Michael Pelkey – Louisa’s Story
Submitted by Michael Pelkey
I would like to tell my story from the perspective of the man who loves the one who was injured. First i want to say that unless you have gone through the experience of seeing a loved one sustain a serious brain injury then it may be difficult to understand what both of us went through and still experience every day.
Louisa was driving back to university in Windsor on a Sunday afternoon when her car slid on an icy patch of roadway and spun around hitting a utility pole. The impact crumpled in the passenger side of her car up to her seat.
I got the phone call from the OPP at our home and rushed to the hospital. She remained in a coma for 3 weeks and although she would look at me from her bed she doesn’t remember any part of that time. During that period i was encouraged by hospital staff to give as much thought stimulation to her as possible. I brought in family pictures and let her look at her favourite recipe cards to try to jog her memory.
Her accident occurred on Jan 23rd and she came out of the coma on Valentines Day Feb 14th exactly as some doctors had predicted. I was delighted every time she showed some glimmer of attention and single words until on Feb 14th just as I was about to leave the hospital for home she started to talk to me in earnest. The words were mostly unconnected like gibberish but I was excited and only left for home after she got tired that day. After that landmark day her speech and mobility gradually improved. Finally the day came when she could leave the hospital. We came home and I stayed with her until her mother arrived to care for her while I went back to work.
In January the next year she returned to her studies and graduated with a mechanical engineering degree. She was an honours student before and her grades dropped but she still made it through. After that she went to several job interviews without success and tried one year of nursing training until she decided to stay at home.
Today she lives as normal a life as she can cook and garden in the summer. Because of the severity of her injury she has many characteristics that others would find not normal. She has trouble with balance, is quick to anger and often untrusting of others. As her husband I have gotten used to her little excesses that would not be easy for others to understand.
Through it all she received excellent care and attention from so many involved. The staff at Hamilton General hospital took good care of her and there were excellent people to help her after her release from the hospital.
In the beginning, without knowing who to contact I was advised to contact Thomson Rogers about her case and Leonard Kunka became her lawyer. Not only did he work very hard on her behalf all the way but he guided me to the best rehabilitation team she could have hoped for. The whole team including her physiotherapist, occupational therapist and neuropsych and were excellent both when she was still at home and then in Windsor. Through the whole process we couldn’t have gotten a better case manager than in Kim Doogan. She worked tirelessly day after day until her final settlement was achieved.
How often Louisa and I have commented since, about the good fortune we had in getting these people to help her. But as much as these people were so good Leonard Kunka was I feel the best lawyer we could have had. He patiently listened to my concerns about Louisa in many meetings and always had a kind word and encouragement. When the final settlement for her was completed it was evident the long hours and effort he had made for us. For this I will be always grateful.
If my story sounds overly grateful then so be it. What was important to me was to have so many skillful people working so hard on Louisa’s behalf. I had never experienced a loved one being injured and changed forever like that and I hope those reading don’t in future ever have to experience the same.