Roller Coaster

Living with a traumatic brain injury is pretty much equivalent to riding a roller coaster you’re strapped into for life. This week brought highs and lows for which we were not prepared. After four weeks of total insanity, we were all met with the inevitable breakdowns of which we had been warned. Mine started Wednesday night. 


After the long evening in the ER, I arrived home around 2am. Five hours later it was time to wake up, feed Jack, and get him ready for the nanny. Unfortunately, we all woke up sick. Still wearing my clothes from the day before, I made a pitiful call to my mother and asked her to come up and watch Jack for the day. He was wheezing, coughing, and snotting all over the place. So were my sister and I. 

I wasn’t surprised by this sudden sickness. Four weeks of minimal sleep, eating, and general self-care are a guaranteed recipe for illness. Add to that the intensity of our emotional stress and it’s surprising no one became sick sooner.

Two days later, we are beginning to emerge from the fog. Rehabilitation has been a tough transition for everyone. We were accustomed to the same nursing and medical staff and now there are new faces, new routines, and new challenges to overcome. I was overjoyed to walk into TC’s room yesterday and be able to have an understandable conversation. “Honey, you’re here!” he said, “And you look hot!” His speech was more clear than I had heard it before. “You look hot and look at me,” he said sadly. Dejectedly, he pointed to his tubes, hospital gown, and right side. For the most part TC is still unable to use his right arm. It really upsets him. Occasionally he will use his left arm to pick it up and try to move it, but I know he is worried the damage is permanent. A few days ago, a rather unprofessional staff member told him that he would never have use of his arm again. Although we don’t know whether that’s true or not, TC became totally panicked. Quickly he began doing the arm exercises taught to him by his occupational therapist. He is intent on remobilizing the right side of his body. I have faith that he will.

Because he is new to the rehabilitation hospital, he has days of assessment from each of the therapy teams ahead. They will gather together next week and try to determine how long TC will need to stay there. I am told to expect somewhere around 8 weeks. Trying to convey the purpose of these therapies to T is not easy. Each day he tells me is going home tomorrow and I am forced to gently remind him that his recovery will be a long haul. These conversations end in a lot of frustration. I know that as TC becomes more aware of the situation, he will be better able to accept the circumstances. For now, he is stubborn and fiercely independent. 

He tries to do everything by himself, despite multiple reminders from every staff member. Last night I received a call at midnight that TC had been found on the floor next to his bed. He fell while trying to escape from his restraints to get out of bed. Naturally, I lost it. It is essential that TC wear a safety helmet while he is out of bed. He has to protect the part of his head where there is no skull. I imagined him falling on that delicate side and becoming concussed. Luckily, it seems he was unscathed.

Frustrated, loving, emotional, angry – TC has a full range of feelings that are explored throughout the day. Tomorrow will be his first reunion with Jack. I am praying it is restorative for both of them. I know TC will be difficult to recognize. I’ve been trying to take photos and videos that Jack can watch so that he will understand that the man in the wheelchair wearing a helmet is his father. I know it will be frustrating for TC not to be able to pick up or walk around with his very mobile toddler. They speak of each other all the time and miss each other on a level that I can’t fully grasp. Tomorrow will undoubtedly be emotional. I hope it will also be joyous.

Thank you for all the powerful comments you have been leaving. They make me want to hug every neighbor, every friend, and every stranger who has been with us on this journey. In the moments where the terribleness of the situation becomes overwhelming, this love has been a testament that from tragedy can come greatness. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

15 thoughts on “Roller Coaster

  1. Hi, my name is Bronwyn.. you don't know me but my brother is Andrew and his girlfriend is Nettie Silleck, who is best friends with your sister. Just wanted to tell you that I think about and pray for you and your family daily. You are a wonderful writer and I've enjoyed reading your blog.. what an amazing love story you and TC share. I hate that you all are having to go through this hell, but your trials and tribulations, in the past and especially the ones you're enduring now, are inspiring and hopeful for many I am sure. I'm a nurse in Charleston, so I am so happy and hopeful to read about his continued recovery and big and small milestones. When my mom told me he was out of the coma and I was so overjoyed. Like you already said it will be a long road full of ups and downs, but the way you are handling it is incredible. My boyfriend and I are most likely moving to Capitol Hill in a few months.. (are we crazy??) so maybe/hopefully I will get to meet you all someday. 🙂 Stay strong!!

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  2. You are an amazing ball of strength for your family–daily thoughts and prayers as you guys continue and blast forward down this road to a very happy place!

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  3. Thinking and praying for a beautiful reunion! A very exciting day indeed.

    You are always in our thoughts and prayers, many times, daily.

    Even though we've never met, you're as dear to us as family. After reading your post last night, this morning was an exciting wake up to know jack and TC will get to reunite.

    Blessings to you dear

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  4. My husband is a cousin to Sam Huxley. I have been reading about your husband's recovery every day. I am thinking about you today and TC and Jack's reunion. I hope it goes well. You are the bravest person I have ever read about. Thank you for sharing your journey. You are an inspiration.
    Julia Huxley

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  5. What seems like a very long time ago, I was in high school and dated a good friend of TC's for some time. Because of this, I got to know TC some, and even then, he was kind and considerate of others. He was well-liked — the type of person you would never expect something like this to happen to. I have been praying for you every day since I heard about the attack, and I hope the days ahead are full of reports that stun the doctors. I hope they are beside themselves trying to explain why his right side is suddenly functional and strong. I hope he becomes the story that others cling onto for hope. God is powerful and able to heal TC. I pray that He would, and that He would receive much glory!

    Thanks for the updates. I hope that they'll serve to show you progress during the days that are long and hard!

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  6. Abby- here I am sitting on my couch watching “Baby Mama” and balling my eyes after reading this.. Everytime I read this blog I can't help but cry. I feel sick knowing that the people to do this are still out there, free. I pray they are found and put away for a long time.. I hope the reunion goes well. I am sure TC will feel better after seeing his son. I keep you guys in my prayers everyday. God will never give us more than we can handle. You are amazing, strong and by far the best wife to walk this earth. 😉 Thinking of you guys always.

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  7. We've been thinking about you, TC, and Jack all day sending you strength and warmth as you reconnect as a family.

    You've already come a long way together in this journey. We look forward to the posts in the coming days/weeks/months where you share the fun stories that make you smile, the challenges you continue to face, and the progress doctors don't imagine possible.

    From a neighbor you've not met, but one who is inspired by your family's strength and grace.

    You remain in our thoughts and prayers.

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  8. I don't know you or your husband, but I remembered hearing about what happened to him several weeks ago on the news. A google search led me to your blog. Despite all of the emotions you must be feeling, both the good and the bad, I have to say his progress is remarkable. It makes me so happy to hear how his recovery is going. He must be a very strong man, and I'm sure fighting hard to regain his life you with you and your son. You will continue to be in my thoughts.

    I would feel remiss however if I did not share my concern about how easily I found your blog. I'm sure this is a great way to keep your frieds and family updated, and I would imagine even theapeutic for you. I just worry that the people who did this to him are still out there, not to mention so many unethical and opportunistc people. I found you so easily, I only worry they could to. Please don't take this as a criticism, but only concern. Please stay safe.

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  9. I do not know you, but I do know Sean – your husband's brother, from high school. I've been reading your blog & praying for you and your family every day. I just wanted to let you know that you are a very strong woman and mother. You are an inspiration to women, mothers, and families out there that are struggling in some way. Thank you for your openness & honesty in sharing the trials & tribulations of this particularily difficult journey.

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  10. Abby, I'm admittedly not a pray-er, but I have been praying for your family for these past several weeks. I have a post-it above my desk at work with your names on it, along with a little red heart. So every time my eyes wander up, I take a moment to pray for strength, and healing, and love, for all of you. As a fellow MOTH, whose little Nationals-loving family (hubby and kids slightly older and younger than Jack) looks and feels just like yours did “before,” your story devastates and strengthens me. You are so brave and amazing. Carry on, warrior. Carry on, neighbor. The prayers will continue.

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  11. Hi Abby,

    We've never met and I don't know your family, but I've been following your story and want you to know that we – me and so many more like me who you've never met and don't know – are thinking of you and praying for you and are wishing you the best. You are clearly a remarkable mother and wife. Stay strong.

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  12. Hi Abby,
    I'm so glad about all of TC's progress! You are so incredible and are doing such an amazing job–know that everyone is keeping you in their hearts for the recovery for your family!
    Elizabeth

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  13. Abby – You and I haven't met but I went to the Nicholas School with TC, he was the year ahead of me. I never knew him well, but always saw him as a wonderfully friendly and bright guy. I live in the DC area too and have been following TC's progress with your powerfully honest account of his and your struggles and steps forward. You are an amazingly brave and strong person, and I think of you, TC, and Jack all the time. Wishing you and TC continued strength and courage each day in his recovery. -Laura Wittman

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