Editor’s note: As part of our holiday campaign, Mary Free Bed is asking former patients to tell us about their rehabilitation experience. What follows is one of those stories.
Robin Bilotti’s Story:
“I think I will end up being myself.” This was the prophetic note that my 17-year-old daughter, Devon Goebel, wrote when she was an inpatient at Mary Free Bed. It was something that I never would have believed.
After sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a November 2007 car accident, Devon was admitted to MFB on Dec. 18, 2007. I wondered how the MFB staff could be so optimistic about her prognosis. She had been hospitalized for a month, much of it while comatose in ICU.
She couldn’t walk, talk or eat. She had a wheelchair, a tracheostomy and a feeding tube. Despite all that, the therapists insisted she had great potential for recovery.
The pediatric team provided Devon with encouragement and support. Every day had a plan and a goal. Devon had occupational, physical, speech and recreational therapies. Her parents and sisters were welcome to observe therapies or accompany her on outings.
When I couldn’t be there, I knew that my daughter was safe and that the nurses and therapists treated her as a person, not just a patient. Therapists encouraged Devon to see herself as the brave fighter she is. Each time she achieved a goal, they pushed her just beyond it.
After 38 days, Devon walked out of Room 334 with the help of a walker, accomplishing just the first of many goals. She still has the deficits of a TBI and will always be an MFB patient, but she has already achieved so much. She runs. She drives. She attends college. And she was right, she did end up “being herself.”
Devon Goebel’s Story:
When I was admitted to Mary Free Bed after a car accident in 2007, I was a 17-year-old high school senior and I had already been hospitalized for four weeks, most of them in a coma in the pediatric ICU.
I could not walk, talk, or eat. I had a traumatic brain injury, left-sided weakness, a tracheostomy and a feeding tube. I would spend Christmas and New Year’s at MFB, but I had a goal to walk across the stage at my high school graduation in June, and all of my therapists wanted to help me achieve it.
I had occupational, physical, speech and recreation therapy. I had therapies almost every day. Therapy became my job. I also took classes while at MFB. The therapists were patient but firm. If I didn’t want to participate, my therapists made me try “just one more time.” They never gave up, and neither did I. They reminded me that I was a fighter and that nothing was impossible for me.
I was discharged from MFB on January 28, 2008, but continued with outpatient therapy and I still go back for yearly visits. I have a TBI, left-sided weakness, memory loss and noticeable scars from my trach and feeding tube. But all of this reminds me that I never gave up. I am a fighter and my therapists at MFB were my cheerleaders and my friends. I did end walking across that stage, and have done so much more!
Guest blog written by: Robin Bilotti and Devon Goebel