This recent shot shows me with my walker in the background, taking a break at the west canoe launch mini-park in Preston. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
This recent shot shows me with my walker in the background, taking a break at the west canoe launch mini-park in Preston. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
Long time - no see. It's sure good to meet up with you here again.

As most of you know, I've been gone for quite some time, in fact, it's been nearly a year. Wow, that's hard to believe.

When I named this column "Journey vs. Destination" upon starting it roughly 10 years ago, I intended to look at travels, related topics and wherever my mind might wander. I hoped to show how often times the journey is so important, but how sometimes the destination manages to trump all.

I certainly never dreamed the journey in my personal life would include a 26-feet fall off a bridge, followed by a stroke while in the hospital.

I now find myself in the destructive aftermath. A storm may leave downed buildings and trees, ruined crops and power outages. In much the same manner this "storm" in my life - which occurred in September 2012 - left me battered and far less than whole.

But first, let's take a look at the circumstances of the fall. I was covering the annual trail ride on the Root River Trail held the first Wednesday each September for seniors and handicapped people. They ride in wagons most often pulled by tractors. A friend and I were on a bridge railing to take pictures, sitting in what I thought was a safe stance with one leg on each side of the railing.

With tight quarters regarding the bridge's width, as the tractors and wagons came closer, I feared the first wagon might get too close, hit and possibly even cut off my leg on that side of the railing. So I decided to move it to the other side and - again safely - hang on until I could move it back.

But my quick planning went terribly wrong. Somehow-although an experienced hiker, backpacker, mountain biker and outdoors person who's been in a few hairy situations over the years with nothing worse to report than adventurous stories - I lost my balance as I swung the leg over.

I landed face down in maybe four inches of water. It was "enough to drown in," said a friend. With all kinds of people around and soon the Lanesboro ambulance, I was rescued.

I'll continue with my recovery, the kindness of people (thank you!!) and more in upcoming columns, but before I close, let me run down my injuries.

First, from the fall:

• An "orbital blowout" of my left eye. This means the bones surrounding the eye were fractured. I presume it occurred upon impact with a rock when I landed and was caused by my glasses. However, thank goodness I had glasses on and also that the glasses didn't shatter. I had surgery in the middle of November to place mesh behind my eye to hold it in. The access cut was made below my left eye.

• That cut should not be confused with the big scar on my left cheek below the outer corner of my left eye, a cut from the rock hit. It was infected from river water and had gauze pushed into it and often replaced to keep it open to drain at the hospital. It was not pleasant, but it was necessary.

• A fracture of some nasal bones.

• A few broken left ribs.

• A broken right thumb below it and near the wrist.

• A "mild traumatic brain injury" . . . or as I like to call it, the oxymoron.

• And the biggie - a torn aorta. I could have "bled out." I had surgery and two stints were placed.

Within a day or so of that surgery, I had a stroke somewhere on my right side. Symptoms were reported, but doctors could not give blood thinner due to other injuries.

Here are continuing issues as a result of that:

• The stroke took away my peripheral vision to the left in both eyes. Mayo Clinic is starting a pilot program in "low vision," which I'll join in September. In the meantime, as a bonus to all this, I've learned to push both pride and independence aside and have become a pro at begging rides.

• My left side - from toes to foot to midsection - to fingers, arm, shoulder, neck and face - they're all very weird these days, feeling numb, stiff or horribly tight. The latter can make rehabilitation exercises, like walking, downright miserable even if I do love getting outdoors.

The journey now is slow, but sure. It's most certainly inching me toward my destination - trying to resume my former life as much as I can. Wish me well.

Lisa Brainard can be reached at lbrainard@bluffcountrynews.com.