PHOTO COURTESY OF SPARKS HEALTH SYSTEM
Greenwood resident Misty Hile (left) is seen with friend Trina Flowers during a recent racing event. Hile, who was forced to learn how to walk again following a 2010 car accident, is now running 5K races and taking cycling classes at the Marvin Altman Fitness Center.
Misty Hile went from giving up on life to taking a lead role in it.
The 38-year-old Greenwood resident bounced back from a potentially crippling injury to run 5K races, take cycling and aquatic classes and be an active, positive role model for family, friends, co-workers and strangers.
Instead of letting the severe foot injury she sustained in a 2010 vehicle accident define her life, Hile eventually met the numerous challenges of recovery, physical therapy and forgiveness with an an optimistic heart and an online blog.
“When I was hit by the other driver, my foot was on the clutch, old-school style,” said Hile, whose left foot sustained a Lisfranc injury during the incident. “The impact of the other car forced part of my truck to collapse on my left foot. My foot was completely trapped and pinned in that wreckage.”
On Nov. 8, 2010, Hile was driving from a relative’s house in Fort Smith when her vehicle was struck head-on by a 19-year-old driver. Her truck was entering the intersection of Country Club and Old Greenwood Road when it was struck.
“I was at my sister’s that evening, making my future husband, Nathan, a birthday present,” said the Fort Smith native and 1993 Northside High School graduate. “I had just made him a CD of songs that had meaning in our lives — songs by artists like Prince, Jason Aldean and Stoney LaRue that had stories in them that impacted our relationship.”
As soon as she entered the intersection, Hile heard a car horn blaring. Seeing the on-coming car cross the center lane, Hile noticed she couldn’t turn her truck to the right to avoid the impact because of a nearby tractor-trailer. Hile then put her arm up to protect her face from her vehicle’s airbag, anticipating the noisy, violent collision.
“When the paramedics got there, I didn’t know my foot was as damaged as it was,” she said. “I couldn’t see my foot because the wreckage had wrapped itself around my foot, basically.”
While trapped inside her truck, Hile became nauseous from the wreck’s melted-plastic smell. After Hile was freed from the vehicle, she noticed the facial expressions of the paramedics.
“I said, ‘I’m OK. I’m a nurse. I just need out of the vehicle,’” she said. “I knew my foot was broken, but they said, ‘You have a serious injury.’ People even took cellphone photos of my foot.”
The wreck’s impact had misshaped Hile’s foot. The Lisfranc injury caused her foot’s arch to become severely exaggerated, giving her foot a stretched, cartoon-like appearance.
“The blood flow to my foot had been blocked, and Dr. Jason Seiter said it was serious,” Hile said. “The doctors said my injury, a Lisfranc injury, was extremely rare — it was the same kind of injury paratroopers sustain when they land.”
By 9:30 p.m., Hile was in Sparks’ emergency room; at 2 a.m., she underwent surgery. The three-hour surgery saved Hile’s foot, but it remained damaged from the wreck. Months of physical therapy allowed Hile to walk and, eventually, run again.
“I had a wonderful physical therapist, Connie Blevins, but I have to admit that the therapy was grueling,” she said. “I had to learn to walk again, and I had to work through the arthritis. The therapy truly was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, and I went back to work in a wheelchair.”
Medical officials told Hile she probably would never be able to dance again. A dancer since age 3, Hile previously danced for praise-and-worship events at church gatherings and for fun.
“I didn’t know what to do with my life after the wreck,” said Hile, who conducts flu clinics and provides other services for the Area Agency on Aging of Western Arkansas. “A friend recommended that I go to a cycling class at Marvin Altman Fitness Center, so I checked into it.”
MAFC cycling instructor Barbara Carter noticed potential in Hile as Hile gained strength and self-confidence in the center’s cycling and aquatic classes. Hile’s hard work in the classes and hourly encouragement from her husband helped push her to walk and run again.
“Misty is now a role model for the other students in class,” Carter said. “I’m trying to get Misty to do a triathlon we’re doing in November. She can do it.”
During her recovery, Hile became interested in jogging and running for the first time in her life. She walks and runs frequently with friends in Greenwood and has participated in three 5K runs.
“I can only run for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes at a time,” Hile said before smiling. “It wasn’t pretty when I first started running again. It looked like that scene in ‘Forrest Gump’ when Forrest breaks out of his leg braces and starts to run, but the feeling in my foot just now is starting to come back. I didn’t even feel the tickle sensation again until this year.”
Foot massages and pedicures have helped Hile prepare for 5K runs, as well as for her deer-hunting trips and fishing days with her husband.
“Before my foot went back to looking more normal, I went to one pedicure place,” she said with a laugh. “A girl ran her hand over my foot and quickly pulled back her hand. She said, ‘Um, we only paint toenails here. No pedicures here.’”
When looking back at the night of her accident, Hile tries to remember only happy thoughts.
“You know, my husband still has that CD I was working on the night of the accident,” she said. “That CD never leaves his CD player in his vehicle. He said that CD is the greatest present he’s ever received.”
After much thought and prayer, Hile decided to forgive the other driver.
“They did a toxicology test on him, and he tested for, um, marijuana,” she said before pausing for a few seconds. “The police also found his cellphone in the front seat, and they said that the cellphone’s text window was open. They said it had looked like he was texting about drugs. His last text was sent at 8:27 p.m., about two minutes before the police were called about the accident.”
But it was easy for Hile to forgive the other driver. When someone suggested that she “had a $1 million lawsuit to win,” Hile thought differently.
“You know, that driver was 19 years old, and he didn’t have any money, so there was no point to sue,” she said. “I wanted to put all of that behind me, and so I forgave him.
“I just didn’t want that accident to rule me, and I didn’t want to become bitter about it,” Hile added before smiling. “I haven’t become bitter at all. In fact, after I forgave that driver, I’ve lived happily ever after since.”