When a Loved One Suffers a Serious Head Trauma

on Tuesday, 21 October 2014. Posted in Categories, Head trauma and injuries

It was an emotional moment a few months ago when Emily told me about the road accident that suddenly changed her life and the life of one of her children. The accident could have happened to anyone; even though, as Emily points out, no one deserves it. That’s why she wanted to tell her story and encourage people, especially young drivers, not to drink or take drugs before driving.

After being involved in an accident caused by drunk driving, her son had to be treated at the Montreal General Hospital for head trauma and other serious injuries. Every day for the first two weeks while he was in a coma, Emily wondered if her son would wake up. It was a long wait and a harrowing experience.

After regaining consciousness and multiple operations, the young man had begun the road to recovery. His hospital stay however was far from over. He needed more than six months of rehabilitation in Montreal to re-learn how to do everything. “He became like a child. A child that cannot do anything […] The saddest part is that I had to teach him how to become an adult again. He couldn’t walk; he couldn’t eat; he couldn’t do things on his own. He couldn’t speak.”

After this kind of accident, it can be impossible to hold a fork, tie your shoes or comb your hair. While it may be hard to fathom the frustration of losing our independence in this way and being unable to express our needs, we can feel the helplessness and distress of a parent seeing her child in this condition. “The most difficult part of this situation during his head injury was when they had an operation for him and removed his skull. It was put away somewhere. I don’t know for how long. I saw him wearing a helmet to protect his head. I was still in shock. I almost didn’t know how to think. I nearly didn’t know what to do. I just listened to the doctors’ orders and the nurses.”

Emily’s son has improved, but she adds, “It totally changed his life. It changed his life. […] He’s lucky he’s alive, but we still have to care for him to this day.” Emily’s life has changed too. In fact, everyone in the young man’s circle of acquaintances has been affected—friends, family and his community.

Drunk driving is the primary cause of accidents and injuries in Nunavik. While Emily was at the hospital, she saw many Nunavimmiut with head trauma, some of whom died while she was there. “It was scary,” she says. “I hope we can follow the rules to protect ourselves and ensure we are safe in our villages, in our homes, no matter where we are […] Some people are lucky they come back well and strong, but some stay crippled in wheelchairs, and some don’t come back at all.”

A serious accident can have life-altering physical or psychological consequences for victims and their families. In terms of Emily’s narrative, our slogan seems particularly appropriate: “On the Right Path, Think Safety; On the Right Path, Think Family; On the Right Path, Think Community.” You can listen to Emily’s story in Inuktitut and English in the THINK- Testimonies section of this website.

Our thanks go out to Emily and all those who have been sharing their experiences.

traumatisme cranien