TBI Talk –

Grandpa’s Corner

By Richard Radecki, Sr. (Grandpa)

    I asked my grandson, Ryan, if I could write some articles for his website, my thoughts being the many hours, days, and months I spent with Ryan during his hospitalization and aftercare.  I feel my observations, experiences, and overall education could not only aid in helping the TBI sufferer, but family and loved ones as well.

First, what I hope Ryan and his website accomplish: I remember one statement I heard from many sources.  “Most of the gains regarding brain function will happen in the first year to year-and-a-half.  After that, progress is slow.”  This statement turned out to be pretty accurate. 

So what do you do when progress slows down, and you want to get more of your life back, be more self-sufficient? 

I would like to start my answer by telling a story of (I feel) great success about the blind. I was walking with my wife in front of Lincoln Center NYC, where Broadway, Columbus Avenue, and W. 65th St intersect.  We watched as a blind man, with a cane, crossed multiple streets, first from west to east, and then north, then entered a subway station, going down the stairs by himself.  But when I thought about it, I realized that he was actually NOT unassisted.

Someone invented the walking cane for blind people.  Then instructors trained them in the use of the cane.  Over time, sidewalks, traffic lights, buildings, stairways, subway stations, and intersections were specially designed to accommodate the blind person’s disability.  Although you cannot give them back their sight, you can make effective use of their other abilities to help them function independently.   

By the same token, you can’t repair the damaged parts of the brain from TBI, but you can invent other ways to accomplish everyday tasks.  It is tedious and slow trying to do it by yourself.  So wouldn’t it be nice to have a website to visit, where you can share ideas, problem-solve, hear success stories, and most of all give a voice to the tens of thousands of TBI sufferers and their families?

In the future you will be hearing from people who have TBI and have used the skills they have to create careers and positive additions to their lives.

As I wrote earlier, I will write articles on how we got through it with Ryan, and what kinds of things gave us the most positive results.

Let’s break through that 1½ year wall!

 

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Grandpa’s Corner

Article #2: When You Get That Call

Nov. 12, 2017

My wife and I were in our New Jersey home when I got the call from my son, Richard, about Ryan’s accident. It didn’t look good for Ryan.  The doctors were preparing his parents for the worst. 

I just wanted to know if Ryan had any vital signs.  They were extremely weak, and it didn’t look good…but he had vital signs.  I said, “We’re on our way.”  The hospital was nearly 2 hours away, so I asked my wife, Chris, to drive.  I didn’t know how I could possibly handle driving, and she felt able to do it.

This turned out to be a good decision as I was able to really focus during the drive.  Ryan had vital signs.  He was strong and healthy.  He played soccer and he was on the high school wrestling team.  That was the thread I was looking for.  I prayed that he would make it through the night.  Every hour he survived, I felt his chances would improve.

When we got to the hospital, the waiting room was packed and filled with energy.  Family and loved ones. Ryan’s best friend’s mother drove her son to be there. Ryan’s parents’ friends, even one of Richard’s customers drove a long way to be there.  Friends and family all across the country were starting prayer groups for Ryan.  The love and positive vibes flowing through that room lifted everyone’s spirits, and any negativity just faded away.  It allowed everyone who would be involved with Ryan to stay focused, and to just move forward. 

Unbeknownst to us until later, that night set up the solid foundation for the long journey ahead of us, and the challenges to come.

Ryan survived the night.  He had a traumatic brain injury and was still not responding to any stimulation.  His vitals were still very weak.  The doctors still gave him little chance of survival, and an even slimmer chance of recovery.  Only Richard, Karen (Ryan’s mother) and Lauren (Ryan’s sister) were permitted to be with Ryan and the doctors.  So they all spent the next several days at Ryan’s bedside.

It was then decided that someone from the family would be with Ryan day and night.  We formed a team to support Ryan every minute in his fight for survival Since I was retired, I was able to take the day shift during the week. As a family we filled up every possible hour, watching and caring for Ryan.   He was never – not even once – in his room alone.

And this is something I strongly suggest: We kept a notebook to record anything we were told by the doctors, nurses, therapists.  We also included anything that was done in these sessions, and any observations we made of Ryan during the time we were with him.  We found that these notes were invaluable in terms of keeping track of what was happening at all times, so that every member of the team was on top of any new developments. 

There would be no failure in communication.

And although Ryan was in a coma, he continued to survive.

Those first days with Ryan moved along from minute to minute.  A ten-hour day was like 600 individual minutes.  They were so important, and I don’t want to rush through them, so I will put them in the next article.  But this is another strong point I want to make.  Many thoughts go through your head in 600 minutes.  The way I was able to stay focused and positive was through my communication with God.  I would run all my thoughts by God and ask for guidance.  It always worked!

Signed: GP (Grandpa)