Brooke Shields broke her leg in January after she fell off a balance beam during a gym workout, but only now is she telling how close she came to death because of an unexpected complication.
The childhood star of “Pretty Baby,” and Franco Zeffirelli’s “Endless Love,” says she feels “lucky to be alive” after her harrowing leg injury.
Her broken right femur, also known as the thigh bone, required two surgeries to insert metal rods and plates into her leg.
But the complications began when she developed a very serious staph infection that forced her to return to hospital for further emergency surgery.
“There’s so many things that could’ve happened. I just feel so lucky to be alive,” says the 55-year-old actress.
Brooke said she stayed calm and strong throughout the process for the sake of her daughters – Rowan, 18, and Grier, 15. Now, she wants to use her terrifying ordeal to teach them about the correct ways to respond to adversity.
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“I had to stay calm for them. My kids actually asked me if I thought I was going to die,” she told People.
“If I can turn it into anything positive, or I can teach my girls, yeah, stuff is going to happen in your life, and how you respond is going to define you, and adversity will reveal you. It won’t make you as much as it will reveal you because you see who you are. You see what you’re made up of,” she said.
“Especially women. I want them to know that they deserve to feel good about themselves and be healthier and happier and bigger, live a bigger life.”
The ‘Pretty Baby’ star had to re-learn how to walk after her health ordeal, but said back in March she was determined to pull through.
“For the first time in my entire life, I thought, ‘I can’t power through this.’ I can’t even stand on my leg or go up a step. I need to relearn how to even walk. The feeling of helplessness is shocking.”
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But Brooke was determined to be a fighter.
“I’m the only one that’s going to be able to get through this. My career has actually been like that as well,” she said.
One door gets slammed in my face and I search for another. It’s not unlike how I felt when I wrote about postpartum depression in 2005.
“This is my journey, and if it took me breaking the largest bone in my body, then recovery is something I want to share. We have to believe in ourselves and encourage one another.
There’s no other way to get through life, period,” she says.
Surprisingly, staphylococcus bacteria, which causes the infection can commonly be found on the skin or in the nose of even healthy individuals, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Most of the time, these bacteria cause no problems or result in relatively minor skin infections.
But staph infections can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into your body, entering your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart.
A growing number of otherwise healthy people are developing life-threatening staph infections because the bacteria is growing resistant to common antibiotics.
Staph infection symptoms vary widely, depending on the location and severity of the infection.
Toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening condition that results from toxins produced by some strains of staph bacteria. It has been linked to certain types of tampons, skin wounds and surgery. It usually develops suddenly.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report stating that more than 119,000 people suffered from bloodstream staph infections in the United States and nearly 20,000 died.
“Staph infections are a serious threat and can be deadly,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. “U.S. hospitals have made significant progress, but this report tells us that all staph infections must remain a prevention priority for healthcare providers.”
Staph infections can often lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues.
When the infection-fighting processes turn on the body, they cause organs to function poorly and abnormally. Sepsis may progress to septic shock. This is a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can lead to severe organ problems and death, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Brooke is indeed lucky to be alive.
The actress gained critical acclaim at age 12 for her leading role in Louis Malle’s film “Pretty Baby” (1978). She played a child prostitute in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century.
Shields garnered widespread notoriety in the role, and she continued to model into her late teenage years, while starring in several dramas in the 1980s, including “The Blue Lagoon” (1980) and “Endless Love” (1981).