• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Camie Smedley

Hello, my name is Ms. Amy Smedley, and my daughter is Camie. On December 4th in 2015, we get a call here in Jax, FL telling us our daughter Camie has been is a single car accident in Gualala, CA.

She was life flighted to the trauma hospital in Santa Rosa, CA where my husband told the doctor to do whatever was necessary to save Cam's life. I was on my phone with a nurse who urged us to get on a plane now! She implied it was to say goodbye to our daughter. She suffered a few small breaks, collapsed lungs, spleen had to be removed, worst injury was the TBI.

They removed a piece of the skull to allow for swelling. Our youngest daughter joined us and we spent November driving back and forth to the hospital every day. 2-2.5 hours there and back. At the end of December my husband and younger daughter flew back to Florida. I took a leave of absence from my work and stayed by Camie's side every day 6-11 hours a day.

I would do range of motion, massage therapy, aromatherapy, etc. I even used flavored lip balm so she could use her sense of taste. Have her touch different textures. I had to do all this, the sub-acute unit didn't do any of it. My husband would play classical guitar for her every day/night. Whether in person or via Skype or FaceTime. He'd play classical music that is supposed to help the brain and then songs from her childhood (Disney/Muppets/Willy Wonka).

Friends and family would visit periodically. I had people leave voicemails sharing memories and words of love. I’d play them daily. I'd put in movies, especially The Secret". Camie has continued to improve, albeit slowly. She was in a coma for a couple of months. She had a tracheotomy tube. They wouldn't remove it where she was. The neurosurgeon wanted to put the bone flap back in at 2-3 months but the sub-acute doctor refused to do it then. It didn't get done until over 11 months out (November 17, 2016).

That surgery went better than expected, according to the surgeon. Once we had the follow up we made our plans to bring her home to Florida. We got her back to Florida after battling the sub-acute, doctors, insurance, etc. Now we are figuring out our next step. Camie has never regressed or had a plateau. She has had minor setbacks that are to be expected with lack of mobility, pneumonia, anal fistula (currently), etc.

Camie can smile, frown, give the "peace" sign when pleased, shoots the "bird" finger when upset, she helps with dressing, she pushes her left arm through the hole and takes her thumb and tries to help push up the bra strap. If you put a wash rag in her hand she can wipe her face (eyes/mouth). She squeezes your hand. She signs I love you, to her dad and I and does the sign for eat (she still has a feeding tube).

We tell her to be patient. She has two sons, Christopher Sears, 5 and Elijah Sears, 3. She recognizes all of us and reacts to us. The nurse told she's been pushing her away when she does things Camie finds uncomfortable. It's been baby steps ever since the beginning but baby steps are better than no steps. Feel free to ask questions.

Like I said, I've been by her side every day since the accident (minus once I got back to Florida and got really sick). Camie has shown everyone whose met her she is a fighter and has given them all hope. The staff at the sub-acute started really getting excited around her, they even ordered PT/OT twice a week and speech 3 times a week.

That's huge at that unit. They don't expect people to leave ever!

Thank you, for praying and support!

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