Latest updates listed first
Click here for updates from 1st of August to 15th of August
Click here for updates from 21st of July to 31st of July
Click here for updates from 3rd of July to 20th of July
(To read the whole story in order of time start at 3rd of July)
Update February 19th 2013: Symone has been seizure free for 6 months now. EEG results came back normal, It would appear that the new medications they put her on has been effective.
Update July 15th 2012: Symone continues to improve. She is still living with her boyfriend and now works at a bistro as a waitress while she studies for her business certificate. There has, however, been a setback. Her seizures have returned after being seizure free for five years. She has had 5 seizures since January, the last one in July being the worst. They have increased her medications but this doesn't seem to have been effective. She has had a series of tests, EEG, MRI etc. and we are waiting for the results. I will keep you posted.
Update Four Years Later - January 5th 2010: It has been four years since the last update and much has changed. To meet and talk with Symone, you would not know anything has ever happened to her. She is bubbly and happy, caring and compassionate, and always lights up the room whenever she walks in. She is living very happily with her boyfriend and has been doing so for one year now. She works part time as a helper in the kitchen of an old folks home. She recently tried another job as a receptionist but was unable to grasp some of the more complex tasks and so she left. Unfortunately she was unable to complete her schooling earlier as we had hoped as the work was also too hard for her grasp. She also does not have her drivers license. It was suspended on medical grounds after her accident. She took some drivers lessons three years ago but they told her after a short time that she did not have the necessary skills to pass her exam. She wants to try again this year as her concentration and other skills have improved significantly since then.
Her walking is practically back to normal again. She goes to the gym several times a week working her muscles and, other than an occasional jerky movement, her gait and stance is normal. She has no other residual physical effects from the accident. She did have seizures when she first came home from the Rehab centre and was put on anti seizure medications. It took us a while to get the dosage right but she has had no seizures for three years now, so we are hopeful all is well.
They say that it takes ten years to recover as much as you will from such a severe brain injury, and it is certainly true that we see her improving all the time - just subtle little changes but they all add up. Our sincere thanks go out to Adam and the many people who sent Symone their prayers and well wishes. My family will always be eternally grateful.
Update July 20th: Symone's case was discussed on Coast To Coast radio in the United States, when Adam was interviewed on the show. You can listen to the segment by clicking here. Adam discussed the marvellous results we recently obtained from an EEG test Symone had. The results of the testing showed normal brain activity.
Update July 14th: Its been six months since Symone has been home now and she continues to improve everyday. I apologise for not updating this website over the last six months but the crisis was essentially over when she came home, and my family felt a strong need for privacy as she continued to heal. My original purpose in putting this website up was to get as many people around the world as possible to pray for Symone and send her healing energy - and that purpose was met. She came back to us from the brink of death thanks to everyone who prayed for her.
Therapeutically, Symone is a lot better now. She is walking almost normally, although she does tend to shuffle a little and loses her balance at times. She is starting physiotherapy next month to get her walking back to normal again. She is back at school doing 2 subjects part time. She was struggling a little at first, unable to comprehend the information but her teachers report that she continues to improve every week. On the downside, Symone has developed some rather severe post traumatic seizures. She had one 4 weeks ago that was particularly bad and she lost the use of the left side of her body for several hours after the seizure. That was very scary. We are currently controlling the seizures with medications and she hasn't had one for 2 weeks now. We continue to hope the seizures will subside.
Socially, she has plenty of friends to keep her company and she goes out with them at times, but she has to take it easy with no late nights. She gets very tired and worn out easily. Her sense of humour has returned but it will be another couple of years before she has completely healed from this accident. As always we will be there for her.
Update Morning of January the 26th: Well everyone, the day we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. Symone is back home! - almost seven months to the day since the accident first happened. The transfer went smoothly. She was already packed up, anxiously waiting, when we arrived at the rehab to pick her up. She was a very excited little girl! Her rapid recovery from such a serious brain injury can only be called a miracle. The staff at the rehab said she had done remarkably well and improved faster than everyone had expected.
As I look back now it has been quite a ride from that very first phone call at 3 in the morning telling us of her fall. Then being told she only had a 50/50 chance of survival and if she did survive to expect severe brain damage and paralysis, if not brain death itself. We were mortified.
And then the miracles began. Adam started his work on her, I put up this website and people from all over the world started to pray for Symone and send her positive, healing energy. And we watched as all the prayers were answered and Symone rapidly awoke and returned to us more and more every day, improving step by step, day by day, as I told her she would while she was still in her coma.
She is living proof of the power of prayer and my thanks goes out to everyone who sent their prayers and energy to her.
Now, we have to start to think about her future. She is still on an active therapy program consisting of home visits 3 or 4 times a week. This home therapy phase begins next week. Her and I are also starting to go on long walks together everyday to exercise her legs. Currently she is walking a little stilted and jerky and her goal is to be running again.
We have to check into her schooling. She wants to go on and become a psychologist and is anxious to get started. She may have to repeat year 12 but we will find out at the school in a couple of weeks. And whether she is even ready to study again yet is also a question. She still has some healing to do in some areas such as concentration. She finds it difficult to stay focused on anything for too long. But, as with all the other things, this will return in time also.
Socially, she needs to reintegrate again. She can get a bit touchy at times but fortunately she has some great friends who are very patient with her and they have been, and are, a wonderful support to her. They have currently taken her out, as I write this, to someone's birthday party. She couldn't wait till they arrived to pick her up! Its a joy to watch her. She is almost innocent again, like a new child - its difficult to put it into words.
So that's about all for now. I will continue updating this site with her on going progress but certainly having her home again is a huge milestone.
Update Morning of January the 18th: Good news everyone! Symone will be discharged from rehab next week. She has made amazing progress in the last few weeks. She is walking on her own unaided and her personality and mental faculties have all returned. She is a living miracle - there are no other words for it. It will be wonderful to have her home again. She is counting the days. We're not too sure what the future will hold yet but we will wait until she settles back into home life again.
Update Evening of December the 7th: Well, Symone crossed her final major hurdle today towards her full recovery, after her successful surgery to replace her skull bone section. The bone was successfully placed back into her skull and was secured in place by small plates and screws. The surgery took 2 hours and Symone was in recovery for 2 hours before being transferred to ICU for the evening.
She was awake and in good spirits in ICU, quite lucid with a complete understanding of what was going on.
It will only be a matter of time now before she comes home permanently. She is already walking on her own and is able to go to the toilet on her own. Most of her mental facilities have returned and I suspect she will only spend a few more weeks in rehab before being discharged.
Update Morning of December 4th. Symone's surgery has been officially scheduled to take place on Wednesday December the 7th. So if everyone can send your prayers on that day, it would be greatly appreciated.
On other fronts, Symone continues to make strides forwards (literally). She walked the length of the corridor last week all by herself, without the walking frame or the assistance of nurses. She was very pleased with herself for doing this. Her short term memory still continues to improve - she is not repeating statements anymore like she used to.
I will keep you posted on the surgery this week.
Update Morning of November 23rd: Symone's visit to the Neuro Surgeon yesterday went well.. The surgery to put her skull cap back in will take place either Wednesday next week, or the week after. I will let you know as soon as I do. It will be huge relief to get her skull back in.
Update Morning of November 22nd: Symone has had a great month so far. She has begun walking without her walking frame, holding the hand of a nurse for support. She is showering herself and going to the toilet independently with only minor help from nurses for both tasks being needed. I spent most of yesterday with her after returning from a business trip and we had a great time - laughing and joking and hanging out together. All her mental faculties and personality have returned. She is even beating her therapists at games they play. Her short term memory continues to improve and she remembers most of the events of the day now. Her long term memory seems to be completely in tact.
This afternoon I take her to the Neuro surgeon to discuss putting her skull section back in. Hopefully it will be soon. I will make an update when I return.
Update Evening of October 30th: Symone came home today to celebrate my 50th birthday with all the family. She had a wonderful time with her many friends who came over plus family members. She was laughing and joking the whole time. We brought her walker along and she did a bit of walking on that around the house.
Her short term memory seems to be getting a little better. Some things she remembers very clearly and other events are like dreams. She asks whether the dreams were real or not, and we tell her that they were real. Sometimes she asks the same question several times, or makes the same comment several times over a period of 2-3 days. The thought is obviously in her mind but she has forgotten she's already mentioned it.
However, this will also improve as more and more of her brain recovers and heals itself.
Update afternoon of October the 28th: Thank you to everyone for your wonderful emails following the last update. They were greatly appreciated.
Symone remains stable today although she is constantly bored and wants things to do. She will wheel her wheelchair around the ward corridors just to pass the time. She has several sessions on everyday including physiotherapy and occupational therapy and speech and thinking but these aren't enough to keep her stimulated. Today, when she did her physiotherapy session she hopped up out of the wheelchair all by herself, stood stationary and grabbed a hold of the walking frame and started walking with no problems. The physiotherapist says they are going to start on walking sticks soon, so that's great progress.
I spoke to the doctor today about getting her skull section back in, and she was just as frustrated about it as I am. The problem is that the hospital is understaffed and all procedures are stretched to the limit. As I have private health insurance, we do have another option and that is to get the procedure done by a private hospital. Her doctor is starting to look into that today so we may have some good news on the horizon.
As soon as her skull section has been replaced and has healed sufficiently she can start coming home for more than just single day visits but come home for 2-3 days at a time in between her other treatments. So we want this to happen fast.
That's all the news for now. Stay tuned for more in the days ahead.
Update morning of October 27th: This is the first update in a month. I am so sorry for the lack of information to the many people who are interested in my beautiful daughter's recovery. The truth is, I have not been well and have been unable to update the site.
However, Symone is doing great. Its been 4 months since her accident now and she is doing better than anyone could have possibly hoped for. Mentally, she is essentially back to her old self again, although she still suffers from short term memory problems. Often she can't remember things from one day to the next and needs to be reminded of things often. But things are slowly sinking in and she seems to be slowly improving in that area. She knows what happened to her now and where she is and why she is there. She is very anxious to get back home again and resume her life with her friends. She is also concerned about her schooling and wants to go back to school again, although that will be difficult for her until her short term memory improves.
Physically, she is doing better and better. She can stand up by herself and get in and out of the wheelchair with little difficulty. She is walking around the ward on a walking frame now, although she can only do it for short spurts at a time as it hurts her legs a lot. Her right leg seems to be ok now after the last plastering and she has full movement with it. She seems to be a little weak on the left hand side of her body but that is getting stronger all the time.
She has been home for 3 days visits so far and she absolutely loves them. Her friends come and visit and she laughs and jokes the whole time. It is so thrilling for me to see this.
Her skull section is still not back in yet and the hospital keeps on postponing the date to put it back in. The latest date has been set for mid December. I am a little bit upset about this and will make enquiries today as to what the delay is.
So all in all the prognosis for Symone is very good. She is a very lucky little girl considering what could have happened to her - severe brain damage and even death were all distinct possibilities when the accident first occurred. I am very relieved and full of gratitude to everyone who has helped her recover. Keep watching this site as I will make further updates in time.
Update Afternoon of September 28th: Symone continues to improve in leaps and bounds. She walked the length of the corridor today from the physio room to her room (about 15 meters) using a walker to aid herself. She did great!
We had a great conversation after that in her room for an hour or so about her life and what she wants to do when she she gets out of rehab. She longs for that day and that motivates her to move forward and to keep making improvements.
She had her cast changed today again too, hopefully for the last time. They have kept her right leg plastered longer this time than the first time just to make sure it remains in position.
Update Afternoon of September the 22nd: Lots to report about. The concert was GREAT! I'll be posting pictures in another section. But first and most important of all is Symone is going great! Today was historic. She walked the length of the parallel bars and back again. Then she rested for a couple of minutes and did it again! Symone walked today and it was fantastic to see! Her attitude is great. She intends to beat this and be a winner in this battle she faces.
She understands a lot more about her predicament and the only thing on her mind now is to do all her tasks as best as she can so she can come home again.
Her toileting has reached a good medium and she is able to come and go as she needs to now without being on a time limit as she was before.
She still has short term memory problems but is far more sure of herself and grounded in her attitudes now. Everyday Symone returns just a little bit more.
Update Afternoon of September the 14th: We had a meeting with the Rehab staff today and it all went well. Symone is improving in all areas, except for perhaps her Physiotherapy. She had been standing on her own a couple of weeks ago but her right leg is curling up again and is very weak. This has hindered her progress. They replastered it again this afternoon. They have also begun testing her for her symptoms of Post Traumatic Amnesia and she is beginning to slowly come out of it so that's good news. Her toileting is improving slowly too and she is able to wait a little longer before she needs to go now.
Today we also started teaching her how to use her wheelchair. She found it a little challenging but in a few days I am sure she will buzzing around the rehab centre like an old pro.
An area of concern that still exists for me, however, is a tendency she has to make up stories and totally believe them to be true, almost like she is hallucinating. I am sure this is just another phase that she will pass through but I will watch it closely as time passes.
We also talked today about a possible home visit in a few weeks. That will mean an inspection of our home to make sure it is safe for her. I will keep you posted on that and everything else as time marches on.
Update Evening of September the 13th: Symone was upgraded to her own self controlled wheelchair today. They feel she is strong enough and cognisant enough now to be able to control it and negotiate her way around the rehab centre. This is another step forward yet again to her eventual full recovery. She is still fixated with going to the toilet frequently since she has been able to go by herself (with the assistant of a nurse) over the last week. They are trying to regulate her to go every 2 hours or so and she wants to go sooner than that. She gets quite distressed when they say no you have to wait and works herself up into a small frenzy until the time comes. But she is able to control herself and so all this is good training to get her back into normality again.
She did very well with her concentration exercises today, as she usually does, and got all her answers correct and was able to hold her attention on the task to get it all done. Her physiotherapy remains a challenge. She experiences some pain as she stretches her legs and other body parts and always wants to finish sooner, but she always finishes it and makes yet another step forward. She should be walking within a few weeks I predict.
Tomorrow we have a family goal planning meeting where will get an update on her overall progress and make some realistic goals for the future. I will report on that meeting tomorrow.
Update Evening of September the 12th: Symone had a bad day today, She was moody, bad tempered and extremely frustrated being in the rehab. I was there with her for 5 hours. She didn't want me to go and pleaded with me to stay with her the whole time. She was fixated on going to the toilet every 15 minutes or so and would get most upset when told to wait. She refused to do her session with the speech pathologist and we had to cut it short. When asked to go back to bed she said quite firmly, "I refuse to!" But I guess she is allowed one bad day out of so many good days she has had lately.
On the positive front, she had an X-ray taken of her back today and her crushed vertebrae from the accident has completely healed. She is also eating all her meals and is starting to put weight back on again. She is able to get in and out of bed pretty easily and put weight on her left leg. Her right leg is almost straight again but they have decided to replaster it again anyway on Thursday. We have a family meeting with all the staff on Wednesday this week so I am looking forward to that to get a realistic appraisal of her overall progress.
Today was a trying day as has all days been, to be frank, since the accident happened 2 and a half months ago now. However, I thank God that she had come so far in such a short space of time and I still believe firmly in her 100% recovery as the weeks and months pass.
Update Morning of September the 11th: Symone is doing very well. She gets brighter and cheerier everyday. She is able to get in and out of her wheelchair with very little help. Her physiotherapy is going well. She is standing on her own although not walking yet. That will come in time. She is very anxious to come home and talks about it every time we go to visit her, however she is not at that stage yet. She still needs to grasp some basic skills.
She still remains confused about why she is actually there and doesn't appear to have any memory at all of the accident. Her long term memory though is very good and her short term memory seems to be slowly improving. She recognises most people who come and see her and laughs and jokes and carries on lucid intelligent conversations.
Day by day she gets better.
Update Evening of September 8th: Symone was in great spirits today! We laughed and joked and carried on like old buddies - just like the old Symone before the accident. She had her session with the speech pathologist while I was there and did very well, matching words and making up sentences and writing quite legibly. She even did well on some mathematic questions which she had previously been having trouble with.
Her Physiotherapy session, however, apparently did not go as well and she was objecting to the treatment saying it was hurting her. At one stage she was pushing herself around the floor trying to get away from doing it. This is becoming a bit of a problem because if she is to be able to walk again she needs to get good at her physio sessions. Her right leg has also curled up a little more again and they are talking about replastering it again.
The doctor has set a review date for putting her skull section back in. The date has been set for October the 7th and if all goes well, it will be put back in a week or so after that date, so that is excellent news. Also, on the positive front, her toilet sessions are going very well. She knows when she wants to go, is asking the staff and they are taking her quite successfully.
Her short term memory is still coming and going though. I just spoke to her on the phone and she didn't remember me being in during the afternoon, so that phase still has a ways to go but it will return in due course I am sure.
Thats all for now. I will keep you all posted.
Update Afternoon of September 7th: Symone was featured in Australia's "That's Life" Magazine this week. Click here to see that article.
Update Evening of September 6th: Symone is still doing great and improving daily. I saw her today when I came back from my business trip. She was in Physiotherapy when I arrived and was standing up, just on one leg though, her left leg. Her right leg seems to have curled up just a bit again, not much, but enough to concern the Physiotherapist a bit.
Other than that, she is doing well and has made another big stride forward in another area. She is now going to the toilet! She knows when she wants to go and is asking to go and the nurses are taking her and having success. This is a big step, as it means her brain is sending her the correct signals. It also makes it one more step forwards towards her eventually going home.
Thats about all the news for now. Her voice is strong. She is lucid and having regular conversations.
Update Afternoon of September 4th: Symone had a really good day today. Her thinking processes and short term memory seem to be improving. I had a marvellous surprise while I was giving a workshop today. Symone rang me to wish me happy fathers day! It put a huge big smile all over my face. I rang her again in the evening and she remembered the call she made to me earlier on in the day.
She was also a lot more realistic about the time period involved to get out of hospital. She told me the nurses told her she would have to stay in the hospital for 2-3 months, and she said if thats what I have to do then thats what I will do. Previously she has always said I will get out tomorrow or the next day. This is a huge step forward for her in such a short time. She sounded the best and most coherent I have ever heard her today - lucid, realistic and no flights of fantasy.
Jeff says she was great today. She also had a lot of visitors and her spirits were in good shape. This is all good news. Long may it continue.
Update Afternoon of September 3rd: Symone had a quiet restful day today as it is now the weekend and she has no therapy sessions again until Monday. The hospital staff tell me she has been happy and cooperative all day today. When I spoke to her on the phone, we had a good long chat about this and that. Her voice was normal and she was lucid and happy. She still expresses her strong desire to come home though, and wants me to pick her up when I return from my business trip. How I wish that were possible.
She had several visitors today to keep her company including one of her favourite teachers from school. So things are progressing along as they should and she continues to improve. I will keep you all posted as usual.
Update Afternoon of September 2nd: Symone continues to do well in all her daily sessions. Today she stood up again at Physiotherapy for about 30 minutes although it continues to cause her pain. She is, however, only complaining now of pain in her legs rather than her whole body, so her upper torso seems to have strenghtened itself. Her right leg continues to be in good shape and is not bending up again like it was before the plaster, so that procedure certainly appears to have been a success.
Her short term memory seems to have been a little bit better today as well. She was able to correctly name the visitors who had been to see her today, as well as remember some events from yesterday. She was coherent and lucid in her conversations with no flights of fantasies except for just one - she still believes I am coming back on Tuesday to take her home. I explained to her that I cant do that yet until she can walk and go to the toilet. It didnt seem to sink in however.
She had a bit of a restless night last night so she slept for a couple of hours today after her sessions. As always, step by step, day by day she continues to make progress. Keep those prayers coming everyone please. They are greatly appreciated.
Update Afternoon of September 1st: Symone had a pretty good day today. She was very busy with all her various therapies - occupational therapy, speech therapy, thinking and concentration and of course her Physiotherapy. She did well in Physiotherapy. Even though its still painful for her, she stood up on her own with her back straight and good posture. She is getting more strength in her legs and body all the time. Her right leg is still good and seems to be working better today than yesterday.
She is speaking well but still seems confused about things. For example I go away again tomorrow for another business trip and wont be able to see her until Tuesday, and she had got it in her head that I am coming back on Tuesday to take her back home. She really wants to go home! She tells me that she is sick of being in the hospital and she doesn't seem to totally grasp the seriousness of her situation lately. Her self awareness seems to come and go. Some days its good, other days its bad. She wants to get better but she's not too sure what she needs to be get better from. Just yesterday though she said something pretty amazing to me. She said I will never be the same again, and I asked her who told you that, and she replied my own head told me. So part of her is sorting things out. Today, however, she was dreamy with fantasies in her mind. She told me that her and Jeff went for a ride on a flying board up into the sky today. She seemed to be quite serious too. And she said they are going to go flying in an aeroplane tomorrow. So her mind is playing some strange tricks on her at times.
But as with everything else, this will pass in time as her mind heals. A nurse gave a good analogy this week. She described the brain like a bowl of jelly and when someone has a brain injury, its like that bowl gets all shook up and it wobbles and keeps on wobbling for quite some time until it finally settles down again. Symone's brain is still wobbling but like the bowl of jelly it will settle down in time as the neural pathways re-establish themselves and cells work out where they are supposed to go. As I have said in previous updates, we have been told by many doctors that it takes at least 6 months to see any real progress in brain injury patients and Symone is just over 2 months in now (the accident happened on June 24th), so she is going just great! Keep on believing and praying for her all the time as she will return to us 100%!
Update Afternoon of August 31st: Symone had the cast removed from her right leg today and the leg looks great. She can fully straighten it and also bend it and lift it up. The muscles are a bit sore but with the regular physiotherapy she is receiving they should come right again soon enough. So, so far, it looks like the casting procedure was a success. Her leg is no longer bent right up like it was and it looks like it will stay in its normal position now.
The Rehab staff tell me that Symone has been sleeping well the last few nights for the first time since being there, so this is good news also. She was relaxed and quiet when I was there today but, as always, very appreciative that I was there, along with Jeff and her Grandparents who were also there. It was a busy day for her as she also had lots of visits today from friends and these visits always lifts her spirits.
The staff have just started taking her to the toilet on a regular basis but these visits have not been very successful so far. They tell us the brain is not sending the proper signals to the body yet about whether she needs to go or not. However they will keep these visits up until it all settles down.
So that's about where it stands today. Symone's spirits continue to remain high and she is determined to get better again. She keeps on asking how long will it be till she gets better and we say we don't know yet but keep on trying with all your strength. She usually responds by saying, "I am trying." She is too! Keep it up Symone. You are an inspiration to many people.
Update Afternoon of August 30th: When I went into the Rehab today, the nurses said that Symone had something to tell me. She seemed a little puzzled at first but with minor prompting she remembered. The doctor came and took her stomach plug out today! She showed me the bandage in her stomach where it had been. So no more tubes Symone! I asked her how she felt about that and she replied a little bit scared. I asked her why she was scared and she said cos she didn't know what would happen now. I reassured her that everything would be OK because she is eating up all her meals now and doesn't need it anymore. That made her happy.
Then we just sat and talked for a couple of hours. She said she was a little sad today because she really wanted to come home. She asked me many times to take her home. She even tried to bribe me and get me to sneak her out so noone would see! Sadly I told her I couldn't do that yet but one day I would. One day I would come and bring her home and we both said that we would look forward to that day coming soon. She was very affectionate today and said how much she loved me and how much better she felt when I was with her and how pleased she was about the good relationship we had.
She still seems to get confused about things. Like when I first got there I asked her how her physiotherapy went today and she said it went real well and she walked some more on the parallel bars, but it hurt her a lot to do it. Then later on she said she hadn't gone to Physiotherapy, but I knew she had because it was on her program for the day. At one stage I asked her if she she knew what her age was yet and she said almost 18, which is how old she was before the accident. She turned 18 while she was in her coma. I told her that was 18 already now and a big smile lit up all over her face and she said, "Am I? I am so old already!" We both had a big laugh about that.
Other than that it was a quiet afternoon with Symone. She had no other visitors or therapy sessions so we just sat holding hands watching TV together and chatting every now and then. She continues to improve though - every day just a little bit more. There's not much else to say except I find Symone constantly on my mind and the love I feel for her is larger than I could ever put into words. I KNOW she will recover.
Update Afternoon of August 29th: Its almost becoming repetitious nowadays, but Symone is just doing great! We were told by the doctors and various literature I have read to expect personality changes as brain injured people recovered but I am seeing none of that at all. In fact every time I see Symone I see more and more of her old self returning. Her personality remains exactly the same as it was and if there are any changes at all, I see a more responsible, thoughtful girl. She is very polite and thankful, always expressing her appreciation to those people who come and see her. She is bright and bubbly and joking. She is talking about life changes she wants to make, including going to church when she gets home!
She remembers more and more about her life, and tonight was talking about events in her early childhood when she lived in Texas 12 years ago. Her short term memory still seems to come and go. Sometimes she remembers things from a couple of days ago and sometimes she doesn't, but all in all it is all improving and that aspect of her neurology will also return in time. She has no restlessness or agitation anymore, no looks of terror, no biting which were all symptoms I was commenting on a few short weeks ago. She has come a long long way since her accident 9 weeks ago now. Her next major task is to learn how to walk again and she has already started down that path, and then use the bathroom again. She is constantly wanting to go to the toilet - poor kid i would want to also in her position!
I fully expect her to be home by Christmas and back at school next year catching up on her studies. I have pasted below a picture I took of her and Jaye today,
Update Afternoon of August 28th: Symone is doing just so well, it is amazing to see! Today she was bright and happy and cheery, articulate in her speech and just being the same old Symone we all know and love. Her recovery is nothing short of miraculous!
She is doing so well in physiotherapy. She is standing up straight and on Friday she started walking using the parallel bars. At her rate of progress she will be walking unassisted in a few short weeks, I am sure of it.
Today she had lots of friends in to see her and they were all laughing and making jokes. It sounds just like a regular weekend day at my house!
I have pasted on the photos page some more pictures of Symone at therapy (Click here). And on the audio page is another tape recording I made of her on Friday. You simply have to listen to this tape. It will show you how well Symone is doing. (Click here)
I will continue to make regular updates everyday and I apologise once again for my tardiness the last couple of days. I have been somewhat sick with the flu or something similar the last few days.
Update Morning of August 26th: First of all let me apologise for the lack of updates for a couple of days. I have been really sick and physically exhausted and have not been able to do anything. It's been a very tiring 8 weeks since Symone first had her accident and I've been giving Symone all my energy, plus trying run a business and keep my other daughter happy as well. It finally all caught up with me this week. But I have had a couple of great nights sleep and am feeling better now.
On the positive front, Symone is doing great. She has had some excellent Physiotherapy sessions and two days ago she was putting her weight on both legs. Now, just yesterday she stood fully up all on her own and was holding her torso and head all the way up straight! It looks like she'll be walking again in no time. They have also replaced her plaster and straightened her right leg all the way out now and replastered it in this position.
She is now also eating on her own without the need for being fed by someone, holding the spoon and fork all by herself. She remains in good spirits and her restlessness and agitation have all passed now. Her main desire now is to come home. She keeps on asking when can she come home and we reply, it will happen sooner than you think the way you are getting better so quickly.
She has also had some great occupational therapy sessions, putting puzzles together correctly and making beads following the diagrams in the correct order. When asked for her phone number yesterday, she said it immediately without even pausing to think and did the same with her mobile phone number too.
The other day we talked about her accident again and she had a very good grasp on what has actually happened to her. Although she doesn't remember the fall itself she does remember the events leading up to it. She understands that she almost died and was in a coma for two weeks. She has a good grasp of why they took her skull section out and is anxious to get it put back in so she can look normal again.
So, the bottom line is Symone is recovering well. Her mental faculties are all returning and physically she is getting stronger and stronger all the itme. This is all very good news and we just have to let the healing take its own course. I have put below a couple of short videos that I took of her a couple of days ago.
Click here to see
Symone with her sister Jaye.
Click here to see Symone eating by herself
Click here to see Symone writing
You may need Quick Time player to view this video. You can download it by clicking here
Update Evening of August the 22nd: Symone had a great day today. When I arrived to see her at midday, after returning from my business trip, she was asleep after an exhausting morning. But when she woke up she was bright and cheery. They then put her in her chair so she could be wheeled around the Rehab centre. I asked her if she had any pain. She said no and it appeared that her plaster wasn't bothering her anymore either. Some of her friends then arrived, she knew all their names and was playing around with them, smiling, laughing and cracking funny little jokes. This was the old Symone I was seeing and it was great to see!
The nursing staff told me she had been in a great mood all morning too and had spent an hour in the recreation room painting various pictures and covering herself with paint which they had to wash off her afterwards.
This afternoon we took her into the computer room and showed her all the posts on the bulletin board of her website, in response to the post she made a couple of days ago. She was thrilled to see the replies and made a little post of her own (which I typed for her as she dictated) in response to those replies. You can go to the bulletin board and see that post by clicking the link at the top of this page. After the post was made she grabbed the keyboard and began typing in some of her favourite websites and was surfing the net like an old pro, just as she used to do before the accident. (Symone has been building websites since she was 10 years of age.)
Later on in afternoon she had a session with the Speech Pathologist which I was able to sit in on. First she showed Symone various pictures of objects and Symone had to write down on a piece of paper what those objects were. She got every one of them right. Next she was shown various sentences with words missing and she had to fill in the missing words. She got all of them right too. However when it came to the mathematics questions she did very poorly and was unable to process even the most basic addition and subtraction problems. This may be due to some damage in the left hemisphere of her brain, where she had some internal bleeding, that still needs to repair itself. After that she played a game of noughts and crosses and some other simple games and didn't do too bad.
When the session finished she was very tired again so they put her back to bed. A couple more of her friends came in but they didn't stay too long as Symone needed to sleep.
After her small sleep, and after we had left, another friend came in to see her and the nurse told me over the phone that it was absolutely wonderful to hear them both giggling and laughing and having lots of fun together.
So, it's a good report for you all today and Symone continues to improve step by step each day (sometimes big steps too!) A photo of us and some friends with Symone today is shown below.
Click here for small
movie clip of Symone and her friends
You may need Quick Time player to view this video. You can download it by clicking here
Update Evening of August the 21st: Symone had a lot of visitors from her friends again today and the hospital staff tell me that they all had a great time laughing and joking etc. However, her short term memory still remains very poor and no sooner had they left but she had forgotten who had actually been there. When I spoke to her on the phone at midday she had forgotten who had been there and said Grandma and Grandpa had been there, but they didn't arrive till later in the day. She seems to get very confused on a regular basis with her facts, and asked me to take her home when I came back from being away on business. She still does not grasp the full severity of her situation.
I spoke to her again when her Grandparents were there and she seemed to be a little better, talking with a stronger voice and more sure of herself. She knew her Grandparents were there but she also said that her sister Jaye was there, and she wasn't. On the positive note she said she wasn't in as much pain today as she had been the last couple of days and this corresponds with Adam's latest treatment of her. The following email sums this up - "Adam was able to ease the pain. Now watch the progress continue."
She still remains restless off and on throughout the day, obviously being bothered by the cast on her leg, but overall she was most happy for the day.
I will update more tomorrow when I see her.
Update Evening of August the 20th: Symone had a relatively good day today after a sleepless night last night. She had a lot of visitors from her friends today for the first time since being admitted to Rehab and this pleased her. The hospital staff informed me that she was not complaining as much about pain today and seems to have settled down a bit again. This could be because of the new medications she is on. Her visitors had also helped her and because it was a weekend she had no Physiotherapy or other therapeutic activities.
She also slept a lot during the day, on and off between her visitors, and both times I rang to speak to her she had been asleep. She ate her lunch and breakfast so that is a good thing. I will try and call her again after her dinner.
So that's about all for now. More updates later.
Update Evening of August 19th: Symone had another busy day of activities today with Physiotherapy, and the various other things she is doing, that left her tired out again. She went to bed at 6 o'clock after her busy day. She was exhausted and went straight to sleep. They certainly do work her hard at the Rehab centre but this is a good thing.
Her Auntie Annie reports that she was a little restless while she was there seeing her but not as bad as the last couple of days and they had some good chats. Its the plaster on her leg that is making her restless but she seems to be getting used to it slowly. She ate all her lunch but refused to eat her dinner at night. I think this is because she is so worn out after her busy day.
I spoke to her on the phone in the afternoon (I am out of town again on business) and we had a good chat although the symptoms of her PTA were obvious. She told me she was in Melbourne and had just come back from shopping which, as I explained in an earlier update, she had done a week before the accident. So she is getting her facts and times confused.
It will take time for her to get it all sorted out again but it will happen in due course. She has come so far already. Tomorrow some of her friends will go and see her and she should enjoy that.
That's all for today. I will update more tomorrow.
Update Late Afternoon of August 18th: It was a busy day at the Rehab centre today. I arrived there at 9 o'clock so I could participate in Symone's occupational therapy session. She was still a little agitated and distressed from the plaster and a sleepless night, but managed to make some good progress. She successfully read several sentences from her newspaper article in the Adelaide's Sunday Mail (Click here to see that artlcle), and was thrilled to see that the article described her as popular, bright and cheerful. We then went into the computer room at the Rehab center and logged onto her website. It was the first time she had seen it and she made a post on the bulletin board saying hullo to everyone. She will go back there in the next couple of days to see if anyone replied.
We had a little break then before it was time for her Physiotherapy session at 11 o'clock. It was a gruelling, physically and emotional exhausting session but she made some good progress. She was strapped onto a table that stood her upright into a standing position. She was able to hold her left foot straight and even put a small amount of weight on it. This is the first time she has been able to do this. The Physiotherapist said that this was a good sign and she had use of most of the major muscles she will need to eventually be able to walk again. After that she was put into a sitting position and given some quoits to throw. She was able to get a reasonable number of them over the peg. She used her right hand for throwing and resisted using her left. The Physiotherapist says that there is a little weakness in her left arm and some of her movements in that arm are restricted, but they should return in time. Photos of this session can be viewed by clicking here.
After that Symone had her lunch and then asked to be put to bed. As soon as her head hit the pillow she fell into a deep sleep. She was still asleep when I eventually left at 3 o'clock.
Two o'clock was the time for the big meeting with all the staff (about 9 staff all together). It was a positive upbeat meeting with the general consensus being that Symone is making good progress. Although she is talking and responding to many commands now, a lot of her higher brain functions have not yet reawakened. She is still mostly confused about where she is and what has happened to her (sometimes it seems clear but that awareness comes and goes), and she is unable to reason things through properly - particularly why she needs all these treatments. She is unable to hold many memories from day to day and does not fully comprehend yet that she has had a severe injury that has left her handicapped (temporarily at least). Her long term memory, however, is in great shape. Also her restlessness remains a problem and they are going to try some different medications to see if they can calm her down more. She is still in the Post Traumatic Amnesia stage and a lot of her major progress will not happen until that phases passes.
The doctor also talked about her skull section and was beginning to think that it could be put back in sooner rather than later. Currently it is scheduled for November but she thinks that is too far away. Fortunately I have private health insurance and this may mean that we can jump a few cues and get her into a private hospital fairly quickly to get it put back in. She is going to start to make enquiries in that direction as soon as possible.
Symone's eating remains a concern too. Whilst she eats some meals, she is not eating regularly and that means her stomach plug will have to remain for a while longer.
All in all I was very impressed with the meeting and the high degree of organisation and cooperation the staff displayed. We set a date for another meeting in four weeks time.
So that's about it. You could all make Symone really happy now by going to the site's bulletin board and replying to her post. She would be thrilled to see that.
Update Evening of August 17th: Symone had a rough day today. They straightened out her right leg and plastered it in the morning. It was a rather traumatic experience so the staff told me. She struggled greatly, resisting any efforts they made. They even gave her strong sedation and it didn't seem to affect her. The first attempt at plastering failed because she struggled so much she broke the cast. They achieved it in the second attempt but only with five nurses holding her down. She was in great discomfort and some pain when I arrived this afternoon with Tasha, the family dog. She was pleased to see Tasha but was more concerned with the pain and discomfort in her leg, crying out frequently.
She kept on asking me to take the plaster off and I explained to her that I couldn't do that. I told her that it was necessary to make her leg better so she could walk again. She then became quite concerned and said, "What if I can't walk again?" I told her to not even think about that, and that she WOULD walk again. "Keep on thinking I WILL walk again Symone," I said. "Just repeat that over and over in your mind and you will make it happen!" She got the message and said, "Yes I will walk again."
Eventually the nurses gave Symone some more pain medications and sedatives and she calmed right down in about ten minutes and drifted off to sleep.
During my visit I had constructive conversations with the Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist and Physiotherapist. They all informed me that Symone has been steadily improving every day. I also had a long talk with the Social Worker. She explained to me that Symone was still in the Post Traumatic Amnesia stage that follows most Brain Injuries. This basically means she cannot hold new memories or store new data effectively. It explains the reason for her poor short term memory - although one of the nurses told me that this morning that Symone had told her that Tasha was going to come in to see her today. So she had certainly remembered that information.
The social worker explained to me that this PTA stage can last days, weeks or even months. Sometimes, people never come out of it. She said that Symone's recovery will be slow until this phase ends, as she cannot remember the exercises she did the day before and cannot therefore build upon previous experiences. She also warned me that, due to the severity of Symone's initial injury, it was likely she would never experience a full 100% recovery, and that sometimes it can take 10-15 years for the brain to heal as much as it is able to. However, I have heard these type of less than encouraging reports before about Symone and they turned out to not be totally accurate. The brain is a complex organ and predictions about future progress is very difficult to make. My faith and belief in her ultimate recovery still remains high.
Tomorrow we have a meeting with all the staff and that will tell us even more information. I have pasted below a photo of Tasha with Symone. You can see her plastered leg there also.
Update Evening of August 16th: Jeff arrived to see Symone around midday today and she was fast asleep. She slept for about an hour while Jeff waited and when she eventually woke up she woke up fairly quickly. Often she can take up to 30 minutes to fully wake up and be present but this time she was alert and active within 3 minutes of opening her eyes. She was bright, bubbly, smiling, cracking jokes and remained that way for the rest of the day.
She had a session with the speech pathologist in the afternoon and was given several mental comprehension tests where she had to match words to pictures and describe pictures. She did relatively well on these tests averaging around 75% correct. After these tests she was given various money problems to solve, adding and subtracting etc. She could recognise individual coins and add money just fine but had difficulty subtracting and making change. She was also asked to write her name and the date several times. She did this perfectly, writing with a steady hand and relatively neat writing.
After this a social worker came in and Symone expressed concern about her appearance, looking in the mirror and not liking the concave in her head or the hair that had been shaven. She also didn't like the fact that her face had broken out, she was therefore thrilled to be given a facial towards the end of the day for her skin. This is all fantastic news because the Neuro Surgeon explained to me about 3 weeks ago that when her higher brain functions begin to return she will become increasingly self aware and concerned about her appearance. He told me this would take 3-6 months to happen and here we are less than 6 weeks since she woke up from her coma and Symone is very clearly becoming more self aware everyday.
Also today Symone began playing with a musical instrument - a recorder that Jeff had brought in for her. She was unable to make a tune on the instrument but she did sing a whole song with some of the nurses.
Before Jeff left for the evening they were just talking away about this and that, and Symone expressed disappointment that I couldn't come in to see her today but she was very excited about seeing me tomorrow with the family dog, Tasha. She is also wanting to see her friends. They will start coming again next week. Just before Jeff left he told her to ring him anytime she wanted to and he asked her if she knew his phone number. Symone immediately said it correctly.
Just before I wrote this update I rang the hospital to talk to Symone and she sounded very bright and happy with no signs of distress or irritability.
Symone is now well on the road to full recovery. The next hurdle is to get her body well again so she can walk, as she continues to heal mentally.
Update Midday of August the 16th: I just spoke to Symone on the phone at the Rehab centre and she was in good spirits, speaking clearly and carrying on a good conversation. She told me that she had just finished doing her Physiotherapy and had done very well at it. She was quite proud to tell me she had done all her exercises and moved her body, even the parts that hurt. I explained to her that I couldn't come in to see her today because I was way behind on all my work and had to catch up. She was a little bit disappointed at first but then I told her that Jeff was coming in for the whole afternoon and she was pleased with that. I also told her that I would be bringing in the family dog, Tasha, to see her tomorrow and she was really excited about that. So, all in all, she is doing well today.
I will make another update this evening when Jeff returns and gives me his report.
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from 1st of August to 15th of August
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"Your name is Symone Ruth Oates. I am your Daddy and I am here to help you"
"Step by step, day by day you will get better. Step by step your mind will heal."
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