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A Very Slow Recovery

In issue 27 (Spring 2004), we ran an article about a Dad who was trying to piece together his life after a serious head injury. From life support, to the breakup of his marriage, he’s had plenty of trials and tribulations.

Now, fifteen months down the track, Hugh Joughin checks on how he’s faring.

Life has continued on its rollercoaster ride for Andrew. As I talk to him, I need to keep reminding myself that in September 2002 he was hanging on to life by a thread.

The only thing that kept him alive, was his fathers refusal to sign the papers that would remove him from 10 days on life support systems. It was looking very likely that two young children under five were going to lose their daddy in quite shocking circumstances.

But here he is on a beautiful spring day, soaking up the Fendalton sun in his flash new townhouse. He is in a much better living environment now, than he was 15 months ago.

He has the stability of having a property which he owns now, rather than being in a short term rental situation. He also assures me that this place is a lot warmer in winter than the old place.

His two kids are happily playing inside, looking comfortable and relaxed in their “second” home. In the past year, he has had the trauma of having to sell the family house in Auckland. It was an exhausting and stressful few weeks, as anyone who has gone through the process of selling family homes can attest to.

The pressure of the situation ultimately led to him having a seizure.

It was a reminder that his mental faculties had limits, and those limits had been exceeded.

Back in Christchurch, he continued with his weekly speech therapy, and things kept gradually improving. He is now able to read, which he was not able to do 15 months ago. It’s a huge milestone of which he is justifiably very proud.

He can also drive again now, which gives him greater freedom and quality of life. His focus is now on his writing. The therapists keep reminding Andrew that progress has to remain “realistic” which is not music to his ears.

His family situation remains somewhat unresolved, with his wife making occassional overtures about getting back together. For Andy though, life has moved on, and there is much to achieve in his second grab at life. The main thing is that he has plenty of access to his kids.

However, he would like to do something about the crippling level of child support he has to pay ($25,000:00 per year). The Inland Revenue seems to have a different take on his fathering situation, but without any concrete facts, this is probably another story in itself.

While his abilities keep improving and not remaining static, there is no reason why he can’t become a Chief Executive Officer of a company, which was his vocation before the accident. That is one of his long term goals. Even the therapists admit that anything is possible, it just may take time.

For Andrew, progress is far too slow. The tests, the evaluations, the government beaurocracy. He just wants to get back to where he was prior to the accident. It isn’t happening yet, but I still get the distinct impression that it will.

It’s just a matter of time.

Next: Book Review: Men After Seperation

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