Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lee and Bob Woodruff and Gabby Giffords

Here’s two brain injury survivor stories for the price of one: Gabby Giffords and Bob Woodruff.

Gabby’s story needs little introduction.  I think we’re all pretty familiar with her story now that she and her husband have published a memoir.

My memory of Bob Woodruff’s injury was pretty vague.  In a Parade magazine article Ms. Woodruff reported that in 2006 “I learned that Bob, an ABC news anchor on assignment in Iraq, had been riding in a vehicle that struck a bomb. Shrapnel was lodged in his brain, and he lay in a coma. Doctors didn’t know if he’d survive, much less function normally.”

And while Mr. Woodruff was the victim of a bomb instead of a tumor, the consequences were similarly horrific: “Bob emerged from his coma on day 36. He opened his eyes and asked me where I’d been—just like that. But he was missing vast parts of himself, like slices cut from a pie. While he could breathe on his own and answer basic questions, he couldn’t name the president and at first didn’t remember we had twin daughters.”

What I like about this survivor story is that Ms. Woodruff doesn’t sugarcoat the pain and struggles of the rehab and recovery process, e.g. “My heart broke into a million pieces the time I saw Bob, a man who had a photographic memory, struggle to identify the word for 'broom' on a card. Even after he began making progress, for every two good days, he’d have a payback day and be overcome by exhaustion and pain.”

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