Tuesday, November 15, 2011
It was to be a typical autumn Sunday afternoon for Mikayla Ochs and her family; a day full of football and cheerleading. But October 23 would be a day like no other for Mikayla; her life - and the lives of her family members - would be forever changed.
“Dear Jesus, don’t let it be bad,” Joyce Ochs remembers saying.
Her daughter, 10-year-old Mikayla, had just been introduced by the announcer with the rest of the cheerleading squad. Mikayla made her way - flipping and tumbling - onto the field like she did every week.
“It’s a little bit of a blur they called Mikayla, I remember looking and watching her run, but someone asked a question and I turned. When I turned back around I noticed she was on the ground,” said Joyce.
”She doesn’t like to be embarrassed, so I knew when she didn’t get up it was bad.”
Joyce quickly made her way onto the football field; Mikayla was not yet moving or talking. Soon, Mikayla’s tears surfaced, but still no movement.
“She was scared to death,” said Joyce.
“I remember her crying and I kept telling her it would be OK. I was just trying to comfort her.”
Chaos ensued with paramedics and firemen moving into action; it was obvious Mikayla’s injuries were severe.
“He called my name and I was running by the football players and I did a round-off, a back hand-spring and another back hand-spring and then I fell,” said Mikayla recalling her memories of that day.
“It felt like my legs were floating. Then all of a sudden a bunch of people were around me.”
From a distance, Joyce Ochs could not tell what exactly happened to her daughter that day, but it is believed Mikayla’s hand slipped on the wet ground when she landed her back hand-spring.
The awkward angle of her fall had dire consequences; Mikayla had no feeling in her extremities. Frightened and in severe pain, Mikayla thought she was being transported by helicopter, but she was transported by ambulance to Springfield Regional Medical Center.
Once Mikayla was assessed and her critical condition was determined, she was quickly transferred to Dayton Children’s Hospital.
“When we got to Dayton we found out she had broken her neck,” said Joyce.
Mikayla’s C4, C5 and C6 vertebrae were broken; as was her right wrist.
The following day Mikayla underwent a grueling seven hour surgery to repair her broken vertebrae.
Soon after her surgery, Mikayla began to have feeling: tingling, small movements.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Joyce.
“The doctors were positive, but realistic. There was a lot of swelling, a lot of trauma actually, to the spinal cord itself; it was bruised pretty bad.”
Mikayla’s Journey Begins
As her condition continued to improve, Mikayla was transferred on Halloween day to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for physical therapy.
She endures four to five hours of rigorous therapy every day.
Mikayla is learning for the second time, not just to walk, but to do the basic things in life again.
“It’s a real roller coaster (of emotions),” said Joyce.
“I know what she was before; her spirit and her determination. I watched her multiple hours to learn back flips and I see that determination to be better at her sports, now I see her so conflicted with the fear of never walking again.”
Mikayla’s therapy includes sessions with a robotic type machine called a Lokomat.
“It’s used to help strengthen the muscles in the legs for walking and holding her body weight. This has been a real answer to prayer,” said Joyce.
Joyce says she feels the prayers and strength of the community. Many friends have made the long trek to Cincinnati to visit Mikayla whose room is flooded with stuffed animals and gifts.
“I feel the spirit of the Lord working in our lives,” said Joyce.
Joyce prays that her family learns from this journey and can help others; and that Mikayla, as a person, will become stronger.
Mikayla, an active cheerleader for several years, now prays she will be able to walk into school on the day she returns. She says her therapy is going “good” and she wants to play volleyball and cheer on the sidelines again.
But, first and foremost, Mikayla wants to be baptized on her birthday, Dec. 29.
“I’ve been praying a lot and reading Scripture,” she said. “It made me want to be baptized.”
In the mean time, Mikayla continues to cheer from her hospital room. Her younger brother, Christian Ochs, 9, is a player on the Peewee Warrior football team which went undefeated this season.
Mikayla called to congratulate the Warriors on their championship victory telling them, “You are true winners.”
Christian - who shaved Mikayla’s initials into his hair as a tribute to his big sister - comes to visit Mikayla often.
“He always kisses his hand and touches my forehead,” she said. “He tells me he loves me before he leaves.”
While remaining realistic, Joyce says the doctors continue to be optimistic, anticipating a full recovery for Mikayla.
“She’s been working hard,” said Joyce. “For some reason we’ve been put on this journey I know there’s a reason for it.”Tweet