by Kate Snider
Marilyn Zinger’s 13-year-old son, Travis, was rushed to the hospital after surviving a car accident on a snowy December day in 1993. Travis doesn’t remember much from the accident because he suffered a traumatic brain injury, spent 3 weeks in a coma, and suffers from short-term memory loss. Marilyn, and the rest of Travis’s immediate family, remember everything.
Travis’s family wanted him to remember his rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed, so they kept a journal. “There’s everything in there: lipstick marks, coffee and tear stains, and memories for Travis to see later,” Marilyn said.
Travis’s recovery was especially hard on the Zinger family because it was so unpredictable. Doctors can’t predict what will happen when a patient has a brain injury because no two brain injuries are the same.
Marilyn remembers how several people went out of their way to help the Zinger family while Travis was a Mary Free Bed patient. Marilyn said, “Look for the practical things you can do to help people.”
Here are some of ideas from the Zinger family on how you can help others who have family in the hospital:
– Donate coins and dollar bills for vending machines
– Give gas money or gift cards to the patient’s siblings so they can visit frequently
– Make meals in disposable containers so the family doesn’t have to wash the dish and return it
– Read to the patient
– Volunteer to pray for the patient and their family
– Stay at the hospital with the patient, so the family feels comfortable leaving for a short time