Ashley Judd broke her leg in four places while traveling in the Democratic Republic of Congo in February.
She has posted new photos and videos revealing her recovery progress and rehabilitation following lengthy surgeries.
Six months later, Ashley shared good news that she's up and hiking again.
Ashley Judd is walking again after breaking her leg in four places while hiking in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A new video on Instagram shows just how far Ashley has come. In the clip, the actress is hiking across a field in Switzerland. She added a full update on her incredible progress in the post's caption.
"Dear Friends, It is with reverence and quiet awe I offer this update. Today, five months and three weeks after the accident in the Congolese rainforest, I walked again, and in what fashion!" Ashley wrote.
"I hiked in the #SwissNationalPark. Stepping in, I felt in my ease, my natural garment of self, at home in my spirit. My leg and foot, worked beautifully. I walked up hill on uneven surfaces for an hour confidently and came down carefully and easily," she continued.
"The next day, I walked again on a high Alp in #Ticino, working hard and feeling how much I stamina I have to rebuild. This is the road ahead. But I am up to the daily tasks, as I am even carrying firewood into our Alpine hut!" Ashley added.
"My leg will never be the same. She is a new leg. And I love her. We are buddies. We have a come a long way and we have a fabulous life ahead."
Ashley has been sharing updates and new details on her recovery throughout 2021.
Ashley shocked fans in February when she shared that she almost died after breaking her leg.
“Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg,” Ashley wrote in a post, alongside several photos of her ordeal. “I wake up weeping in gratitude, deeply moved by each person who contributed something life giving and spirit salving during my grueling 55 hour odyssey,” she continued.
Ashley then recounted how a number of people helped her after she broke her leg. A man named Dieumerci “stretched out his leg and put it under my grossly misshapen left leg to try to keep it still,” she wrote. He “remained seated, without fidgeting or flinching, for five hours on the rain forest floor. He was with me in my primal pain,” Ashley said.
A man she called Papa Jean found her “wretched and wild on the ground” and looked at her leg. “He told me what he had to do. I bit a stick. I held onto Maud. And Papa Jean, with certainty began to manipulate and adjust my broken bones back into something like a position I could be transported in, while I screamed and writhed,” Ashley said. ”How he did that so methodically while I was like an animal is beyond me. He saved me and he had to do this twice!”
Six men Ashley called “heroes” then moved her into a hammock “with as little jostling as possible” and walked for three hours over “rough terrain” to carry her to safety.
Two men, Didier and Maradona, helped drive Ashley by motorcycle to get medical care. “Didier drove the motorbike. I sat facing backwards, his back my backrest. When I would begin to slump, to pass out, he would call to me to re-set my position to lean on him,” she wrote. “Maradona rode on the very back of the motorbike, I faced him. He held my broken leg under the heel and I held the shattered top part together with my two hands.”
That journey lasted for six hours on what Ashley called an “irregular, rutted and pocked” dirt road.
“Maradona was the only person to come forward to volunteer for this task,” Ashley wrote, before writing that the two have a “nice friendship.” Ashley also shared photos of women helping her, calling them, “my sisters who held me.”
Ashley said in a previous Instagram post that she “struck something in the dark and fell,” leading to her broken leg.
Ashley also wrote on her Instagram Stories that fewer than 50 percent of “health zones” in the Democratic Republic of Congo are active and operable, urging people to donate.
Ashley has been keeping fans updated with intense details about her shattered leg and treatment.
Ashley said she and her father flew 22 hours over four flights back to America “thanks to unbelievably efficient disaster travel insurance on an Air Ambulance.”
Once she was at an American hospital, Ashley said she had to wait for the tissue damage and swelling to go down. “Eventually I was qualified to have the eight-hour surgery to repair the bones, decompress the hemorrhaging nerve and pick the shards of bones out of the nerve,” she wrote.
Ashley shared another update on her health and ongoing rehabilitation from her serious injury on Instagram back in April. She was "getting back up" and mentioned that she had some big goals motivating her. "But look out, Patagonia, because when that nerve heals, you’ll be seeing me. My Partner gave me that book for my recent birthday. I believe. Just as that little endangered bonobo knows that she’ll be seeing me back in the Congolese rain forest soon."
Slowly but surely, her physical therapy was working. "The knee is coming along, the four fractures healing," she wrote. That progress is thanks to her hard work, she added: "With the kind of injury I (& many others) have, we speak of degrees. In the video, 109 degrees was an outrageous dream, & trying to reach it was agony. I did 60 of those heel slides a day. I sobbed through them. I made it because of the loving exhortation and validation of my many friends. Yesterday, I effortlessly reached the benchmark of 130 degrees."
Ashley didn't expect to be able to hike so soon, either. "The peroneal nerve injury will take at least a year," she wrote. "I concentrate hard at moving my very still foot (and appreciate my sister's medical-grade massages which remind my brain that I do have a right foot). Come June, I will walk with a brace and a cane."
Ashley has expressed her gratitude for everyone who helped her.
She shared her “deepest and most vulnerable thanks” to staff at Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, “for making split second decisions upon my arrival.”
“I arrived to them from DRC in terrible shape and my leg had no pulse,” she wrote. “I desperately needed a blood transfusion.”
Ashley said the hospitals nurses—who she referred to as “sisters”—are “exemplary, technically top notch, and they cared for the trauma in my body as well as my soul with equal proficiency.”
Her doctor, Dr. Greef, was “super at stabilizing my leg with the external fixator until the massive soft tissue damage and swelling went down so that I could have the Big Operation,” she wrote, adding, “What he did was significant and I am forever in his debt.” Ashley also pointed out that she received top notch care while the country battles the COVID-19 variant B.1.351.
She then thanked her “beloved Dad, who had gotten the text no parent ever wants: ‘emergency, can’t answer questions, please come now,’ had indeed, because he is vaccinated, been able to come to South Africa.” Ashley said her dad “has been my rock, companion, resource, helped me listen to so many doctors, critical support system, and kind, loving presence as I have wept and wept.”
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