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On May 18th, 2019 on the way home from a volleyball tournament, 13 year old daughter Valerie and her Mom were in a horrible car accident. While her Mom walked away from the accident with minimal injuries, Valerie cannot walk; She is told she may never walk again. We are expecting and praying for miracles and love many of our doctors but they don’t get the final say in this. She has fight in her and we will fight just as hard with her and for her.
She was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital with critical injuries and severe internal bleeding. An emergency splenectomy was completed as her spleen had ruptured and exploratory surgery was needed to assess extent of internal damage and bleeding. She had trauma to her heart, lacerations to her kidneys, fractured ribs, and had multiple pelvic fractures with surgery to place an external fixator to hold her pelvis in place. She fractured her back and sustained a spinal cord injury. Valerie is currently paralyzed from the waist down due to the spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair for mobility.
She was in the hospital at St. Mary’s Hospital for 47 days with the majority of those in the ICU. During this time, she contracted pneumonia, her lungs collapsed, and she had a total of 3 surgeries to place chest tubes. Infections disease doctors were called in as she spiked fevers for approximately 2 weeks from an unknown source. Her last surgery was to place a kidney drain which did end the fevers. She was then transferred to Joe DiMaggio in Hollywood to start inpatient rehabilitation. She spent almost 2 months in inpatient treatment in order to get stronger and begin learning basis, like how to get out of bed, get dressed, take a shower, and learn to transfer in and out of her wheelchair.
We had to move out of our home as it was not accessible, and Valerie was not able to navigate the house or fit into the bathrooms with her wheelchair. We lived in a hotel, then 2 different apartments. We are looking for a home that is affordable and that can accommodate Valerie’s needs. It isn’t easy given that Valerie’s Mom, Katie, has not worked in over a year so that she can be Valerie’s caregiver/nurse and now homeschool teacher. Valerie’s Dad works long hours to try to keep the family afloat. Camryn, Valerie’s younger sister has had trouble adjusting to this new way of life as well. She can’t do many of the things that she used to with her big sister and is often displaced while Valerie and Katie attend medical appointments.
Life is very different for this once active teen who played both soccer and volleyball, loved to skateboard, swim, and ride her bike. Much of her time is now devoted to medical appointments to include orthopedic, urology, nephrology, physiatry, podiatry, neurology, and wound care. Additionally, she participates in both occupational and physical therapy on a weekly basis. Here she works out to becoming stronger and learns how to get dressed, get in and out of her wheelchair onto different surfaces, and transfer in and out of cars. At home, she takes multiple medications 4x per day as well as multiple supplements to address the unseen side effects of a spinal cord injury and paralysis. A spinal cord injury cuts off the neurological pathways from the brain that tells a person’s body what to do. So, from her high waist down, everything is cut off which impacts her balance, bladder, bowels, sweat glands, muscles, blood pressure, and obviously her ability to walk.
Despite all that she has gone through, Valerie remains as positive as she can. She has adapted better than anyone could imagine and does so most days with a smile on her face. She inspires many to keep trying and to never give up, no matter how bad things seem. She inspires her family and others, to find the good in every situation and to keep a positive attitude and be grateful for what we do have! We are so appreciative for those that have stepped in and stepped up to help. We are so grateful and thank you for your support!