Recovery from a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) – there is no quick fix!

As parents, when our children scrape a knee here, an arm there, we bandage it with care, dry their tears, and make chicken soup. Unfortunately, David’s injury was not that easy to fix. When he first arrived at the acute-care facility (within the rehabilitation center) in early November, we thought it was the light at the end of the tunnel. We were anxious to see David recover quickly, we celebrated the smallest indication of improvement. At first, he did, but by Thanksgiving we weren’t so sure what was happening to him and were a little more than disappointed.

The monthly CLIENT ASSESSMENT REPORT provided by the facility did not indicate there was anything wrong and they went ahead with plans to return him to the hospital in early December. He would have a second craniotomy to repair his ‘bone flap’ (the portion of his skull that was removed during his original surgery that allowed his brain to swell). Over the next few weeks, we noticed that David began to digress back to a vegetative state. No matter how much we read and talked to him, or aggressively exercised his contracting legs and strapped him into leg braces, he was fading…

By the end of December, it was evident something was seriously wrong as his face drooped oddly and he was mostly unresponsive. My sister and brother-in-law stepped in to review his charts and noticed discrepancies on his CT scans. They quickly contaAcute-Carected David’s Neurosurgeon team to alert them as to his condition. Because of this intervention, David headed back to the hospital to have a VP shunt put into his head. Afterward, we learned that if this fluid (hydrocephalus) continued to build up around his brain, we could have permanently lost him.

David’s case managers changed every few months. We also felt them pull back, especially when we wanted to question things and we would often station ourselves in the hall outside their office. Once they appeared, they would say he had plateaued. We did not agree with their assessment! They were also in a continuous fight with his insurance company to justify his continued treatment there. In reality, if they didn’t see a certain level of progress, David would have to move elsewhere; did we have a place in mind? We simply couldn’t understand this mentality as we were clearly seeing progress. David’s insurance company assigned a case manager as well. We spoke often and she continuously reassured me that they would never kick him out.

Although the accident took his ability to speak and remember things, (due to amnesia and aphasia), David began to recognize us, often smiling and waving as we came to visit. It was during these times that we felt our effort was well worth it.

In the first book of the Whisper Mystery Trilogy, Ellen and her family had to rebuild their lives after tragedy struck. Because Ellen is a strong character, she met her challenges headlong. That’s how we saw things as a family. But it wasn’t just our challenge; it was David’s ultimate challenge. He would have to fight very hard to come back to us. This is also when we started to realize that our David would never be the same.

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