While Ashley Judd was in the midst of a ordeal where she nearly lost a leg after falling in a forest in the Congo, her father received a frighteningly vague text message that she said “no parent wants.”
Judd, 52, detailed his father’s incredible effort to be by his side in South Africa as he endured a 55-hour odyssey after breaking his leg while studying the endangered bonobo population.
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The actor detailed on Instagram on Monday how her father, Michael Ciminella, was alerted to her plight and immediately traveled to Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg to be with her.
“My beloved dad, who had received the text message that no parent wants: ’emergency, I cannot answer questions, please come now’, in fact, because he is vaccinated, he was able to come to South Africa,” he wrote. “He has been my rock, partner, resource, helped me listen to so many doctors, critical support system and kind and loving presence as I cried and cried.”
Judd added that her father accompanied her on four flights for a total of 22 hours to return to the United States, where she remains in hospital.
“In an American hospital, I had to keep waiting for the tissue damage and swelling to subside,” he wrote. “Eventually I was qualified to undergo the 8-hour surgery to repair the bones, decompress the hemorrhagic nerve, and remove the bone fragments from the nerve. I am now recovering from the surgery.”
She shared a video of the nurses treating her at the Johannesburg hospital, as well as a photo of her doctor and images and video of her recovering in her hospital bed and using a walker. The final photo was one of his father gently rubbing his foot on his surgically repaired leg.
“I am very grateful to all the experts, including the expert in the photo, my dad, who rubs my foot to remind him that he is connected to my body when he still cannot move,” she wrote. “I’m already awake. Thank you for your care and kind words. Let us always remember those who do not have insurance. Let us remember those who do have options. Let us remember those who are alone and fearful.”
Judd has maintained a strong relationship with his father despite a turbulent family life that he detailed in his 2011 memoir, “All That Is Bitter and Sweet.”
She wrote that she and her sister, country music star Wynonna Judd, discovered as adults that Ciminella was not Wynonna’s biological father and that her mother, country singer Naomi Judd, had kept it a secret.
She wrote that her mother tried to turn her against her father after their divorce, but that the family eventually came together despite all the dysfunction.
“I am pleased to say that each of us has embarked on a personal process of healing, and my family is healthier than ever,” he wrote in 2011. “We have come a long way. In our individual and collective recoveries, they have learned that disease mental health and addiction are family diseases that span and affect generations. “
After her ordeal in South Africa, Judd also expressed her “deepest and most vulnerable thanks” to the nurses who cared for her. She wrote on Instagram that her leg “had no pulse” when she arrived and that she “desperately needed a blood transfusion.”
The actress and activist previously recounted her ordeal in a pair of Instagram Live videos hosted by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof from her hospital bed in South Africa. She also shared her gratitude for the “Congolese brothers and sisters” who helped her, writing on Instagram that without their help she could have died of internal bleeding or lost a leg.