Real Talk: I Fell From The Sky
With a bright smile and positive attitude, most people would never guess that Emma Carey has survived one of people's worst fears: a skydiving accident. On June 9th 2013, Emma Carey's life was forever changed when she injured her spinal cord and became a paraplegic after a freak skydiving accident. Not only did she survive, she defied the odds and learned how to walk again.
Now, four years later, Emma has inspired thousands of people by sharing her story and her daily ups and downs as a walking paraplegic. Foxxtales caught up with this inspiring Aussie girl to learn about her story of recovery, strength, inspiraiton and hope.
Foxxtales: Obviously you’ve amassed a very large social media following, over the last few years. I think it’s because your story is so interesting. A skydiving accident can be one of people’s worst fears and to see you come out of it with such grace and resilience is inspiring. But on the day of your accident, did you have any hesitation and fear about jumping?
EC: No, that’s the thing. I was also so excited to skydive. I’d always been so excited for it and I always wanted to do it in this one exact spot in Switzerland. I wasn’t nervous at all which was weird because everyone else that I was doing it with was super nervous. I was more excited than anything.
Foxxtales: Once you figured out that something was wrong, what were some of the thoughts going through your mind?
EC: Before anything went wrong, it was the best feeling in the world. It just feels incredible. Then, there were things that went wrong; but because I’d never skydived before, I didn’t really know what was meant to happen. I didn’t really know at first what was going on. First thing I noticed was that my instructor wasn’t speaking to me. I thought, “Okay, that’s weird. But maybe he can’t hear me because of the wind.” Another thing, I saw the parachute in front of me rather than above us. That’s when I started to get a little bit worried. [My biggest concern was] that we just kept going down really fast, rather than going side to side or gliding around. We were just going straight down really fast. I didn’t know what to do. I was just pretty certain that we were going to die. I didn’t think it was possible at all to survive.
Foxxtales: In everyone’s life, we all have moments when we know that life will never be the same from then on - whether it’s good or bad. I’m sure that finding out that you were paraplegic is one of the biggest turning points in your life. How did you process and cope with the idea that maybe you would never walk again?
EC: When I first landed on the ground, I tried to roll over because my instructor was on my back. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t move anything from below the waist. My legs, my toes, even my abs wouldn’t work. In that moment, it was the worst thing I’ve ever felt in my life, just because it was so sudden. A minute earlier, I was totally fine and, now, I couldn’t move at all. My first thought was, “Nope, I don’t want to do this. If my legs aren’t going to work, I’d rather die.” Apparently (I don’t really remember), I was telling that to all the doctors and paramedics. But then, about a week later, I said, “Okay, I can deal with this. I’ll go to rehab and whatever the outcome is, I’ll learn to deal with it.”
Foxxtales: How did you even have the idea to try to walk again?
EC: In the spinal ward, you go to physio (physical therapy) two times every day. Normally, they do some leg workouts to try and strengthen and stimulate anything. After a few weeks of doing that, I started getting little bits of movement. Movement would come back really, really slowly. Even then, the doctors said, “Oh, even if you can walk, you’ll have to use a walking cane. You’ll never be able to walk by yourself.” But then, I just kept getting stronger and stronger. My [physical therapists] let me try to walk. At first, [I tried walking with] a walking frame. Then, I went down to two crutches. Then, one crutch. Then, they let me try to walk by myself. I could only walk a few steps with them standing behind me. It was a very slow process that just happened naturally at the time.
Foxxtales: On social media, you seem to be a very happy person. But I'm sure that you have bad days; we all do. When you’re feeling down, what do you do to uplift yourself and brighten your spirits?
EC: When I’m feeling down or sad, I try to force myself to do the things that I enjoy. For me, it’s going outside for a walk, going to see the ocean, listening to happy music. Even if you’re not really in the mood for it, you always come out feeling just a little bit better than before.
Foxxtales: How did your accident change your life or affect how you see the world?
EC: Before my accident, I wasn’t depressed or anything like that. I just never really realized how much I loved life and how much I wanted to be here. It wasn’t until I was falling and thought that I was about to die, when I realized how much that I actually wanted to live. That really changed my perspective on things. Again, with not being able to move my legs and then, walking again, it just really changed my perspective on the body. I realized how lucky we are to see, hear, touch and move. It gave me an appreciation for everything - which I didn’t have before my accident. I definitely think I’m better for it, even though it was really hard at the time and is still hard. It’s definitely the best thing that could’ve happened to me.
Foxxtales: Do you think that your accident was suppose to happen to you? Like, in some weird way, it was meant to be?
EC: Definitely. There was no way, at the time, that I could’ve seen that. At the time, it felt like the worst possible thing. But now, four years later, I can see how much I needed something like that to happen to me so I could wake up, enjoy life, live it to the fullest and share my story. I feel like it didn’t just happen to me, it happened to everyone that I can reach while sharing my story. I think something like that was always going to happen to me.
Foxxtales: If you could give yourself advice when you were younger, what would it be?
EC: One of my favorite quotes is: you are exactly where you need to be. No matter what is happening in your life, whether it’s really bad or really good, it’s exactly what needs to be happening to you. It’s going to help you grow. I would love to just keep that in mind and know that good things are coming.
Foxxtales: How do you hope inspire young women and girls?
EC: For people to know that just because something bad happens to you, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a bad life. Sometimes the worst things that happen to you turn into the foundation for how you build your life. Before my accident, I never realized that people could go through something so traumatic and come out better for it.