April 30, 2019, our world changed forever. My amazing 54-year-old son, a retired commissioned officer, PhD, [at the] top of his career, was living the idyllic life on a ranch just outside of Austin, Texas, with his gorgeous, wonderful wife and two remarkable, beautiful teenage daughters. He left on a business trip to Connecticut on Sunday. That Tuesday morning, he went down to work out because, as a powerlifter, this is his daily routine. There was one other person in the gym that morning, which was unusual at a hotel gym. Within the hour, he suffered a traumatic fall off of a treadmill. Whoever was with him in the gym had the presence of mind to call 911, and he was transported to Hartford Hospital.
Within a half hour of the incident, he was in surgery. The neurosurgeon on call, who saved his life, the staff, and the Neuro-ICU nurses carefully and skillfully watched over him and brought him through the most critical days, hours, and weeks. The chances of his recovery looked beyond bleak as he rested in a coma until the week of June 10th, when he began to wake up. He still had not opened his eyes and was just barely responsive when the complex care case managers at Hartford, who knew the aftercare available, put him on the radar screen of a place called Gaylord and on Friday, June 14th, he was admitted.
Having been in the healthcare field for over 40 years, what I saw and experienced at Gaylord within the first 24 hours brought only one question from me to his wife. “How did you find this place?” Her response, “God, I think!” Well, that is the only answer for what we found at Gaylord from every person who has cared for him, every administrator who has crossed our paths, every doctor, nurse, therapist, secretary, housekeeper, and cafeteria worker. This is a level of excellence, care, and compassion that I have literally never encountered in one place in the profession in my entire life. Healthcare is a team sport and it became evident immediately that everyone on this team plays!
There is a 100-year-old tree just outside the window at the end of the hall. There is moss that grows under it. If you walk barefooted under the tree and then lie down on the moss and look up through those old branches, you can see it. It is the puzzle of a thousand shattered lives that have come to this land, to this place, to this vision to be healed. I said to one of the docs, “You perform miracles here.” He said, “Well, we make the space for miracles to happen.” Well, miracles do happen here because the hearts and hands of those who walk through these doors every day are compassionately committed to this vision of healing love, and it shows.
For my son, for his wife and daughters, and all of us for whom my son is so precious, this is what I know…if you want to excel in theater, go to New York, if you want to excel in academics, go to Harvard or Yale…if you want to learn to walk on water, come to Gaylord. A grateful mother July 2019