It was a very merry Christmas for the Cogan family as 18-year-old daughter Chanel returned home after spending five months in three different medical facilities after she fell 100 off a cliff in Kittitas County, back in July.
The 2010 Redmond High School graduate, who was hiking during a camping trip when she lost her footing and fell, came home just in time for the Christmas.
With a smile on her face, Chanel said she was excited to come home and that it’s been “fun” since she’s arrived.
Chanel’s mother Mimi Cogan’s expression to her daughter’s homecoming was a little different, but no less positive. With tears in her eyes, she said having Chanel home has been “just a dream come true. It’s a miracle she’s even here.”
The injuries Chanel sustained were numerous broken bones, including a left arm that was broken in two places and almost amputated, bruised lungs and severe cuts. The fall also resulted in brain trauma, a stroke and a surgery during which her spleen was removed.
Chanel spent the first month after her fall at Harborview Medical Center. Then she spent two months at Bothell Health Care, where she went through intense occupational, physical and speech therapy to relearn how to use her arms and hands and how to walk and talk. Once she worked her way up to three hours of therapy, she moved to the University of Washington Medical Center’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit.
“She entered in a program of six hours of therapy,” Mimi said. “It was very rigorous.”
Chanel said the therapy challenged her both mentally and physically.
“It was difficult,” she said.
Despite the intense therapy and being home, Chanel still has a long road to recovery ahead of her. The stroke and brain trauma has affected her right side, so she’s not quite walking on her own yet and wears a brace on her right leg. Chanel hasn’t had much difficulty recognizing faces or objects, but does have a hard time naming them; her short-term memory was also affected.
For the next two weeks a physical therapist will be coming to the Cogan home to work with Chanel, then she will be going to the UW Medical Center for outpatient therapy three times a week for about three hours. Mimi said since the beginning, doctors have been telling them the recovery process will take years. So, having her daughter back home after only five months feels like nothing, she said.
Before her fall, Chanel had completed a year at Bellevue College through the Running Start program at Redmond High. Her plans were to complete another year at Bellevue to earn her associate’s degree and then transfer to the University of Washington and major in communication. Having been home for only a few days, it is too soon to see what lies ahead for Chanel — besides therapy.
“We just take it each day at a time,” Mimi said.
All of the treatment Chanel has undergone as well as the therapy to come does not come cheap. To help pay for medical bills, there have been a number of fundraisers organized by friends and neighbors. Among these fundraisers were a home run derby, car wash and hockey game organized by Chanel’s and her older sister Tiffany Cogan’s friends; a garage and bake sale organized by the residents on Northeast 87th Street, where the Cogans live; and a parents’ night out hosted by the Sammamish Montessori School with teachers babysitting.
“Aw,” Chanel said upon learning about these efforts, “I want to say thanks to the families.”
Fundraising efforts and updates on Chanel’s progress can be found on www.caringbridge.org/visit/chanelcogan. All Bank of America branches are also accepting contributions to a Chanel Cogan Fund.