Genesis Morales: I felt like I was dying


Credit: Courtesy of Genesis Morales

Senior Genesis Morales poses with her mother and older brother at the mall. One summer afternoon, Morales broke her pelvis, sacrum, and multiple ribs after falling off a chair swing in her backyard. “It was like a pain where it doesn’t stop. I have never felt that pain before, it’s not like a bruise or a scratch, it’s hell,” Morales said.

As a child, you are not familiar with the dangers of the world, especially not the dangers of something as enjoyable as a simple chair swing. One summer afternoon, at the age of 11 years old, senior Genesis Morales endured a paralysis-threatening injury after swinging on a chair that was attached to a deadly branch.

Morales was celebrating the start of the summer in her backyard after finishing fourth grade. She and her cousin were sitting with one another on Morales’ chair swing, which was held by rope, attached to a tree limb.

“The [swing] was there for years, so we never thought that something was going to happen, but then all of a sudden the branch snaps. Since I was on it, I fell and rolled down the hill, and all the other branches rolled down with me,” Morales said.

During the fall, Morales didn’t have an understanding of what exactly was going on, until she experienced a pain she wasn’t familiar with.

“It was really scary because I didn’t know what was going on, it was so fast, and the sound was so loud, it sounded like a firework. [The pain was] really bad, I felt like I was dying,” Morales said. “It was like a pain where it doesn’t stop. I have never felt that pain before, it’s not like a bruise or a scratch, it’s hell. It feels like you’re dying, it’s a burning pain.”

Morales was soon after found by her mother, who called an ambulance so her daughter could be rushed to the Emergency Room. Morales suffered throughout the ambulance ride, for her injuries were far more severe than her and her mother initially thought.

“After I went to the ER, they told me I broke my pelvis, sacrum and multiple ribs,” Morales said. “The doctors decided not to do surgery because they thought it could paralyze me because they didn’t want to touch the spine. So they told me I had to lay in a flat bed for three months.”

Because Morales could not undergo surgery, she had to spend her summer laying in her bed, not being able to
move much or walk. In order to fully recover, Morales had to let her bones slowly heal over time, which was going to be a long and difficult process.

After being bedridden all summer, Morales was able to begin her physical therapy journey at Bosse Sports in Sudbury. Morales had to strengthen her back again, specifically her sacroiliac(SI) joint, in order to be able to walk again.

“After that, I went to PT, my bones got better and I was able to slowly recover, [including] walking again. I couldn’t walk at all, [since] I was laying down basically [all summer],” Morales said. “I still do physical therapy, even now. I did it last year. I run a lot, so I have to make sure I do the exercises and not ignore them.”

As a child, Morales was apart of the soccer team in the spring and partook in skiing during the winter. Her injuries affected her daily life to a great extent, for she lost a lot of muscle mass and weight that summer.

“It was really bad because I was always athletic, [since] I did soccer and skiing at the time. It was just so hard because you’re weak, [and] I was very skinny,” Morales said. “I had to [learn how to] slowly walk again and then [also] gain weight too at the same time.”

Since her injury, Morales has recovered for the most part. She is even able to run now. However, she still has to continue to strengthen her back through physical therapy in order to avoid the adverse effects of the injury.

“I have to make sure my back is strong enough, especially my SI joint,” Morales said. “If I don’t do core exercises I will feel pain, especially if I do hard sprints which I do, I run a lot. So I have to make sure I do the exercises and not ignore them.”

Morales continues to do physical therapy at Bosse Sports, where she has a therapist who has been with her since the injury. She attributes part of her success in recovery to Rick, who has worked with her since she was 11 years old.

“It’s not like a new person because it’s better when you have someone whose seen your injuries throughout the years,” Morales said.

Among her group of supporters was Morales’ mother, who according to Morales, was the most helpful in keeping her motivated to recover.

“My mom was really positive,” Morales said. “She helped me get better and also when I was very negative. She would tell me everything happens for a reason and [I had] to deal with it, and she was very positive and I started changing my thinking to think more like her.”

Although Morales has healed physically, she still experiences an emotional effect as a result of her injury and her memory of it. Up until recently, Morales was afraid to even sit under a tree.

“I’ve kind of gotten better about that and I’m not really scared anymore,” Morales said. “I just don’t go on swings. I’ve never been on a swing after that unless it [has] a metal pole that isn’t going to break, but no trees. I would not recommend that ever or tree houses.”

Although her injury caused her physical and emotional trauma, Morales says she has learned about herself and about how to deal with stressful events from her injury. The painstaking process of recovery and healing taught morales to be calm and patient.

“I was so hyper and then after the injury, I just learned to really calm down,” Morales said. “After, I was calmer. I wasn’t so crazy. Also, I learned how to be patient because it’s a long process.”