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Sunday morning a phone rang…a call from a hospital hundreds of miles away. That day was the beginning of a long journey, full of highs and the lows, over the next 2 ½ years and counting.

It began with a visit to see friends, in Washington, D.C., one Saturday evening in February. "Steve" was running down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; he fell and hit his head. He thought he was fine; he was able to walk back to his friends’ house where he went to sleep.

The next morning, friends heard Steve making strange noises; they checked on him and and he exhibited shallow breathing. They attempted to awaken him, but he was unresponsive. His condition was deteriorating rapidly. Steve was rushed to the hospital, via ambulance; it was discovered that he had a massive blood clot on the right side of his brain stem – the part of the brain that controls such essential functions as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Steve was in a coma; pupils were fixed and dilated, and he was experiencing low-level brain function. Doctor had to surgically remove a large section of his skull to allow his brain to swell, they placed it in his abdomen to keep it sterile until they could surgically remove it and replace it in his head.

Steve spent months in a Maryland hospital before being transferred to University of Michigan Hospital. Today, Steve is still regaining his life back. His family has been by his side 24/7. Life has been a rollercoaster of emotions; every day family members are grateful for even the smallest signs of progress.

The family has been writing a blog since that February day to keep family and friends updated on Steve’s progress, including some video footage. It is quite emotional and one that I encourage readers to view. You will see, clearly, the effects of a serious, traumatic brain injury; you will realize that the ‘little things in life’ should never be taken for granted. You will see how something as ordinary as a slip and fall on ice can change your life forever. You will know how important it is to seek medical help in a timely manner.

An annual golf outing, a fundraiser in honor of Steve, was held for the first time the summer after his slip and fall accident. Last year, with some help, Steve was able to drive the course for a brief time. His balance and gait are imporving; his voice and swallow have improved significantly. This year, he was able to say a few words to the crowd of golfers.

Steve is doing well for a serious TBI victim; he is progressing, slowly but surely. At the first golf outing, the family announced that “this is a marathon, not a sprint” and thought a year was a long time. Yes, they wish his progress was faster, yet they are thankful for every day, every sign of improvement. They have learned that recovery from a traumatic brain injury is not just a slow process, it is a S….L….O….W process. Steve is now on a weekly schedule; when the week is over, Steve and his family take a deep breath and implement the plan for the following week.

Doctors removed his feeding tube on January 26, 2010 – almost 2 long years after his fall. This is a huge mental boost; it also represents a reduction in pain and opens up new therapy options. Steve is far from being "cured’, being who and what he once was, but he the span of time between "good" days seems to be getting shorter.

It is hard for the family to believe that more than two years have gone by. They look back and recall how happy they were to see an eye blink or get a little hug. Now Steve is talking, instantaneously, and walking with a walker. What is happening is a miracle, one that began when two friends acted quickly and responsibly, that Sunday morning in February. Steve’s friends are the heroes of this sage; a 9-1-1 call and a quick transport to the hospital for emergency treatment, as quickly as the circumstances allow, saved the life of their friend.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when a personal injury plaintiff requires necessities of life litigation funding while litigation is pending. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

3 Comments

  1. It really is a amazing and heart wrenching journey. It is amazing how injuries like this affect the whole family.

  2. Gravatar for Allen Edmondson

    I suffered a severe brain stem injury on April 10, 1969, and was comatose for about two months. This was April of my junior year in high school and my mother helped me learn to crawl again and make up the rest of my junior year. My cousin helped me learn to walk again that summer and I 'wobbled' through my senior year in high school. My parents sent me to a military school and the regimentation greatly helped restore my coordination. I graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in May of 1972 and Hendrix College in May of 1975. I enlisted in the Navy in October, 1975 having to take a special physical at Fort Leonard Wood, MO in order to enter the Navy. I was honorable discharged in November, 1980, and have been working as a computer operator at the University of Arkansas for 28 years. In January of 1992 it was discovered that I had a broken neck (the neurosurgeon that repaired it believed it was from a previous injury). I believe the only time that it could been broken was when I was thrown through the windshield of the car on 4/10/69. I am probably as healthy now as I have ever been and am ready to do whatever the Lord has for me to do.

  3. Allen: Thank you for sharing your amazing story. You were certainly not lucky to be injured, but you are one of the lucky ones to have come back so well from this type of injury. Hopefully, this experience has taught you what injured people go through and that there is no "jackpot justice" in American courtrooms. Good luck in the future. Regards, Mark

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