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Praying for a miracle: Fall from roof leaves Billings woman hospitalized, unable to walk

Karen Finstad Roof Fall
Posted at 8:18 AM, Dec 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-26 10:18:06-05

BILLINGS — What started as a plan to decorate for her granddaughter's birthday party turned into a life-changing event for one Billings woman.

The details are foggy of Karen Finstad's fall on Dec. 6, but she remembers climbing up onto her roof to clean the windows of an all-glass sunroom attached to the back of her house. Cleaning the windows was part of the birthday party preparation for her 3-year-old granddaughter, Finli, for whom Finstad is the primary caregiver.

"I had a jug of water that I was pouring down the window, so then I was wiping it off to clean it," Finstad said. "One of the times I must have lost my balance.”

Finstad fell onto her concrete patio below and was briefly knocked unconscious.

"I woke up at one point, knew that I was not doing so well, and so I started yelling or moaning," Finstad said. "I have a renter that lives downstairs from me, and she came up those stairs kind of where that slanted roof was and found me."

Finstad's renter is a nurse and called her an ambulance. Later, she had to be transported to a Spokane hospital by a medical emergency flight.

“I have 15 broken ribs. I have a spinal injury, and they fused my discs from T4 to T11, and then I broke my thumb," Finstad said.

Falls from ladders and roofs are something Dr. Barry McKenzie sees a lot of as the director of the trauma medical department at St. Vincent Healthcare.

“If you look at the data, it’s probably one of the most common reasons for injuries at home, things associated with ladders and on your roof and those kind of situations," said Dr. McKenzie.

From broken wrists to serious head injuries, Dr. McKenzie says falling even a short distance can cause a lot of damage.

“Because even a low-level fall of three and four feet, can end up being a big deal for you," Dr. McKenzie said.

Injuries that can change someone's life.

“I have no feeling from the belly button down at this point. I'm not able to walk," Finstad said.

Doctors are telling Finstad now that she might not walk again.

“It is pretty scary, but my faith in God is very strong, so I'm just continuing to lean on him and pray for a miracle that everything heals up and I can walk again," Finstad said.

The road to recovery is long, but Finstad's friends and family have surrounded her with support, from taking care of Finli to helping her cover growing medical costs through GoFundMe.

Finstad will go through extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy, hoping that will allow her to walk again so she can return to her life with her granddaughter.

“I have a big faith in my Lord, and so I know he will take care of me and he'll take care of her," Finstad said. "I have a big support group. So however it happens and whatever, however that looks, I think it'll work fine.”

You can find Finstad's GoFundMe here.