We look like your average everyday family…
We look like the family next door…
We could be your neighbours! (But don’t worry we aren’t! We live in rural nowhere, Manitoba!)
To look at our family picture I would put money (if I were a betting woman) that you wouldn’t be able to pick out the family members that have a brain injury. Go ahead… have a look… can you point out the survivors? Go ahead and look… I can wait…
I bet you couldn't pick them out...
The first survivor is my son, Samuel (he is 15). He is the one in the black beside me—I am the ‘mom’ in the picture. The other is my husband (the other guy beside me!), Dennis. The rest of the family is Joshua (16yrs), Isaac (or Zac (14 yrs), and and Hannah (11yrs). I have another survivor in my life and that is my dad but I will tell you about him another time.
Samuel is the reason I started this blog in August 2008.
Sam and Josh had been at Dennis’ parent’s farm for some summer holiday fun. So what started out as a normal day at the farm ended in Dennis and I rushing to Winnipeg where I ended up staying for 12 looooong days.
It all began around 1:30pm and Dennis phoned me at home(he was at work) to ask me to go pick up Sam from the hospital in town. He had been phoned and told that Sam had hit his head and would probably want to come home since it may be a concussion. So I packed up Hannah and Zac (who were then 9 and 11yrs) and off we went to the hospital.
When I arrived I found Josh and my mother in law in the waiting room, both white and upset. I was pointed in the direction of where Sam was (x-rays)and was met by my father in law and Samuel on a guerny, covered in blood and talking very strangly to me. Sam looked at me and said “Mom, I hit my head!” I don’t really recall what I said to him but I do remember that I thought he sounded very strange to me. Once we were back to the ER my doctor told me that they needed to take another x-ray and that Sam was going to be going to Brandon Regional Health Center and then they changed their minds and it was Winnipeg’s Health Science Centre – NOW!
Our doctor told me quite a few things that at that point in time I didn’t make much sense of it as shock was probably starting to set in and so I was very relieved to see Dennis walk into the hospital. We were told by another doctor that was accompanying Sam in the ambulance to drive safe and not to worry that he would be OK.
Dennis and I stopped for gas and on to Winnipeg we went. Still not realizing what was happening it was as we made the last leg of the 3 hour drive and hit the perimeter that I asked Dennis “what gun was he using?” Then the penny dropped….
My son had been shot in the head with a .22 calibre rifle at close range and the reason for the garbled talk was he was paralyzed …
I spoke to God and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed…”just let us get there God. Please I need to see my Sammi again if You are planning on taking him home…just let us get there first.”
The first garbbled words from Sam’s mouth when he saw us in the ER in Winnipeg were “Josh must have $#!% his pants” and to be honest I laughed then turned and cried. I could still see my son under the paralyzed face and blood covered body. We were taken to a room to talk with the doctor before they took him in to surgery. The doctor started telling me about what they were going to be doing and Sam’s present condition and what to expect in the future for him. Sam had lost peripheral vision in his left eye and he was paralyzed on the left side:
- He would always have at least a limp and possibly drag his left foot
- He would mumble words and possibly have a slackening on his left side of his face
- His dreams of being a carpenter, a football player and a pilot are all gone
- He may have some brain damage
We had amazing people praying for us as Sam went in to the surgery. Our pastor and his wife came about an hour or so behind us, sat with us as we waited in the surgery waiting room and while we waited in the PICU waiting room. After 3 hours in surgery we were allowed to see Sammi in the PICU and he never looked better! He was still paralyzed, slack face, not able to talk due to tubes, but he signed to me I LOVE YOU and my heart soared! Over the next 3 days Sam was not on any med’s as they wanted to read his brain patterns fully without drugs. (if he needed some they would have gave him it). We had some very scarey moments when his brain pressure monitor would go crazy but we discovered it was due to apnea—so they removed the monitor to save some nerves on the nurses and us!
On the 4th day Sam was moved to a regular children’s unit. Here he under went daily OT, PT, audio, visual and cognitive therapies. He learned to walk again, talk again, feed himself and almost anything else that most 12 year old boys already knew how to do.
It was a very slow 8 days … 8 days, that was it.
He underwent a lot of CT scans, blood tests, IV insertions and then all the therapies, he lost 25lbs (and he wasn’t a big kid to begin with weighing 112lbs the day of the accident and 87lbs when we brought him home), but on August 8, 2008 we brought Sam home…12 days after he was shot in the head with a .22rifle.
He was and is amazing. He is our hero.
Sam set goals for himself and not only met each goal but most he did before the time he said he was going to do them. He was going to be back in school by November and he was in school (part time mind you—1/2 days with a mentor student) in October ’08 then in January ’09 he started going full days taking Wednesdays off as a rest day.
The doctors said he would never play football…he was on the team in September ’09 and one year after still learning to walk he was running down the Blue Bomber Stadium with a ball, being chased by 2 defensive linemen!
This fall Sam started going to school full days without days off this year, it was his 2nd year for football, he was promoted twice in one year in Air Cadets and is now Flight Sargent Ginter. He has gone to cadet camp for 2 summers. His peripheral vision not only came back but he doesn’t have to wear glasses for reading, TV, video games etc. anymore! His vision is perfect… go figure.
This past April our world once again was jarred by Josh coming downstairs yelling that Sam was having a seizure. This was the first of 7 grand mals that he has had til now. He also has absent seizures and partial focal seizures and possibly many others that we are not aware of right now. These seizures are all down to the 3 fragments of the bullet that are still lodged in his brain. Epilepsy is the corner of our brain injury journey that is front and foremost right now...
This is one of the Brain Injury survivors in my life! I won’t say he is a perfect kid (since if you read my blog you will see my frustrations) but he is my son and I love him with all my heart!