The day started like any other day off work for Bradley. Wake up, eat breakfast, and then enjoy a ride on his motorcycle. Little did he know, this would be his last ride. My son, Brad, was involved in a motorcycle collision with a Range Rover. He was thrown off his bike with an impact so intense it sent his motorcycle 15 feet into the air, crashing into a telephone pole. You can imagine what that kind of impact does to a person.
As emergency services arrived, civilians were already on the scene trying to revive him. EMT’s took over, continuing CPR as they traveled to the hospital. Upon arriving, Brad was rushed into emergency surgery that lasted over 5 hours.
It was heart wrenching to hear of all the injuries he had suffered; a shifted and sheared brain with massive swelling, multiple lacerations on the left side of his body, a broken neck, a broken back, degloving of his left leg from his hip to his knee….and these were just to name a few. The surgeon’s words were filled with so much hopelessness. The conversation ended with, “Bradley probably won’t make it through the night and you should begin to weigh your options about organ donation.” In that moment, we decide we were going to take what seemed hopeless and fight.
That night, it seemed like everyone Brad had ever met was in the waiting room. It was standing room only, filled with comfort, positive stories, love, and many prayers. It was a long night where every second felt like an hour, but he made it through.
Every single day Brad amazed everyone with his progress. He started out in ICU in a coma for two weeks at Mercy Hospital. Upon waking up, he was transferred to Select Hospital for 30 days and that was where he was weaned from his trachea. He then went back to Mercy for physical therapy and to learn how to swallow, walk, and talk again. After his second stay at Mercy, Brad was moved back to the rehabilitation center in Mt. Vernon for additional therapy. Through this extensive and intensive period of time, Brad was able to exceed every doubt that the doctors had about him. He was breathing on his own, communicating, walking, eating, and more. It was a long, hard journey moving from a bedridden coma to a functioning human being. Although the journey was far from over, the decision was made to bring him home.
The next year would bring more obstacles and surgeries. Adjusting to the ‘new’ version of Brad was so foreign for the whole family. Along the way, the support system in friends began to trickle off, but we found new support and new hope in The Arc of the Ozarks. I made it my mission to make Brad’s life the best it could be. I journeyed through different programs The Arc had to offer until I found the right fit. Through the next 5 years there were ups and downs but through the down’s, including the biggest setback being rectal cancer, we knew an “up” was right around the corner.
I am proud to say that Brad is currently cancer free and able to live in his own apartment with staff support. He is still dealing with the consequences of a Traumatic Brain Injury, but he has learned to live with it and his life is very fulfilling. Every sacrifice ever made will forever be worth it.
How the "news" has changed us.....
It was the police officer knocking on the door, that delivered the heart-breaking painful news. The news that life had irrevocably changed. A split second of time, an accident, an injury, a life altering thing had happened. We survived everything they threw at us with Brad’s injuries with prayers and lots of patience. We denied alot, cried a lot and bargained a lot with God. I knew nothing about what lay ahead and thank goodness for that, because a lot of days we literally had to take things one second at a time. We spent so much time playing the "what if " game. I remember wanting to blame someone, anyone for this unthinkable thing that happened. This is stuff you read about happening...not it actually happening to your family. I don’t know when the pain became less acute, and I don’t remember when I could start to do something as simple as brush my teeth and be able to just focus on that. Every thought I had consumed me of Brad and his injuries. I don’t remember when the anger I felt started to leave or when I could notice the little things in life that I used to enjoy and be able to do those things again.
- Going through a tragedy like this changes everything. Absolutely EVERYTHING.
- The relationship your son had with his peers, changes...they move on, graduate, get married, move away...
- The relationship you had with your son changes, and you become a caregiver rather than a mom.
- The relationship you had with your other children changes...the squeaky wheel gets oiled.
- The relationship you had with God changes..you talk with him a lot more now, and thank Him ever more.
- The relationship you have with your friends changes; you don’t have the time you use to with them.
- The relationship I had with coworkers changed..I had to quit my job to take care of Brad.
- The relationship with my husband changed...we found ourselves only talking about brad and his care.
The relationship with myself changed. I lost a big part of me when this happened; everything I was ...wasn’t anymore. I wasn’t the girl that got up at 3am and went to work, came home and was supermom, the housekeeper, chef, taxi, the person people came to for advice, or to hang with, or the wife that was there for her husband. I ended up being only Brad's champion, caregiver, and advocate. I was all he had..I was his everything. I had to be; that’s what being a mom is..or at least was for me.
Almost 7 years later, things have become our new normal (for now).
I’m still not the girl I was before this happened, how can I be?
Brad made new friends, and I finally got him into a program where I’m not his care-giver, so now I can be Brad’s mommy. I can hang out with my other kids now and be a nana to my grandkids. I can have a part-time job and be out in the real world again. I can have a date night with the hubby. I can talk and thank God for other aspects of my life. I can breathe again.
My advice to others would be to seek help. Do not try to navigate this journey alone like I did..let people help you when they offer. Look up resources available in your area. Find support groups to talk to, even if it’s to vent. I started a personal journal that I wrote in, and some days it’s just a random thought or some days it’s a mini novel of things.. but it’s helped me manage my thoughts. I feel if i can write it down, it’s on paper and out of my brain.
The story of Brad will always be evolving and every day is a reason to celebrate the miracle he is.
Bonney's and Brad's Story Brought to you by
Abilities First believes that by ensuring that people have opportunities to use their abilities, we can make our community better for everyone. Abilities First uses public and private funds to support the choices of individuals with developmental disabilities in Greene County to live, work, play, be active, and productive in meaningful ways for our community. For more information about Abilities First and its programs, go to www.abilitiesfirst.net or call 417-886-0404.
Abilities First operates programs which support and create community opportunities including support coordination for people with developmental disabilities of all ages through First Steps (birth – 3 years) and The Next Step (3 years – over). Art Inspired Academy provides an inclusive experience for people with and without disabilities to participate in creative arts like theater, music, dance, and art. Abilities First has two retail businesses: Inspired Boutique is an upscale resale shop featuring women’s clothing, accessories, furniture, and antiques, and Art Inspired, a retail store and gallery highlighting furniture and home décor items created from recycled paper and artwork from visiting artists and Academy students. Both stores offer competitive job opportunities in inclusive work environment.