"September 20, 2009
On the way home from a family visit, it was raining, and that was the last thing either of us remember. I was awakened by a policeman asking my phone number. I heard Shelbi moaning and saw her laying between the front seats into the back. I later found out that somehow I got off the road and overcorrected, causing the car to spin, then it landed against the only tree in a field. I had internal injuries. Shelbi, however, was much worse. Her diagnosis was Traumatic Brain Injury.
At first they said she would not make it, and if she did, that she would be in a vegetative state. They asked which nursing home we wanted to put our 12 year old daughter in. Since her head had hit the tree, then my head, her brain bounced causing global brain damage, with hydrocephalus (brain swelling). She had a broken neck (C-2 fracture), her hips were shattered, and her jaw was broken (the top dislodged from the bottom). She could not regulate her temperature or blood pressure. She had a neck brace for about 6 months, a trach for 2 years, g-tube for 2 years, part of her skull had to be taken out and wasn’t replaced for almost 2 years, and she got an infection from an air pocket and had to be taken out again. She lost most of her education; she could do some math and quickly remembered sign language, though she could not speak at first. She now talks fine and has relearned more than we ever thought possible. She has no use of her right arm, has all feeling but minimal use of her legs. She can lift them but is in a wheelchair. She continues PT/OT at Cardinal Hill Rehab Hospital.
It has been 8 years (since that horrible day). She has had 13 surgeries and more set backs than I can remember. She went back to school, was chosen homecoming queen, and graduated with an alternative diploma. Shelbi is an artist. She spends her time drawing, painting, and coming up with new ideas to make amazing art projects. She is kind, lovable, and does not dwell on what she cannot do. Instead she keeps surprising us with what she can accomplish. We both survived a horrible tragedy and seeing her smile everyday makes our lives worth living."
The Kendyl and Friends Foundation would like to graciously thank Shelbi H's family for sharing their daughter's and family's story with us to share.