Omaha woman moves forward after being found in ditchUPDATED 7:16 AM HST Sep 10, 2013Video Transcript
TRAPPED IN THE WRECKAGE OF HER CAR...SHE SPENT áHOURS WAITING FOR HELP...WONDERING IF áANYONE WOULD SEE HER IN TIME.(it sounded like it was raining in my car my head was bleeding so bad. ) HELP FINALLY CAME ... BUT NOT UNTIL THE SUN CAME UP. GOOD EVENING, I'M BRANDI PETERSEN. I'M ROB MCCARTNEY. RACHAEL JOHNSON SPENT THE NIGHT IN A DITCH. THE CRASH BROKE HER SPINE, NEAR ATLANTIC IOWA. TONIGHT, THREE MONTHS LATER, SHE SHARES HER STORY FOR THE FIRST TIME. AND AS KETV NEWSWATCH SEVEN'S ANDREW OZAKI SHOWS US, RACHAEL STILL HAS A LONG WAY TO GO. RACHAEL JOHNSON SHE IS DETERMINED TO PUT ON A GOOD FACE... NO MATTER WHAT LIFE THROWS AT HER.( Nat snd: mascara in drawer. Maybe I put on some gloss. ) THE 19-YEAR-OLD OMAHA WOMAN IS PARALYZED BARELY ABLE TO MOVE HER ARMS. BUT SHE HAS STILL FIGURED OUT A WAY TO PUT ON HER MAKE UP.( Rachael Johnson: I just see it why does a glass always have to half empty when it can be half full. ) IT WAS A REALIZATION THAT CAME TO HER THREE MONTHS AGO. JOHNSON WAS DRIVING THROUGH IOWA IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT HOPING TO SURPRISE A FRIEND. BUT NEAR ATLANTIC FELL ALSEEP AT THE WHEEL( Rachael Johnson: Instead of pulling over I just thought i'm not tired enough to fall asleep and two seconds is all it took. ) SHE ROLLED INTO A DITCH. BARELY ABLE TO MOVE. IN PAIN, BLEEDING.( Rachael Johnson: it sounded like it was raining in my car my head was bleeding so bad. ) FOR 3 AND A HALF HOURS SHE LAY THERE, TRAPPED AS VEHICLE AFTER VEHICLE PASSBY UNABLE TO SEE HER.( Rachael Johnson: At that moment is when I felt the most sorry for myself. But after I made the decision I haven't bleed to death yet. My car didn't blow up. I said not i'm going to survive and i'm going to be okay. ) BY THE TIME A TRUCKER FOUND HER-- SHE HAD ALREADY MAPPED OUT A PLAN FOR HOW SHE WOULD MOVE FORWARD NO MATTER WHAT.( Rachael Johnson: And playing little cognitive games with myself just to make sure I didn't have brain damage. ) JOHNSON WAS LIFE-FLIGHTED TO CREIGHTON MEDICAL CENTER SHE HAD LOST SO MUCH BLOOD HER BODY TEMPERATURE WAS DOWN TO 88 DEGREES. DOCTORS TOLD HER SHE HAD A COMPLETE BREAK OF HER SPINAL CORD NEAR THE NECK. THE CHANCES OF HER USING HER HANDS AGAIN OR WALKING WERE IN THE SINGLE DIGITS.( Rachael Johnson: At first I thought about that and it made me sad but then I thought, no there's a chance. Because someone has to be that lower percentage so why not me. ) FOR WEEKS SHE WORKED AT MADONNA REHABILITATION HOSPITAL IN LINCOLN. NOW ABLE TO HOLD HER HEAD WITHOUT A BRACE. BEGIN TO MOVE HER ARMS EAT ON HER OWN( Rachael Johnson: the more I do the more it encourages me to find out what more I can do. ) OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST SHANNON RUZICKA HELP DEVISE A WAY USING SPLINT MATERIAL AND ZIP TIES SO JOHNSON CAN PUT ON MAKE UP AND US A CELLPHONE.( Shannon Ruzicka: It's motivating to see someone want to try so hard and want to be that independent. ) AND ALONG THE WAY BECOMING AN INSPIRATION TO OTHER PATIENTS. ( nat snd: tell you how nice it's been to spend time with you.) MANY WHO SHE HUGGED AS SHE LEFT MADONNA.( nat snd: sorry i didn't get up and give you a hug. It's okay.We'll work on it. ) JOHNSON VOWED SHE WILL RETURN SOME DAY ... WALKING ON HER OWN.( Rachael Johnson: Even if it things don't go the way I plan I still have a plan for my life. so it's not all bad. ) IN LINCOLN, ANDREW OZAKI KETV NEWSWATCH SEVEN. RACHAEL IS NOW AT QUALITY LIVING INSTITUTE IN OMAHA. SHE PLANS TO RETURN TO UN-O NEXT SPRING AND CONTINUE HER GOAL, TO BECOME A NURSE. YOU CAN FOLLOW RACHAEL'S RECOVERY THROUGH A LINK ON KETV DOT COM. WE ALSO POSTED A LINK TO MADONNA REHAB'S SPINAL CORD INJURY SITE.