Ready for rehab

By admin
23 October 2013

Six weeks after a serious car accident that left him with brain injuries Jackie is transferred to the rehabilitation centre and can even greet his family, writes his wife and blogger Michelle Fourie.

Jackie after he woke up from the coma (left) and two weeks before the accident (right)

I have to introduce you to Sophie. Sophie Flennie Sibanyoni, who started working for us shortly after mine and Jackie’s wedding. That’s nearly 20 years ago.

During 20 years you form a firm bond with the people who work in your house every day. They know what underwear you had on yesterday. They know about the vibes in the house, while you can hold up a front for the world to see.

Sophie was the one who piggy-backed my sons as babies and stood by us through thick and thin. She’s part of the family, one of the people closest to me.

On the day Jackie is accepted by the rehabilitation hospital after his car accident we drive there early in the morning to see how things are going.

Here Sophie is waiting at Jack's empty bed in the rehab center early in the morning.

When we get to his bedside he looks at Sophie and greets her, softly but audibly.

And that from a man who in the six weeks since the motor accident hadn’t said a word and barely demonstrated that he understood everything going on around him.

Naturally his greeting results in tears – and toyi-toyiing the like of which I’ve never seen on TV.

Then Jackie looks at the boys and greets them too. They clamber onto the bed immediately, hungry for their father’s voice, his attention and presence.

But his voice sounds different. A higher pitch and not like him at all.

Jackie and Jacques a couple of days later. Jackie mumbles and speaks very softly and Jacques has to listen carefully to understand.

Then he dozes again. He’s still connected to a drip and a catheter.

Later it becomes clear to us that we can’t expect the same reaction every time we see him.

Sometimes when we arrive his eyes are open but they look like a doll’s eyes – big and misty and dead. It’s explained to us he’s in the“grey area”. Between sleep – the coma – and wakefulness.

Me and the kids with Jackie (Ruan left and Jacques right) in rehab. Here he had just woken up from the deep coma, but he is clearly in the 'grey area': He shows no emotion and stares blankly at the camera.

In rehab Jackie receives intensive multi-disciplinary therapy. Physio-, speech- and occupational therapy. He has to learn all over again to do nearly everything. He can’t walk and will have to depend on a wheelchair.

It’s a state rehabilitation centre; the curtains are faded and the bathroom window is broken – but the floors are shiny and I get an incredible sense of peace.

This is where I realise we’ve been stripped of everything worldly.

That race, money and culture don’t matter.

Here we’re just people, everyone in the  same boat.

* Michelle Fourie lives in Pretoria where she runs a thatch-roofing business. She’s blogging weekly for YOU about how her and her family’s life has changed after her husband sustained irreversible brain damage.

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