Stories of Amazing Recoveries from Brain Injury

Emily Holtmann

November 06, 2006

It all happened on September 1st, 2005. I was a sophomore in high school at University of Illinois in Champaign. It was about 1 in the morning and my roommate and I were doing homework and watching a little TV. She gets a phone call from her father he said come down and get me. This was strange considering both of us live 3 hours away from our home. She came back in with her father and my grandmother. I didn't recognize her at first because my roommate's father and my grandmother don't know each other, so I would never expect them together. She came up to me crying and hugged me. She told me about the accident. She told me about my father and then told me about my mother. Needless to say within 30 minutes I was in the car rushing to the hospital. I was in shock. I had just learned my father had been killed and my mother was barely holding on to life in a hospital. She had a traumatic brain injury and didn't know if she would make it through the night. We had no idea what to do next. My brother and I (ages 21 and 19) were lost. Our parents had been ripped from our lives and now we had an empty shell of a person for a mother. She had a collapsed lung, two broken ribs (under the collar bone), lacerations all over her body, and of course the traumatic brain injury.

The first time I went to see her in the ICU I didn't even recognize her. Her face was swollen and purple, barely any hair, and tubes coming out of everywhere. She just laid there with her eyes closed and completely silent. It was the worst feeling ever and I was just happy she was alive. I clung to her with all I had. I was at the hospital every day (an hours drive there and another back) talking to her, reading her the newspaper, holding her hand. I quit school and moved back home. We scheduled an appointment with my mom's neurosurgeon (she never had surgery) - because he wouldn't just tell us what was going on. He looked me straight in the face and said it's very bad. We don't have much hope for her about this much (using his fingers spread about a centimeter apart). She pretty much needs a miracle to pull through this. She may progress but will probably end up like the Terry Schiavo case.... He was a butthole!!!

He had NO bedside manner and completely killed my hope. You may ask how the hell does a young girl handle her father dying and having to maybe making a decision to stop feeding her mother?? let's just say not well.... But I didn't give up I still came up every day and stayed an hour talking to her. She started moving her feet a lot - which made me very excited even though they still said it was part of her brain injury.... We always said she was riding her bicycle. She got off of her ventilator a week after the accident. She did great. I knew my mother was a fighter... We moved to a long term care facility after her being in a coma in the ICU for a month. A few weeks after we moved her, my aunt called me and told me she woke up! I was excited!!! My now fiance' and I drove about 10 to 20 mph over the speed limit through the construction zone - which no one was at (safely, of course). When we got there she was a little brighter, but I didn't see much improvement. She had her eyes open - which was the main part.

She started getting better and better. She did so well. We moved to another facility which was an active rehab center. She improved but we went to early. The insurance kicked us out of that center and gave us 4 days warning. I had no time to get together another center, so she came home. She was in a wheelchair, could not transfer without moderate help. I took care of her. I had a baby monitor on her and we woke up about 6 times per night for her to go to the bathroom. I was home 24/7 with her taking care of her. I did this for 4 months. I got a month break from my aunt and lived with my fiance' for a while (which helped me relax). I went straight back into it with all the therapies and caregiving i gave her. I've been doing it still for 6 more months.