It was a Saturday night, February 22, 2014, we were with friends at a Hershey Bears hockey game, thankful for all the blessings in our life. After all we had two awesome kids, one a college graduate paving her way on her own and making us proud with every step and another also making us proud by enjoying and embracing his independence at college, stepping up to responsibilities and loving it. Life was good!
We had started a room project at home that day and were planning to finish it the next day, February 23. The upstairs of the house was quite a mess, but it was only going to be that way overnight, or so we thought. We were asleep for a couple hours when it happened. The incoming call that would change our life forever and create ripple effects throughout many others. Jackie had been injured and was being sent to a hospital near his college. As would any parent, we immediately got into the car and headed to Danville, PA. At this point we did not know the extent of Jackie’s injuries, but knew it had to be more than a minor injury since he was not being sent to the local hospital. Later we would learn that he was life flighted a mere 9 miles from the local hospital to this level 1 trauma facility. About half way there we were finally able to talk with the trauma team. The doc on the other end of the line did not give us a recap of Jackie’s condition instead said, “How far away are you?” I can’t explain exactly how we felt but I remember being sick to my stomach, in disbelief and I’m sure in some form of shock.
Jim was driving safe but fast. If pulled over, we knew the police officer would understand. What seemed like an eternity to get there was actually a little less than two hours. We ran into the ER entrance and were greeted by a couple of Jackie’s friends and a social worker; another red flag that things were not good. She took us through the hospital up to the Intensive care unit. We rounded the final corner and there, surrounded by at least 8 or more medical professionals was our boy. He had a bolt in his head to gauge internal pressure and was on a ventilator with too many tubes to count. How could this happen? It was time to wake up from this really bad dream. As the early hours of the morning continued, Jackie survived his first of many surgeries and his marathon to recovery commenced.
Fast forward one year and thanks to many prayers, caregivers, and an outpouring of love and support, Jackie is making positive strides each day. As we live and focus on each of these days we realize we have been blessed to spend so much time with Jackie. Time slips by so quickly but we have been able to capture a slice of his life and we are enjoying every second. As he heals we are reminded even more how kind he is, how funny he is and we have fallen in love with his new laugh. He gets up every morning and even though he still cannot dress himself completely or walk independently, charges forward and gives each day everything he has.
Aqua therapy is going very well. Jackie loves going once a week and walked with the help of two therapists on the treadmill in the pool going the distance of about two football fields. His balance, trunk control and left side continue to be a challenge, but are not dampening his will to walk on his own. He is exhausted after his half hour session, as he is when he gets home from his four day a week sessions at Hershey Day Rehab. He is very aware when he needs to rest and continues to just want to get back to normal. We purchased a padded chair for the kitchen table and now help him transfer to this chair instead of eating in his wheelchair. He loves his Hurrycane and cannot wait to beat Grandpa in a foot race.
We can feel in the depths of our hearts that prayers, positive thoughts and patience will lead Jackie back to independent living. Until then we will continue to do everything possible to make his next 365 days better, one step at a time.
“When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.”
-Harriet Beecher Stowe