Sometimes we have days that start out completely normal and then suddenly something happens that can change our lives forever. This was one of those days for Natalie and her son Nicholas.
She dropped Nicholas off at school at the usual hour and was headed into work battling the clock to get there on time because of the traffic. She passed the slower moving vehicles at 75 mph and in an instant, she lost control of the car and hit the center divider.
The emergency vehicles got her to the hospital with absolutely no hope for survival. Her body was crushed, her jaw broken in four places, she had sustained traumatic brain injury and the doctors informed her next of kin that there was no chance of survival beyond the next eight hours.
Even though Natalie’s body was surrendering, her spirit was fighting for her life. After all as a single mom, she had a five-year-old son to care for! Instead of passing away she slid into a comma.
Natalie remembers watching her own body from the corner of the ceiling. She watched all her visitors, heard their conversations and observed the doctors as they examined her body below. This was an impossible situation and yet twenty-three days later she woke up from the comma on her son’s birthday!
Her awakening astounded the medical professionals and delighted her family, but her real battle had just begun. Natalie was paralyzed from the waist down and told she would never walk again. Her face was unrecognizable, and she was no longer able to speak, read or write.
After months of physical therapy, she was sent home in a wheel chair. Natalie kept thinking someone would reach out to her to inform her of organizations that could be a good resource for her steps to recovery. Was there a Brain Injury Support Group? If there was, no one told her. What about a foundation that might be able to assist a single mom who is not only trying to recover from unfathomable injuries, but somehow get a child to school each day and care for him? How do people get back to living a life where they too have responsibilities and yet have lost their mobility to carry on?
We’re not sure why Natalie was never given the resources she needed, but we are proud of her perseverance and warrior woman attitude.
Today, five years later, Natalie is about to go on her first job interview. Nicholas is a healthy and happy ten-year-old who is compassionate and has learned skills of care giving and meal prep all because he was the one who helped care for his mom. There was no care giver company that surrounded Natalie during this five-year uphill battle, just benevolent friends and family who cheered her on. If you met Natalie today, you would never know the nightmare she has come through.
It was the love she has for her son and the strength of her spirit that enabled her to push past the pain, confusion and incredible odds that were not in her favor. The moral of this story ~ we should never underestimate the power of love. If you know someone who needs help, choose to be the resource. We might not have all the skills it takes to physically assist people with a traumatic brain injury, but surely, we can steer them to organizations that do!
Here are some facts on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):
In the US alone, over 150 people die every day from injuries that include a TBI.
TBI survivors may experience effects that go on for several days or could last the remainder of their lives.
Some of the neuro-psychological issues that can arise after an individual has sustained a TBI may include problems with movement, memory, hearing, vision and emotions. There may be personality changes, lack of awareness, poor concentration, a self-centered attitude, inappropriate outbursts of anger or laughter.