From Grave to Cradle to Now

The Health Care Professional Edition


Apparently not many fathers, men, write first person trauma accounts.

In my childhood, my Aunt freed our songless, grumpy budgie from the jaws of her cat. It was shaken up badly and bleeding slightly. Moments later, it started singing, which it did until it died years later. That tale came to mind when I realized that, in the past two years, I have become more talkative, processing our current journey with my critically injured son to anyone who would listen. Attacks of the budgies appear out of the blue, like Tourettes, kind of alarming and charming. When I realized that was happening as I walked the neighbourhood, I began to take therapy-dog with me to protect my reputation. I’m better now, thanks.

Health care professionals (HCPs) first asked me to write about my experience for the benefit of other collaterally damaged families of the traumatically injured. Then other HCPs asked me to augment that material specifically for the benefit of health care professionals, even though I am not a health care expert. Presumably the request was because I have other expertise including multi-year, daily experience with a traumatically injured patient and months and years of experience up-close-and-personal with health care professionals and the hospital system.

These experts believe that it would be helpful for you to read about and to visualize the lives of patients and their families, as those lives evolve together when you are not present. Also, the experts thought you would benefit from seeing your profession and the health care system through the eyes of those participating from the other side of the bed. To this task I bring observational and formal experience as entrepreneur, executive and management consultant, and a limited amount of expertise gained as volunteer, advisor and consultant to the head of a cancer research foundation and clinic. This text has been reviewed, edited and augmented by health care professionals, some of whom are identified in the Preface.

The initial third is the heart of the book. It quotes verbatim the raw, selected, daily Facebook and Journal entries that recorded the initial bomb blast to our lives followed by the evolution of the gravely uncertain present. I have augmented these entries with previously undisclosed facts, observations and analysis. The next two thirds contain separate observations for the specific use of health care professionals, on the one hand, and other collaterally damaged families, on the other.

Understandably, to enhance patient outcomes health care professionals and the collaterally damaged families need to work together; but, apparently, don’t always do so. It is as if we speak different languages, inhabit different worlds—and we do. I hope that this text will provide insights that will enable you to lead rag-tag teams of collaterally damaged; turning them into effective caregiver teams. By doing so, you will simultaneously heal them and enable them to pull their loved ones into viable new normals.

This text also delves into experiences that are very hard to accept, difficult to describe and almost impossible to explain. As a result, I hope that during your formal education and health care practice you keep a mind open to unorthodox insights yielding increased professional effectiveness and satisfaction.

As horrific as our journey was in the beginning, our family members have benefited in ways that the general public, the recently brain-injured family and perhaps even some health care professionals will have difficulty comprehending. Our shared experience has brought us great personal growth, greater respect for each other, stronger selves and relationships, greater appreciation for the things of life of true value, enabled insight, and, as strange as it may seem, yielded much humour.

Apparently, those benefits were evolving early on. In the maelstrom, we could not recognize them but professionals could. Drew’s young GP came to visit the comatose Drew in NeuroTrauma ICU. She could do nothing for Drew but she stayed more than half an hour to talk with my wife and me. As she left she said, “I don’t know how you have been able to cope so well.”

Writing this text was very hard at times but ultimately both illuminating and cathartic. As I write and speak to interested groups and process lessons for business groups, I continue to learn about all the normals we have lived and are living. As a health care professional you will see things in this material that I haven’t yet perceived and may never grasp.

I hope that you will see, as I have been told, that our story has universality and applicability beyond parent/child, male/male and brain injury relationships.

I hope that you don’t mind, but I have used pseudonyms for close family in order to write more openly about our experience. Also, you will notice that my tenses are a mixture of present and past. I started to make corrections but stopped when I realized this is an accurate reflection of how I relate to those events today. Those events are still in my present. I don’t remember them so much as I relive them. No doubt you will note my warped relationship with time.

To conclude our story, for the moment, Drew provides his observations and insights which he wrote to help other brain injured patients.

Ian Powell
February 2012


Go To Links

 Table of Contents

 Chapter One


 Institutional Purchase


 The Health Care Professional Edition

 Health Professionals: Course appropriateness, subjects & benefits