I’m pleased to host James Pence today who talks about his writing experience with a family whose child suffered a traumatic brain injury and had a truly miraculous recovery.
Like many others, over the last year I’ve closely followed the story of Gabrielle Giffords
. Her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head has been nothing less than remarkable.
However, Congresswoman Giffords’ story was of special interest to me because as her ordeal unfolded, I was completing work on a book about another remarkable traumatic-brain-injury (TBI) survivor: Nate Lytle.
Nate is a young surfer from Victoria, Texas, whose life changed in an instant on June 4th, 2007. Nate had gotten out of the Coast Guard only a few months earlier and was preparing to move to Tallahassee, Florida to be the youth and college pastor at a new church. Since he still had a week before he was to leave for Tallahassee, he offered to help out at his father Billy’s business, Engenco, a company that supplies engine parts to the oil and gas industry.
Nate was atop a ten-foot ladder, trying to help his dad maneuver a 300-pound diesel manifold off a twelve-foot shelf and onto a lift. They lost control of the manifold, and as it fell it clipped the bottom rung of the ladder, catapulting Nate into the air.
As Nate came down, he put out his left hand to try to break his fall, but succeeded only in shattering his wrist. After he landed, he heard a high-pitched ringing in his ears.
Billy climbed down from the shelf and found Nate conscious, but in extreme pain.
“Did you hit your head?” Billy asked.
“My wrist, my wrist,” Nate said, as he cradled his left arm with his right. His hand was a sickening sight, hanging loose, apparently attached only by muscles and tendons.
“Did you hit your head?” Billy repeated.
“No, my wrist. I hurt my wrist,” Nate replied.
Billy ran to get his truck. Because the location of his business was remote and difficult to find, he knew that he would get Nate to the hospital faster by driving himself. What neither Nate nor Billy knew was that Nate had sustained a severe head injury when he landed. Because he was wearing a baseball cap, Billy couldn’t see the huge dent in the left side of his son’s skull.
Billy put Nate in the back seat of his pickup truck’s cab and rushed to the hospital. In the back seat, Nate began to shout Coast Guard commands.
Nate’s mother Tammy arrived at the hospital about the same time that Billy pulled. She helped Nate into a wheelchair and took him into the ER waiting room while Billy parked the truck.
That’s when Nate crashed.
First, he began to talk gibberish. Then he stiffened and started to slip out of the chair.
A security guard helped Tammy wheel him back to a trauma room. The last thing Tammy heard as they closed the door was Nate, saying “I’m gonna puke!”
Over the next few hours, she and Billy would learn that Nate had suffered a massive head injury, He had a softball-sized hole in the left side of his skull, and the bone fragments had been driven deep into his brain.
The neurosurgeon told Billy and Tammy that they should think about making funeral arrangements.
Return Friday for Part II!
James H. (Jim) Pence is a man of many talents. He’s a performance chalk artist, singer, speaker, published author, editor, collaborator, and in his spare time he teaches karate to homeschoolers. Jim has been called a “Renaissance man,” but he prefers to be known simply as a follower of Jesus Christ and a storyteller. Jim has been published in both fiction and nonfiction. Recently, Thomas Nelson published “The Encounter
,” a novella that Jim wrote in collaboration with bestselling author Stephen Arterburn. Jim’s newest book, More God: Seeing the Blessings through the Pain
, is available in hardcover, softcover, and e-book format.
Photos courtesy of Alan Lindholm, G. Scott Imaging, and Danny Vivian