She’s raced dragsters since the age of eight, but Amanda Trimble didn’t know “death-defying” until she ended up in hospital with two blood clots in each lung.
The 21-year-old survivor of four pulmonary embolisms is now set to put her life experience on film.
“This story is kind of my way of getting over that time and moving on,” said Trimble, a Red Deer College Motion Picture Arts student, who intends to shoot the half-hour film Reaction Time at an Edmonton race track in September.
Trimble grew up in a racing family that recently moved from Morinville to Lacombe.
Her competitor dad saw no problem with putting his eight-year-old daughter into a junior dragster that goes 80 km/h. “It’s like a go-cart . . . only I had to go to a junior dragster school to get a little licence,” Trimble recalled.
As fate would have it, she won her very first one-eighth mile race and was hooked. “It was totally beginner’s luck, and my dad had to teach me to be a good sport (later), so I didn’t cry every time I lost,” she recalled.
By the time Trimble — a one-time member of the Nitro Rats junior team — got her actual driver’s licence at 16, she was racing quarter-mile races in a real dragster.
“It used to be the car my mom drove us to school in,” said Trimble. “She always said, ‘This car’s a piece of crap,’ but instead of getting rid of it, my dad took it into the shop and converted it!”
Trimble never thought much about risks taken during races — it took a health emergency to bring her mortality into focus.
At 18, Trimble was modelling for some Edmonton fashion magazines and sought her doctor’s help in dealing with occasional skin breakouts. She received a prescription for the Diane 35 birth control pill.
While the pill wasn’t tested for pregnancy prevention in Canada, Trimble said her doctor thought its low dosage made it safe for clearing up skin problems in patients.
Four weeks later, Trimble developed hives and was rushed by her mother to a hospital emergency room in St. Albert.
Trimble said her mom, who worked as a hospital unit clerk, suspected the outbreak was caused by the pill, which listed blood clots as a potential side-effect.
She urged doctors to scan Trimble for clots and four turned up in her lungs.
“There were no symptoms — no shortness of breath, no pain,” recalled Trimble. Yet, if just one of the blood clots had broken off and lodged in her brain or heart, she would have almost certainly died.
“I’m very lucky to be alive right now,” said the RDC student.
Trimble took a nine-month hiatus from racing while on blood thinners to dissolve the embolisms and to prevent more from forming. “You had to live your life as if you were a hemophiliac.”
In the film script she wrote about her health crisis, a young female racer convinces her dad that she’s fit to get behind the wheel of a dragster again.
In real life, Trimble said, “It was more like I had to convince myself.”
But once she got over feeling victimized by her circumstances, Trimble said she decided, “I’m taking life my the horns and going out and meeting people and doing what I love.”
Enrolling in the RDC film program was one of the life changes she made. “I decided I’m not going to be a scientist . . . I want to be a cinematographer, or director of photography.”
Shooting Reaction Time for potential entry into film festivals will be trickier than many student projects. Trimble said it will involve transporting equipment to Edmonton, and getting a trailer and crew to help. She’s hoping to raise $6,500 in donations to cover her expenses.
Anyone interested can get more information by visiting www.indiegogo.com/reactiontime?a=650058.