'They said I'd be a quad': Idaho teen defies the odds, walks after being told she wouldn't
BUHL, Idaho (KBOI) —
Doctors told her she would never walk again. But months after an Idaho teenager was badly hurt in a snowboarding accident, she's able to say she beat the odds.
"I'm really surprised where I'm at," said Lexi Bingham.
A day on the slopes of Pomerelle Mountain Resort in southern Idaho took a scary turn last year for the Buhl High School sophomore.
"February 15, 2015."
Lexi remembers the date well. The 15-year-old was spending the day on the slopes with her cousin, when she landed wrong coming off of a jump. Her initial thought was that she had broken both of her arms and legs.
"I was just laying there and told my cousin 'take my board off,'" she said. "He said 'it's already off', and I was like 'I can't feel anything.' I was like, 'move my legs around' and he said he was doing it. I was like 'I can't feel anything!'"
THE BAD NEWS
From there, Lexi was flown to a hospital in Pocatello, then rerouted to Salt Lake City. There, doctors delivered the bad news.
"They're like 'you're neck is broken,'" Lexi said. "C2 through C6. I didn't really know how bad that was, but everyone was crying. I figured it must be pretty bad."
"I knew the ramifications of what that meant," Lexi's mother, Jerri, said. "C2 to C6 in your cervical, you're not going to be breathing. You're a quad. You're not going to be doing anything."
Doctors told Lexi she would likely never walk again. A thought that - to an active teenager - felt like a death sentence.
"Sports at that time were like my life," she said. "I thought 'oh man my life is over.' I would get so mad sometimes, I would think 'just let me die.'"
Lexi spent three months in the hospital, uncertain of her future. Her family tells KBOI 2News they struggled to stay composed at times.
"I think we both took turns leaving the room," Jerri said. "That was hard. You never imagine that happening to your kids. But in our heart, we were like 'we're going to get through this.'"
Each day during her stay, Lexi said physical therapists would come in to check on her progress.
"They'd ask 'can you move anything yet? Can you move anything yet?'" she said. "I was like, 'no,' but they always had me try. Then one day I could move my toe, and one of my therapists like freaked out."
Over the course of a few months, movement led to standing.
"I stood up for like 30 seconds and that was like a huge deal," Lexi said.
Standing then led to walking. *Yeah, that thing she was never supposed to be able to do again).
"They said I'd be a quad," she said.
RECOVERING - ONE STEP AT A TIME
"People stare," she said. "That shouldn't bug me, but it does."
Lexi walks with a slight hop in her step, but those around her say it's something to be proud of. But now, the teenager is looking to lengthen her stride.
"I can run, and I do not look normal, I'm not up to speed, and (it's) not pretty, but I can run," she said.
Before the accident, the teen played golf, basketball and softball. Now, she's trying to get back into the swing of things on the golf course. But those who know her best say her amazing progress is no surprise.
"She's always been really bull-headed," Jerri said. "If we told her she couldn't do something, she would do it."
"As she improves, she's always maintained that cocky, smart alack attitude," Lexi's father, Clay, said. "She's been resilient."
TEMPTING FATE A SECOND TIME
On top of everything, Lexi survived a nasty car crash this fall. Firefighters said the damage looked like nobody could have survived from it, yet Lexi and her friend escaped almost unharmed, just with minor scratches and bruises to show.
"I don't know how much more her guardian angel can handle," her mom said. "We laugh, like 'is she a cat? Has she used up most of her lives?'"
But Lexi said she doesn't plan to use her other seven lives. This one is the one she wants to cherish.
"Back then, I really did not want to live. I didn't want to live without being able to walk," she said. "But I'm glad I didn't give up."
While she is still regaining function in the right half of her body, Lexi already has her heights set on bigger (and taller) things. She wants to get back into running, but is also aiming to hike Mount Borah next September!