By Ben Ramirez
Walking in on the first day of the semester, senior Lily Eaves was more grateful than most students to be back. It marked the first day of school for her in two months.
Walking around campus, she embraced getting back to a normal schedule and seeing friends again, but with each exchange came a new unpleasant pleasantry; one that had been building for the months prior to her return. “How is your leg?” The answer she is walking on a broken fibula, but walking nonetheless.
“Since it happened, it has dominated a lot of the conversations I have had,” Eaves said.
On November 7, the girls volleyball team walked onto the court at Granada Hills Charter ready to face Taft High School in hopes of advancing to the California Interscholastic Federation Los Angeles City Section city championship and defend their 2016 season city title.
The Highlanders won the first set and took their momentum into the second set, but things quickly took a turn for the worst. While going for a block, Eaves came down awkwardly on her left leg, breaking her tibia and fibula in one and two places, respectively.
“Looking around, everything went so quiet. I went into shock. It took three seconds for me to comprehend what had just happened,” Eaves said.
In the three seconds between Eaves hitting the ground and processing the state of her leg, dangling lifelessly like tall grass in the breeze, the energetic crowd at Bryce Schurr Gymnasium fell completely silent except for her screams. It felt as if every oxygen molecule in the building had been sucked out.
The paramedics arrived 30 minutes later, and she received medical support on the gym floor and at a local hospital before being transferred to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for surgery. After four days in the hospital, she came home with an even more difficult journey ahead. Understandably, in the weeks following, Eaves not only struggled physically but mentally.
“The thing that haunted me was that I could not play volleyball anymore. It felt like the end; like nothing was going to get better,” Eaves said.
She struggled with constant nightmares, taking narcotics for a month, and not being able to move her leg without someone else lifting it. Everyday tasks as simple as showering me a multi-person feat.
“My mom had to drive me to a hair [salon] to get a shampoo because I could not shower. Getting up and down the stairs would take us 25 minutes,” Eaves said.
The rest of the semester, Eaves spent the majority of her time in bed recovering. It was not until a month after the surgery that she could walk on crutches independently. But slowly she began healing mentally and physically. With each small milestone, she found a new appreciation for normal day to day activities.
“[The injury] put everything into perspective. I have so much more gratitude and respect for life now,” Eaves said.
Throughout this experience, she also learned a valuable lesson about friendship:
“When you are in a dark spot in your life and are going through something like this, there are people that reach out to you constantly and are there for you. This shows who your real friends are. Everyone was so supportive of me,” Eaves said.
Starting physical therapy on January 15, Eaves is now three months into a 9-12 month recovery process and is looking forward to the journey. She has made it clear that although she took a detour, this will not change who she is; only make her stronger.
“Everyday I get a little bit closer to doing normal things and for me, that is exciting,” Eaves said.