Andrea Vellinga. (WISH Photo/Adrienne Broaddus)
Updated: Friday, 08 Mar 2013, 4:18 PM EST
Published : Friday, 08 Mar 2013, 12:30 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - After three attempts, a surgery to replace the missing portion of Andrea Vellinga's skull was successful.
This time, doctors used skin expanders to stretch her scalp. Every two weeks for four months, those expanders were filled with saline. It’s a process Vellinga described as very painful but worth it. Her husband was by her side every step of the way.
"Poor Mike, I would squeeze his hand so hard every time I would get a shot in my head," Vellinga said. "It hurt so bad."
Vellinga's skull was crushed during the Indiana State Fair stage rigging collapse.
Since that terrifying night, she has had seven major surgeries and wore a helmet for protection. Vellinga says she doesn't miss the helmet, but often grabs it out of habit.
"I feel really good," she said with a smile following a speech therapy session at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana. "People ask me how I am so strong; I get my strength from my mom. She has been so strong through all of this."
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