I thought I better write a quick update to our friends and family. Some of you already know, but for those of you that don’t know yet, or don’t know the details, I’ll post it all here on our website right now. Yes, I did have a little accident exactly one week ago today. Saturday night (July 24th), James, Gavin and I had just returned home from a 2 week business trip/ mini-vacation to San Francisco. We had a late flight that night, so we all woke up a little late Sunday morning. James and I woke up around 9:30 in the morning, and James went right to work on the pool in the backyard, while I started sorting through 2 weeks of mail. At about 10am, I started hearing Gavin making noises upstairs, so I decided I better get him up so I could start making breakfast for everyone. We had a lot to do that Sunday, including unpacking all our suitcases and doing a big grocery shopping trip to restock the food in the house.
I headed upstairs and went into Gavin’s bedroom, where I was greeted by my super excited little stinker. I pulled him out of his crib and put him in his playroom to play for a minute while I gathered him a clean diaper, an outfit to wear and his sippy cup from his bedroom. I then picked him up again along his toy accordion to head downstairs. Gavin didn’t want to leave his playroom, as he wanted to continue playing and wasn’t very happy about having to get his poopy diaper changed. He wiggled in my arms and his accordion fell to the floor. I picked it up with my spare hand and then rearranged Gavin in my arms so he wouldn’t fall while also holding all his other things.
I unlatched the child safety gate and began heading downstairs with Gavin kicking his legs around. My plan was to bring him downstairs before I let him go, so that I could change his diaper and get him dressed for the day. I took a couple of steps down the first few stairs, when suddenly my sandal on my left foot started slipping on the carpet of the stair. I twisted my foot to try to regain my balance. However, my next foot completely missed the next stair. I was scared that I would drop Gavin, so trying to think fast, I dropped the other things in my hands, and grabbed Gavin with both of my arms, hoping that I would just fall on the padding of my butt, and protect him from taking a nasty fall. Unfortunately, the fall I took was much harder and miscalculated than I thought it would be. I flew up in the air with Gavin in my arms and landed smack on the edge of the step of a stair on my upper back. Boom… I heard an awful cracking noise, unlike one I have ever heard before, that I will now never forget. I landed so hard, that Gavin escaped my arms, and we both tumbled down the few stairs left until we both fell to the halfway landing of the staircase.
Immediately Gavin began screaming, while I tried to catch my breath and start breathing again, but I couldn’t. I was instantly afraid that I may have collapsed one of my lungs. I felt intense pain radiating through my back, but I couldn’t move. I finally regained my breath and set my attention on Gavin. Gavin walked over to me in tears. I was relieved to see him on his two feet and moving towards me. I began screaming out James’ name as loud as I could. Gavin watched my reactions and would scream when I would scream, then became quiet when I would cry out in pain. I was begging God to let James hear my screams. I was so worried about Gavin, but I was unable to move to check him out for injuries, or even to keep him from attempting to go down the next portion of our staircase with another 10-12 steps. But, Gavin didn’t leave my side. He put his hands on his mommy and I could see the fear in his eyes. He seemed to be trying to ease my pain, while we both screamed for James to hear us.
I knew James was outside, so I knew I had to scream loud. I had never in my life screamed as loud as I screamed for him at that moment. I never even knew I was capable of screaming that loud, but just being able to scream that loud, assured me that neither of my lungs could possibly be collapsed. Luckily, from what I could tell, Gavin did not seem to be too badly hurt, and thankfully he didn’t want to leave his mommy. If he had attempted to go down the rest of the staircase, I would have tried my hardest to have stopped him any way I possibly could, as he still doesn’t know how to go down stairs on his own. But if I was unable to stop him, as it seemed would be the case while I was unable to move, he could have taken a huge fall down many more stairs leading to a tile floor. Fortunately, Gavin just wanted to hug and stay near me while we screamed for James.
I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to stay conscious or scream much longer as I was in so much pain and having a hard time breathing. But finally, after what seemed like an eternity, James heard me and came rushing into the house. James told me that he had never heard a scream like the one he heard coming from me that day ever before. He ran up the stairs to find me crouched on the stair landing unable to move. I told him I fell while holding Gavin and to check Gavin out. He quickly looked over Gavin to make sure he was okay and brought him safely downstairs and into the gated family room area. He came back to check on me and knew that it was an emergency right away since I couldn’t move, was in excruciating pain, and was short of breath.
James called 911, and the fire department and paramedics came super quickly to our home (the fire department is literally across the street from our house). James had unlocked the front door, so within minutes they were announcing themselves and in our house setting up their equipment. I was happy to see them because I had no idea how I was going to make it down the rest of the stairs and to the hospital without their assistance. A few of the paramedics directed their attention to Gavin and checked him out to make sure he hadn’t been injured. They checked his whole body for injuries, and made sure he was tracking and not lethargic, while other paramedics slowly and carefully helped me down the stairs and immobilized me in a gurney.
I was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, and James and Gavin followed in our car. In the ambulance, they put a catheter in my arm and started me on Morphine for my intense pain. At the hospital, they discovered I was running a high temperature, which they explained was likely caused by my body’s reaction to internal inflammation from my injuries, and I was given multiple x-rays. Not long after that, we were informed of the extent of my injury. The doctor came in and told James and I that I had a broken back. My T8 (Thoracic Vertebrae #8) was broken in half and had been pancaked/ crushed. I was referred to neurosurgery and given a CT Scan to make sure my spinal cord had not been pierced. I was very lucky, had I moved or twisted after my initial injury, even a small amount, like to stop Gavin from falling down the second portion of our stairs; I could have experienced paralysis, or even the loss of use of my legs. But thank God, my spinal cord remained intact.
After 5 days in the hospital, and one back surgery, I am now at home wearing a large custom-fit, thick, hard plastic-molded back brace. I have to wear it all the time except at night when I sleep. I use a walker to get around, but right now I am really only able to sit or lay most of the day and hang out with Gavin. James and my mom are doing great helping me with everything. I love them so much and am so blessed to have them both in my life. My back will have to remain immobilized in the brace for 12 weeks, and I will continue the physical therapy I started in the hospital during that time.
Since the accident, I have been grateful for so many things, especially that things did not turn out worse. I thank God so, so much that Gavin is okay. He was my hero that day, as he stayed by my side the entire time after my fall. He could have been hurt so badly if he had decided to go down the rest of the stairs himself, but he knew something bad had happened to his mommy, so he stayed and cuddled me until his daddy came. I thank God that he stayed in my arms when I took the brunt of the impact of the fall. I don’t know if I could live with myself if things were reversed and he was the one severely injured. We are also so extremely blessed that this all occurred at a time when James was home and not traveling for work. I don’t even want to think about how differently things could have played out had he not been there. So while I may not be the happiest camper for the next few months while recovering from a broken back, and less importantly a strained ankle, I am definitely aware that things could have been much worse. I am so thankful to God that we are all okay and will fully recover in time.
Gavin and James were my heroes last Sunday, and they are now my inspiration to recuperate and get better quickly. I absolutely love those two boys in my life so unbelievably much!! I am also so very thankful and lucky to have such a loving mom who was by my side within just hours of the actual accident. She flew in to Arizona from California the very next day to help us out with Gavin, and she is now staying with us at our house to assist us in my recovery.
I hope this story has helped explain a little of what has gone on this past week. I am still in quite a bit of pain and on a lot of pain killers and anti-nausea meds, but please email me if you’d like. I have a lot of free time right now to respond. I’m hoping in a few weeks I will be feeling a little better, and then I’ll get back to talking on the phone and returning calls to those of you who have called me.
(Note: A picture of me in my brace with my walker to come.)