Paramedic with a passion: AMR employee hurt on job longs to walk, work
Posted in the Lucedale Forum
Since: Sep 09
#1 Nov 7, 2013
Jennifer Hesselbein lies flat on a therapy table, the pain consuming her left hip causing her to grimace, but not to give up just yet.
Andrew Aycox, her fiancé and fellow American Medical Response paramedic, holds her hand and her focus. Hesselbein’s physical therapist at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, Chris McGuffey, repeatedly bends Hesselbein’s left leg at the knee to take pressure off her hip.
“It feels like I’m being stabbed,” Hesselbein said.
“Do you want to get back into your chair?” McGuffey said.
Jennifer pauses. It is not a decision she takes lightly.
“Yes,” she said.
But then, she told McGuffey what he needed to know to both relieve her pain and get her therapy immediately back on track.“It almost feels like it would feel better if I stretched it,” Hesselbein said of her throbbing hip.
A quick elevator ride later, McGuffey hoisted her with a lift chair onto another flat, wide table. He propped her head with a couple of pillows, then placed a large blue roll of foam under her left thigh to force the muscles between her knee and hip to stretch.
Like they’ve been since her July 31 accident, Hesselbein’s parents, O’Fallon, Mo., residents Forest and Carol Hesselbein and Aycox are just a few steps away.
Mission accomplished, McGuffey guided Hesselbein back into her lift chair, then to her motorized wheelchair. He threw her pink blanket over her head, then removed it with a chuckle a few seconds later.
“You’re my best friend,” Hesselbein told him, both sarcastic and truthful. McGuffey, she says, is her new rock of both emotional and physical support.
It’s already been a long journey for Hesselbein, and a recovery that will be ongoing for some time.
Her life, and those of her loved ones, changed when she suffered devastating injuries on the job in Jackson with AMR. She was hit by an alleged drunken driver as she tended to a patient who’d been struck by a different vehicle.
Her patient, Hinds County resident Jessie Lee Thomas, 71, died. The man who hit them, Jackson resident Robert Lee Howard Jr., 44, is charged with two counts of DUI and contempt of court. He remains jailed at the Hinds County Adult Detention Center in Raymond.
She has no memories of the wreck. Her first recollection afterward was being in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s surgical intensive care unit, undergoing a series of surgeries to repair the trauma and broken bones.
She tolerated five surgeries her first week at UMC and gained enough strength to come off a ventilator Aug. 16. All the while, her friends at AMR rallied around her, hosting fundraisers, selling T-shirts and keeping the community aware of her recovery battle.
She celebrated her 28th birthday in the hospital Oct. 8 then arrived at Methodist Oct. 10.
Hesselbein has lost vision in her left eye. All told, she’s had about 18 surgeries and dozens of stitches, skin grafts, braces, wires and tubes.“The left side is where all the damage is,” her dad explained.“I understand it was a pickup truck that hit her.”
She’s temporarily lost her ability to walk. She has not lost her spirit, friends and family say.
She will not lose sight of her goals.
“My No. 1 priority is to get back to work. Whatever it takes to get there, I’ll do it,” Hesselbein said.“And my other No. 1 priority is to walk down the aisle with my father when I get married.”
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