Life can change in a split second. Just ask Flushing resident, Kenneth Woods, who was severely injured in May during a wind storm that toppled a half-ton tree on him. “The tree fell on me!” he exclaimed, “and I don’t remember any of it!” But he does remember the events that led up to the accident.
It was May 4 of this year, and Woods had the day off from his job as an electrician. “It was a real windy day,” he remembered. “I was looking out the window and saw a tree fall in my yard, so I went outside to check it out.” He was talking to his neighbor, Bill, when he suddenly heard a loud “crack.” From that point on, he has no memory of what happened, but the details he shares have been relayed to him by his neighbors, emergency technicians and family members.
So, there he lay – buried beneath a tree that had been brought down by the high winds. A neighbor came over with a front-load tractor in an effort to move the tree. “The tree was so big, he couldn’t lift it off me,” Woods shared. Another neighbor rushed over with his tractor to help, and by this time, the police and ambulance had arrived. “They loaded me into the ambulance and took me to Hurley Medical Center. I was unconscious the whole time. My neighbor, Bill, was so shook up he couldn’t remember my name. He couldn’t even remember his own name,” Woods said. But he is very thankful for Bill’s quick response. “He saved me, for sure – I was just glad my wife wasn’t there to see it,” he added. And, it was quite a search to find Woods’ wife, Brenda, who had started a new job that day. “It took them a while to track her down,” he admits. “She was pretty shaken, at first. ICU was pretty ugly with all the tubes in me. I was on life support for two weeks.”
Miraculously, Woods survived his injuries, but they were extensive. He was unconscious and had to be intubated twice. He suffered multiple broken bones: his femur, scapula, vertebrae, ribs and sternum. He also had lung damage and a lot of bumps, bruises and scrapes. When he finally woke up, his first questions were, “where am I?” and “what happened?” He was very heavily medicated but luckily, did not suffer any brain damage.
Woods was in the Intensive Care Unit for three weeks and hospitalized for almost two months. He underwent surgeries, rehabilitation and inpatient therapy. At Select Specialty Hospital Flint, he had further treatment and then went back to Hurley for more inpatient therapy. As of this writing, Woods is home, but still has frequent outpatient therapy.
Grateful for the care he received at Hurley Medical Center, Woods thanks trauma surgeon, Dr. Leo Mercer, and the many other doctors who treated him. “The Trauma Department did a fantastic job!” he exclaims. “The right people for me were there, for sure. From ICU to therapy, they were all great,” he said. “They got me walking again. Select Specialty Hospital at McLaren was really great, too.”
In August, Woods was asked to serve as the Fall Classic Ambassador for the Hurley Trauma Center Fall Golf Classic. The event raises funds for the Trauma Department and Burn Unit. At a press conference, he accepted the ambassadorship and shared the story of his accident and long road to recovery at Hurley, and about the wonderful care he received. “I felt really honored to be chosen as their ambassador,” he stated. “If I can do anything that will help them raise money to save someone else, like they did me, I’m there. I owe them a great deal of gratitude.”
Woods is also grateful for the support of his wife, family and many good friends who have helped him get through this ordeal. And it has been a life-changing experience for him. “My outlook on life has changed,” he noted. “I’m more open and feel more compassionate. It changed me. I’m lucky to be walking and talking. I believe I’m more caring and more light-hearted. I feel lucky to be alive. God was on my side, no question about it.”
“The right people for me were there, for sure. From ICU to therapy, they were all great.”
photos provided by hurley trauma center