Ashley Judd is showing her gratitude as she recovers from a “catastrophic” injury that “shattered” her leg.
Alongside a series of Instagram photos on Wednesday, the actress and activist shared the story of how several Congolese rescuers helped her. “Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg,” she wrote. “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 by calling out specific rescuers for their roles, writing, “Dieumerci stretched out his leg and put it under my grossly misshapen left leg to try to keep it still. It was broken in four places and had nerve damage. Dieumerci (“Thanks be to God”) remained seated, without fidgeting or flinching, for 5 hours on the rain forest floor. He was with me in my primal pain. He was my witness.”
Next, she praised the man who adjusted her leg to prepare her to be transported. “Papa Jean: it took 5 hours, but eventually he found me, wretched and wild on the ground, and calmly assessed my broken 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,” she wrote. “How he did that so methodically while I was like an animal is beyond me. He saved me. & he had to do this twice!”
Ashley also shouted out “the six men who carefully moved me into the hammock with as little jostling as possible,” who she says carried her for three hours.
She also detailed the experience of riding on a motorbike while assisted by two rescuers, writing, “Didier and Maradona: 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. 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,” Ashley wrote.
“Together we did this for 6 hours on an irregular, rutted and pocked dirt road that has gullies for rain run off during the rainy season,” she continued, also thanking the women who “held” and “blessed” her.
Eventually, Ashley made it to a South African ICU, where she first revealed the harrowing incident to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. She told him during an Instagram Live that she tripped over a fallen tree while walking in the dark and was in agony for the next 55 hours until she was able to get proper medical care for her tibia, which was broken in several places.