Paul was given last rites. What proceeded was a month-long vigil in the intensive care unit where Paul lay in a coma while doctors and nurses worked frantically to keep him alive. When Paul’s eyes finally did open, he could not process information. He could not move his body. He could not speak. He didn’t even know who I was.
Sadly, I have come to find that when parents are suddenly thrown into a catastrophic situation — such as being told that their child has been born with a significant birth defect, or has been severely injured, or has been diagnosed with a life-changing or life-threatening disease — they all experience the same universal emotions: fear, grief, helplessness, and hopelessness. What every parent in these situations craves is HOPE. Hope that their child will survive. Hope that their child will not suffer. Hope that their child will get better and have a meaningful and happy life.
Dixie, I’m sure that this is a touchy subject, but may I ask what difference his wearing a bike helmet would have made in this situation? Do you or Paul feel guilty over his not wearing one?
Tyler, it is not a touchy subject at all, and actually because Paul was not wearing a helmet, both Paul and I have become advocates to help get other kids to wear helmets. Paul will be the first to tell other children that “wearing a helmet might not look wicked cool, but it’s way cooler than getting this badly injured — it’s “unthinkable” not to wear a helmet. We know now that had Paul been wearing a helmet his injuries would not have been as severe.
What made you first decide to write about Paul’s journey and recovery from a traumatic brain injury?
During Paul’s first year of recovery, I kept a diary of all that transpired. A year after the accident, I re-read the diary and realized that our family’s experience and all the knowledge we had gained could help and give hope to others who might find themselves living the unthinkable — living through a Child’s TBI. At times I wrote in diary format, talking intimately to my son as he lay in a coma. This technique reveals to the readers the arc of my son’s medical condition, how my family and I were coping, how I used my diary as a life raft to anchor myself, and conclusions and lessons learned through our struggles and heartache. My thoughts and internal struggles give readers insight into this devastating injury, which can happen to anyone at any time, and will challenge readers to question their own existence, contemplating the meaning of life, death or suddenly possibly becoming handicapped and living a life with disabilities.