On May 28, 2016 my wife, Jen, was playing golf with friends when a ball took an unexpected turn and struck her in the head above her left ear. Thanks to the quick actions of our friends, she was rushed by ambulance to Brigham and Women’s. I received the phone call and was assured it wasn’t too serious (at the time they thought a possible concussion) but when I entered the ER, was briefed by the doctors, and saw that Jen could no longer say the simple words “pen, grey or glasses”, I realized it was far worse than they thought. I was asked to sign papers for her to have immediate surgery to remove part of her skull to relieve the significant swelling in her brain. Thankfully, the surgery was a success, but it was only beginning of a long recovery. Jen had lost the ability to speak.
After 7 days in the ICU, Jen was transferred to Spaulding Hospital to begin her recovery. Immediately I knew Spaulding was the hope I needed to get my wife back. When she arrived, Jen was able to speak about three words and it was unclear how much she understood. She was required to wear a helmet at all times because part of her skull was missing, and her mobility and balance were compromised. Jen is a fighter. We all knew through her mannerisms and the determination on her face, she was going to fight every second to get herself back. Being a lifelong athlete, a 2007 Boston Marathon finisher, and Physical Education teacher, her physical strength and balance recovered rather quickly; yet the severe Aphasia and language processing would be (and continues to be) her greatest challenge.
Five days into Jen’s stay at Spaulding, I leaned over to kiss her goodnight and my water broke. I was 39 weeks pregnant with our first child. Terrified does not even begin to describe how I felt. As I crossed my legs and kept a smile on my face (I did not want Jen to know I was going into labor because we didn’t know if she would understand or how she would handle the stress), I said goodnight. I walked out of Spaulding and headed across town to Beth Isreal. 28 hours later, with my besties by my side, our daughter Addison Rachel was born on June 8, 2016. Within the next few hours, our friends worked with her medical team at Spaulding to allow Jen to travel across town to the BI to meet her daughter. Although it will be a moment I will never forget, unfortunately, Jen does not remember much of the visit, as her brain was still in the very early stages of healing.
The next few days would be some of the most challenging. I was discharged as quickly as possible and with a 3-day old baby, I was back at my Jen’s side at Spaulding. I knew time was critical for her recovery and I needed to be sure she was continuing to fight and regain her language. With the arrival of our daughter and the slow realization of her TBI, Jen was slipping into severe depression. She wanted to be home and be with Addison. With the help and support of the staff at Spaulding, we made the (difficult) decision to have Jen return home and receive in-home speech, occupational and physical therapy. The first morning she was home, Jen began speaking more words. She was relieved to be home and, knowing she needed to be around to be Addie’s mommy, she worked tirelessly everyday in speech therapy for the next 6 months.
We have been on unfathomable journey. I always knew Jen was a fighter and I am so very grateful every day that she had Spaulding to support her and push her to work to her fullest potential. It is because of her therapists’ kindness, skill, and know-how that she was able to make such great strides. As with most TBIs, Jen has had her ups and downs, but six months post-accident, Jen returned to teaching part time and within 15 months was back to teaching full time. And, even more importantly, she has not missed a moment of her daughter’s life. She is a fabulous mom to Addie, helping her learn and grow, and demonstrating every day the value of strength and perseverance. We will forever be grateful to Spaulding for helping our family heal and move forward.
Being a runner and Bostonian, running the Boston Marathon has always been on my bucket list. I am so excited to run for Spaulding's Race for Rehab in honor of Jen! With my bestie, Whitney, we'll both be running on April 16, 2018 for Spaulding! Whitney was by my side (along with Rachael) when Addison was born and we're beyond excited to share this running adventure together!
Every dollar raised by the Race for Rehab team will support Spaulding’s mission to improve the quality of life for persons recovering from or learning to live fully with illness, injury or disability. The funds raised support clinical care, promote medical education, and advance Spaulding's research initiatives to make a difference in the lives of their patients. Your support and investment in our hospital will help our team reach the finish line and our patients find their strength.