Alexis Fairchild, one of the two teenagers injured in the parasailing accident, remembers the accident. But we don’t know how much of it.
"It scares her a lot,” says Alexis’ father Michael. “So, she hasn't come out and said a whole lot about it. Just a little bit here and a little bit there. Except for maybe she was scared."
Dr. Julie Lombard, the Medical Director of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indianapolis, where Alexis is undergoing the next phase of treatment, says that’s a good and bad thing.
“It’s quite remarkable she remembers as much of the accident as she does,” says Lombard. “We usually don't expect patients who've had her kind of injuries to remember it. So, obviously that's a double edged sword. It's great that she was able to maintain her consciousness for a good amount of that. But it's also she has some memories of the accident."
Alexis arrived at RHI Thursday night. Doctors say she will be there for at least 10 days, before she begins months of outpatient care. Her biggest obstacle at this point is pain management.
Alexis was injured July 1 when a tow rope broke free from the boat. She and her friend, Sidney Good, hit a condo building, power lines and several cars. Alexis suffered broken bones in upper spine, a fractured skull and a brain injury.
“She's had some very painful injuries,” says Lombard. “Being able to get control of that pain is going to be really helpful in getting her mobilized.”
Alexis will work with a team of doctors – physical, occupational and speech therapists, and neuropsychologists. She has a long road ahead, but doctors say she has several big advantages. She’s healthy, young and has a family that loves her.
“She’s in good spirits and has a good cheering section in her family,” says Lombard.
Alexis’ parents plan to stay in Indianapolis as long as she’s at RHI. Doctors say the rehab will also be tough on them.
“Brain injuries affect the whole family,” says Lombard. “It requires a lot of time, effort and emotional strain on the family."
The Fairchild’s have certainly been on an emotional rollercoaster since getting the call from Sidney’s parents the day of the accident.
"When you walk in and see your daughter, helpless, you feel helpless,” says Michael Fairchild. “It's just devastating. My wife and I didn't think we could cry so much."
To take this next step on the road to recovery, Alexis had to leave her friend back at Bay Medical Center in Panama City.
“The last time Alexis and Sid talked, Alexis was pretty emotional,” says Michael Fairchild. “It's been a long ride. (Alexis) was up moving and Sid wasn't. She was happy to see that (Sidney) was actually able to do something."
Sidney is waiting for clearance from doctors to walk for the first time since the accident. She will eventually undergo facial reconstructive surgery to repair broken bones.