Carey Portell is a survivor. Seven years ago Carey was headed into town when she was in a car accident that changed her life.
Carey Portell is an Unstoppable FarmHer
As she explains it, one second she was laughing with her daughters, who were in the back seat and the next she looked up and realized her life would be forever changed.
A one-ton pickup was heading straight for her at 80 miles per hour. She had no time to react. She doesn’t remember anything from right after the accident but has pieced it together by the accounts of others.
Her daughters called her husband and he came immediately, knowing it was bad. Once she came to, her vision was only in black and white. She was trapped in the car and it took EMT workers over an hour to cut her out.
Miraculously she survived. Her daughters were taken to a hospital with treatable injuries, but for Carey, it was worse. Her pelvis and ankles were shattered. As the events unfolded it became clear that the man who hit her had been killed on impact. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and if he had lived it would have been his fifth offense of drunk driving.
The accident rocked the small, close-knit community; all five cars involved held friends or neighbors.
Deciding to Thrive, Not Just Survive
The journey that has followed has been the true test. After weeks in the hospital, twelve surgeries with more to come and more pain than any one person should ever endure, Carey can finally walk again. Her pelvis and ankles are fused, allowing her a limited range of motion, but she is grateful for what she has.
The day we arrived at Carey’s farm, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, but Carey blew me away. Greeting us at the door with a sweet smile and sunny disposition, the mother of four didn’t look like someone who had been through such pain.
She was getting ready to start her day, doing chores on one of the three farms she and her husband care for along with other partners. While putting on her boots, she explained the special braces she has that keep her upright throughout the day. A day that holds a maximum of 3000 steps before her injuries take over and she can no longer stand.
We left the house and Carey climbed up into the big farm truck – we drove down to the nearby barn and Carey jumped out to start her chores. From feeding the horses and cattle to doing pasture checks, Carey worked with efficiency.
She explained that AgrAbility, a resource for farmers who have disabilities, has helped her immensely from getting their UTV outfitted with an automatic feeder for the cows to helping her assess and restructure her day to get the most out of her efforts.
From a Wheel Chair to Walking
As she talked and worked, she explained to me that after spending the first two years post-accident in a wheelchair, she couldn’t do much of anything.
Trying to get herself out, she started going out to check cows with her kids and would bring a report back to her husband. That feeling of being able to contribute something again is what she credits for leading her back. The farm, the cattle became her emotional therapy. As she gained strength and confidence, it then became physical therapy.
To say Carey Portell is strong is an understatement. As I followed her around the farm and watched her careful steps and well-thought-out actions, I was absolutely amazed by this woman. When life handed her a situation that most people would give in to, she fought back.
Carey knew that she was spared her life so she could go on, and spread her message to others. Carey is passionate, proud, hard-working, strong, caring, full of faith, and Carey is a FarmHer.