Last year when I started the Pretty Tough Jacket with Liz and Lydia, I never in a million years thought that my daughter Allie would be next in this photo series.

On November 7, 2020, my daughter Allie woke up a healthy, curly-haired, happy little girl.  We were having a typical morning at home and my daughter fell off the couch.  Over the next 30 minutes, she became paralyzed from the neck down.  I called 911 and we went into the hospital in El Paso.  Over the next few hours in the ER, she quit breathing and had to be intubated.  My entire world came crashing down on November 7 and I experienced fear and sadness that I didn’t know was possible.  I had no clue what was coming next.

Over the next 115 days, she was intubated, given a trach and vent to breathe, got a g-tube placed because she couldn’t swallow anymore, and was in two different children’s hospitals.  We had two different diagnoses during that time, Transverse Myelitis and then a stroke that caused what they believe to be permanent paralysis.  She almost died so many times during those 115 days that I lost count.  She had so much physical and occupational therapy that she could barely handle it just to work to sit up in a wheelchair to come home.  She had to get a pacemaker because her heart would randomly stop when she got upset or scared.  It was the most difficult time of our lives.

We all had to accept the most painful realities we could imagine.  We lived in Houston for months in hotels and an apartment.  Our truck was stolen while we were there.  We were only allowed in the hospital one at a time because of Covid so we had to go through all of the hospitalization and training without the other person in the room.  I had to tell my son that his best friend and playmate probably would never move her arms or legs ever again.  I lived so many painful moments and I knew that my normal life had died.

These are some photos from the first 115 day hospital stay.  Some are hard to look at and I haven’t ever shared before but I think it’s important to see the reality of what she has endured and how she smiled through the pain and fear anyways with strength and peace only God can provide.


There have been MANY ups and downs, hospitalizations, surgeries, and ambulance rides since we’ve been home but we’re making our new life and getting into a routine in our new town.  We are still at the very beginning of our journey and if you have followed along on Instagram or Facebook, helped us, and prayed for us, we are eternally grateful to you!

I have learned so much about selflessness, my faith, strength that I didn’t know I could have, and unconditional love during these last 9 months.  I hope that our family’s story can inspire other families with or without disabilities to thrive and trust God no matter what happens here on earth.

This experience has inspired me to boldly share my faith and one way that I’m doing that is with #devowithdeonna on Instagram every Tuesday.  I talk about my experiences that I’ve had in my life with my daughter’s injury and my personal struggle with MS.  I hope these devotionals will encourage others who have lost their normal that God is always there.

The wonderful Dallas photographer Lindsay Davenport so graciously donated her time and talent to take photos of our family recently to celebrate us surviving the hardest months of our life and our little Pretty Tough girl Allie!

Here are some of her beautiful photos that she took at the Arboretum in Lubbock.  This photo session was an amazing experience for our family.  I got to see my kids smiling and it was such a good feeling to have photos of our new family.  Everything has changed in our life and honestly old photos still kind of hurt to look at.  These photos have been so healing to me and I am so happy to share them with ya’ll!



This is dedicated to Lydia Orcutt.  She was my very first Pretty Tough girl and she was so beautiful and fun.  Being a part of her photo shoot was something I will never forget and she has touched the lives of so many.  Lydia passed away in November of 2020 from cancer.  She shined so bright while here on earth and now she is resting and dancing in the arms of Jesus.  Love you Lydia!