It’s amazing how quickly a single event can totally change one’s life. One moment you are helping your son move into his new house, and the next you are camped out in a small hospital waiting room that you commandeered to stay close to the ICU (intensive care unit).
Thinking back, I remember the feeling of despair when we first arrived at the hospital. They sent us to a private room and someone spoke to us. I can’t recall what they said; I was in such a numb state, but I do remember the Neurosurgeon saying that the first 72 hours are critical, they will determine if David lives or dies. So we camped out down the hall and waited.
As the days slowly passed, I can’t tell you the number of times I stood at the 4th floor window looking out over the palm trees swaying in the South Florida breeze, pausing to pray and hoping that by some miracle things would go back to normal. We were inundated with such terms as TBI and traumatic brain injury, something called a VP shunt, the Rancho Scale of Coma, medications with names I can’t pronounce, and reality slowly began to sink in. None of us thought about what might transpire down the road. We had a short-term goal and it was for David to live.
As we moved beyond those foggy days, the feeling things were never going to be the same continued to grow. Although we never really discussed it, we knew we had a challenge ahead of us. I always thought that David would snap out of his coma, laugh at the contraptions on his legs, and ask what the heck happened to him, but he didn’t.
After a couple weeks in the ICU, David spent several more weeks in a step-down unit. During this time we saw sparks of life when his hand moved, a fleeting glance or stare that let us know he was still there, trapped in a body that he was unable to control. At this juncture, the resident doctor made his prognosis that David would never walk again; in fact he felt that what we saw, was what we will see in the future. He even refused to accept him into their rehabilitation facility. He was just too unresponsive.
David was now facing the hardest journey of his life. It was then that we decided to take this journey together as a family. We will take each day, each challenge, and each decision…one at a time. In a blink of an eye, our game of life changed….we moved from a planned and comfortable retirement, to active caregivers, business liquidators, and bankruptcy agents, all while learning what TBI means.
This experience has provided me with a great deal of insight about what a person/family goes through when confronted with a tragedy that literally changes their life. In the first book in The Whisper Mystery Trilogy, titled The Ancient Whisper, I equate this time to the dream-state that my character experiences. As the story unfolds, she has to make some compromises and decisions while faced with unsurmountable odds. Just like this character, we began our journey with many questions. Where do we go from here? As the process evolved, we searched to find the answers.