Rachel Foster had a traumatic few months after falling off an electric scooter in November of last year. The fall left her with serious head injuries and several broken bones. She was taken to a hospital in Edmond, Oklahoma near where she lives and spent the next week n a coma. The doctors told her husband John that she would never wake up again or breathe on her own.
“They basically said a severely catastrophic brain injury, which I later found in medical literature, is a term for pretty much the worst type of brain injury, where there’s not really a chance of coming back,” said John.
Rachel spent ten days on a ventilator. “It took me a while to understand that day that she wasn’t breathing, that it was the ventilator that was breathing for her,” said John.
But a lot has changed in the last six months. Foster miraculously woke up from her coma 24 hours before she was supposed to be disconnected from life support.
“The doctor sprinted into the room, grabbed her hand,” said John, filled with emotion. “He started yelling, ‘Rachel, Rachel.’ He grabbed her hand and said, ‘Rachel, if you can hear me, squeeze my hand.’ And she squeezed his hand really hard. He said, ‘Rachel, if you could hear me wiggle your toes.’ You know, both of her feet started wiggling.”
The process of disconnecting her from the ventilator was dramatic to say the least.
“He turned the ventilator off and there was no breath,” John said of the doctor. “And he said, ‘Rachel, you have to breathe now. You have to breathe.’ And we sat and we waited, and it seemed like an eternity. And it was probably like three or 4 seconds and there was a breath from her.”
Six months later, Rachel has just finished competing in this year’s Boston Marathon after a long road to recovery.
“I’m just extremely proud of Rachel, and we’re both grateful for everyone’s prayers,” John said of his wife. Rachel received another surgery in December at the Shepherd Center where the doctors had to replace a part of her skull with an implant. She remained there for months as she went through physical rehabilitation. Her days started with physical therapy and then she would run several miles in the afternoon.
“I have always been a runner at heart,” said Rachel. “It’s a stress relief for me and it helps me just kind of work through things in my own head.”
The couple is known for running Moni’s Pasta and Pizza, a neighborhood Italian restaurant. Unable to work, Rachel threw herself into running. She competed in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, which helped her qualify for the Boston Marathon.
The idea of running in the largest marathon in the country kept her going.
“In the back of my head, it was always, ‘Boston is coming up, Boston is coming up,’” Foster said. “I know it might sound a little bit crazy, but I am there mentally and I’m getting there physically, so I’m getting geared up for it.”
Rachel said she wouldn’t have been able to get back on her feet if it wasn’t for her husband.
“I just feel like I couldn’t have done this without John because every single morning he encourages me and is there for me and is just so supportive of me,” said Rachel.
The marathon took place yesterday, ten years after the Boston Marathon bombing, which left hundreds of people injured.
“I’ve been so excited for this day. It literally helped me walk again. I know that sounds crazy but the thought of doing this, and being here, helped me first walk, then jog, and then run,” Foster said.
She quickly became one of the highlights of the event as more people learned her story.
“She did great for somebody who probably shouldn’t have been out there,” said Tim Altendorf, Foster’s running partner and friend from Oklahoma. “But her determination and her resolve, I don’t know anybody like Rachel. I really don’t.”
But her recovery is ongoing. John and Rachel have put together a GoFundMe to help cover her medical expenses. It has raised nearly $100,000 of the $200,000.