Friday, July 15, 2011

The Long Road Ahead

This is a photo of my dear friend Anita, as taken by her eldest daughter. Anita was hit by a car while riding her bicycle on July 3rd. She sustained a severe brain injury and had to have emergency brain surgery to save her life. She then spent several days in a medically induced coma. She is still in the hospital today.

She is on my mind constantly. She is one of the first people I think of when I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed at night. If I'm enjoying a beautiful sunrise while skating in the morning, I think of her and know how much she would appreciate the view.

If you knew her, you would know what an amazing person she is. She has a powerful calm about her, if those two adjectives can go together. Her patience with her three young girls abounds; joy surrounds her. Her generosity is legendary and is coming back to her ten-fold during this time, with friends coming out of the woodwork to watch her kids, feed her family, relieve her husband of bedside duty or mow their lawn.

She is slowly, slowly recovering, but has a long road ahead. Her family was thrilled when she finally squeezed her sister's hand on command. She will have to re-learn how to speak. How to walk. And she may never recover some skills, though we are all hoping that she will regain her ability to do henna art, her passion in life.

One of the many bedside watchers wrote this update in her Caring Bridge site a few days ago:

Must share a quick update. At 6:00 this am, the neurosurgery team came bursting into the room and turned the lights on. One particular doctor was talking to Anita in a very VERY loud voice. He was trying to get her to follow commands. She doesn't make a whole lot of facial expression, but I think she might have been glaring. She pointed at the light and we turned it down a little and then she shushed the doctor with her finger. I quietly mentioned that her hearing was ok. He lowered his voice and she proceeded to follow all of his commands. It was pretty awesome.

Really, neurosurgeons should know better than to startle a person with a brain injury. They had given the family lots of instructions on keeping her calm, on not getting her excited. And then they rudely burst into the room, switch on the light and start barking commands. Leave it to Anita to set them straight.

What is obvious is that she has not lost her fighting spirit, and that is what is making her come back to her family, day by day.

Update: Anita is a founding member of a nonprofit group in Milwaukee called "Extreme Moms." From now until the foreseeable future, any donations made to Extreme Moms will go directly to Anita and her family to help her pay medical bills and other expenses. They really need your help. If you can, please donate to Thank you!

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