Stories of Hope

Many patients in the Neuro-ICU have suffered serious brain injury and may be comatose or minimally responsive. This can be a very frightening time for both patients and family members. While for some patients, neurologic injury may be permanent or devastating, we would like to share some stories of hope that come from the perspective of the medical community (physicians, nurses and advanced practice providers) and also from patients and family members. 

Dara Southerland

On Valentine's Day, February 14, 2014, I woke up feeling extremely weak and fatigued.  I could barely move or get out of bed that morning.  I'd had a lingering cold for some time.  My breathing had become increasingly labored months earlier after receiving a flu shot around the end of October 2013.  Within ten days or so of receiving the shot, I felt fatigued and my breathing was growing more difficult.  I didn't connect the shot with the breathing problems at the time.  I thought my asthma was worsening and that I needed to see a doctor about it.  

Continue reading Dara's story

Candace Gantt

Candace GanttOn a bright and glorious morning in July of 2005 I was cycling with my friend on Goshen Road in Chester Country, Pennsylvania. It was only 2 weeks after completing a grueling 70 mile ½ Ironman race in Lake Placid, NY. That morning I was hit by a reckless construction truck pulling a trailer. At about 20 miles per hour I bounced off the road, hit a telephone pole and then a stockade fence. I suffered a broken clavicle, several broken facial bones and a traumatic brain injury. My riding buddy called 911 on her mobile phone and the Willistown police and EMT crew arrived within minutes and immediately called to have me medevac’d to the Hospital of the University Pennsylvania’s (HUP) level 1 trauma center....

Click here to continue reading Candace's Story...

Erin Calo

Erin Carlo 2

The story of Erin Calo did not begin on July 22, 2012. However, after being thrown from a second floor balcony resulting in a severe traumatic brain injury, my life and the lives of my friends and family were changed forever.

I spent the next 12 days in a coma at WakeMed, Raleigh, NC, with no responses to commands, no responses to pain, and no signs of life. No matter how grim the prognosis was, my nurses and doctors never gave up on me, my family never gave up on me and most importantly, I never gave up on myself.

I kept fighting and eventually opened my eyes, but the world didn't look the same as I had once known. 

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Kristine S

Kristine S.

It happened so quickly that I don’t even remember how it happened or what happened.  All that I know is the story of my survival, my family's resilience, and our strong faith in our faithful God. I am learning more and more each day about my incredible journey...   

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It was my turn to personally test-run the Acute Stroke Response System thru the Brain Attack Team, this time as the real patient. I was in a meeting with colleagues when I experienced sudden dizziness and later, double vision. This was communicated to the Emergency Department of the hospital where I worked... 

Click here to continue reading Noney's Story..


Pamela H- graduation

I had always felt healthy and energetic, enjoying my life in every aspect. I was teaching my 8th grade English classes, attending  graduate  school  part-time,  reading  for pleasure,  going  to  yoga,  petting  my  cat  and enjoying time with my family and friends.   Around Christmastime in 2009, I started having headaches that kept getting worse over the course of ten days.  I visited my doctor and an MRI of my brain was unremarkable shortly before the morning when I awoke in unbearable pain.  I called my parents who lived close by. My father came to my house and called an ambulance immediately.  The  last  thing  I remember  is  waving  to my  father  from  the ambulance window, trying to reassure him that things would be alright...

Click here to continue reading Pamela's Story...

Alex Baldwin

Alex Baldwin_At work

I was a 21-year-old college student with one year left to graduate when an accident changed my life forever. On October 21, 2008 I was struck by a motor vehicle resulting in a severe head trauma and multiple life threatening injuries including multiple skull fractures, , blood accumulation between the skull and the brain (subdural hematomas), blood around the brain tissue (subarachnoid hemorrhages) and extensive brain tissue bruising (contusions) and swelling...

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Tracey Brooks

Tracey Brooks with husband and dogs

January 21, 2010 was my 45th birthday. Richard, my husband, was returning from England later that night. so I went to dinner with family and friends. After dinner, I took the dogs out and went upstairs to wait until Richard came home. Everything was fine. In the morning, we were making breakfast and making plans to celebrate my birthday together over the weekend. I was making smoothies in the kitchen and then I don't remember anything else. Richard had to tell me the story months after, but the story goes like this...

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He stumbled into the ER, disheveled, in torn clothes, and smelling of excrement and urine. When the nurses pulled off his boots, much of the skin of his feet came off with them.   He was homeless, although at one time he had held a law degree. He had fallen on hard times.  He had been struck by a car as he huddled under a blanket near the grocery cart that was his home furnishing; under an overpass.  He had an acute subdural hematoma, several fractured ribs, a displaced pelvis, a punctured lung, a lumbar vertebral fracture, a ruptured spleen and a bruised ego.  He was a proud man.

Click here to continue reading Harold's Story..


Six months later Joe walked back into our ICU. He saw JoAnn, and all of us. He had no memory of any of us... or the three weeks he spent with us. We knew him intimately: we knew every crevice of his body; we had turned him, and suctioned him; had changed his Foley and replaced his nasogastric tubes. 

Click here to continue reading Joe's Story...

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