Winterfest Court, band, student council, forensics competition, band, student council, colorguard and soccer - these are just a few of the activities that 16-year-old Dejonna Bates of Plainfield has enjoyed this year. Although this is a typical scenario for many teenagers, Dejonna is anything but typical.
On July 12, 2010, Dejonna was at summer camp. During the free swim at the aquatic center, she was preparing to jump off of the high dive when suddenly she stumbled and fell approximately 20 feet, landing on the concrete pool deck.
"I remember starting to fall off the side and trying to grab the handrail but I couldn't," said Dejonna. "It felt like I was falling in slow motion. I could see the terrified look on people's faces as they watched - that was the last thing I remember until waking up in the pool. Lifeguards had me floating in the water strapped to a board. My face, left arm, right wrist and ribs hurt so badly."
"I could see my friends on the edge of the pool and they looked very scared and they were crying. I thought maybe I was dying," remembered Dejonna. "The ambulance took me to Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital. My mom works there and many people know me and they treated me well."
Due to the severity of Dejonna's injuries, she needed the care of a Trauma Center and was transported to Ministry Saint Joseph's Children's Hospital. In addition to a severe concussion, Dejonna's right wrist was fractured and her left arm severely broken in three places. Her jaw, broken in two places, was put back into place with screws and then wired shut. She had a crack in her pelvis and three cracked ribs.
After only eight days, extensive care and rehabilitation, Dejonna was able to go home. "I was excited to get out of the hospital, but I had met some very special people who I had grown to trust to help me," said Dejonna.
Being home was just the beginning for Dejonna's long rehabilitation. Progress in physical and occupational therapy was slow, but steady, and she continues to make progress and gain strength in her arms. She will continue therapy three times per week until November 2011 and then reduce to two times a week.
"Having all the support and love I had around me helped me realize I could be low, move backwards, be mad and miserable or I could be in control with an upbeat attitude, move forward to my goals and happy about every little success," said Dejonna. "I learned my attitude controlled more than I ever thought possible."