Oh where to begin, where to begin? I’ve been asked by my family and friends (especially my sister and some very special FOB friends!!!) to share the following story with you and to try to put it in writing. I don’t think I can find the words to truly express what an incredible “chain of events” that have taken place over the past week or two, but here goes:
I begin by expressing my sincere gratitude for the thoughts, prayers, support and generosity given to my brother by so many since his accident June 16, 2006. It seems like a lifetime ago when we were told by the doctors Mike was lucky to be alive and facing a very long and uncertain recovery. We thought we knew what lay ahead. It has been over 3 years and Mike and we have experienced much fear, sadness, hope and joy as we have witnessed Mike’s miraculous journey towards recovery and healing. He is a miracle and although he has made incredible strides, facing each day with courage and perseverance, surprising his health care providers more than not, Mike recently hit a plateau and had begun to feel he could not accomplish anymore. Recovery has been Mike’s job these past few years, with almost daily physical, occupational, speech therapy and of course his favorite, therapeutic horseback riding. And although all of us can see how much he has accomplished and are amazed at how far he has come, Mike wanted more………
And along comes a dear friend and FOB, Mary D.! During the fun filled Barbaro Legacy weekend in Delaware, she hands me a copy of an article she had come across regarding a recent grant Dr. Paul Harch has received from the government for the study of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for TBI war veterans. The article also had testimonials from some of Dr. Harch’s private TBI patients who had experienced great results from Hbot. Cathy shares with us that she had asked Mike’s neurologist many months ago about this type of therapy and was told he thought it had been too long since Mike’s injury for it to do anything for him. A few days later, back in SC, I pulled the article out of my purse, read it again and went straight to the internet. After a few hours of research, I had a list of names and telephone numbers of doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc. The next day, I was receiving return telephone calls from just about everyone I had left a message with. Just as I had discovered what a close knit community the horse racing world and the Fan’s of Barbaro were after Mike’s accident, I discovered yet another community of people who were willing to rally with open hearts and whatever resources they had to offer support of a man who has and continues to endure a life changing event. Each conversation with a doctor or nurse involved in this therapy gave me (then Mike and family) hope that Mike could possibly recover more than he has so far.
Now this is where it gets serendipitous or fate like. I don’t know what to call it except that we all know it was meant for Mike to try Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. We had been trying to figure out a way for Mike to undergo treatment with Dr. Harch in New Orleans (Harch Hyperbarics
). Since the treatments were going to be out of pocket, they were offering a greatly discounted rate. Still, including food and lodging and one of us staying with Mike, it just wasn’t feasible and I was beginning to think that although Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy sounded like a wonderful opportunity for Mike, it wasn’t going to happen. Then, Mrs. Paul Harch (Juliet) calls me bright and early Monday morning and tells me she and her husband had discussed Mike while on a plane over the weekend. She then refers me to Dr. Pete Stephens of Hyperbaric Treatment of the Low Country
in Hilton Head, SC. I called him immediately and I believe would have treated Mike for free if he could have! As we were discussing the possibility of Mike and I coming to Hilton Head, Dr. Stephens asked me if I lived anywhere near Mt. Pleasant, SC. I LIVE IN MT. PLEASANT! It turns out that Dr. Stephens had recently assisted two doctors in beginning a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatment facility less than 1 mile from my home! Before I knew it, I was speaking with Dr. Tim Osbon of Oasis Hyperbarics
. Dr. Osbon and his partner, Dr. Eric Brittain, offered Mike treatments for only $100 each! One treatment can cost as much as $840! Within another 24 hours, Dr. Osbon had arranged an appointment for Mike with a neurologist and East Cooper Physical Therapy so that Mike could continue his other therapies without a hitch! Done! Just like that!!
Now the question was where to get the money and how to get Mike down here!
Knowing that trying to raise funds for the treatment would take some time, Mike called a former race horse owner he trained for and asked if she would loan him $5,000 so he could begin his Hbot treatment right away. Done! Just like that!! Two days later, Mom and her husband Durwood, picked Mike up from Newark, DE. Durwood driving Mike’s car and Mom driving hers. From there they drove to Fayetteville, NC where Cathy and her daughter Nicole took over. On Saturday night, August 15th, my brother arrived excited, apprehensive and hopeful!
Here it is, a week later and Mike has undergone 10 treatments. After the first treatment, when they rolled him out of the chamber, his first words were “I finally feel like I’m doing something for myself!” After 2 treatments, Mike’s speech was less forced and his enunciation much improved. After 3 treatments, we suddenly realized he was bringing his leg and foot up to tie his shoes rather than leaving them on the floor and bending over! After 4 treatments, the feeling of pressure across Mike’s jaw and chin is completely gone! These small signs of progress are so promising! Of course Mike would like to jump out of the chamber and immediately run around the block! But we all understand that any progress is good and more, even better. It would be such a shame not to give Mike this opportunity…
So that is why I’m telling this story. We are determined to find a way to afford this for Mike. And as I’ve said before, were it not for the generosity of Mike’s family, friends, FOBs and those that have come to know Mike’s story in other ways, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
So we’re asking again….Please help Us help Mike! Let’s help him continue his simply amazing journey!
FOBs and friends have already begun to rally together! Golf tournament! Raffle! Per Treatment Sponsors! We’re overwhelmed! Thank you, thank you all for continuing to care, to help, for your prayers and for your support!