Many people have long lists of Christmas wishes this time of year, but Rhonda Janes has one which is quite short.
The Corner Brook woman’s hope is that her son Marcel opens his eyes soon.
Marcel, 19, was seriously injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident near George’s Lake on Nov. 14. The side-by-side he was a passenger in rolled over when the driver attempted to make a turn. Wearing no helmet or seat belt, Marcel ended up pinned beneath the machine.
After being taken to Western Memorial Regional Hospital, he had to be transported to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s for treatment of his head injuries.
Marcel’s skull was crushed and there was damage to the left side of his brain. He had surgery to remove a piece of his skull to alleviate the pressure from his swollen and bleeding brain. The bleeding has since stopped.
Marcel was recently taken off life support and the sedative medicines required for that, but he remains unconscious.
His mother said doctors have told the family that, similar to someone who has had a stroke, the damage to the left side of Marcel’s brain could possibly result in some paralysis of the right side of his body.
There has been damage to his optic nerves and it is a likely he will only see shadows, if he regains his sight at all.
“The doctors said there is 90 per cent chance he won’t see again, but miracles do happen,” Janes said optimistically.
“It’s just a waiting game for him to actually wake up and see what he is capable of doing. We have no idea what that will be.”
Janes thanked the first people who arrived at the scene of the accident for holding her son’s head so that no further physical damage was done to his body. She said there is fortunately no sign of any injury to his neck or spinal cord.
The doctors have not said anything about what to expect in terms of whether Marcel will have any cognitive impairment. All will hinge on his recovery after he regains consciousness.
Janes said her son was an active young man who loved snowboarding and other recreational pursuits.
“Now he’s probably not going to be able to do any of it,” she contemplated. “He has a long road to recovery.”
Eventually, Marcel will require another surgery to either replace the skull bone that has been removed or to put a metal plate in its place, followed by a period of recovery.
Janes was aboard the Marine Atlantic ferry on her way back to Newfoundland when her daughter texted her about the accident a few hours after it had happened.
“I was in the middle of the ocean, panicking and not knowing what to do,” she recalled. “It was a very hard situation to deal with.”
She arrived in Corner Brook the morning after and was on a plane that Friday afternoon, en route to be with her son. She spent the next 2 1/2 weeks with him at the hospital.
She returned to Corner Brook recently and will be going back to St. John’s next week. Her mother has been with Marcel in the meantime.
Since being out of the medically induced coma, Janes said Marcel has shown signs of agitation, during which there is some movement on his right side.
Even the smallest of movements on that side of his body give the family some hope the worst-case scenario might not play out for him.
“We’re holding up pretty good,” said Janes. “When we find out some information — if he moved his right hand or his finger a little bit — that’s a little movement and we get excited at hearing that.”
The family has received a lot of support from friends and even people they don’t know. In addition to neighbourhood fundraisers held in the Corner Brook area since the accident, a woman in Alberta donated money to help offset the family’s cost of travelling to and from St. John’s.
“She is a friend’s aunt and I have never met her,” said Janes. “She just said we needed this kind of support at this time.”
For now, Janes is preparing to spend Christmas with her son at the hospital in St. John’s.
“Our Christmas gift will be that he can open his eyes and see things,” she said. “Other than that, we will deal with it day by day.”
The Western Star