In March 2021, Sarah Gerrish’s life was turned upside down when she fell down the stairs and sustained an incomplete spinal cord injury that paralyzed her below her shoulders. Pre-injury, the wife and mother of three was an active runner and passionate volunteer in her community.
Sarah’s Campaign Page paints an incredible picture of her recovery journey.
In late March, she was able to lift her arms. In April, she moved her fingers and began to extend her legs and sit independently.
In May, she was able to stand for multiple minutes, and she began wiggling her toes and feeding herself again. By the end of June, she was able to walk with a walker.
On September 22, she shared that she was able to walk slowly with no assistance or mobility devices at all.
Here are some of Sarah’s reflections on her SCI journey so far.
I don’t remember anything for the first month of my injury.
I was in the ICU for a good portion of that time. Obviously, everyone was very worried about me and concerned for what my future would look like. My children range from age 6 to 12, so they had various levels of understanding. The 6-year-old really just knew that Mommy was hurt and in the hospital, whereas the 10- and 12-year-olds knew it was more serious.
I knew nothing about spinal cord injuries before I was injured.
In the beginning, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented my children from being able to visit me regularly. That was hard on us all.
The first time my six-year-old saw me in a wheelchair she said, “It’s okay that you’re in a wheelchair. Everyone changes.” I thought that was extremely profound—I’m not sure who taught her that, but clearly she remembered it, and she wanted me to know it.
So many wonderful people stepped up to help.
We had friends set up a Meal Train that is still going. Our pastor and his wife sat with me in the hospital to give my husband breaks. Our kids’ schools and our friends took great care of our kiddos, and my husband’s job was so understanding and supportive of him and our whole family.
My family from Indiana set up a schedule so someone was always at our house to stay with the kids. Our church, neighbors, and friends helped with practical things like driving me and my kids to and from appointments and cleaning our house.
We really could not have done it without all the love and support we’ve received from everyone in our circle.
We realized the cost associated with this injury from the very beginning. We knew it was definitely a life-changing injury. My husband chose Help Hope Live for fundraising after getting in touch with someone at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation who recommended the organization.
Fundraising gives us the security that current and future medical bills are covered.
The first time I stood for more than a few seconds, I realized that I may be able to accomplish more than I anticipated. The first time I was able to itch my own face was a big deal—you never know how itchy your face can be until you can’t scratch it!
My physical therapist said she’s never had anyone with these injuries come so far in such a short time.
My journey isn’t over, but to me, hope means the ability to look at the future and recognize that it will look different than I thought it would, but that there are still a lot of good days with my friends and family to come.
Follow Sarah’s journey with updates and videos at helphopelive.org.Written by Emily Progin