By Alyce Collins
THIS STUDENT’S life was changed forever when her car skidded across the road and landed on TOP OF HER, leaving her paralysed in hospital and causing her family to find out about her secret relationship as her boyfriend didn’t leave her bedside.
Student, Ellie Skromme (18) from California, USA, was on her way home when she noticed her steering wheel’s alignment seemed off as she was having to steer the wheel towards the left just so she could go straight.
Ellie managed as best she could to get home before having to leave for work, as she worked part-time at Kohls, the retail chain. Driving to work down the winding road she took each day, Ellie’s life changed forever as she was left paralysed from the waist down.
The rear right tyre blew out and caused the car to roll across the road six times, with Ellie being ejected from the car through the passenger window and having the vehicle land on top of her.
A man at a nearby car park overheard the crash and ran to the site, seeing Ellie face down in the dirt under the car. Firefighters dug Ellie out from the dirt and she was transported to a hospital via helicopter.
Ellie had kept her boyfriend, Brady, a secret from her family because he was a couple of years older than she was, but once he found out she was in the hospital he didn’t leave her bedside, leaving Ellie’s family to find out very soon about their ongoing romance.
Ellie suffered a collapsed lung, fractured collarbone, fractured spine and a brain injury, with bits of glass still to this day coming out of her body. It was clear that Ellie would never walk again as she lost all mobility and independence.
Despite this, Ellie has spent the last year in physical therapy as she is gradually regaining some feeling and motion, starting with wiggling her toes and now she can lift her ankle while standing.
“On my way home from school I noticed my truck kept pulling to the right, but I didn’t think much of it,” said Ellie.
“I got home, did some chores and some homework then got dressed for work and headed back out.
“On this slightly windy road there is no phone service, but I drove it basically every day. I wasn’t drinking, not texting and not really speeding either, but regardless of that, in a split second my life changed forever.
“My right tyre blew out and caused my tail end to pitch out to the right and my entire truck rolled across the road an estimated six times.
“I was ejected out the driver’s side window and the truck landed on top of me where I was face down in the dirt.
“A man nearby heard everything, and he tried to get me out but couldn’t, so him and some other people had to dig me out. They got me out and a helicopter had arrived to take me to the closest trauma centre.
“My dad got a phone call on his way home from work saying I’d been in a car accident. He drove past all the police barricades and cars straight to the scene and as he got there the helicopter was taking off, at which point it all hit him. He hadn’t thought it was that serious until he saw my truck on the side of the road.
“My boyfriend was also on his way home from work and his co-worker, who drove past the scene, phoned Brady to tell him. I can’t imagine receiving a phone call like that. He jumped in his car and headed to the hospital, but my entire family still had no clue he even existed in my life.
“Brady and I tried dating in 2016 but my dad wasn’t okay with it because he’s four years older than me. But when you find your soulmate there’s not much you can do, so we dated in secret.
“My collar bone was fractured, my scapula was fractured, my T-10 vertebrae had a burst fracture, I had ribs popped out of place and a collapsed lung.
“My back was fixed with two metal rods and some screws, but the damage to my spinal cord was irreversible, hence why I have no feeling past my belly button. I was paralysed from my T-8 vertebrae down.
“Brady said that when a doctor came out to where everyone was sitting and explained that I would never walk again, it was one of those moments you’d never forget.
“They told my family but not me. There was one day in ICU a few days later when a nurse came in and asked if anyone had any questions, and I asked her if I was ever going to walk again. She was straight up with the answer.
“Little did I know, after being in ICU for two weeks, I would be on my way to rehab for over a month. Not only did I lose my ability to walk and feel my legs, I lost the ability to use the bathroom like a normal human, and I lost basically all my independence.
“Every day I had a list of therapies I had to do mostly physical therapy, but I also had speech therapy to make sure my brain was okay after the accident and occupational therapy to teach me how to live everyday life again. Physical therapy was very painful. Being a tough girl raised mostly by her dad, I was ashamed at how much I hurt.
“I woke up around eight am, a nurse had to help me put a bra on and a t-shirt without me being able to sit up in bed. Then I was rolled around into my back brace. I attempted to eat breakfast, but I was always so sick to my stomach from medication, and then I would go into my therapy sessions of the day.
“I was in the hospital in the ICU from September 13, 2017 to September 20, 2017. I was then transferred to rehab which I was from September 20, 2017 to October 28, 2017.
“When I got home from rehab, I was paralysed from T-8 vertebrae level down. Within the first three months post injury, I gained three inches of feeling, which moved me down to the T-10 level.
“A few months later Brady noticed that I can wiggle my toes ever so slightly and you can feel my calf muscles attempting to move.
“Now, I have very little muscle control below my injury, but I can lift my ankles when standing, and I have other little bits of progress that have kept my hopes up.
“I still have no feeling below my injury, so there’s a long way to go. I am only now beginning to feel healed in my back and all over my body, so now I am focusing more on recovery than before.
“As awful as this whole experience has been, I think about if my accident had never happened and my family would have never liked Brady. It took them seeing him stick by my side throughout this all to really see the man he is.”
Follow Ellie’s journey to recovery @walkforfaith