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Hannah Lena. Your health is worth more than your steeze.

Updated: Apr 16

Hannah Lena fell in love with wakeboarding 4 years ago. She started working at the cable in Langenfeld and managed the bar. Literally living the dream! But last year in July something happened that put us all in shock for several days. Hannah had an accident on the water and was fighting for her life.



Hannah let’s start from the beginning how did you get into wakeboarding?

A friend told me that he rented a cable for 2 hours and was looking for people who wanted to try it. Because I am always up for adventures, I joined the session. First, we did 2 laps of waterskiing, and then I went straight for a whole lap on the easy up. Two weeks later, I bought a €100 board including bindings from probably 1990 and started hitting obstacles, and then I fell hopelessly in love with wakeboarding.


What fascinated you about it and what made you fall in love with it?

I had always been active but never found something I wanted to stick to. With wakeboarding, I could not not stick to it. I fell in love with the feeling of tension,

the water, and the fact that you are alone on your board.

Whatever I do, it's just me, my board, and the water. If you fall, you get up again and try, try, try. I love it. Besides that, it makes you being in nature more and more connected to

your body. And of course, over the years, I've come to appreciate the

community, especially the girls' community.


5 Facts about you besides wakeboarding:

• Full-time Aquarius, freedom is my second name.

• I am living in my van for almost 3 years now.

• I don't like tomatoes or avocado.

• 100% cat person.

• Morning person


Okey, tell us about your accident on the water. Thank you for being open and talking with us about it. Where and when did it happen? It happened at Fun Wake Park in Brumath, France, on July 28, 2023.


And how did it happen?

It's super hard to explain briefly. It was the morning of first official Training day, and I was one of the first people on the water. There was a big obstacle hack in the water, placed underneath the cable, which you can imagine like a X: Three separate parts of a rainbow like a Tak Tak Tak in between a Kicker to Kicker. The closed side (backside), or edge, of the landing Kicker was nearly straight underneath the cable and next to the middle part of the

Rainbow. However, because it was a big obstacle I knew that I need to cut a lot, to go on

the Rainbow parts. As I cut to the obstacle, I jumped on the first part, on the second and because of the unusual position under the cable the rope pulled me into the edge of the

landing kicker. I fell frontally onto the edge with my lower abdomen.



How did you know it was definitely more than just a bruise? My scream. I never heard that voice or tone come out of my lungs before. It was different. I still don’t have words to describe that moment and feeling. I knew I couldn’t do more than scream. When it comes to an injury to your organs, you just know.


Did you get the help you needed, or did you feel alone in the water? The moment I was alone felt long, but it was actually less than 2 minutes until the guys came over with the boat. Konni asked me if I wanted to get on the boat or stay in the water. I knew I wouldn't make it onto the boat, so I answered "water" and lost consciousness for the first time.


What happened after you got on land?



From my perspective, not much. I was unconscious a few minutes the whole time. The only thing I heard was Joelina shouting my name again and again. I still hear her voice sometimes. So I wasn't really able to communicate with the outside world or understand what was going on around me. Yes, I lost consciousness, but there was still something, a voice or something in my head talking to me, and I talked back. You know when you talk to yourself sometimes, it was like that, but the other voice was giving me answers. I remember one thing very clearly: after more or less an hour, I woke up again, and I didn't want to fight anymore. I even said out loud that I gave up. And I really did. But the voice said no. When the ambulance finally arrived after 1 hour, I woke up because I thought, finally, now it's going to be fast, now they're going to help you, no more suffering. And well... no. I remember this doctor looking at me, and in my head, I thought, why are you not touching me? Why are you not doing something? Why are you only staring at me? But I couldn't say anything. Then Nadine came over and told me that she would be by my side and accompany me in the hospital; this was the only moment when I was able to smile. It took 50 more minutes until the ambulance started to drive to the hospital. Now I know why. Until I arrived at the hospital, nobody saw me as an emergency. The doctor in the ambulance told them on the radio that I had some broken ribs. Fun fact, not even one rib was broken. I want to take this opportunity to address something important:

To create a certain level of safe environment on events and medical support

these points are important in my eyes, so things can go better than in my case:


I want to take this opportunity to address something important to create a certain level of a safe environment at events and provide medical support, these points so that things can go better than in my case:

 


1.    Risk Assessment - At any point in the competition, you are trying to plan for the worst-case scenario as well as for the best-case scenario. The team and all other parties need to be briefed about the relevant risks. The planning of a park layout for such an event must prioritize safety. The event addressed first-time competitors as well as pros, so this should be taken even more into consideration.


But, in my opinion, the potential consequences of this particular hack were just too dangerous for any level of riding.


2.    Ensure sufficient knowledge about first aid and the standard operating procedure in case of an emergency.

3.    Clear Communication between Cable and Event managers about delegation and assumption of responsibilities.

4. Clear communication between the Event managers and Riders. 

A Ridersbriefing about the set-up, event and what do to in an case of an emergency. Who is in charge in first place? How do I help in the moment of the crash?

5.    Ambulance or paramedic on site from the moment of the first official training day all the way until the competition 

6.    Test riding is essential for identifying and addressing any potential hazards. Someone from the event or the cable should test the set up before the participants.


And it’s possible to educate your operators. In Langenfeld we have an additional workshop about first aid at a cable, what special things can happen and how these look from the outside.


And lets see it from the outside perspective, someone is losing conciseness

for more than one hour, definitely has more than some broken rips.



When did they tell you what happened in the hospital, and how was it for

you in that moment?

When I woke up from the coma, the nurse only told me briefly why I was there, that I had an accident, and that they weren't able to save my left kidney, the gallbladder, and half of my liver. Later, the doctor came, and the first thing he said was that he did his best to save my tattoo, and I need to say he did brilliant work there! ;D He told me that they fought for my life with everything they had. In addition to the kidney and stuff, my spleen had a small rupture, and only a few millimeters more would have led to death, especially because the ambulance took so long. The normal time slot you have when the spleen is ruptured is about 1 hour; otherwise, you die from internal bleeding. The doctor pointed out that my vest saved my life!



What was on your mind in the first few days? Because of all the medications, particularly morphine, I wasn't feeling much. My brain was logical: Okay, you had an accident, but you survived. I will never go back on a wakeboard, and I don't care about anything anymore. No emotions, no feelings. To be honest, I didn't see a purpose anymore. I couldn't eat for 3 days; I couldn't stand up for 7 days, not even to go to the toilet.

Going on social media was super hard because of the medication and my mental health. But 5 days after the accident, I opened Instagram and saw a Reel from Anne, and I knew straight away, I can't stop doing this sport because I finally felt something again. After I got from the ICU to a normal station, they changed the medication and I couldn’t sleep anymore. Nightmares over nightmares and the pain made it impossible to sleep. The days been full of tears, fear and hopelessness.

I no longer had the feeling that this was my body. It wasn't until I was on the normal ward that I looked at the scar while they were changing the plaster. When I saw the operation scar, I realized that I really could have died. Suddenly the impact and its consequences were right in front of my face. When I went to shower for the first time, barely able to stand on my legs, I could only cry. Only when I got home I finally been able to sleep again.


Through your experience, what advice would you give to people in a similar situation?

First of all, every injury is bad. It can be a lot, and that's okay. Take your time to grieve if you feel like it. Grieve for the moments you miss, for the trips you can't go on as planned, and, in my case, for my beautiful body now with a 30cm scar. And then, when you are ready with being there for yourself, talk to people about your feelings and thoughts. Maybe someone will surprise you. And it's okay not to be okay! My friends helped me the most, old and new ones. Some I just met after the accident, but that doesn't matter. You need to

go through all of that by yourself; no one can take it away from you. But there are people who can stand by your side and cheer you on for every little step YOU make! They can stand behind you and help you not to fall. But you need to walk. Hold on to what you love, nourish yourself thankful with memories, and manifest the future.


And what is the best thing we can do if we hear or see someone who has had a bad crash?

Be there. Yes, probably this person will get a lot of messages, but every little message and good wish can help them feel better and send some good energy into the universe. Don't expect anything from this person because everyone handles trauma differently. If it's a close friend, let them know that you are there, whether it's for laughing or crying together; it doesn't matter. And please don't tell them "everything is going to be alright"; it will be, yes, but it's not helpful in that moment because right now it's not "alright", and that's

also fine and solid. Hearing stories from other accidents can help but can also be really hurtful. I would say ask yourself first if you want to hear a story like this; if you would be

injured, if yes, then ask your counterpart if they want to hear it.

"How are you?" Hmm, what do you answer? "Shit, thank you for asking and

reminding me"? That question is so casual, but in a situation like this, you don’t want to think about how you are, especially when you are finally in a different environment than the hospital or your own bed. What always gives a good feeling is "Hey, I am happy to see you!" or "Nice to see you." Try to give positive vibes and do your best not to be intrusive. Don’t ask private things in front of everyone; it's another example. Either tell some stories* about your last days, when you are with yourself for so long its relaxing to listen to someone’s stories. *positive vibes please 💛


And three points that are close to my heart:

1. If you are on-site during an accident, take it seriously. You are not a

doctor, and sometimes even doctors are not right. Take it seriously and

better go to the hospital one time too often than too less!

2. Your health is worth more than your steeze. Please wear a vest and

helmet!

3. It's an incredible feeling to see how a community stands behind you, like

YOU ALL did! Thank you all so much! We can be proud of our

community. 😊


pictured by Tim van Dortmont - @drtmnt


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