It’s been one year since Ladd’s accident on the ranch. I’ve been getting more and more questions about how he’s doing these days, and I’m so appreciative of everyone’s care and concern for my fella. It really has meant so much to us. So today I thought it would be a good time to write a year accident-versary (pardon the term) update.
A quick recap: Last March, a wildfire broke out on the ranch on an incredibly windy day. As is the case with all fires that erupt in our rural area, the neighboring ranches and rural fire departments headed out to help fight it. A wildfire, after all, can happen to any of us, it can spread very quickly, and helping your neighbor fight fire is just something you do.
While they were fighting fire, Ladd and our nephew Caleb (who were in separate fire trucks) collided in heavy smoke made worse by the intense winds. These guys have been fighting fire their whole lives and had never had any sort of accident like this—so it was a bit of a fluke, a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time type of thing. Very long story short, Caleb wound up in an ambulance, Ladd wound up on a helicopter, and less than 24 hours later, Ladd was in surgery having his broken neck repaired. It was scary, but he was very, very lucky—as was Caleb, who had cuts, bruises, and broken ribs---but nothing more serious, thank God.
It's tough for anyone to have a broken neck and recover from cervical spine surgery, but (sweeping generalization here) I would say it’s a little tougher on men, who do not tend to be good patients—and, I dare say, it’s possibly even tougher on men of the agriculture ilk, who never admit they’re in pain and whose daily lives revolve around getting out there and tackling whatever physical task their job demands. So it was pretty tough on Ladd in those first weeks. He was in a neck brace, he had limitations—oh, and it actually does really hurt to break your neck! Poor guy!
To clarify: Ladd was a good patient in the sense that he generally obeyed his surgeon’s orders when he first got home from the hospital. Ladd was a bad patient in the sense that he started pushing the envelope about three days later. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say he got in his pickup and drove around the ranch on day four. His seat was almost totally reclined, but by golly, he drove! 😂 And he took off his neck brace to walk Alex down the aisle a few weeks later (and put it back on right after that!), oh, and he rode his horse the morning of the rehearsal dinner. Fortunately, I’ve been married to this dude for 25 years and I asked Jesus to take the wheel many years ago, so I was able to throw my hands up and surrender when these envelopes were pushed. Thank you, Carrie Underwood.
In the ensuing months, Ladd gradually got stronger, worked on moving his neck more, and tried to gradually push through the stiffness. I’ll be honest that for a little while there, I was afraid the wind had been taken out of his sail a little bit. I’m not sure how a major accident, a major surgery, and a significant physical recovery could do anything but take a toll on someone who is pretty active and healthy. The good news is that for all of Ladd’s discomfort and adjustments, he also carried along healthy dose of gratitude to balance everything out. The surgeon had told us that the fracture in his neck came dangerously close to damaging his spinal cord, and the fact that he was lucky to be able to get up and walk around after surgery was not lost on Ladd.
So let’s fast-forward: how is he now?
Well, here we are one year later and Ladd is doing great. Thinking back to that bad day in March of 2021, this is pretty remarkable. He’s lifting weights. He’s riding his horse. He’s feeding cattle and doing all the work on the ranch he always did. Sure, his neck is still a little stiff and probably always will be. He can no longer whip his head around when I call “Oh, Honey????? Can you do me a favor????” from the other room. (And this is probably okay with him, haha)
So all in all, I’m giving thanks today Ladd is pretty much back to normal…just in time for spring burning to start, by the way.
I repeat: Jesus take the wheel...