I have always had a strong relationship with my children. My house was the place where all their friends wanted to be ... I was “the cool parent.” Their friends saw it—the closeness, that bond between us. Their friends would even come to me and my husband for advice about things that they would die and go to hell for before they would even consider talking to their own parents about.
In 2005, my beautiful daughter was involved in a horrible accident. She was a passenger on a motorcycle traveling at over seventy miles per hour that rear-ended a car that had turned improperly. She had to be air-lifted to the Lee County Trauma Center in Fort Myers, Florida. I got a call from the paramedic on scene telling me where to go and that it was bad. Lindsey had been thrown ninety feet and had lost her helmet. She had sustained a traumatic brain injury, fractured skull, fractured orbit, fractured nose, fractured clavicle, multiple fractures to the transverse processes in her spine, a laceration to her ear and to her leg, and road rash to her entire right side from head to toe, including her beautiful face. She was still being stabilized upon my arrival and by the time I saw her, she was unconscious and had been put on a ventilator. She didn’t even look like herself. Her little face was swollen and bruising and her forehead looked as if it would explode if the pressure wasn’t released.
After several hours passed, she was moved to ICU and the doctor came to talk to me. Incredibly, she had no life-threatening injuries. They were going to keep her in this drug-induced coma until they could see better how this brain injury would behave over the next few days. I can’t find the words, even to this day, to describe the pain and the fear that I was feeling. The ICU nurses allowed me to stay with her around the clock. She was on the ventilator for the first forty-eight hours and slowly began coming around after 3–4 days. When she did wake, she couldn’t speak. I honestly don’t think she even knew who we were. It was as if she had become like a small child, unable to do anything for herself. The doctors assured me that she was improving physically and that was evident but the mental aspect of her injuries was a toss up. Time was the only way to take measure of the extent to which she would recover.
She remained in ICU for a week and was then transferred to a step-down unit for an additional forty-eight hours where she began to experience seizure activity. There were a number of CTs run and she began a course of an anti-seizure medication. She began various therapies in the step-down unit, including physical therapy. They came to get her out of bed and into a chair. It was like trying to put a newborn into a high chair. No sense of balance and no muscle control. I again became terrified that this would be how she would spend the rest of her life, in this child-like state robbed of everything. It was very difficult to watch.
The seizures subsided and she was moved again into the rehab hospital: daily therapies, occupational, physical, and speech all day long everyday. She slowly began speaking again but her speech pattern had changed. She would use words in sentences that didn’t belong or substitute words that sounded like nonsense. After the first week, she responded well to her treatment there and was released to come home three long weeks later—but she would continue her daily therapies on an outpatient basis for several months afterward.
Today, she is fully recovered and I thank God every day for not taking her from me. She was incredibly fortunate to have survived the accident at all. I wanted to share my story because I know there are many parents that have been (and others who will be) in that horrible place that I was in. I have never felt more helpless in my life. You know your child better than any doctor ever will. Never accept “this might be as good as it gets.”