When it comes to brain injury, or really any debilitating injury, one automatically thinks of the victim. Sometimes, though, it isn’t the victim but the parents or family that bears the greatest pain. Here’s a segment of my book The Seven Steps to Healing Your Brain where that becomes clear.
“The ambulance sped as fast as safely possible from Enderby past Yankee Flats and Falkland, Westwold, Monte Lake and Monte Creek. The flashing flashers alerted people in these small towns that it was spring and perhaps another young man had fallen to its allure. The fleeting thought passed through onlookers minds as the vehicle sped by. It was a moment that could linger just long enough to impact the days. The vehicle headed to the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. There, staff assessed my level of coma with the Glasgow Coma scale in which fifteen is normal, and three is lifeless. I was a six.
Mom sat on a chair and stroked my long dirty blond hair. Dad took my hand in his, squeezing lightly in pulses. There were tears in their tired eyes. They’d driven the ten-hour trip over night on treacherous winding highways over the Rocky Mountains, through Rogers Pass and the long, long snow shed tunnels with cliffs descending to a river that flowed west to the prairies.
Peggy flew in that day; Dianne was at home with two small boys but was given frequent updates. Siblings, K and T and W visited, the latter wearing a sling for a dislocated shoulder and sporting bruises and cuts. “I told you my head was harder,” he said, smiling and trying to bring levity to the room, but no one laughed. My mom stood up and gave them all a hug, W the longest. They all learned that my prognosis was grave. Medical staff were discouraged by the Glasgow coma score and my unresponsive state. Based on similar cases, and if I survived, my future would surely involve years and years of relearning base functionality and perhaps a life-long residency in an institution.
After a week my parents requested that I be transferred to the University Hospital in Edmonton. A Medical team loaded my body, and a corpus of machines, onto the air ambulance while my parents picked up my car and belongings from Vernon. Tracy and W were waiting at the condo. They’d loaded everything into the car and handed keys to my father.
There were three vehicles that day, one in the air and two on the ground, journeying to Edmonton and what looked like a life of uncertainty. The outlook was discouraging: a life in a care facility. They may not have talked about it but it must have been a niggling thought. If the remaining days of my life were to be spent in an institution, how would that may bear on them, their lifestyles, their finances? Would they have to sell the house? Would they have to keep working into their old age? Would I have to live with them, like an adult infant? Likely, my friends would disappear. They’d move on and I would become a shrinking memory. The future was dim. No one expected miracles.”
In the spring of 1990 Allan Boss was in a motor vehicle accident. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. The attending neurosurgeon informed his family that he would never walk again or talk again. He recovered and finished three university degrees including a Ph.D., has written/edited four published books and his CBC Ideas docudrama “Updrafts” about recovering from brain injury won nominations for multiple international awards including the Peabody and the Prix Italia. He is currently writing a non-fiction book about his recovery.