A writer frankly relates the fears and frustrations she faces when her attorney husband suffers massive brain injuries in a freak boating accident while on vacation in Canada.
Like all those accidental tourists who unwillingly visit the lands of disease and disability, Crimmins (Newt Gingrich’s Bedtime Stories for Orphans, not reviewed) became caught up in a world of seesawing emotions, unforeseen complications, and endless battles with doctors, insurance companies, and the patient himself. She had to learn a new language to negotiate this territory as well as adopt such acronyms as FIM (functional independence measure) and TBI (traumatic brain injury). It all began while she, her 44-year-old husband Alan, and their 7-year-old daughter Kelly were vacationing with friends—and Alan, sailing a small skiff, was run over by a speedboat. After he was rushed to the nearest hospital, Crimmins was not sure he would survive. When Alan seemed to be improving she decided to move him home to Philadelphia and, with the move (a grossly bungled air trip), began the wearying business of dealing with recalcitrant HMOs. As she became more familiar with TBI, she learned that the quality of recovery is unpredictable—victims may never walk again, or speak, or read; they suffer memory loss and, depending on the location of the injury, may experience irrevocable personality changes as they lose their sense of self-awareness and judgment. Alan initially demonstrated all these deficits: his right side was paralyzed; when he began to speak he forgot what he had said moments before; he often became violently angry, and he frequently used inappropriate language. Crimmins details the toll the accident and Alan’s recovery took on her and Kelly, as well as the enormous adjustment required as Alan improved and was able to work again (although he would never be the man he was before the accident).
An admirably open and unsparing account of a family coping with the legacy of an accident, as well as an informative guide to that still-foreign land—the human brain.