A Heroine's Journey, Cathy Crimmins

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Heroine’s Journey

A Short report on:

“Where is the Mango Princess?”

Cathy Crimmins

“Where is the Mango Princess”

In my search for an intellectual hero that could relate to a Speech Language Pathology[1] (SLP) major, I came across several drawbacks. I found that many people that could be held in such regard, produced books that read more like instructional manuals rather than a personal journey. I realized that not all “intellectual heroes” in my field of study hold the title of “Doctor”. An SLP major can relate most to the family members of those they are trying to learning to treat. Speech Language Pathology greatly deals with Traumatic Brain Injury patients and their physical rehabilitation. Cathy Crimmins, author/caregiver/wife to Alan Forman, best chronicles her journey in her book, “Where Is the Mango Princess”, and brings to light in a very humorous fashion the trials and tribulations that come with the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) patients.

It all starts with a winning raffle ticket to a very bad vacation trip. On the last day of their vacation, Cathy watches her husband, Alan Forman and their nine year old daughter Kelly, sail a small skiff across a lake in Kingston, Canada in what was supposed to be one of many trips to get their belongings back in the car and head home. In a freak accident, a speed boat crashes into the skiff, and causes Alan to suffer a TBI. “Alan’s brain got run over by a speedboat” explains Cathy, “the speedboat literally crashed into his skull”.

The Call
A few moments after the accident, Kelly comes back to the vacation spot in a different boat, panicking, desperately trying to explain that there was an accident. Cathy gets a ride to the scene, where she finds her husband unconscious and still in the skiff. Alan is rushed over to the nearest hospital via helicopter, riding alongside him is Cathy. At this point, Cathy is alerted by the paramedics of the fleeting hope of Alan surviving long enough to get to the hospital. Compounding the injury, Alan suffers several seizures and ceases to breathe during the flight. Cathy is in shock and despair as all she can do is watch and wait as her husbands status begins to further deteriorate, despite it all she is adamant that she is where she needs to be. “How can you spend nineteen years with a man and not want to be there when he dies?” states Cathy. Crossing the First Threshold

Finally arriving at the hospital, doctors and nurses are able to stabilize Alan; he is placed in a chemical induced coma to prevent any further seizures. After an excruciating wait, Cathy is finally given news about her husband’s condition. Alan’s brain has been severely damaged all over, more specifically his frontal lobe area. The attending doctor informs Cathy, “You may not get Alan back”. According to the University of Alabama, when a person suffers a TBI, the Glascow Coma scale is administered within the first 24 hours. The scale measures the severity of the brain injury and gives it a scale value ranging from 3 to 15, at a 3 a person may remain in a vegetative state for life. Alan scored a 5, which meant he may wake up but after that no one can be sure what his mental state might be. Alan’s official diagnosis was Diffuse Axonal Injury[2], alongside lesions and bleeding throughout his frontal lobe. It is in light of this news and events that Cathy is now thrust into a world that she never expected. When her husband awakens, she may have to take up the mantle of caregiver, and the responsibility it weighs. She goes forth unknowing but unrelenting in her commitment to her husband, knowing that if the roles were reversed he would do the same. Belly of the Whale

During the following days after the accident, Alan begins to waver in and out of consciousness. A Hematoma[3] over the left side of his brain has caused Alan to lose movement and function over most of the right side of his body. Speech returns slowly along...
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