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Actor and model Brooke Shields experienced a horrific leg injury while working out earlier this year. The incident resulted in a broken femur, a Staph infection, multiple surgeries, weeks in the hospital, and a long road to recovery. The star has shared videos of her journey on social media to help inspire others going through a struggle of their own, but she has now given her first interview about the ordeal. Shields got candid about the fear and perseverance that played into her journey toward healing, and the grisly accident that started it all. Read on to see what Shields had to say about the last few months of her life.
Shields broke her femur in January, then suffered multiple complications.
Shields' accident happened in late January, after she was closing in on the end of a 14-day workout plan that was going well. "I was energized. I wasn't exhausted. I had been eating even healthier and not drinking," she recalled in a May 24 conversation with ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts. "We finished the workout, and I went in the back on my own, and I went on this balance board because I had been doing it, and I finally conquered it." The moment Shields took her eyes off of the task at hand to turn around, things took a turn. "I flew up in the air with such force and I landed so heavy, and so hard and with such musculature and such velocity and such height," Shields continued. "I felt how solid the impact was. I don't remember hearing anything. The only thing I could keep saying was that I could feel my toes because I just knew that I couldn't move, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't paralyzed."
Shields said she began screaming like she never had before. "I've never screamed like that. I mean, not even in childbirth," she said. At the hospital, the star had a rod inserted to fix her femur, as well as other metal hardware to help stabilize her hip. The fracture soon shifted, causing Shields to scream out pain again and undergo another surgery where doctors added a metal plate and a handful of screws to anchor it all. And this wasn't the end of bad news for Shields: Shortly after returning home to begin recovery, Shields developed a Staph infection in her arm where the IV was. She was quickly sent back to the emergency room for surgery to address the infection, which landed her in the hospital for another two weeks.
On March 5, Shields documented the start of her recovery journey on Instagram: "One step at a time…Beginning is Now!"
The star is working "very hard" to recover.
In her ABC interview, Shields got real about the struggles she's faced in recovery. "I'm having to work very hard," she said. The actor is undergoing a mix of therapies to help her get back on her feet, including physical therapy, infrared sauna sessions, massage therapy, and osteopathic treatment. Shields said she works toward strengthening her leg every day, sometimes taking breaks on the weekend. Her condition following the injury was so brutal that her "kids actually asked me if they thought I was going to die," she remembered. Shields was scared that she'd never walk again.
Although the recovery has been treacherous, she said the accident might have been a blessing in disguise. "I think it's almost been the biggest blessing to date because I realized what a fighter I am," Shields reflected. She added that things could have been worse, noting she was inches away from also hitting her head. There are "so many things that could have happened," she went on. "I feel so lucky to be alive."
On March 25, Shields shared an Instagram saying she'd come a long way already, "but the journey is just beginning."
Shields had to be alone in the hospital during her recovery.
For the most part, Shields tried to remain calm and positive, but she said there were times she struggled. "Once fear crept in, that's when I started to falter," she said. The hardest part for Shields was that she was without her family. Due to COVID restrictions, family and friends were unable to visit, so she had to go it alone. "I don't think I've ever been more afraid because I was helpless," she said.
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The model and actor hopes her story is inspiring.
Shields has tried to turn her struggle into something inspiring for others. "If I can turn it into anything positive, or I can teach my girls, yeah, stuff is going to happen in your life, and how you respond is going to define you, and adversity will reveal you. It won't make you as much as it will reveal you," Shields said. "Because you see who you are. You see what you're made up of."
The actor and model added that her message is especially for women. "I want them to know that they deserve to feel good about themselves and be healthier and happier and bigger, live a bigger life," she added.