During the summer of 2013, we were still fighting fevers, spells of vomiting and casts on one arm and one leg. There was an operation to implant a Baclofen pump just outside Anthony’s stomach, and another operation on the tendon in his foot. There was a constant flow of doctors, nurses and physical therapists. We were doing everything we could to travel down the road to recovery, but it seemed like there were roadblocks everywhere we turned. Anthony stayed strong and stayed the course. His strength and positive attitude then and now has helped make the summer of 2014 the summer of recovery.
As the summer of 2014 was approaching, Kim and I could see Anthony had become stronger and more confident. His attitude was good. We knew we were finally on the road to recovery and were ready to travel down that road as far as it would take us. We also knew our journey would be steady – but not fast. As it turned out, this summer has been a great one for Anthony.
The summer started with the Jackson Gap, Alabama camp in May, put on by The Shepherd Center in Atlanta. It was three days of campfires, cabins in the woods, bunk beds, fresh air and lakeside breezes. It filled our hearts with joy as Kim and I watched Anthony continue his recovery, smiling and gaining confidence by participating in the many camp activities. Anthony went scuba diving twice, went fishing, shot a gun and did some tubing. We tie-dyed some shirts together – that was kind of fun – and went on a pontoon boat. We found that camp was good for our souls and a wonderful opportunity for Anthony to realize that his limitations are not what he thought they would be.
Friends, Family and Charleston’s Medical Community
Anthony knows his attitude and the way he approaches his recovery is the most important part of this process. But the various blessings surrounding his recovery are beyond this world. The road we’re on is full of caring, heartfelt people. Everyone is doing their part to help guide the recovery process.
Anthony’s friend since the third grade, Michael Onorato, is there every day. Kim and I know that Michael has an awesome heart and a caring personality. Even before Anthony was strong enough to come home, we knew we wanted to talk to Michael about being part of his recovery team. Each day, Michael and I discuss the schedule, making sure Anthony gets to Roper Rehabilitation for his physical and occupational therapy. Three days a week, Anthony and Michael go to East Cooper Rehabilitation for speech therapy.
Michael and Anthony are together nearly as much, if not more, then Kim and I are. Without Michael and their friendship, the road to recovery would a little bit harder.
Roper’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services is Anthony’s home away from home. Enough good things could not be said about the staff and leadership there. The halls are full of hope and kindness, which has contributed to and continues to push Anthony down the road to recovery. Emma Chambers is part of the leadership team at Roper, and her warmth and kindness toward Anthony is so heartwarming. After talking with Cathy Therrell, who is the director of rehabilitation, and its obvious that caring and warm hearts flow down from the top. Tara Murphy, Anthony’s occupational therapist, works with him on the day-to-day activities – dressing, brushing his teeth and various other daily activities that most of us take for granted. Tara always displays the caring concern we’ve come to know and respect as Roper’s core approach to caring for their rehabilitation patients.
Anthony’s physical therapist is front-and-center in the recovery process. Katherine Bennett’s energy
andpassion for her patients is just what Anthony needed. Her desire to push and teach him what he needs to know is endless. When Anthony accomplishes specific levels or tasks in the recovery process, Katherine’s enthusiasm for his accomplishments are obvious. When Anthony was in Stanfords Hospital’s ICU and the doctors would make their rounds with the residents, I knew Anthony was giving something back to the medical professionals who were helping him fight for his life. As they talked among themselves, learning about what to do in real life situations, I felt Anthony was giving back to them. When the residents become doctors, they will remember some of the things they discussed as they surrounded Anthony’s bed. I hope some of the things they learned while helping Anthony will help other patients. The same goes for Katherine. I know Anthony will be helping other patients who come into Katherine’s life. The impact Katherine and the rest of the team at Roper’s Outpatient Rehabilitation has been profound. Our family is so happy they are part of Anthony’s recovery team.
Although Anthony’s recovery starts with his attitude, Kim and I have learned we have to back him up by asking the right questions when we’re talking to the medical professionals involved with his care. The answers to these questions will help guide us as we travel down the winding road of recovery.
Speech is an important aspect of Anthony’s recovery. By asking a lot of questions and staying the steady course, we found a super speech team at East Cooper Medical Centers Out Patient Rehabilitation. They just moved into their new facility next to the East Cooper Medical Center, so everybody there is even more excited than usual. After several visits and telephone conversations, we were able to put together a top-notch speech team. We feel blessed to have Jo Ann Fisher head up Anthony’s speech recovery. When I found out Jo Ann
has had extensive experience with traumatic brain injury patients, I was excited to have her on Anthony’s recovery team. Our experience has been that most Charleston speech therapists do not have a lot of experience with traumatic brain injuries. When Anthony and I got a chance to meet her for the first time, we liked her and we realized that she had the expertise to take Anthony down the road to speech recovery. Kaylen Alford, who is Anthony’s age, also has joined Anthony’s speech recovery team. She’s enthusiastic and has the right mix of passion, knowledge and desire.
The summer of 2014 has taken us down the right road in Anthony’s recovery process. Like any well-built road, the builders constructing the road are essential to a solid foundation. Our family feels that Anthony’s outlook is solid thanks to the medical professionals who are contributing to his recovery.