“It was April 28, 2017. I was driving home from work when my fiancé at the time (now husband) called to tell me he was heading to one more customer before meeting me at his apartment in downtown Houston. We had big plans for the weekend and I rushed out of work eager to hang out with Brian. Upon arrival, I had to call his number to open the apartment gate. His phone just kept ringing and ringing. Luckily, someone was able to beep me in. When I got to the visitor door, I had to call his phone again… 13 phone calls later and no answer. I decided to sit by the door and wait to be let in. Out of nowhere the locked door flung open and I was mysteriously let in. Still to this day I am amazed that this happened. I firmly belief God was there with me. At this time, I started to feel uneasy. Brian never goes this long without calling me back. I was walking down a long hallway when I received a phone call from one of Brian’s coworkers Lela. She had informed me that another coworker saw one of their Milwaukee work trucks in a bad accident on the highway. This is when my heart started to race, and I frantically continued to call Brian over and over again. Still no answer. When I got into his apartment, I tried to keep my mind busy. I started to fold his laundry until I couldn’t shake this terrible feeling. I called my mom and asked what I should do.
This is when I called the traffic authorities. They had no information about any wrecks on the highway. Lela decided she would call the local hospitals. I couldn’t muster up the courage to call myself. Lela had told me to come and pick her up so we could go look at the accident spot. On my way to get her, she called me. Lela told me Brian was at Ben Taub hospital and had been in a horrible accident. I called Ben Taub and tried to get any information that I could. All they could tell me was that it seemed that Brian was ejected from his vehicle (not the case) and was in the neuro ICU. My chest was tight and I couldn’t breathe. Lela kicked me out of the driver seat and sped me all the way to the hospital. Driving to the hospital is all a blur to me. It’s just like in the movies. You feel as if you are trapped inside a nightmare and nothing around you seems to matter. I couldn’t hear any sounds around me. Just the terrible thoughts in my head.
Lela dropped me off and went to go park. I raced up to Neuro ICU and ran into some double doors that happened to be open. I turned to my right and saw a crew of doctors performing surgery on a person’s head. With horror in the nurse’s eyes she realized I belonged to the man under the operating light. She quickly rushed me into the waiting room. A doctor came out quickly after. I was alone. Completely and utterly alone. He explained to me that they were not exactly sure what happened, but Brian was in a bad car accident and they are trying to stabilize him. He took a huge hit to the head and was having internal bleeding. The doctor told me this could most likely cause brain damage. It was then that I dropped to my knees in an empty hallway and just sobbed. My whole body was trembling. I will never forget this moment. Lela soon showed up along with my mother and brother who drove 30 minutes to make sure I was okay. After an hour of waiting, my dad, other brother and two sisters with their husbands came to the hospital. Within two hours I had over 15 people in the waiting room with me. Even with this support system I still felt completely alone. They would try to make small talk but all I could think of was Brian. It felt as if there was a huge bubble in my chest that caused me not to speak. I remember staring off into those pale blue walls and only thinking of Brian. He was the only one I wanted to be next to.
After what seemed like forever, the doctor came in and brought me into a tiny room. They asked me if I would be interested in signing Brian up to be a research patient. I looked at my parents in disbelief that they would ask this of me without ever updating me on Brian’s progress. I told them I would not decide until I spoke to Brian’s parents and abruptly asked about his condition. The doctor informed me that Brian was still unconscious but was responding to stimuli.
It was then that I realized I was the one who had to tell Brian’s parents. The hospital is not allowed to give out any information over the phone. I called his dad, Ted, first. No answer. I then had to get the courage to call his sweet mother. If you met Marcie, you would know that she always has such a positive outlook on everything. The fact I had to be the one to deliver this news to her just killed me inside and I still had no idea how he ended up here. Marcie and Brian’s brother, Steve, had just driven into Oregon that day after 30 hours of moving from Austin. When I told her the news, you could hear her voice tremble. She begged for more information than I could give her. I wanted to tell her everything was going to be okay, but I couldn’t. Her son was laying on an operating table in the ICU and she was across the country. I was finally able to get ahold of Brian’s father, Ted, who was in Austin, Texas, at the time. I think it took him a total of two hours to get into Houston.
There was a moment in the hallway that I keep close to my heart. My eyes were raw and swollen from crying and I imagine I looked washed out and pale. A young man about my age came up to me and asked to pray over me. His words were just so comforting that I could finally take somewhat of a breath after feeling like I was drowning. Little did I know that this new friend would become my support system these next few months.
By this point it was 11 p.m. and all our visitors had to leave. They took their turns to go see Brian. With each group that saw him, I could see their eyes swell with tears. They have never seen someone so close to them look so terribly beat up. Even the strongest men in my life couldn’t hold back their tears. My mom stayed the night with me and Ted in the ice cold ICU waiting room. Not one of us got any sleep that night. My mom held onto me all night. Not once did she let me go.
Brian’s mom Marcie and brother Steve arrived the next morning. Overnight, the doctors said Brian was starting to respond more and more. I tried to check on him every hour. I was there when Brain woke up. He had a tube down is throat and a tube out of his head. Brian was covered in blood and bruises but has never looked so handsome to me. I yearned to hold him. Brian started to motion for a pen and I ran to grab him a pen and paper. The first thing he wrote down was, ‘was it my fault?’ All I could say was I don’t know.
The next thing he wrote was, ‘is everyone else okay?’ Once again, I had no information to give him. This moment was the most powerful moment. This is when I knew it was still my Brian laying in front of me. He wasn’t at all worried about his condition. He was only worried about everyone around him.
I ran out of the room to get his mom. With his eyes closed, Brian wrote out the words, ‘I love you,’ to Marcie. We all took a deep breath and knew Brian was going to be okay.
After extensive questioning of numerous parties we found out that Brian had been driving down Hardy Toll Road when a stray tire bounced up and hit his driver side windshield in his Ford F150. Miraculously, Brian was able to pull his truck over to the side of the road and was responsive for the first few minutes. Causing no other wrecks and no other damage to any other car. Brian describes the accident like this.
“I was driving down Hardy Toll trying to make it to one last customer before the end of the day. It was a Friday afternoon and I had a great weekend planned which made the wreck even more of a bummer. I was not texting or even had my eyes off the road. The last thing I remember was seeing a tire fly over the median, bounce once on the road, then I woke up in the hospital. Whether it’s my mind creating a reality or factual I swear I could make out the words ‘Hankook’ on the tire right before it hit.”
The weeks/months in the ICU went on and Brian had many injuries that required many surgeries. His injuries included fracture of the vault skull, acute respiratory failure, fractured cervical vertebrae, Hydrocephalus, Traumatic Subarachnoid hemorrhage, Nasal Bone fracture, Epidural hemorrhage, Traumatic subdural hemorrhage, Facial bone fracture, Fracture of orbital floor, maxillary fracture.
His skull was crushed with severe damage to his facial and orbital bones as well as minor spinal cord damage. These fractures led to brain hemorrhaging which resulted in the installation of numerous titanium implants as well as what is called a VP shunt. The shunt is to relieve pressure on the brain by providing an out for excess CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) or brain fluid.
Brian spent a total of 1 month in the ICU and 2 months in the hospital including a full time rehab stay. After one week I went back to work as a teacher. I would drive up every afternoon directly after work and stay until visiting hours were over. I couldn’t stand to leave Brian’s side. His family stayed near and kept me up to date. I was so exhausted that I constantly felt wired. My heart would race trying to get to that hospital quick enough. Every time I got there Brian would always wake up just to say, ‘Hey Boss, you don’t have to come every day, go enjoy yourself.’ I wouldn’t have dreamed to be anywhere else. Not only was I there, but we had at least five visitors every day. We have such an incredible support system.
There was another man I want to mention. His name is Michael Segal. This man was and still is my saving grace. He was in a terrible accident in college and he now works for Ben Taub as a social worker. Every day around 4 p.m. he would bring cookies and comfort. It took a while for me to open up to him but there were days I was tapping my feet anxiously waiting for him. Especially on the days where it seemed as if Brian would never be the same. When Michael was around, everything seemed just right in the world. He would always begin his visits with the same request. ‘Tell me something good about today.’ But it was two phrases he always said that stuck with me. ‘Keep Hope Alive’ and ‘My hopes and prayers are always with you.’ I would recite these constantly for comfort. If you ever get a chance, read his story and how he turned tragedy into a career. I only hope that my story reaches people the way his did.
Months went on and everyday Brian became healthier. Of course, we had set backs. We had many moments where we had to rush to the emergency room because of small scares that could potentially be traumatic. All of this was happening while we were trying to get ready for our wedding. I kept thinking, if we make it to our wedding, it will be a miracle.
We made it. Fast forward to May 19, 2018, our wedding day. Brian and I knew exactly what to give Marcie as a Mother of the Groom gift. We handed her a bracelet with Brian’s handwriting and the exact handwritten words ‘I love you’ inscribed on the bracelet that he wrote to her in the ICU. We held on to those first words Brian wrote down and made sure Marcie has those words with her forever.
I remember thinking to myself, ‘try to hold it together.’ I knew I was going to bawl my eyes out when I walked down the aisle and I was going to look like a complete mess, but I was perfectly okay with that. As the doors opened and I looked at Brian, I could see him bawling along with everyone else in the room.
Every single person at our wedding in some shape or form had been there with us through it all. There was not a dry eye in the chapel. When I asked Brian what he was thinking when he saw me come down the aisle, he said, ‘When the doors opened and I saw my wife, I was completely overcome by not only her, but the fact I had actually made it. Through everything that has happened or could have happen, I made it to the happiest day in my life. I made it.’
Keep Hope Alive.”
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