is that I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Falling and falling until I opened my eyes and saw that there was still more to go. I even had a moment to take in the scenery, no time for tea though.
Then the water.
I was so sure that I screamed but apparently I was quiet the entire trip.
I also thought that I was doing the pin drop, the correct procedure for throwing oneself off such a height, but no. I got five starred by the lagoon which left a horrid mottled bruise on my thigh and somehow tensed up so badly that I hurt the muscles in my chest.
The bruise a few days later
My sister thought I was ok but when it took me a while to surface, she tried to come to my rescue. When I emerged I felt pain and knew I had made a poor decision.
I had to swim over to some rocks and try catching my breath. Mega pain.
But I put on a brave face, even swam in the ocean and for the next three days, though there was a constant dull throb, I put it aside in the name of fun.
Friday night, midnight.
We dropped my sister at the airport.
I lay down in bed and felt the muscles in my chest pull.
I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop swearing.
Everything made it hurt worse.
Long story short, my mom and step-dad were forced to rush me to the hospital at 1am, cussing and screaming the entire journey.
I hate hospitals but the pain was so immense that I was prepared for them to stick a huge needle into my chest, or something. Anything for relief.
I only got an injection in my bum, X-rays and the arrogant doctor telling me that it was all clear. I had to wheedle out of him that I had damaged the soft tissue in my chest.
He prescribed pain killers and gel to rub on. I could have told you that.
In four days, it still hadn’t healed and I had to go to a physio.
I was then subjected to having my chest rubbed which was extremely uncomfortable.
Luckily the pain blocked out the awkwardness. It helped too that I avoided eye contact the entire time.
I was given exercises to help myself recover due to it being a rather big injury.
I thought to myself that perhaps in a few years I would look back and laugh.
It’s been three years and all I can do is shake my head, especially when the pain becomes too much and I have to visit a physio. I was lucky that my injuries weren’t worse. A couple of weeks after we left, a teenage boy got the same idea and landed so badly that he was instantly paralysed. Multiple people have also died doing the very same thing.
I know now that I can say with 100% conviction.
If your sister jumps off a cliff.