Michael’s Story

Site created on July 21, 2018

Early in the morning on July19, our son, Michael Canfield, was involved with five friends in a serious roll-over accident in American Fork Canyon. He is currently recovering. This is his/our story.

About 12:30 a.m. Michael and his friends were heading home from Silver Lake. Approaching a sharp curve, the driver attempted to slow, slid into soft gravel on the shoulder, and his truck began rolling sideways 100 yards down a steep mountain. The vehicle rolled 6-7 times, taking out some huge trees along the path. 

Three passengers sustained only minor injuries and helped the three others who were injured. One had tendon and ligament injuries from her knee to her foot. She was treated and released late that morning. The driver had a serious cut to his head and knee, as well as collapsed lungs. He was hospitalized overnight and released the following day. 

Michael was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected, ending up under a large pine tree that the truck knocked down. A friend heard him “snoring in the tree” (aspirating) and pulled it off of him. 

Miraculously, the truck landed just above Granite Flats campground where three EMTs were camping on a Wednesday night. One is an Air-Med nurse and had equipment with him. Someone had a satellite phone. They heard the truck coming down the mountain, called for help, and started hiking to the site. An EMT reached Michael 8 minutes after the crash. He had Michael in a neck brace and intubated to keep his airway open before emergency responders arrived. 

The EMT who treated him initially stayed with him for 90 minutes until he was transported. He also gave Michael a priesthood blessing on the mountain. 30-40 campers and others friends who had been at the cabin helped with blankets, shock treatment, and cleared a path down the mountain to evacuate the injured. We are so grateful to the EMTs who were camping, emergency personnel, and  all those who helped the six involved in the crash. God’s hand is evident over and over in protecting all, including Michael.

Michael was life-flighted to Utah Valley Hospital, arriving at 2:10 a.m. where they found he had an 8-inch rupture in his diaphragm and collapsed left lung. His stomach, spleen, and small bowel ended up in his chest cavity crushing his lung. He also sustained head trauma. Michael was found breathing and never stopped breathing, but did have only 60% oxygen saturation when he arrived in the ER.

Miracles and tender mercies continued to abound. Following another priesthood blessing from Michael’s father and brother (Brad and Nathan), an amazing surgeon was able to reposition Michael’s organs and repair his diaphragm all laparoscopically. (The alternative is a vertical cut opening the entire abdomen.) Afterward he told us it was only the second time in 30 years he was able to complete this operation through a scope. 

It is now Sunday, July 22. Michael remains in ICU in critical, but stable condition. He is sedated and intubated to help him breathe and allow his diaphragm to heal. An MRI on Friday showed he does have brain shear injuries. Until he wakes and is responsive to commands (give me a thumbs up) we will not know the extent of his brain damage. His sedation is backed off several times a day to try and wake him. Currently this agitates him and he makes purposeful moves with his left arm to reach the ventilator tube. He is so strong he has restraints on his arms to keep him from pulling tubes out. You all know how massive his arms are!  

A CT scan last night showed brain edema/swelling is peaking. It should plateau and drop off over the next 4 days or so. Michael’s room is being kept dark and stimulation must be kept to a minimum so his brain can heal. He isn’t waking because of the shear injuries. New neural pathways need to be created to help restore brain functions and help him wake up. He is sleeping most of the time. We will let you know when he ready to receive visitors. Currently we are keeping visitors to a minimum. Please call or text Brad or Karen before going to the hospital to check Michael’s status.

Brad, Karen, and Nathan are all doing well. We are taking care of ourselves, making sure we eat and sleep well.  We are confident in the incredible care Michael is receiving in the ICU. The nurses are as protective of him as we are.

Thank you for all of your love, concern, fasting, and prayers. Right now, we as for prayers to be very specific — wake up and respond to commands! Thank you again. Please share Michael’s CaringBridge link freely! We will keep you posted!

The Canfields 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Karen Canfield

What I've Learned Over the Last Year - Mom's Perspective

Life has been quite interesting for me this week. I’ve found myself feeling extremely emotional. Wednesday night I started figuring it out🤔; yesterday I locked in on the source.💡 This morning at 12:30 a.m. on July 19 is the first anniversary of our son, Michael's, rollover accident which resulted in a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). 🧠

I’ve been intrigued by how emotional I’ve been as memories of that night and the ensuing 5 weeks in the hospital have popped into my head the last couple of days. Only a few days ago I spoke of things as I always have and it was no big deal. Yesterday I thought of the first nurse we met in the ICU commenting about how we shouldn’t be alarmed, but she had tied restraints on Michael’s wrists when she saw the size of his incredibly muscled arms. We laughed, agreeing that it was a wise precaution!

Yesterday I burst into tears over that, remembering seeing him right after surgery, seeing him before surgery, flashbacks of so many things – heaving, sobbing, ugly cry tears😭. And it became obvious that living through the past year doesn’t mean I ever processed the myriad of experiences. Today there was trauma, multiple times. There was also deep gratitude - including gratitude that the other 5 passengers were uninjured or recovered quickly from their injuries - that resulted in gut-wrenching tears too. 
It was crazy, but good. There will be more, and I will process it as it comes. This is healthy.😊

I’ve been pondering this week about the past year. Michael is doing miraculously well for which we are unbelievably grateful. 🙏🏽 A few months after the accident we learned that due to the severity of his injuries, doctors never expected Michael to walk, talk, toilet himself, or ever live independently. Although he’s currently still stuck living at home, independent living is definitely in his future. Everything else happened rapidly and miraculously in his brief hospital stay. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know, but there are still things to heal from and there is no timeline. And that is hard. Not knowing is hard. Limbo is hard. As we’ve been told, “Once you’ve seen one TBI, you’ve seen one.” Truth, indeed.

Do I wish it hadn’t happened? 🤷‍♀️

I’d never wish a TBI on anyone. Ever, ever, EVER!

Hard doesn’t begin to describe the experience of the past year, especially for Michael, nor what yet lies ahead as he, and our family, continue to heal. But I am truly grateful for all I'VE learned and how I'VE grown this past year. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Here are some highlights of what I’m grateful for and what I’ve learned:

• Family is EVERYTHING! Never take your family for granted.💖

• I am stronger than I thought. 💪🏽I am also weaker than I thought.

• I experienced some of my greatest parenting moments 🏆 during Michael’s hospitalization, and some of my worst 👎🏽since he came home.

• I have seen some of my best traits and had to acknowledge many of my darkest ones. This awareness motivates me to strengthen the good and root out the bad.

• Self-care is critical when you are a care giver. And it’s critical for everyone else too. Period. You can’t give what you don’t have.

• Exercise is a game changer for me. It is a crucial part of my mental wellness. (See self-care.) Hot yoga is amazing! 🧘‍♀️

• Seriously good nutrition 🥗 is another game changer for mental wellness. I’m grateful for healthy food available for me and amazing nutritional supplements that have kept me out of major depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and dramatically increased my stress resilience.

• Reach out for help when you need it. Seek resources. When you find good stuff, share it with others. You can be the means of blessing others because of what you find. Even if something wasn’t useful to us, it might be to you.

• Miracles happen every day. 😇 All day long. Eating, breathing, coughing, walking, and talking are miracles. Look for them and you will see the hand of God in your life continually. Express gratitude and your burdens will be lighter.

• We are not meant to do life alone. 7 ½ billion people on the planet is strong evidence. Let others serve you. Serve others.

• I am nothing without God and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Prayer keeps me going. 🙏🏽Scriptures are essential. 📖 Modern prophets and apostles, ongoing revelation, temples, and priesthood power are indispensable gifts from God.

• Patience is a virtue. I need more.

• Laughter helps. 😆😂🤣Have some fun just because. Blowing bubbles is entertaining at every age. Puppies 🐶 love unconditionally and make the world go round!

• There is always someone worse off. Always. Be grateful always.

• Trials are not just for/about the person obviously affected. I believe the greater test comes for everyone else in how they respond. Always choose kindness.

• Compassion and empathy are godly traits we can proactively choose to cultivate, or choose to develop through adversity.

If anything I’ve learned resonates with you, great! Incorporate it in your life. If you have questions, please feel free to ask me about my experiences. ☎️I’m pretty open and transparent. And I love to help and serve others.

My sister shared with me a recent Facebook post by Mercy River. It sums things up nicely.

“On Saturday, a bright young woman in our stake died in a rafting accident. It has been devastating for our small community. Last night, I spoke to her peers at our youth conference and shared these words from Carlfred Broderick:

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is not insurance against pain. It is resource, in event of pain.” How grateful I am for that resource!
Sometimes we ask for miracles that never happen. Sometimes we ask for answers that never come. And sometimes God’s plan may seem unclear or unfair. It’s ok to have these feelings. But it is in these moments that we can choose to turn FROM Him or turn TO Him.

Because hope is believing everything will turn out ok. And faith is being ok if it doesn’t.

Please know, “being ok” doesn’t mean we can’t mourn or be broken or angry. It simply means we keep trusting God. We keep clinging to Him. Even when we hurt. Even when bad things happen to good people.

And somehow,


it will all be ok.”

Thank you to everyone who has fasted, prayed, thought of, visited, called, texted, emailed, loved, and supported our family this past year. We are indebted to you. 💖💖💖


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