By Jayci Cave
September 1, 2018 – A day the Jordan family will never forget. What began as a seemingly normal day quickly took a turn for the worse. Approaching a year later, the road to recovery continues.
High school sweethearts who have been married for almost 20 years, David and Kristi Jordan, reside in Lubbock, Texas, and have two children, Will (12) and Lizzie (8). David is self employed at David Jordan Homes, a custom home builder in Lubbock, and Kristi is a former PCCA employee and current Office Manager at Ropes Co-op Gin, with 20 years of experience in the agriculture industry. Kristi said she loves working in the cotton industry and is very fond of the people in it. Throughout the last year, the Jordan family came to know first-hand the love and generosity of the people in the cotton industry as they supported them in their time of need.
On Labor Day weekend 2018, the Jordan family had just finished watching the first Texas Tech football game of the season and were preparing to go dove hunting with family near Snyder, Texas. Kristi and Will went to get an ice chest to take with them and were bringing it up to the house in the ranger ATV. It was then, Kristi said, it was like the accident happened in slow motion.
“Will said he wanted to drive, and he drives the ranger all the time,” Kristi said. “We drove it around to the back and there was just a little pile of gravel. It had rained a lot before Labor Day last year so they had poured some gravel where it had washed out on the road. The front wheel caught some gravel and went right off into the little culvert, and the ranger literally just tipped in slow motion. I remember reaching over to grab Will and he had jumped out, and when he jumped out the roof came down and pinned his tibia. About seven inches further a jump and he would have been fine, but it pinned his tibia and split the skin.”
The moments and hours that followed were hectic. Friends and family came running to help and called 911 as David lifted the ranger by himself to free Will’s pinned leg, despite having a limiting back injury. Kristi’s niece, an emergency room nurse, applied a tourniquet on Will’s leg to help stabilize it as they waited for emergency responders to arrive.
Will would then be flown to University Medical Center in Lubbock for treatment. Kristi, who also injured her arm in the accident, would not go to the local hospital and instead insisted on following her son to UMC. Once in Lubbock, they evaluated Will and took him into surgery to insert flexible nails and sew up the skin on his leg. While Will was in surgery, Kristi had her arm checked out and discovered she had a severe fracture that also would require surgery a few days later.
After surgery, Will spent four days in the pediatric intensive care unit. Following the initial surgery, a few days later the skin on Will’s lower leg began to die and he ended up needing skin grafts. After consulting doctors and a skin graft expert, they chose to stay in Lubbock for the procedures rather than go to Dallas. He had his final skin graft surgery on October 12. After the skin grafting process was complete, Will contracted an infection on the flexible nails in his bone and faced other setbacks in the coming months, which prolonged his recovery. Both the need for skin grafts and the infections resulted in his leg not healing as it would under normal conditions. Kristi said the X-rays are showing progress in his recovery today. To date he has had a total of 14 surgeries and is currently in a boot with crutches and using a bone growth stimulator to help his leg fracture heal.
While Will’s road to recovery has been a difficult one, this experience has not stopped him from excelling in school and in some way being involved in the things he loves. His injury resulted in him not being able to attend school during the fall semester and he instead was in the homebound school program. He was able to return to school in mid-January, slowly adding classes until he was attending full-time again. Despite his challenges, Kristi said he was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society and did very well on the math portion of the STAAR test.
Will loves all things Texas Tech and enjoys playing baseball, football and basketball. His spirits were brightened during his recovery when he received a visit from TTU Baseball Coach Tim Tadlock and a video message from TTU Basketball Coach Chris Beard. Kristi said another highlight for Will was having the opportunity to help coach a little league baseball team this season. She said through this experience she admires how strong he has been, and that he has become quite the medical guru through it all.
“I think he has taught all of us more than I will ever be able to teach him,” Kristi said. “I am supposed to teach him. I don’t think I could go through 14 surgeries and still come back in and let alone do my job, but excel. For him to go through 14 surgeries, miss an entire semester, and at his age miss the social part of his friends, he is a very active kid. I admire the fact that he has kept his mental toughness up there. He definitely has down times, there is no doubt. I don’t think I would have the same attitude he has if I were 10 months into this and still needed crutches and not being able to do all the things that you do all day every day.”
One thing Kristi said she hopes her son will realize one day is that while this has been a long, challenging recovery, he will get back to normal.
“At this point it all has to be progress, because he has had every infection I think you can have,” Kristi said. “I am hoping by the end of this he will realize it wasn’t immediate, but we did get him back to where he left off. It may have taken some time, but he is 12 and has nothing but time. I feel like it all happened for a reason, and if it was to put his focus on medical stuff, I mean he may come up with some great invention to make IVs not hurt us anymore and something where they don’t have to wake you to take your vitals. It happened for a reason, I don’t know what that reason is. I may never know, but he has taught me a lot.”
With each setback or challenge, Kristi said she feels like this is the first time she and her family have really faced true adversity, and it has taught her how many things she does not have control over.
“As a mom you want to say I put sunscreen on my kids. I make sure their teeth are brushed and they go to bed at a decent time so that they wake up at a decent time so they are their best in school,” Kristi said. “Through this whole thing I have realized I have no control. I have no control over his healing. You can do whatever you do at home, but I still can’t make bones grow. So, I think that is why I say this is the first year that I feel like we have gone through actual adversity.”
She said she now understands what farmers face each and every day as they are trying to produce a crop.
“I feel like our farmers face that adversity every single year and every single day,” Kristi said. “Every single storm that pops up and every single storm that doesn’t pan out, and I feel like I understand now that is something completely and 100 percent out of their control. I feel like that this is the thing I admire about them most, because this year out of all the years I think there’s a lot of things not in my control and you could literally cry about it, but I think the thing I learned from them is that it is not an option. So, move on to plan B, C, D, or E, or however far down the alphabet you need to go.”
Not only does Kristi learn from and admire the farmers she has the pleasure of working for, she also said she truly felt their compassion as they stood by her family this year. Both the community and Ropes Co-op Gin were very supportive and understanding of the Jordan family. Kristi said most of the gin’s board members even came to visit them in the hospital just days after the accident. From visits to being flexible with her work schedule, Kristi said they could not have done more to be there for her.
“They were all extremely supportive,” Kristi said. “They showed up with food and snacks. They were understanding about it, so I was very worried about making sure stuff was still done at work. They only get one time a year to harvest and when their crop was ready, it’s ready. I didn’t want them to ever say it is time to market my cotton, where is she? They work all year long for that one time to get paid. I didn’t want something with us and our personal life to be anything that interfered or caused them a problem getting paid.”
Kristi’s dedication to her family and the farmers prevailed as she worked with the gin and PCCA to find a way to be able to help her customers, even if she was not in the gin office. Not only did Kristi try to keep things running smoothly at work, she also said they tried to keep things as normal as possible for her family.
“During all of this when we realized this wasn’t just a couple of days in the hospital and then we go home,” Kristi said, “we tried to do as much as a family as we could. We didn’t necessarily want to take Lizzie up to the hospital and risk her getting sick, but we would at least try to have dinner together every night in the hospital.”
Lizzie has also been a caring sister and very conscious of Will’s limitations and wants to make sure he can be included in activities, Kristi said.
“In the beginning Will was on lots of medicines,” Kristi said. “We literally had to get a med sheet and Lizzie wanted to be the one to get his pills and take them to him with water. It’s funny because she loves animals and she always says that she wants to be a vet. I assumed she knew what a vet was. Through all of this if Will was in a bad mood she would say, ‘And that’s why I want to be a vet, but for animals and not people.’”
Family always comes first. While the last year has been quite the ride, the Jordan family has come through the challenges and are stronger for it. Thinking back to her time at PCCA and when she became a new mom, Kristi said Lonnie Winters, PCCA’s former VP of Marketing, gave her some advice that has stuck with her and helped her through the years.
“I just remember Lonnie sat me down and told me if you will keep one thing straight, the rest will work itself out,” Kristi said. “He said, ‘Every one of us is replaceable, me included. You are replaceable at work, but you are not replaceable as a mom. You’re the only one he’s got. So that comes first and the rest will fall into place.’”