I just read a memoir by Dixie Fremont-Smith Coskie about her son’s traumatic brain injury (TBI) that keeps crowding my thoughts. I cannot seem to shake the effect it had on me, as a mother and grandmother, and this awful question keeps popping in my head, “What if this happened in our family; how would we cope?” Who is Dixie and what is her story?
Dixie, then a mother of seven children, pours out her heart revealing her raw emotions and her family’s fight to bring back their son to his former self. Unthinkable: A Mother’s Tragedy, Terror and Triumph through a Child’s Traumatic Brain Injury is an open book to a mom’s heart. The author lets us in her most private thoughts. We feel her fear, her anger, her interior struggle with God’s will about life or death, and learn valuable lessons we can store to bring out when our lives are shattered. The accident is not the story, the aftermath to it is. And what a story!
About Unthinkable: A Mother’s Tragedy, Terror and Triumph through a Child’s TBI
This amazing story of survival starts with Dixie’s 13 year old son’s traumatic brain injury (TBI) when he was involved in a car accident while riding his bike. He was not wearing a bike helmet. The severe trauma to his head leaves Paul clinging to life. Then we read about the two months he is in a coma followed by almost five months in a rehabilitation hospital. Dixie continues her account by bringing us into her home to witness the years of gruelling out-patient therapies. We witness how her family moves on and the lessons learned from this life changing experience as Paul’s sibling go out into the world.
All parents will value this story showing the “power of the family” and how we should make every day count. Parents of special needs children, be it the result of accidents, birth defects or child hood diseases, will treasure Unthinkable as their how-to-survival guide. Each chapter ends with bulleted format tips on navigating the hospital routines, treatments, meetings, transition to rehab, transition to homecare, setting up an education program, and most of all how to care for yourself so you can continue to care for others that rely on you.
Parents going through hardships and coping with the various emotions this brings will be able to relate to how Dixie felt. They will feel they are not alone when they find themselves:
- Being lonely in the midst of the hospital bustle.
- Feeling guilty about the accident and time spent away from the hospital.
- Feeling guilty about the time spent away from the siblings at home.
- Feeling nothing seemed important except her children and family.
- Feeling no joy or interest in food, entertainment, and the outside world.
Dixie writes, “…looking desperately for freedom from this prison we found ourselves in… I passed these depressing rooms knowing the sadness, despair, and grief that we all were experiencing, unable to remove the persistent misery and hopelessness that had caved and spun and weaved around us.”
Feeling helpless and powerless, Paul’s parents sit in shifts next to their comatose child. Their hearts are divided and shattered, as they try to keep their home life stable. On Paul’s fourth day in the hospital, still not knowing if he would live, Dixie started a journal. If her son woke from his coma, he most likely would have amnesia; therefore, this journal would preserve Paul’s survival. For Dixie, the journal gave her a daily distraction and a way to express her innermost thoughts and emotions. For the reader, this journal is “the fly on the wall” as she documents the most private thoughts of a mom who realizes their lives will never be normal again.
Unthinkable shows how with patience, fortitude, and perseverance we can transform our lives. Paul was putting up a fight! Read about the many setbacks they had to conquer. Readers rejoice with the Coskie family with each milestone Paul achieved. Amanda, the eldest child, explains how every day her family agonized as they watched Paul incrementally manage his TBI. In that collision not only had Paul’s life been changed but the lives of six siblings and certainly the lives of Dixie and Steven.
Parents, caregivers, friends, and Health Care professionals, read Unthinkable by Dixie Fremont-Smith Coskie and its valuable lessons of love, family, and perseverance will stay with you.
Read the complete review on our Special Needs Book Review site here.
About the Author, Dixie Fremont-Smith Coskie
From Dixie Fremont-Smith Coskie’s site we learn, “Dixie attended Pine Manor College and has worked as a teacher’s aide at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Deaf and at the Kennedy Day School in Brighton, Massachusetts working with emotionally challenged children. Dixie also currently works as a Personal Response Associate for a medical alert company, helping those in need. Dixie lives in Upton MA. with her husband and eight awesome children.”
Dixie is passionate about being a mother, writer, fundraiser, public speaker, and advocate for the disabled. She is not just the mother of eight children; she is also the mother of a child who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. Dixie helps raise awareness and funds for traumatic brain injury through working with both national and local organizations, as well as through many charity events that help benefit children.
Dixie has become a writer of caregiving articles, both on the web and in health and medical-related magazines such as the Health Monitor. Dixie shares precious tips for other parents who face a traumatic injury or illness. She also provides caregivers support, resources and advice.
Dixie, by popular demand, compiled the tips from her book Unthinkable, and published a booklet, Unthinkable: Tips on Surviving a Child’s Traumatic Brain Injury Brain Injury Survival Tips for Parents, Caregivers, Friends & Health Care Professionals. This booklet gives both parents and healthcare professionals practical tips and tools to help them better navigate the doctor/nurse/therapist/patient relationship, and ultimately to cope and survive through TBI. Available at Amazon.