LAKE PLACID — “There are a lot of decent human beings in my sister’s life,” said Danielle “Dannie” McGuire, “working on getting her care.”
Since July 27, Dannie McGuire has served as medical advocate and comforter for both her sister, Chelsea McGuire, and their dad, Scott McGuire, since Chelsea fell off a horse, hit her head, and had to be rushed to Tampa General Hospital.
That’s where both sisters have been, non-stop since the accident on July 26, when Chelsea McGuire was riding a horse in the Highlands Park Estates area, with her daughter, Caitlin, when the animal reportedly got spooked and jumped.
Chelsea McGuire hit her head, believed to be on asphalt, and received a brain and skull injury. Her child escaped injury.
Dannie McGuire, an “Irish twin” nine and a half months older than her, works as a level 2 trauma nurse, but several states away in Pennsylvania. When she got the call about her sister, she got cut from her shift as soon as possible and caught a 3 a.m. flight to Florida.
It took her awhile to find out her sister’s condition from Tampa General’s level 1 trauma center. She counts herself lucky to have grown up in Lake Placid, where personal connections with paramedics, firefighters, nurses and other healthcare professionals kept her and their father fed with facts.
“People fed me information out of nowhere,” Dannie McGuire said. “It’s an honor to grow up in Lake Placid. I’m so grateful for everyone who came out of the woodwork.”
Once she got to see her sister, Dannie McGuire then worked directly with doctors to help manage her care. Since the accident, Chelsea McGuire has come off a ventilator and feeding tube.
Now she can see and speak just fine, Dannie McGuire said.
With a traumatic brain injury, Dannie McGuire said, her sister will struggle to recall simple facts — where she is and what she’s doing.
“It’s still so early on in the game,” Dannie McGuire said.
Soon she’ll return home to stay with their dad, whom Dannie McGuire is coaching to be the caregiver. Sometimes, Dannie McGuire said, delirium of a brain injury doesn’t start to resolve until someone returns to a familiar setting.
“I see it in my career a lot,” Dannie McGuire said.
Meanwhile, the community has reached out by setting up Gofundme accounts for Chelsea McGuire. Her employer — Jaxson’s lakeside tavern on Lake June Road — will host a fundraiser from 1-8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19. All proceeds will go to help Chelsea McGuire’s medical and personal needs.
“A lot of that will go to keeping her life together until she can resume it herself,” Dannie McGuire said.
Dannie McGuire will have to leave for home on Friday. She had asked Chelsea McGuire to come stay with her a while in Pennsylvania this summer, but things kept getting in the way, she said.
With her sister, she said, she is “so close and so far away.” Neither one of them give up on people, she said, and all the “good karma” her sister built with people in Lake Placid has come together.
“I am unbelievably thankful, me and my father are” Dannie McGuire said, “for the emotional and financial support. You have no idea how much a burden has been taken off our backs. You’ve done me a huge favor without having to do anything at all.”
“There’s something to be said,” Dannie McGuire added, “about small communities. We grow up together, we stick together and we help each other out.”