With a few minutes at the computer, it’s easy enough to gather a vast number of facts on traumatic brain injury (TBI). It’s possible to research causes, symptoms, and treatment. But, if someone in your life, whether family or friend, has been diagnosed with TBI, all those facts won’t really give you a roadmap to ensure the best outcome.
In A Matter of Recovery: The Story of C.B. Miller, Wes Skillings provides the guidelines needed to make sense of all the data. But this book is so much more than just a handbook. It portrays a personal journey and gives hope to readers navigating what can be a tangle of emotions, red tape, and misinformation.
This narrative of triumph over tragedy begins on the night of July 21, 1994, with C.B.’s fall from a third-floor balcony as the railing he leaned against gave way. C.B., a twenty-one-year-old college student, was attending Wilkes College and working toward becoming a high school history teacher and coach. He fell forty-two feet to the concrete below, landing on the left side of his head. The most severe injury incurred was the destruction of the left side of his brain. Other issues that had to be addressed included a broken wrist and a bruised kidney, considered “minimal physical damage” given the distance he had fallen.
But this horrific occurrence was not the end of C.B.’s life or his ability to function as a productive member of society. Quite the opposite. As detailed in this tale of resurgence, the accident was the beginning of his new life, or, as C.B. refers to it, his rebirth.
Of course, C.B. was not able to achieve this rehabilitation without a tremendous amount of support from family, friends, and members of the community.
First and foremost among his supporters were his parents, Mike and Sharon Miller. Mike, a chemist by profession, became C.B.’s chief advocate, whether researching the best type of therapy or battling the insurance company to ensure the time allotted for both inpatient and outpatient treatment was sufficient for the best possible recovery. And during the first months after the accident, Sharon rarely left C.B.’s side.
C.B.’s siblings also provided support. His brother, Michael, a recent graduate of medical school, was able to act as a liaison between the medical team providing treatment and his parents, while also offering invaluable guidance.
But the assistance didn’t stop with family. Many of C.B.’s classmates visited him in the hospital, speaking and reading to him in order to stimulate his brain while he was in a coma.
And then there were the members of the small town where the Millers resided who would drive him to therapy sessions after he was released from inpatient care and living at home. Of course, the excellent medical and therapeutic care he received was key to his recuperation, too.
Above all, though, it was C.B. himself who brought about his significant recovery through his willingness to not only endure the grueling physical, occupational, and speech therapy but to meet each challenge with determination and tenacity.
Although 1994 doesn’t seem all that long ago, the conventional treatment for TBI was quite different at that time. Mike Miller’s idea that “there should be no time limit, no cut-off point, on regaining brain functions” clashed with the standard belief that any significant recovery would take place within the first year.
Time would prove Mike Miller right. Today, that window has been extended to two years and “gradual improvement after those two years” is now accepted as possible.
Over the past twenty years, there have also been improvements in treatment, such as relieving the pressure on the brain by removing part of the skull, which was not done in 1994.
For anyone who wants to understand the impact TBI can have on both the patient and everyone around them, this book deserves a read. Other readers may be interested, too, in both the positive personal story and the medical details. For example, Skillings writes about C.B.’s recuperation from expressive aphasia, a condition that can affect not only TBI patients, but also stroke victims.
The story of someone who has suffered TBI could be quite depressing. But here, Skillings tells a true, heartwarming tale.
A Matter of Recovery: The Story of C.B. Miller
LifeRichPublishing, October 2014
Paperback, 200 pages