My five-year-old daughter Penelope suffered a severe crush injury to her right foot. On a visit to her grandfather's house she fell and her leg ended up caught in the drive shaft of a tractor. It ripped the skin off the top of her foot, creating a wound that is 9 x 6 cm. She lost one toe (her pinkie toe), and almost lost the toe next to it.
We were there to work on our Volkswagen Vanagon Camper just before embarking on a tour of every state in the USA. Needless to say, it wasn't a great start to the trip.
I can tell you that I chased my daughter around every day of her life, carefully nudging her away from danger at every turn. I spent her entire infancy holding her hand on staircases, shooing her away from electrical outlets and discouraging her from climbing up tall bookcases or touching hot stoves. Ask anyone who actually knows me, and they would tell you that I am overly cautious with my daughter to a fault.
I have three kids. Penny is the first to have her pinky toe amputated, but not the first to suffer a painful accident. Accidents happen, that’s just life. It won’t discourage us from embarking on this road trip. The accident that occurred will only serve to make me more vigilant that I was before. I won’t shelter her to the point that she never gets to have any fun or take any calculated risks; we’ll just have a safety brief before we do things like this again.
Things like rollercoasters, skateboards, bumper cars, bicycles, petting dogs, catching spiders, climbing trees, climbing hills, crossing the street and all other inherently dangerous activities of which there are too many to list here. When this incident occurred, I was mortified. I was worried and scared for my daughter. All of the adults that were present and supervising her that day were. We all stayed cool under pressure, acted fast, removed her from any further danger and had emergency services there within minutes of it happening.
All of us shed tears, and spent the entire week trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath. None of us enjoyed it. We just picked each other up and gave each other support and love. We grew closer as a family. This accident has nothing to do with our decision to travel. Anyone that takes the time to get to know us would know that we love our daughter and have provided her with a wonderful life filled with people who love and care for her. Our decision to take her out on the road wasn’t made lightly; it was carefully planned down to the last detail. That’s my girlfriend Maizy’s doing, she is an analytical Virgo accountant. She has a three ring binder bursting at the seams, filled with itineraries, budgets, curriculum plans and much more.
When the public service bill was pushing $400, we decided we could do better. We made a conscious decision to downsize, moved back to the city to live in a small apartment just a couple of miles from her work, and started saving all that money we were spending on that lavish lifestyle. We sold our gas guzzling SUV and started the arduous task of downsizing. It took us two years to get rid of almost all of our trivial belongings.
We aren’t planning on traveling forever, just as long as it takes us to get to every state. We want to make a truly educated decision on where we decide to set down roots.
While this accident was heartbreaking and hard to deal with, there is also a silver lining. She made friends with kids who are literally dying. A young girl with a lung disease just fell in love with her. That girl has been admitted to the hospital 47 times in her life, she is maybe twelve years old at the most, but she has one of the most genuine smiles you will ever see and makes me feel guilty for ever thinking that my life sucks.
Penny is already better off just for having known her. That is just one example, my daughter is going to learn more than she ever would spending a year commuting back and forth to a half a day of kindergarten five days a week. And I’m not knocking kindergarten or traditional schooling or people who live your basic normal everyday life.
Our family just understands how precious and fleeting life can be, and we want to enjoy it to the fullest, and show our daughter the possibilities. Maizy is a two-time breast cancer survivor and she quit her job to make this trip possible. I am a communications major with aspirations to become a freelance journalist. That being said, we put all our eggs in one basket and weren't planning on things like helicopter rides to the hospital after a traumatic accident with farm equipment.
We are now stuck in Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, and aren't being allowed to leave because our insurance (which expires at the end of the month) does not allow a child under 12 to have a wound vac in the home. We have been in the hospital for eight days now, and are facing a huge mountain of medical expenses as a result of this.
Maizy has spent her entire adult life since being diagnosed with cancer paying off all the medical bills that go with that. Long story short, we want to buy the wound vac outright, and leave the hospital. This is a shot in the dark, but at this point we are willing to try anything.
My daughter has already had four procedures, and faces three more before the treatment for this injury is complete. The insurance policy runs out in ten days, and we are facing a $7,000 deductible and 20% of the rest of the charges. The course of care is expected to last through at least the middle of June. The skin graft will be performed but we will have no insurance by then.
We've never asked for money before, and this may or may not work, but any amount you can find in your heart to donate to this cause would be immensely appreciated.
We want to show our daughter the USA and give her an education on the road before she goes into public schools in a year. This was a dream trip that started off with a nightmare. Hopefully we can learn from this and show other families with wanderlust that a life on the road can be a rich and rewarding experience