This is the story of my six-year old daughter's struggle for life and her recovery.
June 26, 1996 started out just like any other summer day in our small town. Emily kissed me good-bye and left to go horseback riding with a cousin.
A few hours later, a state police car pulled up in front of our house and we were told we needed to get to the hospital because there had been an accident. My in-laws where here helping with home improvements, and we asked them to watch our 1 1/2 year old. I grabbed my purse and car keys and my husband & I jumped into the car and raced to the local hospital.
The trip seemed to take forever! All I could think about was Emily crying from a scratch or a broken arm and wanting us. Little did I know...
On arrival at the hospital, no one would look us in the eye and tell us where our daughter was. At that point we knew it was more serious than a few scrapes or broken bones. Our daughter had been flown via helicopter to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh before we even knew that she had been hurt! We were told to get to Pittsburgh as soon as we could (a 90 mile drive), Emily was badly injured.
After a long drive we arrived at the hospital and were taken to the PICU waiting area. There a social worker told us about Emily's condition. He prepared us for the way Emily looked by explaining all the machines and the IC drain that was used to lower Emily's ICP. He told us that she was very critical. How could this be? Only hours before she was a vibrant 6 year old!
No one could have prepared me for the feelings that came over me when I walked in and saw my child hooked up to all those machines! That itself was a nightmare. There she was on a bed which made her look so small, with tubes and wires on or in every part of her body. Her beautiful shiny hair was shaved off one side of her head and the rest was covered in blood. She was naked except for a diaper. Where could I touch her? Was she in pain? This couldn't be my Emily.
The horse Emily had been riding was spooked by something and started to take off, and Emily, being just a beginner, fell off and was kicked in the head. She had a helmet on but the hoof got her right below the helmet. The most severe damage was done to the brain stem. She also had damage done in the right frontal lobe and left occipital area.
Emily spent the next 17 days with a nurse sitting at the foot of her bed watching all the numbers (ICP, temperatures, etc.). We could help with baths and whatever else we felt comfortable with. We would touch her hands, talk to her, read her stories, put her favorite music on, rub her body with fragrant creams and lotions, put flavored lip gloss on her, and tell her how much we loved her and how hard she needed to fight. I don't know if she heard any of this, but I feel that she knew we where right there with her, willing her to live. After a total of 21 days in PICU, Emily was transferred to the regular floor.
After we had been upstairs a day or two, the doctor that admitted Emily in the ER came up to her room. He stood there with this really strange look on his face and we asked him what was wrong. He said he'd been off for a few days and when he got back and saw Emily was gone, he thought she was GONE. He went on to tell us that he didn't think she would make it and that there came a point when he could do nothing else for her. He said, "This is God's work not mine".
Later we found out later that Emily had suffered a cardiac and respiratory arrest (Emily had "died") but they had no trouble "bringing her back".
Emily spent 4 1/2 months in rehabilitation. She had to learn everything from swallowing again to walking. Emily wasn't even able to hold her head up for a long time. It was a long hard battle, but she never once complained. The Emily that walked out our door on June 26, 1996 is gone and will be always be remembered but the new Emily who walked in our door on December 6, 1996 is loved more than she'll ever know!
Emily is now back in school and doing well. She is using a walker at school to get around or she crawls to get around at home, and a wheelchair for long distances. She has balance and coordination problems and talks very slow and delibrate. Emily has speech & physical therapy daily. She now has to wear glasses because the accident crossed her one eye and her brain won't let her eyes focus close up. We don't know how much more she'll recover and it really doesn't matter to us, we still have our little girl here on earth with us. That's what matters.
It a long hard road and I know what your going through. Keep praying, it works.
Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
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