What’s in your 15 feet? This is a question Megyn has been reflecting on more than usual lately. During a family ski vacation in Montana, Megyn’s youngest son Thatcher sustained a serious injury that required him to spend several days in the intensive care unit.
Thatcher is home now and on the mend, but the experience led Megyn to have a deeper appreciation for those closest to her – the people who exist in her so-called 15 feet. The concept of ‘your 15 feet’ is one that Megyn picked up from a guest who once told her that the most important things in life are within 15 feet of you. For most, that would include family, friends, and colleagues. In Megyn’s case, she added her audience to the list.
Here she emotionally shares the details of the accident and the lessons she’s taking from it in her own words.
I just got back from vacation, and I wanted to talk to you guys about something that happened because it was big in my own world and I just didn’t feel like I could just resume the show without talking about it. You may have noticed we did the RFK Jr. interview on Monday and Tuesday, and then we did sort of a ‘Wellness Week’ special for you guys that aired the following three days. But the prior week we were live the first three days from Montana and then there were a lot of people noticing that we weren’t on the air Thursday and Friday and wondering why that was. There was a very good reason. We had planned on doing the show, however, something happened to my little guy Thatcher, my eight-year-old, while we were skiing. Thank God he’s okay – I’ll just start with the lead – but it was just such a crazy experience.
We were skiing in Montana. He’s a good skier. He’s been skiing since he was really, really little, and he was on an advanced run and did the run just fine but was inspired by this cave-like structure and wanted to check it out. He was with his instructor, and it’s something I guess a lot of people go to. They sort of hike up to get into this little cave and take a break on this run, and he did that. He didn’t even have his skis on. He had on his ski boots. Again, he’s only eight. It was the end of the day and he was tired, and he apparently didn’t have the strength to make the climb that’s necessary to get into this little cave, so he fell.
In the meantime, I did the show, I did a little skiing, and then I was going for a massage. I get a call from Doug saying Thatcher’s fine but he’s hurt and he’s got to go to the hospital to be checked out. I confess my first instinct was, ‘Ah crap, I’m going to miss my massage. I’m sure he’s fine.’ Have you ever been there? It’s like, ‘Oh, I’m sure he’s fine, but we’ll go get him checked out.’ I get in the ambulance and there’s Thatcher. He seems okay. He’s speaking. He says he fell 10 feet and landed on some rocks while hiking up this part of the mountain. He’s got an IV in him, and I’m like, ‘Why does he have an IV in him?’ The emergency technician said that’s protocol when there might be an internal injury, and I’m like, ‘Well, why do you think there’s an internal injury?’ She said given the way he fell on rocks and the pain that he’d been complaining of, it’s a possibility. She said, ‘Do you want me to give him some fentanyl?’ He’s in some pain, but no, I don’t want my eight-year-old to have fentanyl right now. Let’s wait until we get to the hospital. I understand she was following protocol, but it’s a jarring thing to be asked that question.
We get to the hospital and they said they needed to run some tests. First, they needed to do an ultrasound on his belly to see what they’d find. They were looking for fluid that doesn’t belong in between the organs. They don’t want any internal bleeding. He did the scan and Thatcher said, ‘I’m gonna be fine. I don’t think I have that.’ He was so brave throughout. Nothing came up. Okay, great. Then they said we have to do one more scan and that’s a CT scan. You’ve heard about CT scans, right? I didn’t actually know what it was. What it is is an enormous x-ray that has, unfortunately, a lot of radiation. But it’s great at seeing what an ultrasound can’t see. Lo and behold, there was internal bleeding and he had two severe lacerations to a spleen and a third the size of which they weren’t able to determine. I’m not totally sure on the size of a little boy’s spleen, but he dinged it up pretty good and he was bleeding internally and they said, ‘You need to go to a more serious hospital right now. You got to get in the into the ambulance.’ So, we were like, ‘Oh my god. What?’
An hour earlier, I’d been like, ‘Oh, I’m going to miss my massage. Thatcher is going to be fine. We’re going to go home.’ And now suddenly we’re ASAP into the ambulance to the more severe hospital. We get back into the ambulance and he’s still fine in terms of speaking. We’re kind of cracking jokes. I’m taking video of it. We were laughing the whole time that this is going to be a great show and tell. We get to the hospital and they whisk him into the ICU, and now I’m like, ‘Why are we going into the ICU?’ I know absolutely nothing about medicine and no one’s making it totally clear to me why we’re going to the ICU until this lovely nurse who became sort of the heroine of our stay, Alyssa, ultimately sat me down and explained to me that these are severe tears of his spleen and that there’s a very good chance he’s going to lose his spleen and the doctor is going to explain more.
Now I call Doug. He’s with our other two children. He and I had been talking, but now we understand there’s internal bleeding. This could be an operation situation in a hospital we don’t know, in a town we don’t know in the middle of Montana. We don’t have our doctor there. We don’t know what to do exactly, but the surgeon did come in and said, ‘We hope he’s not going to lose the spleen, but, if the bleeding continues, we’re going to take the spleen.’ I only know what I know from ER, but I said, ‘Thatcher, of all the organs you could have injured, that’s the best one to have to lose.’ And the doctor said, ‘Well, the gallbladder is better.’ I wasn’t that worried, but then we started talking to our doctors back on the east coast who we we’ve known a long time – friends of the family, pediatric specialists, and so on – and pretty much every person said, ‘Don’t lose the spleen. It’s almost never necessary in a young child to take the spleen out in today’s day and age, and there are other measures you can do’ – which our surgeon told us as well.
So now you’re there like, ‘Oh God, okay, so we don’t really want him to operate.’ It was a Level 3 trauma center not a Level 1, and they didn’t have a pediatric specialist. That was another thing which wasn’t ideal. Some of the folks advising us were saying we should seriously look into medevacing him to a Level 1 trauma center with a pediatric specialist or at least an interventional radiologist. That’s I guess what you need to sort of repair the spleen as opposed to take the spleen. The closest places were Seattle and Salt Lake City, but that’s a lengthy plane ride and our surgeon was saying the number one thing you don’t want to do right now is move him. He needs to be in the ICU. He needs to be in the hospital bed, and he is not allowed to even get up to go to the bathroom. He cannot leave the bed.
As a parent, what do you do? Because the bleeding is not stopping. We don’t want him to lose the spleen. If there’s any way of repairing it, we’d like to do that, but it’s not safe to move him. We’re looking into the medevac flights, none of which can come immediately anyway. Apparently they don’t work the way they do in the movies where it’s like instantaneously you’re gone. It takes a long time to arrange, and then that’s if you can get a bed on the receiving end and if you can find the right person on the receiving end. In the meantime, we look at our surgeon and our surgeon said to me, ‘He is not cleared for travel.’ He felt strongly we should not be putting him on a flight. The long and short of it was they found an interventional radiologist who was not a pediatric specialist but who had done some work on children. They said if things go south, this person is here.
There was a funny moment that you guys might appreciate knowing me – as none of these people did – where I was just as calm as I am speaking to you now. I mean, if I have one sort of natural benefit to my normal personality it’s that I’m not a panicker. I’m not an anxious person. I always joke that I’m like Jeb Bush – low energy, if anything, which has come back to help me more than haunt me in my life. It takes a lot to get me anxious about stuff, and I was talking to the doctor and I was saying, ‘What should we do? What are the options?’ He was like, ‘You need to not panic.’ I was not panicking. I laughed, like those who know anything about me know that I can take an enormous shitstorm in my life without panicking. So I wasn’t panicking, but I was feeling the water start to rise – you know what I mean? I could feel like as the news kept coming in that the bleeding was ongoing, and I’m talking to Doug, and we’re trying to figure out what to do, and there’s not a clear course. I could feel the water rising. I sat down and I took a couple of deep breaths and just reminded myself that I had to be the parent. He was depending on me and Doug, and we had to make a decision. This was no time to lose this natural skill that has served me so well, and I was fine.
We decided to stay at the hospital. We were in Bozeman, MT. I can’t say enough about the people there. They were wonderful – the nurses, the doctors, the PAs. Everyone just treated us all so well and was so good in their communications with us and their treatment of my son. We decided to stay, and I was there overnight every night. Doug was, too. We switched on and off a couple nights in part because of you guys.
The RFK, Jr. Interview
While all this was going on, we were finishing up the RFK interview, which we had taped a few days earlier. We wanted it to be amazing. We wanted it to be as close to perfect as it could be. We wanted to achieve the impossible, and we did. We managed to air a four-hour interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and have it live on all platforms with no censorship. It all stayed monetized everywhere – which was less important – but it is a feat. He was happy with it, and our audience loved it. I mean, who’s ever done that before, right? Everyone’s always getting deplatformed. You put somebody like RFK Jr. on, which is total nonsense because he was riveting and great, but we did it. So, I was coming back to our cabin where we ski and doing the sort of ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ as we call them to that four-hour show, which we split up over last Monday and Tuesday.
I have to say here a word on my amazing team and on the importance of colleagues and friends you can trust because there was a lot of fact checking that went into the RFK interview, as you know. For it’s what it’s worth, he checked out on virtually everything he said. He’s not some, like, disinformation machine as people would have you believe. There were a couple things that we wanted to make sure the record was clear on or make sure we offered perspective on, but it required a lot of work on our part and my team just completely took the ball and ran knowing that I was at the hospital dealing with Thatcher. God bless SiriusXM, too. They aired this thing without giving us any problem. They were nothing but supportive. When I got back to the place where Sirius had rented me this camera and so on, I could just sit in the chair and do the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ and get back to the hospital, and I think the end product was excellent. I was really proud of the interview. I hope if you haven’t listened to it that you do, and I hope you enjoy it too. Part one is all about vaccines and Dr. Fauci, and the second part has got some of that and then a lot about his personal history. It’s fascinating stuff. I’m very proud of my team and very grateful to them.
The Recovery Process
On the third day of the hospital stay, things went in the wrong direction and Thatcher’s vitals were not doing what we wanted them to do. His blood pressure was falling, his heart rate and his pulse were rising, and the doctor said we might have to send him back in for another CT scan to see if the bleeding had stopped. That’s the thing – it’s not an arm that’s bleeding. It’s not like a head even. You can’t see it. He was in pain. We really didn’t want to do it. It’s a lot of radiation. If you have to get it done, you got to get it done. But if you can avoid it, it’d be better to. And so the doctor said, ‘Let’s wait a bit before we do that, and we’ll see.’ Thankfully, things took a turn for the better and we managed to make it through the five days. The kid did not leave that bed for five days, which led to some very awkward and funny exchanges when it was time to use the facilities – which he wasn’t allowed to do – for me, Doug, and Thatcher. But who cares, right? You’re not even thinking about that stuff. You’re just thinking about your babe – how much you love him, how you pray everything’s gonna be okay. And we kept laughing a lot. We got his brother and sister in for a quick visit. God bless our nurse who made it happen even though it may not technically have been allowed.
He made it through, and he’s okay. He left the hospital after those six days total. When he got out of the bed, he was like a baby deer. He could barely like step. He’d lost five pounds, and he was only like 68 pounds to start. It wasn’t until we walked out of the hospital and I hugged the nurse, Alyssa, that it finally hit me – the amount of stress, the love that you have for your children, the fragility of these little bodies who totally depend on you, the enormous responsibility you have for their well-being and for making huge decisions, the importance of family and friends and good colleagues. I had Doug. I don’t know what people who are single parents do. God bless you. It must be so hard, and I’m sure you’ve had the feeling of loving your friends and your family even more.
My two older kids, Yates and Yardley, were so delightful. They were so supportive of Thatcher. They kept writing him notes and, when we got home, they had the place plastered with fun signs and my son Yates gave Thatcher the greatest hug, which was just such a lovely moment and one I will never forget
Appreciating Your 15 Feet
Between the RFK stuff and the hospital stuff, it left me feeling a couple of things when it was all done. Early on in the show, we had somebody on who said something to the effect of: the only thing that matters in life is within 15 feet of you – generally like your family, your friends, your closest colleagues. I made a decision a few years ago to make sure the things that were within 15 feet of me were the right things, and, man, it was the right decision. It’s been a rocky road. I’m not going to lie – some of the path has been pretty rocky, but now it’s pretty smooth and it’s pretty glorious and I have been able to raise my kids, and to be with my friends a little bit more, and to nurture my marriage, and now I found a way to surround myself with amazing colleagues who I absolutely treasure and who are helping me bring the show to you. And in a way, I feel surrounded by you. I knew I was going to tell you the story. I knew that the people who understand who I am would find it interesting and would understand why I’m telling it to you, and that’s a connection that’s invaluable to me as well.
So, thank you for being part of my 15 feet and thank you to my colleagues on the show and at Sirius, too. Just a reminder to all of you that if you’ve got the wrong things there, it’s not too late for you either to change what’s within that grasp and to set yourself up for success God forbid a tragedy should come your way.
You can catch all of episode 287 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.