I knew, there on the beach, that day, as I ran to Jeff moments after he'd been paralyzed, that our lives would never be the same. I locked eyes with Jeff as he lay on the sand and saw the panic on his face.
He said words to me that I will never - ever - forget.
Kristen, I'm so sorry I ruined our life . . .
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But our life wasn't ruined; it was changed. Changed in ways we couldn't even begin to understand that day.
Today is July 27, 2014. One year later, and we're still here.
Below is a look back at our year.
Where we were.
Where we are now.
How far we've come.
X-ray of Jeff's neck fusion. Jeff fractured his C4 vertebra and badly damaged his spinal cord. He has metal plates and screws that run from his C3 - C6 vertebrae. He had two stabilization surgeries on his neck - one 3 days after his injury, and the second 1 week after that.
3 weeks after the accident. Jeff still has his neck collar on. He was in ICU at Western Medical for 3 weeks, then was moved to a different unit for close observation. This picture was taken when he got into his new room. It was around this time that Jeff's memory picks up. He remembers the entire accident, and the ambulance ride, but he doesn't remember much of ICU.
Late August 2013
Evie's first visit to see Daddy. She picked out her favorite dress for this big occasion. She was unsure of all the tubes and medical equipment, but she was so happy to see Daddy. It was the happiest Jeff had been since before the accident.
Jeff was transferred to Rancho Los Amigos, a rehab hospital specializing in treating spinal cord injuries, on September 23, 2013 - his 40th birthday. It wasn't quite the way we'd imagined celebrating such a milestone day. We did "cheers" with a 7Up because till now, he was only cleared to take small sips of water.
Evie visits Daddy again - and this time Jeff can speak. Up until this time, he could only whisper words, but he made progress while in the ICU at Rancho by having the cuff in his trach deflated which allowed him to speak again. This was the first visit where Evie could hear his voice. It was a magical moment. It was like all the tubes and machines disappeared, and Evie had Daddy back again.
This was the first time Jeff had been able to sit upright since his injury. A side effect of a spinal cord injury is blood pressure regulation. The body doesn't do it as well as before. He still has issues though they are not as bad as they used to be.
This picture shows how much weight Jeff lost (40 pounds) during the 4 months following his accident. During that time he developed a pressure sore on his tailbone, and this picture was taken a few days before his surgery to repair the sore.
Our Thanksgiving picture. Jeff is recovering from pressure sore surgery. He had to spend 6 weeks on a sand bed to let the site heal.
Watching a Charger game on the laptop! Football season helped to make those 6 weeks go by a little more quickly.
After almost 5 months of beard growing, Jeff could no longer stand it. He entrusted me with the clippers, and I groomed him up. Probably the best part of getting rid of the beard was the reactions of the hospital staff who had never seem him without it!
Another holiday spent at the hospital. Jeff is finally gaining some weight back now that the pressure sore has been repaired.
Finally - Jeff is wearing real clothes! Enough already of those hospital gowns!
Watching a Charger game with Daddy. Every weekend, Evie and I would visit Jeff together. Some mornings we would bring breakfast. Some nights we would bring dinner. We had a lot of family meals together in the hospital.
Watching the Super Bowl with Aunt Cathy - our sister in law. She's come out several times from North Carolina to help out. We love her so much.
February 13, 2014 - Jeff is HOME! It took a lot of planning, persistence, and patience to get Jeff home, but we finally made it. This day was a turning point for us. Best Valentine's Day present EVER.
Late February 2014
Jeff and his favorite beer - Sierra Nevada. That smile says it all.
Mama and Evie washing Daddy's hair.
Uncle Gary, Jeff's brother, also visited several times after Jeff's accident.
Jeff trying out his mouth stylus to control his phone. Technology has been an important part of our lives since the accident. Through it, Jeff is able to have a lot of independence.
Evie and Daddy enjoying a snack together. Evie loves to feed Jeff, especially snacks - probably because she gets to nibble on whatever she feeds him. :)
Jeff and Evie playing in our backyard. Just the other day she said, "Daddy, your legs don't work anymore, but you can still chase me!" And chase her he does.
These two just being silly.
Selfie of our family taken by Jeff using the self-facing camera on his phone that is mounted to his chair.
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If there's one thing this last year has taught us, it's that we are capable of handling so much more than we ever thought we could. The stress of dealing with a life-changing injury is overwhelming at times, but Jeff and my relationship has become deeper and stronger through adversity.
Of course we didn't do this alone. We couldn't have made it through the last year without Team Sachs - our supporters. Friends, family, and complete strangers have come together to offer support in so many ways: prayers, meals, donations, errands, positive thoughts, and stories of encouragement. We are so blessed and so thankful to have these people in our lives.
We made it through a year.
We're ready to take on more.