Miracle of

The Story of a Six-Year-Old Heart Hero

Belief

Sondra Dubas

© copyright 2013 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising as a consequence of your use or application of any medical information in this book.

Printed in the United States. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

who are my world and to my husband for supporting me in life and my work and for understanding why I needed to tell our story

To my beautiful daughters

Contents
Foreword. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part I 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 When the Unexpected Happens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preparing for Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Unexpected . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Breakdown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Waking Up. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Learning Everything All Over Again. . . . . . . . . . The Road to Rehabilitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Regaining Independence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hearing Her Voice Again . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Can Stand on My Own Two Feet. . . . . . . . . . . . I Can Walk on My Own Two Feet . . . . . . . . . . . . I Can See with My Own Two Eyes. . . . . . . . . . . . Home Sweet Home. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Getting Back to Living. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Day Rehab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Normal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What It’s Like to Be a Heart Hero . . . . . . . . . . . . Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Letting Go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Part II

Part III

Ashley Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . About Heart Heroes, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Special Tributes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Preface
he moment we learned that Ashley experienced significant complications during her heart surgery, our optimism and hope for a smooth, routine operation were dealt a crushing blow. And momentarily, life as we knew it, stopped. I had wished for a book like this to be given to me to tell me what to do. I wanted an instruction book for coping. Since I didn’t find that one existed, we figured out on our own what worked for us. My primary goal with sharing our story is so that our experience could help others to cope with unexpected tragedies, especially those involving their children. We also learned many valuable life lessons from the experience, which are also shared throughout the book. For me, and for our family, we viewed it as “an awakening.” I have always enjoyed inspirational quotes and relevant bible passages. There were many times during our journey that a particular bible verse or quote would pop out at me from a book or even a billboard. Or someone would send me a message with a quote that was just what I needed to get me through the day. I’ve included many of my favorites throughout the book. I want to make one thing very clear. My husband and I have never felt the need to place blame for any of the events that happened to our daughter. We believe everything happens for

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a reason and that some things can’t be explained. Our daughter recovered. And our lives were forever changed. This book is written as a positive tool to help others find strategies for coping. Written permission has been granted for all names used in the writing of this book. Other names have been changed or concealed to protect the privacy of those individuals. Much of this book has been based on the actual daily online journal that I wrote during the days that this occurred. Those journal entries have been preserved in their original context with minor modifications.

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Introduction
H
ow could the journey of Ashley, our six-year-old little girl, from unexpected brain injury through recovery inspire thousands of people from coast to coast? Hundreds of people followed her story by way of Internet technology day-by-day, tens of thousands of times in total. People offered thousands of messages of encouragement and support for us along the way. I have marveled at why so many people are drawn to the story of our little girl—one young life hanging in the balance. What is it that people are searching for? Is it the lack of meaning, purpose, or direction that so many people feel in their lives? Are we all waiting for the “life-changing” event that will inspire us to change our course in life? What if that event never comes? Is surviving each day good enough? Or can we all find the power within us to live the life we choose? What happens when we funnel this kind of belief into our daily lives? How can something so traumatic be a blessing? A gift? What do we really know about the power of our minds? As witness to the healing power of the brain, from the outside, there are still many mysteries. Perhaps this story can only enhance our belief in the power of simply believing that anything is possible. It is our hope that through this account of our daughter’s tragic brain injury and amazing recovery we can capture the essence of
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why this event changed our lives. And why it impacted the lives of so many other people. Perhaps yours. Many people offered encouragement over the past four years about the idea of sharing our story. I’ve carried that notion in my head all along and have always thought “someday, we’ll tell the story.” I think we needed some time to get back to normal life and, of course, make some drastic changes in our lives and adjust accordingly. God continued to provide the “signs” that this book should be published. Recently, a friend of a friend made a significant impression on me when he looked me in the eyes and very boldly asked, “Who are you depriving of hearing this amazing story that could benefit from hearing it?” I felt this was God’s work in nudging me to do his calling. I have always believed that God put these experiences in our lives to learn from them and inspire others to make transformations in their faith and in their lives.

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
— Jesus of Nazareth

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