While Cal’s weekend trip with friends from college had ended, his journey had just begun. In April of 2007, Cal Trout was invited to attend a two-day music festival with a friend from college, his friend’s pregnant wife and their three-year-old daughter. After spending an amazing weekend together, the group decided to have a quick breakfast before heading their separate ways.
Cal jumped in their car and minutes later, as they rounded a curve they had traveled countless times before, the car hit a patch of gravel, fishtailed off of the road and dropped 15 feet into a concrete embankment.
As Cal regained consciousness, the first thing he heard was the soft cry of his friend’s daughter. He quickly realized he was lying on her but was unable to move. One of his legs was on the dashboard and the other one was wedged behind the driver’s seat.
All Cal could think of was protecting the child. While Cal’s friend climbed out of the car, Cal picked up his leg that was on the dashboard and aligned it with the one in the back seat so he could be pulled from the car, freeing the child. As Cal’s friend and a passing Good Samaritan pulled him out of the car, he felt extreme pain and heard a loud pop before losing consciousness.
The next thing Cal remembers is waking up to the good news that the child had suffered only a busted lip. Cal’s friend had escaped with minor injuries, and his friend’s wife suffered a couple of cracked vertebrae in her neck, resulting in a month of physical therapy. Fortunately, her unborn child was unharmed.
Cal was not so lucky. He was originally taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a cracked tailbone. Further tests revealed a much more serious condition, so Cal was immediately airlifted to Regional Medical Center. Cal’s injuries included four cracked vertebrae requiring immediate surgery.
Cal initially refused surgery, believing he would recover with time and physical therapy. The doctors helped Cal understand why the surgery was needed. “They told me that if I didn’t have surgery, I could expect to spend the next 6-8 months in bed and then the next 1-2 years learning how to walk again. They told me I may never be able to stand up straight and might die. As you can imagine, that got my attention,” Cal recalls. “Until that conversation, I hadn’t realized the gravity of my situation. I am so grateful I allowed the doctors to perform the surgery, which allowed me to fully recover.”
Once the surgery began, the full extent of Cal’s injures was evident. All of his back muscles had been shredded and his lower and upper spine was completely separated. Cal’s doctors said they were amazed that he wasn’t paralyzed. While they credited his recovery to his resolve and good fortune, Cal credits the team of doctors who cared for him. “I don’t know where I would be today if the doctors at Regional Medical Center had not been persistent in helping me understand what my options were. I put my faith in them, and my faith was greatly rewarded,” he says today.
Thanks to the care he received, Cal has been able to return to his livelihood of farming.
Cal’s remarkable recovery exemplifies what is possible, given the passion and dedication of the men and women who work tirelessly to save lives each day at Regional Medical Center, part of Regional One Health.