A Montgomery County woman is fighting her way back from a devastating car crash that left her paralyzed from the chest down.


Jessie Schmidt doesn’t want substantially. She is not hoping for something remarkable.

It’s the minor matters that she needs again, the normal things that so quite a few people just take for granted. Like basically getting a possibility to be a mother, to consider treatment of her valuable 8-year-old daughter, Ahnjole Gordon.

“I just can’t wait to just keep her, to rest with her at night,” Jessie mentioned. “That’s her beloved thing to do. I’d set her to bed and wake up with her next to me in my bed.”

But things that would be easy for most persons, like putting a boy or girl to mattress, are monumental problems for the 31-year-aged. Just about 20 months in the past she was in a violent motor vehicle crash in Montgomery County that has remaining her paralyzed from the upper body down.

Jessie’s recovery has been gradual and unpleasant. She’s been in two hospitals, a rehab centre and, for the past nine months, a nursing dwelling in Exeter Township.

When she’s out of bed she’s sure to a wheelchair, and most likely will be for the relaxation of her existence. It’s challenging for her to bend her body, and sitting up for even moderate quantities of time is agonizing.

Her arms are stiffly bent at the elbow, tucking her fingers in towards her upper body. She can use them, following months of follow, but their movement is labored and exhausting.

Despite all of that, Jessie has a lofty goal. She wishes to move out of the nursing house and into a spot of her individual, someplace exactly where she and Ahnjole can be jointly and rebuild their life.

She wishes a dwelling wherever she can teach her daughter how to do chores and have her daughter assistance paint her nails and do her hair. A home exactly where she can assistance her daughter do her research and give her some composition.

“I want her to see I’m nevertheless her mother, irrespective of everything,” Jessie explained.

The working day every little thing improved

There wasn’t nearly anything notably odd or exclusive about Aug. 20, 2020. At least not at 1st.

Jessie was residing in Norristown at the time, and shortly after she woke up she received a call from Ahnjole’s father, Jimmack Gordon, stating that she could select her daughter up later on that day at his home in Pottstown. It was her week to have her, and Jessie was keen to devote time with her little woman.

The strategy was for Jessie to travel to Pottstown, do a couple hundreds of laundry at Jimmack’s location, then return to Norristown with Ahnjole.

Jessie experienced just gotten her driver’s license 27 days in advance of, in portion to make journeys like this one to pick up her daughter. And 3 weeks ahead of she experienced purchased a Mazda sedan as a result of Fb Market.

Jessie mentioned she experienced pushed the vehicle a minimal little bit, but she experienced been not able to get it appeared around by a mechanic. It was the midst of the COVID shutdown and fairly a great deal almost everything was closed or operating beneath reduced hrs.

Seeking to see her daughter, Jessie figured the car would be great. She acquired a couple hundreds of laundry collectively, put them in the auto and headed off.

She explained on her way to Pottstown the automobile felt humorous, but as she drove it seemed to get far better.

Jessie stayed a couple of hours at Jimmack’s location as she waited for her garments to cycle by way of the washer and dryer. She and Ahnjole headed out all around 6:30 p.m., with the new driver Jessie declaring she needed to leave right before it acquired too dark.

Jessie Schmidt with her seatbelt consciousness bracelets and pillow with a picture of her daughter, Ahnjole Gordon, now 8, taken right before the crash that paralyzed her. (Invoice UHRICH — Looking through EAGLE)

She buckled her daughter into a auto seat that was secured onto the back again seat, inserting the basket crammed with folded laundry beside her. The pair designed their way to Route 422, about a five- or 10-moment travel, and got on the freeway.

Soon after that, Jessie’s memory is blank.

“I really don’t keep in mind just about anything,” she claimed. “I remember waking up in the medical center days later.”

In accordance to media experiences, Jessie’s automobile remaining the westbound lanes of the street just just after 7 p.m. among the Sanatoga and Armand Hammer Boulevard exits. The car or truck rolled about various occasions ahead of crashing into some trees.

It is unclear what brought about Jessie’s car or truck to operate off the highway. She has no recollection of what transpired.

Jessie, who was not donning her seatbelt, was thrown out of the driver’s facet window during the crash, her overall body slamming into a tree. Ahnjole was ready to crawl over damaged glass to get out of the car or truck, suffering only very small accidents.

“She was seeking to make absolutely sure I was Ok,” Jessie stated, tears rolling down her cheeks and her gentle voice cracking. “Someone instructed me afterwards that she was screaming. She didn’t treatment if she was Alright, she just desired to make guaranteed mommy was Alright.”

Jessie was far from Alright.

Devastating accidents

Jessie experienced traumatic, lifetime-threatening accidents in the crash.

She was airlifted from the scene to Reading Healthcare facility, exactly where medical doctors worked to close a gaping gash on her head and or else stabilize her. She was then airlifted a next time to Thomas Jefferson University Medical center in Philadelphia.

Medical doctors explained to her spouse and children there was a very very good likelihood she would not endure.

Jessie does not recall any of that. Her 1st submit-crash memory is waking up in a mattress at Jefferson.

“I realized one thing was improper due to the fact I could not shift and I was on this mattress, this hospital bed,” she explained. “I tried using to check with in which my daughter was, but I experienced no voice.”

Physicians had performed a tracheotomy on Jessie, inserting a tube by way of an incision in her neck and into her lungs so she could breathe. She experienced also endured a broken neck and damaged backbone.

She was paralyzed from the chest down.

Those first number of times in Jefferson, Jessie was in and out of consciousness. Individuals who came to go to her, she said, typically just watched her sleep.

Jessie defeat the odds and survived her accidents. But her lifestyle had been significantly and absolutely improved.

She commenced a prolonged, complicated journey to get better as much as she could. The 1st phase was breathing without the tracheostomy tube.

“I experienced to understand how to breathe on my possess again,” she stated. “That was just one of the scariest components.”

The tube was taken out and the hole in her throat protected up. Jessie explained the experience as 1 of suffocation, indicating she experienced to emphasis on forcing her body to inhale and exhale.

She could not speak throughout the method, which means the panic she felt went unexpressed.

The first time Jessie experimented with respiratory on her possess she did it for 45 minutes. The 2nd time for an hour.

The knowledge terrified her, and she didn’t know if she could retain hoping. But 1 of her therapists questioned her what her enthusiasm is for acquiring far better, and matters suddenly grew to become apparent.

“I said, ‘My daughter,’ and she claimed, ‘That’s what you aim on,’ ” Jessie reported. “I desired to be better for my daughter. Even now I combat for that. I just want to be the greatest I can for my daughter.”

Jessie’s 3rd try at breathing on her individual lasted 20 hours.

Jessie’s restoration continued at Jefferson, then at Magee Rehabilitation Healthcare facility in Philadelphia. She bit by bit started to be capable to tolerate possessing her system bent into a sitting down place and relearned how to use her arms and arms.

Jessie Schmidt is decided to get again into a spot of her individual where by she can raise her daughter. (Bill UHRICH — Reading through EAGLE)

It took a grueling exertion, but was well worth the pain, stress and exhaustion.

“I want to push myself,” she explained. “I want my daughter to see me press myself.”

About nine months ago, Jessie was moved to the expert nursing care unit at Total Treatment at Berkshire in Exeter Township. She credits the workers there with serving to to nurse her again to wellbeing.

“I was down to about 100 lbs,” she stated of her ailment when she arrived in Exeter. “When I confirmed up listed here they had been basically picking up the pieces and putting me back again alongside one another.”

Jessie is nonetheless performing to strengthen the mobility in her arms and hands — she’s gotten to the issue now where by she can take care of duties like feeding herself and putting on her have makeup — and working with a whole lot of discomfort. She explained she feels burning or a pins and needles sensation all over her system.

But she is determined to preserve obtaining superior, and to be equipped to get out of the nursing home and back into a spot of her individual exactly where she can increase her daughter.

A position to connect with property

Just one of the troubles Jessie is now facing is where by, particularly, her new dwelling will be.

She actually has the fantastic place picked out, but there are some troubles that need to have to be solved.

Jimmack and Ahnjole are dwelling in a mobile household just exterior of Pottstown with his mother, Denise Hoffmaster. Denise has obtained the trailer up coming door for Jessie.

That would place Jessie just measures absent from Jimmack and Denise, who would provide as her caretakers. And it would indicate she could be reunited with her daughter.

Jessie has currently started placing alongside one another tips on how to beautify her new house. She reported it will aspect loads of glam, crammed with pink things and factors that sparkle.

Medicaid will spend to have the building retrofitted to meet up with Jessie’s requires by adding a ramp, renovating the lavatory and widening doorways. But the trailer has other troubles that will not be easy to deal with.

The roof requirements to be changed because of a leak that has led to h2o injury within the framework. The price for a new roof and to mend the injury is someplace in the community of $30,000.

That is money that Jessie doesn’t have.

With aid from close friends and family members, Jessie has been attempting to increase money. She’s promoting bracelets marketing seat belt protection, and produced a webpage on gofundme.com.

Mate Mary Heckman stated the online fundraising hard work hasn’t been quite successful. As of Tuesday it had only raised $745 of its $20,000 goal.

“We’ve had messages from a amount of persons inquiring if it is authentic or a rip-off,” she reported, shaking her head with disappointment.

Jessie Schmidt visits with her sister-in-regulation Kelly Geissler of Looking through and her friend Mary Heckman of Exeter Township at Complete Treatment at Berkshire in Exeter Township. (Bill UHRICH — Reading EAGLE)

Jennifer Harvey, director of social services at Comprehensive Treatment at Berkshire, reported Jessie’s predicament is proof that there are flaws in the Medicaid system.

She said the house assist element of the procedure has principles that limit where by folks can continue to be. The process will not fork out for upgrades to an existing property — like the trailer awaiting Jessie — that are not right relevant to a clinical require.

And if a patient doesn’t have an current dwelling to transfer into, they have to use public housing. Medicaid will cover the charge of rent for a general public housing device, but there are prolonged waitlists for all those qualities.

Even if there was no wait around, community housing continue to is not the very best possibility for Jessie. It would place her significantly farther absent from her caretakers and likely necessarily mean her daughter couldn’t dwell with her.

“Our process is not designed for Jessie,” Harvey claimed.

So, Jessie is compelled to wait around and hope as her friends and loved ones lookup for techniques to increase the funds she wants.

“I’m just seeking to discover the light at the conclusion of the tunnel,” she stated.

An crucial lesson

Jessie is not ready idly, even so.

She has begun sharing her story in hopes that some others do not share her fate. Together with the bracelet campaign, she has also developed a YouTube channel devoted to seatbelt security.

“I would like everyone to set their seatbelts on,” she claimed of her concept.

Jessie explained she hopes she can grow to be the deal with of seatbelt security, a cautionary tale informed to benefit many others.

“I want 16-calendar year-olds to have to check out me notify my story for 30 minutes at the DMV prior to they get their license,” she claimed with a smile. “I want to be the ‘sad lady’ story they all communicate about. They are heading to don their seatbelts following that, I promise you.”

Jessie claimed her YouTube channel also focuses on positive messages for other individuals working with paralysis or other disabilities. She mentioned her message to them is to never ever give up and to push yourself to do what you want to do in lifetime.


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