Sundell still recovering from August injury

AP Photo Wade Sundell, of Boxholm, competes in the saddle bronc riding event during the seventh go-round of the National Finals Rodeo last December.

When Laura Grieser got an incoming text from her son Wade Sundell, a wave of emotions came over her.

The text read: “Hi, Mom. I’m doing better.”

That’s all Grieser needed to know, hearing her son made it past the difficult stages of a severe injury suffered in a professional rodeo accident in August.

“When I got that text, that made everything better,” Grieser said. “It was a scary situation, knowing that I could lose my boy. It was good that he was at one of the best hospitals around.”

Sundell, an Ogden High School graduate and 2018 World Champion saddle bronc rider, suffered a gruesome injury on Aug. 24 in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

The Boxholm native, who is back home recovering in Oklahoma now, recently made a trip back to Iowa to visit his family.

“He came home for a few days and it was awesome to see him up and about,” Grieser said. “He has gained weight and has his tubes removed now.

“He is taking it one day at a time to get his strength back.”

The saddle bronc champion was riding the Cervi Brothers’ Living The High Life, when the horse reared up in the chute and smashed Sundell in the chest during the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo.

“I got the call on Saturday night, and we left the next afternoon,” Grieser said. “Shelby (Janssen, Wade’s girlfriend) called and said she was at her rodeo in Missouri, and that Wade had gotten hurt. She wasn’t sure how bad it was, and she would soon be on a flight.”

The scuffle lacerated Sundell’s liver. The Justin Sportsmedicine Team and the Mission Hospital were there, checking his condition.

Soon, Sundell would undergo three surgeries and be in the fight of his life.

While at the Mission Hospital, it was discovered that Sundell had internal injuries that bled two to three units of blood into his torso.

“He lacerated his liver and it was within centimeters of an artery that comes from the liver, which was almost severed,” Grieser said. “If it would have hit that, he would have bled out.”

Sundell had three surgeries. The first was putting in medical sponges to stop the bleeding, the next further helped with the internal bleeding, and the final was to remove all of the sponges that were soaking up the blood.

“They put him on a ventilator and had him in a medically-induced coma. He came awake later on the 11th or 12th day and opened his eyes,” Grieser said. “He kind of knew what was going on. He smiled and winked and squeezed our hands.

“He was in coma for two weeks, and on the ventilator that helped his collapsed lung.”

The hardest part for Grieser was leaving the hospital, but she felt her son was in good hands.

“We didn’t want to leave,” Grieser said. “But they took good care of both him and Shelby.”

Sundell, known on the circuit as the “Wild Man,” is veteran rider. Still, the accident he suffered was something nobody saw coming.

“It was just a freak thing,” Grieser said. “There was no preventing it — it just happened. He’s a tough kid, and he’ll come out of it a better man. We’ll see what he decides to do from there.

“Prayer goes a long way, and we were praying at the chapel (in the hospital) to get through it.”

The toughest part now is therapy and recovery — especially since Sundell doesn’t like to take things easy.

“He has to get his strength back and will start walking with therapy,” Grieser said. “He’ll be working on getting his muscle and tone back. It’s going to take patience. It’s going to be hard for him to take it easy.

“Wade works very hard, and has a passion that has no limit. He has to do what they tell him. It’s tough on a person, but you have to think baby steps.”

Grieser and her family have been blessed with support from family, friends and the Boxholm area community.

“It’s been amazing, all of the people that has contacted us,” Grieser said. “There have been a lot of prayer chains and benefits going on. When we were in the hospital, it was just like being with family. The nurses were very supportive. Miss Lisa Freese put on a rodeo in San Juan, and gave Shelby and Wade a house to stay as long as they needed to.

“Our communities have been awesome. He was nominated for the Top Dog award during the Ogden High School homecoming. Everyone has just rallied around Wade.”


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