“I knew God was with me,” affirmed Nashville based Gospel singer, Val Storey, describing her journey to recovery following a devastating motorcycle accident that left her with a broken back, among other serious injuries.
It all started on Wednesday, August 5, and even in the midst of a global pandemic that crippled the entertainment industry, Storey was having a good day.
“Before COVID, I had been a nanny for ten different children and had been in an interview for a nanny position with a new baby. I was excited to get some work and to have the extra income. Rob (Grant, her husband) was in a MBA program, and had just finished an on-line class and did well. I said, ‘Let’s go to dinner and take a drive through one of our favorite neighborhoods.’ Our car had been recalled and I suggested that we take the bike. It was a beautiful day.”
After dinner, the couple mounted their motorcycle and headed north on Gallatin Road when a SUV headed southbound made a left turn.
“Rob was going 35 mph and had the right of way. It would have hit us directly if Rob had not slowed the bike down hoping the suspension would absorb some of the impact.”
Sitting behind her husband, Storey was unaware of the danger ahead.
“I heard Rob say, ‘Oh, no, Val’ and then the whole right side of my body hit the SUV. All I saw was red (from the SUV). I woke up on the ground.”
While lying on the ground, her husband crawled to her side. He had a couple of lacerations, but was able to move.
“I am so sorry, he just pulled right out,” he pleaded. “Your mother is going to kill me.”
Storey interjected, “The mom statement was so funny because she is not a fan of us on motorcycles even though she rode them numerous times with my dad, who was a pro motorcross rider and won many races. I found out later that she and my dad had been in an accident many moons ago (other driver’s fault), and she only told me about it after our accident. Needless to say mom did not kill him!”
Storey, who performed twice weekly at the world famous Station Inn before the virus, recalled, “I could see the clouds. Dizzy, I thought maybe I could get up. I wasn’t hurting at the time.”
Out of nowhere, a lady appeared.
‘She grabbed my legs and said, ‘I’m going to hold you still. You need to be really still. I’m a trauma nurse and I think your back is broken.’ She was my angel. Once the EMT arrived, she was gone. Her presence might have made the difference between me walking and not being able to walk.’
Storey has tried to locate the nurse, but to no avail.
During transport, Storey learned she was being taken to Skyline Medical Center, and wondered if Vanderbilt might be a better choice.
‘Skyline was the best place they could have taken me. It is the best stroke hospital in the region, and they have so much therapy there.’
At the Medical Center, the vocalist learned that her back was indeed broken. Her L1 was completely shattered, plus she had a broken tibia, humerus, and tailbone.
“I had emergency surgery. The pain was unbelievable. It was like the worst part of childbirth with spasms. Rob could hear me and said, ‘Please tell me that’s not my wife screaming.'”
The doctor assigned to her case appeared knowledgeable.
“He’s one of the best neurosurgeons. People travel to get him. He had to get all the shattered pieces of bone out and fuse it together.”
Storey was left with a 10 inch incision where inside 8 screws and 2 bars hold the vertebrae in place.
“I was in the hospital for 25 days. I had to learn to walk again. They got me up the second day after surgery. Talking was different, too.
They waited on my arm. I had a manual adjustment on my tailbone. The only surgery that I had was on my back.”
After 20 days, her occupational therapist asked Storey for a favor. “I hear you’re a singer. I have a patient who is a former musician. Robert had a stroke and is very flat, no emotion. I sing and play guitar. I thought we might play him some music.”
Storey agreed and was wheeled to the end of a hall. There sat Robert in a wheel chair, too.
“The therapist sang a folk song, then gave me the guitar. I sang Amazing Grace and he started mouthing the words. I wept. Then I sang Just A Closer Walk with Thee and he mouthed those words. It was relatable and quite a blessing. Music is amazing.”
A couple days later, Storey transitioned home with a walker and a brace around her midsection.
“Rob was working from home. He did all the things that I couldn’t do.”
Therapists first came to her Nashville home, then Storey went to them.
“A motorcycle group arranged meals two days a week for us for 10 weeks. It was such a great gift. The meals were a God-send. Tom and Marsha Smith of Smyrna, TN, would get me to therapy. They were angels.”
Now Storey exercises at home.
“I try to walk. That’s the best thing that I can do. I still have pain in my hips and lower part of my back. Due to bones being fused, I can’t bend that part. On a 10 point scale, I stay around a 3.”
The Nashville songbird is sticking with over-the-counter meds.
“I have a whole pharmacy, but I don’t want to rely on medicine.”
Storey is back singing at the Station Inn on Sunday afternoons’ Gospel show, and Monday nights’ classic country show with a band she calls the Storeytellers which includes Mike Rogers, Jenee Fleenor, and Mike Bub. She is also working on a new country album that will be released in May.
“I’m trying to stay as active as I can, and do as much as I can physically do. I’m listening to my body. Hopefully, healing will continue. I’m playing it one day at a time.
I’m blessed. Twelve weeks after surgery, at my first follow-up appointment, I got to see my pre-op x-rays. My L1 looked like crushed rocks. My neurosurgeon showed me a little black line that was my spinal cord. He said if the damage had been one millimeter closer, I wouldn’t be walking. It could have been a much different story.”
This is the second serious accident involving Storey. At age three, her mother was struck by a drunk driver and Storey was thrown through the windshield.
“God’s keeping me around. With COVID, the accident, all the challenges, God has been there for me every minute. I pray and talk to God. I know He is in control. I know that with him, we can find comfort and peace.
I was shown such love by many, and my hope is to give back to those in need. I love this quote, ‘Plant flowers in others’ gardens and your life will become a bouquet.’ I hope to plant a lot of flowers in others’ gardens.”
Molly Storey, Val’s oldest daughter, started a GoFundMe page for her mother to help with medical expenses and lost wages. Please share if you feel called to do so.