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.
My son, Gabriel, experienced a traumatic brain injury due to a car accident on Aug. 16, 2001. He was 4 at the time.
Gabriel was airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, where a neurologist said he’d be a vegetable. I was devastated! Oh, I cried and cried. Gabriel stayed in ICU for 11 days. We then rode in an ambulance to Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids.
Gabriel remained in a coma. He was in a room with another patient and I remember that patient’s parents encouraging me, telling me that Gabriel’s head was healing and he’d wake up soon. They said their son had been in a coma, too.
Gabriel finally did wake up. By this time, he had already started therapy on his legs and arms. Gabriel was like a new baby. He couldn’t hold his head up, couldn’t walk, couldn’t eat by mouth, was no longer potty trained and couldn’t talk. It was like starting all over. It was a very, very hard time!
Gabriel had a favorite nurse. He called “Kay-Kay” when he began to talk again. She would feed him strawberry yogurt and rock him to sleep when I had gone back to the Ronald McDonald House for the night. Gabriel still remembers Kay-Kay today.
Thanks to all the nurses, doctors, therapists and others in the pediatric program. They did a wonderful job. And I’m thankful that the neurologist’s prognosis was wrong. God is a better healer! Gabriel is a ninth grader now. He can walk, talk, run, eat by mouth and do a whole lot of things on his own. Gabriel had a TBI but he is alive and I give thanks to God every day!
Guest blog written by: Melisa Davis Moore