Sunday morning a phone rang…a call from a hospital hundreds of miles away. That day was the beginning of a long journey, full of highs and the lows, over the next 2 ½ years and counting.
It began with a visit to see friends, in Washington, D.C., one Saturday evening in February. "Steve" was running down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; he fell and hit his head. He thought he was fine; he was able to walk back to his friends’ house where he went to sleep.
The next morning, friends heard Steve making strange noises; they checked on him and and he exhibited shallow breathing. They attempted to awaken him, but he was unresponsive. His condition was deteriorating rapidly. Steve was rushed to the hospital, via ambulance; it was discovered that he had a massive blood clot on the right side of his brain stem – the part of the brain that controls such essential functions as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Steve was in a coma; pupils were fixed and dilated, and he was experiencing low-level brain function. Doctor had to surgically remove a large section of his skull to allow his brain to swell, they placed it in his abdomen to keep it sterile until they could surgically remove it and replace it in his head.
Steve spent months in a Maryland hospital before being transferred to University of Michigan Hospital. Today, Steve is still regaining his life back. His family has been by his side 24/7. Life has been a rollercoaster of emotions; every day family members are grateful for even the smallest signs of progress.
The family has been writing a blog since that February day to keep family and friends updated on Steve’s progress, including some video footage. It is quite emotional and one that I encourage readers to view. You will see, clearly, the effects of a serious, traumatic brain injury; you will realize that the ‘little things in life’ should never be taken for granted. You will see how something as ordinary as a slip and fall on ice can change your life forever. You will know how important it is to seek medical help in a timely manner.
An annual golf outing, a fundraiser in honor of Steve, was held for the first time the summer after his slip and fall accident. Last year, with some help, Steve was able to drive the course for a brief time. His balance and gait are imporving; his voice and swallow have improved significantly. This year, he was able to say a few words to the crowd of golfers.
Steve is doing well for a serious TBI victim; he is progressing, slowly but surely. At the first golf outing, the family announced that “this is a marathon, not a sprint” and thought a year was a long time. Yes, they wish his progress was faster, yet they are thankful for every day, every sign of improvement. They have learned that recovery from a traumatic brain injury is not just a slow process, it is a S….L….O….W process. Steve is now on a weekly schedule; when the week is over, Steve and his family take a deep breath and implement the plan for the following week.
Doctors removed his feeding tube on January 26, 2010 – almost 2 long years after his fall. This is a huge mental boost; it also represents a reduction in pain and opens up new therapy options. Steve is far from being "cured’, being who and what he once was, but he the span of time between "good" days seems to be getting shorter.
It is hard for the family to believe that more than two years have gone by. They look back and recall how happy they were to see an eye blink or get a little hug. Now Steve is talking, instantaneously, and walking with a walker. What is happening is a miracle, one that began when two friends acted quickly and responsibly, that Sunday morning in February. Steve’s friends are the heroes of this sage; a 9-1-1 call and a quick transport to the hospital for emergency treatment, as quickly as the circumstances allow, saved the life of their friend.
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when a personal injury plaintiff requires necessities of life litigation funding while litigation is pending. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. The series features super-trial lawyer Zachary Blake handling "ripped from the headlines" legal and political issues of the day. The series currently consists of Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, and Betrayal High, with a sixth Zachary Blake novel due out later this year. To learn more about these topical social justice legal thrillers. please visit markmbello.com. Mark is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.