Susan "Susie" James

Update October 4, 2004
Sept 10,2004 was the 2yr anniversary of my brother's accident. I wanted to share in his recovery. After Jim was released, he stayed home for about 6 months before he had a setback. Severe depression and sleep deprivation sent him spiraling out of control. His wife was not able ir willing to cope with the many changes and made matters worse by blaming him. We spent 2 weekends in a row at the emergency room, trying to get help. Jim ended up in a psychiatric facility for a week before I could get some direction from our Tennessee Brain Injury Representative. They kept him so drugged, that he could not hold his head up. It was a nightmare. Thank God for Carolyn Chambers (TBI Rep). She helped coordinate Jim's transfer to Timber Ridge Neuro-Restorative Ranch in Benton Arkansas. He spent 6 months there recovering again. It took a while to get him back on his feet. He is now back home in Memphis and is living independantly at a retirement home. His wife does not live with him. It has been an adjustment for him, espescially since he is about 20 to 30 yrs younger thatn most of the folks living there. He is now 58 yrs old, though he looks & moves about like an older man. We are working on that. His biggest problem is swallowing and choking. They are trying some new techniques on him that we hope will help. He is still unsteady & uses a cane for support. He also has some difficulty know when it is appropriate to say certain things. But, he is always striving to do better and is willing to learn again. I am so proud of him, and know how he struggles every day. He is a miracle.

Original Post
My brother, Jim Ashe, is 56 years old and a Captain on the Memphis Police Department. He was critically injured Sept.10,2002 while on duty riding his police motorcycle. For some unknown reason, he flew 43 feet into the air and landed face down. He was airlifted to The Med in Memphis. He was treated as a heart attack victim while in route to the hospital. Because the hospital failed to follow protocol, the proper lab work was not done to determine if a heart attack was the cause of this awful accident. Upon arrival the trauma team indicated the following injuries: 3 fractures of the skull, severe head and brain injuries, 5 broken ribs, a broken palate, 2 missing front teeth, multiple facial fractures, and fractures at C1 & T9 (later the C1 was ruled out). The EKG indicated he had had a heart attack sometime, but they did not know when. Once stabilized, we got to see him briefly as he was being transported to the trauma intensive care unit. I can tell you, that he was a mess and we were petrified. Thirty years on the force is a long time and this was his first injury. We were told he may never wake up from the coma and he probably would never walk or be the same man he was prior to the accident. It looked bleak. My brother is the 2nd child of seven and I am number seven. We were all in shock and seemed to walk around in a daze as doctors, nurses, clergy, fellow police officers and hospital personnel floated around us. As with any accident, the first 24 hours are critical. He held on despite the negativity around him. We (his siblings) refused to believe that he would not recover, so our vigil started. Having someone in an intensive care unit is so very hard. His life was in their hands, and we prayed that they would care for him properly. It is so important to listen and be a part of their care. Get to know the staff, the routines and be there. We talked to him, rubbed his head, kept cool clothes on his forehead and continually kept him up to date. Everytime I went in to see him, I would tell him who I was and that he was at The Med, and doing okay. I tried to let him know that he was injured, but he was healing and we were there. From the start, we could see the right side of his body responding. The staff would bring us down and tell us that it was just reflexes. We would say okay, and continue to try to stimulate him. Days turned into weeks with setbacks happening daily. Bedsores are the worst! He, like many other coma patients got pneumonia more than once, a staph infection and bladder infection. Because he was in the coma so long, a feeding tube was put in. He was breathing on his own from the start, but he was put on a respirator to insure that he was getting enough oxygen at all times. Tubes, infections and new medications were the norm for weeks. After a few weeks, Jim opened his eyes. That was what bugged me the most. He seemed as if he was seeing us, but he wasn't. Technically he was still in a coma. To this day, that bothers me. He does not remember any of it. He was moved to a step down unit and then went into respiratory distress. Luckily, the police dept. supplies PST officers (police trainees) to downed and hospitalized officers. The one on duty, Melanie Medlock, was trained in CPR and responded when the hospital staff did not. She saved his life. Then after Thanksgiving, my brother, sister in law & I went to visit. As we came through the door, we saw him sitting up in the wheelchair. Immediately I knew something was different. He looked at us and said, " Hey ya'll, come on in!". Needless to say, we were awestruck! He knew who we were! From that point on, he has slowly been recovering. He is now at the HealthSouth Rehab Center and took 63 steps today (Jan 30,2003). He amazes us daily with his wit and charm. The staff says he teaches them something new everyday. He is real emotional at times and has been depressed. We work constantly to cheer him on to recovery. Home seems far away to him, but we are looking at about 4 more weeks inpatient. He still has lots of work to do. Getting him mobile is a priority. He is a BIG man. Always keep your chin up and believe in GOD, not the doctors. They can try to determine the outcome, but we know where the final word comes from. Each head injury is unique as is each person. Pray, be there, encourage and always hope.

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