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State Council for Persons with Disabilities

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My name is Amelia Louise Parsons. I was born in Lewes on March 23, 1991. Rural Georgetown was where I called home for 18 years. I graduated from Sussex Technical High School as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Home health was needed among neighbors and family friends, so that is where I started in the health care field. For the past, almost 8 years, I’ve been employed at a local long-term nursing care facility. On February 12th, 2018, I went out to grab food at a local fast food restaurant, a spot that I had been to several times for my lunch breaks. On returning to work, I made a life-threatening mistake. One that I have zero recollection of. According to police, I was using my cell phone while driving back. Distracted, I ran a red light to cross the highway. It just so happened that an unloaded tractor trailer was driving down the highway and I went right into its path. The truck hit my door directly at 47 MPH and completely crushed my side of the vehicle. My car was pushed and spun across the median and onto the opposite lanes of traffic. Thankfully, I was not hit by additional vehicles. The damage to my car and to myself was severe. I was immediately knocked unconscious. The space between my door jam and my center console measured roughly 8 inches after the impact. Emergency services arrived and were sure that I was dead until the trooper noticed that I was trying to breathe. The emergency services called for a helicopter to transport me from the scene to Christiana. However, I was not stable enough for the flight. So, they transported me via ambulance to Beebe Hospital to stabilize me and then flew me from Beebe to Christina Hospital. It was a very expensive flight, one that I have no recollection of. My injuries were: punctured left lung, broken left collar bone, 6 broken ribs, broken left hip, crushed sacrum and a large gash on the top right side of my head that required 13 stitches. Later, they also discovered that I sustained a very serious brain injury called Diffuse Axonal Injury.

Once at Christiana, since I was still unconscious, I was put under a medically induced coma. I received a Foley catheter, multiple IV medications, and a feeding tube, intubation to keep me breathing and supportive/cushioned wraps for my legs. They also put me under “brain rest”. Physical touch and communications were limited for my brain to heal. Eventually, they administered medicine to bring me out of the coma. Even with the reversal medication, I was in coma for a total of 11 days. I was intubated during most of this time. After a few days, they inserted a tracheotomy and they also removed my feeding tube and inserted a “PEG tube”. According to my family both of these procedures made me much more comfortable because I was no longer fighting with all the tubes in my nose, mouth and throat. My family and friends were by my side the entire time. Once I “woke up”, I was able to make so much progress, but I don’t remember much of that portion during my recovery. The first memory I have after the accident was a terrifying experience. I awoke in the middle of the night, the lights were off, and I was in bed with “safety mittens” on my hands to prevent me from pulling at any lines or tubing. From my memory, I went from being at work to being “restrained” in a hospital. Even though I tried to scream, my voice was gone because of the tracheotomy. I went into full panic mode. I had to get out! With my teeth, I started to remove the Velcro around my wrists that kept the safety mittens in place. Staff members realized what I was doing, and they came in to stop me. Eventually, I began to realize what was going on and I started to ask questions. My family and friends were able to answer a lot of my questions and I slowly started to come to terms with my condition. As you can imagine I went through a period of grief and depression as I started to realize how much my function was impacted and began to worry about if I would ever return to my former ability to be independent.

As I made progress, my family started looking for rehabilitation facilities that specialized in Traumatic Brain Injury patients. They began looking for facilities in Delaware, but their options were limited. So many friends encouraged them to transfer me to Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Even though it was a distance away for anyone who wanted to see me, it certainly proved to be a fantastic facility. On site Bryn Mawr has a separate hotel like building for family which proved invaluable for my Mom who was able to stay during my whole time at rehab. The intensive therapy I received there taught me to walk, talk and write again. From February 12th until April 18th, I spent approximately 1 month at Christiana and 1 month at Bryn Mawr. On April 18th I was discharged and walked out of Bryn Mawr rehab with a walker on my own accord. When I returned home on April 18th, I was able to become an established patient at a local neurologist and I continued therapy through outpatient services. After some time, he gradually allowed me to return to work and to start driving again. Seven months after my accident, I was back to work full-time. One year and two days after my accident, I became a homeowner. This year I plan on going back to school, continuing the remodeling work on my home and spending as much time as I can with my three loving dogs and three cats. Every day I am extremely thankful to be able to express my feelings, communicate with friends and family, live independently and cherish that each day is a gift.