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A Near Death Experience

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 25th, 2007

Loren Coleman speaking

Today, September 25, 2007, marks 728 weeks or over 5100 days since I almost died. On this date in 1993, I was free-climbing a rocky cliff in Maine, slipped on some talus, and fell back, straight down, about 40 feet. I landed on some rocks and caused my lumbar 1 to completely implode. As one of my doctors said, “You didn’t break your back; your vertebra burst.”

I was told later that such a rock climbing accident could have killed me. Maybe it was the Yeti shirt I was wearing, or my sons that kept me alive, but the two weeks of operations in the hospital are a blur. I remember the five or six months of recovery, at first in bed, and being told that my nonsmoking was healing the bones quicker. I have foggy remembrances of the people that brought me soup and helped me get through learning to walk again and move my body.

That time was one of those moments where you take pause to think what you want to do for the rest of your life. I had weeks to ponder such things, as the doctors grafted part of my pelvis into my back and reinforced it with metal rods. Certainly, I never felt sorry for myself. Nor did I come close to comparing myself to war veterans or people who are disabled after such a fall. I was blessed that the L1 burst was a mm away from the spinal cord. I never lost the motivation to live, to learn how to swing a bat again to practice baseball with my sons, and eventually get back out in the field, researching and writing about cryptozoology.

Breaking one’s back can change how you view the world, and for me, I decided to leave my 50-hours-plus-a-week university jobs. If I was going to devote as much time to cryptozoology and my sons as I was wanted to, it was now or never. And so I did it, fulltime.

Without any savings, without any income, I decided to be alive and make that my biggest gift to myself. I never looked back. I’m through climbing cliffs, according to the docs, and I will always have pain in my L1 fused backbone. But I take in these last few years, of watching my sons grow up into men and writing all those cz books and more, as truly beyond belief to me.

Today is always when a certain series of awards are announced, and it always seems strange to me, the timing that is.

Another year will have passed without any MacArthur genius grants being given to anyone who is a cryptozoologist. Too bad. I really want to see that happen someday, in my lifetime. I think it will occur, probably to someone who is within academia. I’m realistic enough to understand it won’t be me, but, boy, do I want to see it be given to someone in the field. As I say to my friends, I’ve already been given a bigger grant fourteen years ago, when I fell off that cliff face and lived.

But the little gifts – all the different kinds – that you all give me are appreciated too, and I want to say thanks again, today. After the fall, I changed my life, and, truth be told, there are few ways for fulltime cryptozoologists to make a living. So, yes, if you are a fan, want to write me an email, are interested in flying me in for a talk, want to obtain some autographed books, or support my research via a modest Paypal donation (don’t use the button on this page, which goes to the blog administration), please privately contact me at LColeman@maine.rr.com to order or send along your mini-grants. My mailing address is Loren Coleman, PO Box 360, Portland, Maine 04112. :-) Thank you.

Loren Coleman

One reason I like this photograph, beside the whole icon of Bigfoot, is because I can stand up. That’s something I didn’t think I would ever be able to do after the rock climbing accident of 1993. Another is that it dramatically reminds me of how white my hair became after the accident!

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


20 Responses to “A Near Death Experience”

  1. Ceroill responds:

    Loren, I know we all appreciate your years of research and work in Cryptozoology, as well as your kind and intelligent nature. Be well keep up the good work.

  2. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Loren, I know from close friends how painful and debilitating a bad back can be. A lot of people don’t realize how difficult even the smallest tasks can be for those with back injuries, and I’m glad you’re still active.

    As for the MacArthur “genius” awards, it is notable that while no cryptozoologists have gotten the award, one very notable skeptic has: James “The Amazing” Randi. Perhaps when more science is brought to the search, the field will be more recognized.

  3. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Mr. Coleman.

    It’s obvious the Big Guy (no, not our hairy friend, the other one!) has still some pretty important things done that need your participation. :-)

  4. Bob K. responds:

    Ditto Cerioll and r_ p_ j, above-rock on, Loren!

  5. Ayala responds:

    You are so important to this field, Loren. :) Please keep up the good fight and thank you for everything you do. :) Also, thank all of you for this blog. It has become a daily routine to check in and see what’s happening in the crypto world. I really appreciate everyone’s comments and the information provided.

    I am so glad you are still here, Loren. :) Best wishes!

  6. wrath of the real responds:

    Hi Loren,
    Thank you for continuing to keep us informed and intrigued with cryptozoology. I have only in last few years become enthralled with the subject. I must view this site at least 10 times a day waiting to see the next article. I am true believer that everything happens for a reason, good and bad to teach us what we ultimately need to know, not only about ourselves but others. You will always have a place in cryptozoology and in our hearts, so keep fighting and teaching, and we all will keep listening. Thank you.

  7. mantis responds:

    Life is a blessing.
    Your life is a gift.
    Thank God you’re still here.

  8. jodzilla responds:

    You rock!

  9. Bob Michaels responds:

    Wow, Glad you recovered , hope you win an award with a discovery of a lake monster.

  10. Imaginary Friend responds:

    I’m inspired by your story, and hope you keep on going for years to come!

    Someday that award might land on your doorstep – you never know!

  11. JTM5 responds:

    lucky you had the shirt.

  12. Unknown Primate responds:

    Loren, I can identify with the “falling disease”. Let’s just say I’m a member of the Brotherhood of Busted Backs. You’ve gone on to show that one can accomplish much when dedicated to the cause. Just one more thing that inspires and impresses me about you. You are a very cool primate and here’s to many more adventures. Salute!

  13. darkshines responds:

    I broke my thorasic 1 vertabrae at the tender age of 19. I’m now 22 and am in almost constant pain. I fully sympathise Loren, as I type, I have a hot water bottle on my back…..

  14. PhilsterUK responds:

    Im so glad you made it Loren your work is so important. In years to come your day of ‘I told you they where real!’ will come amd you have to make it for that. :]

  15. mystery_man responds:

    Thank you for sharing some of the personal trials you’ve faced with us, Loren. I respect your decision to do what you love full time without looking back and your story moved me. This site is bar none the best for cryptozoology around. Let it be so for years to come. Best wishes.

  16. mfs responds:

    Kudos to you Loren with much admiration and respect to what you’ve always loved doing, the study of cryptozoology and making it a fascinating part of our lives. I’ve come close to dying more than once in my life and the experience has clearly changed my perspective and the way I live so I can appreciate what you went through. For me doing what you love to do in life is reward enough. Keep the cryptid fire burning!

  17. harleyb responds:

    Thank you for still being here with us cryptoholics, ah! I just made that up. I can’t wait to buy the rest of your books. The time and effort you have put into the field is amazing. Thanks for staying true to the game.

  18. Terry W. Colvin responds:

    Loren, an inspirational account of a near tragedy not only for you but your sons. I hope there isn’t too much pain for you. You are one I hold as an unforgettable character.

  19. Cryptid Hunt responds:

    Loren you will never be forgotten.

  20. DARHOP responds:

    Loren, if there ever is a cryptozoology hall of fame. You shall be inducted with out a doubt. I too have back problems, have since 1986. It is no party. You keep on doing what it is you do best. And that is keeping all of us here informed on the happenings of the crypto world, through your books and this site. I’m sure you made the right choice about your future.



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