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Genie

Genie
Genie

Survivor

On January 17th, 2006 Genie had a brain aneurism occur. Prior to the aneurism, Genie was a Dental Assistant and an avid runner, completing nine full marathons and numerous other running events. The Doctors initially were less than encouraging about her survival, giving her a less than 25% chance to survive and recovery was a complete unknown. She spent the first 23 days in Neurosurgery ICU, where she regained conscienous but was not aware of her surroundings or of people.

After leaving the hospital she started rehab at a certified facility where she made some progress from her multiple deficits that included complete right side neglect, minimal cognitive skills, and, of course, all the personal care that the average person takes for granted. As the weeks went by Genie made some progress, opening and closing her right hand, minor communications with people in contact with her, but still wheelchair bound. Standing and walking was a distant hope. Most of her communication was either a smile or crying with no explanation why and her prognosis was guarded at best with most of the healthcare professionals trying to be hopeful, but the reality of the moment was hard to overcome.

At four months from injury Genie was transferred to another rehab facility in Omaha, Neb. that specialized in brain injury. The first thing they did to her was to put a spoon in her right hand and using the hand over technique, had her feed herself spaghetti for the first time since her injury. Genie was wearing more spaghetti on her then had made it into her mouth, but the huge smile that she wore was a true Kodak moment. That was the first true indication that Genie was in there and needed help to get out. The facility works under the premise that "there is no such thing as a non-therapy moment." Genie continued to make minor progress but no real breakthrough could be demonstrated. One of the people that compiled reports from the different therapy departments to turn into the insurance company decided to use the phrase "Anoxic Brain Injury" in one report. The insurance company promptly decided to stop paying for care at this facility since her outlook was not good. All the therapists, nurses, and doctors felt that given time Genie would be best served by continuing care at this facility, but the insurance company could not be dissuaded from their position. At the same time, it was found that Genie had little or no vision in her left eye even though she was saying that she could see.

Due to the care needs that Genie still had after Omaha, she was placed in a nursing home/rehab facility. The insurance company mandated that she could only get rehab care from an outpatient rehab facility not associated with the nursing home. So for five days a week Genie was taken from the nursing home to outpatient rehab to get physical, occupational, and speech therapies. In September, 2006 Genie finally had the surgery on her left eye to remove blood that had accumulated behind her retina and due to the surgery she was taken off low dosage Valium that had been given to her to prevent anxiety attacks. By October, true progress was finally being made with her standing, feeding herself, cognitive skills improved and she started to care about her appearance. By December, she was walking 30 feet with a walker, her mind was clearing from the Valium fog, assisting with transfers, and she actually started to interact with people. It is here where her memory starts after the initial injury. The first ten months after her injury are basically a foggy blank to her. With the progress that Genie was now making, the nursing home strongly recommended that she be taken to a home environment so she would not become "institutionalized".

On February 13, 2007, 13 months from injury, Genie returned home to live and continue recovery. She needed to have someone with her 24/7, but the recovery continued with the help of quality rehab. There is no such thing as a non-therapy moment, her sister Lucy, husband Charlie, and Genie's strong religious faith.

Today Genie is a walking, talking miracle. She has gone from almost dying to finishing a Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in 4 hours 16 minutes. She is still working on improving her speech and memory skills, continues to strive to improve so she can be totally independent, and wants to run another Marathon some day. There are still deficits that affect her. Physically, the right side has made a 90% recovery, she still has grip problems with her hand and her knee doesn't straighten out completely. Mentally she has short term memory problems and she has difficulty expressing herself in clear, concise terms.

The doctors all told us that in the first two years from injury, the majority of the recovery will be made. Genie didn't even start to make good progress until nine months after injury and has continued to make progress all the way through the recovery, with her biggest part of her recovery occurring in years two and three. Genie can be considered a true late bloomer, but she has shown that hard work, determination, and a strong spiritual commitment, can and does work miracles.

 

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