Becky comes home
MP native returns five months after surviving horrific accident
MAPLE PARK—There weren’t many Christmas presents under the tree for the Nelson family this year, but nobody cared—Dave and Peggy Nelson got to bring their daughter, Becky, home from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago instead.
“We stayed away from too many gifts this year because we put the money into Becky,” said Anne Carson, Becky’s aunt. “We just got her some little stuff, some pencils and some games, because she’s got some younger cousins and we can play with her. She likes to draw, so she got a sketchpad.”
Becky came home to her parents’ dairy farm in Maple Park just two weeks before Christmas and is doing really well, Carson said, though she had to be taken to the emergency room on Christmas day to have an IV reinserted.
A hit-and-run accident in the Cayman Islands on July 1 had left Becky in a coma for nearly five weeks, with a traumatic brain injury and a shattered pelvis. It was a doubly nightmarish scenario because Becky had no health insurance at the time, wracking up huge medical bills while her parents struggled to get her transferred to a hospital in the Chicago area. Despite several brain surgeries and a hip surgery, as well as months of rehabilitation, she still has another surgery and more than a year of rehabilitation ahead of her.
Yet Becky’s progress has been significant, Carson said. Though she is still in a wheelchair and has a feeding tube, she has regained much of her speech.
“She can carry on a conversation with you, she knows everybody, she knows who you are, (and) she can help you do things,” Carson said. “Sometimes her speech depends on whether she’s tired or not, so (the therapists) are working on that to make it more clear. We’re around her all the time, so we can understand her fine.”
Becky is starting to write words again, Carson said, and can write her own name and other people’s names.
Her memory has also returned.
“It seems like everything’s working in her brain, and it seems that she remembers things really well,” Carson said. “Her memory’s totally working. She’ll remember stuff, (such as) something she did with her grandma, who died years ago, and things from her childhood.”
Therapists come a few days a week to continue her treatment at home. Becky is still receiving speech, physical and occupational therapy. A nurse makes regular visits to check her feeding tube, as well.
Another cranioplasty will be scheduled soon, Carson said, to put a metal plate in Becky’s head. Surgeons had to remove a portion of Becky’s skull after the accident to relieve the pressure on her brain, and the plate will replace the missing bone. Doctors initially put the plate in on Oct. 31, but removed it again when Becky developed an infection, leaving Becky with a soft, unprotected spot on her head.
“Medically, it’ll be nice to not have to worry about bumping that anymore,” Carson said.
If the family has a New Year’s resolution, Carson said, it’s to see that Becky keeps making progress.
“I think the next big step is to get her walking again,” Carson said. “She had to stay off the hip for three months (while it healed), so that was a long time she wasn’t putting any weight on her legs. They were doing therapy with her (at the RIC), and she was doing pretty well with the parallel bars, but it’s been harder at home because we don’t have the same equipment for her to do therapy on.”
Carson said the family was overwhelmed with gratitude for the community support. The Nelsons still have some funds remaining from the $24,000 raised at the Help Becky Bounce Back Fundraiser on Oct. 20 in Kaneville.
“Sometimes you have to fight with (Medicaid) about getting stuff paid, but so far that’s working OK,” Carson said. “The money is in the fund for extras and if something isn’t covered, but so far we haven’t spent it all yet. Money-wise, it’s much better.”
Now that Becky is home, several family members have volunteered to help care for Becky during the day, Carson said, which has allowed Peggy to return to work at Old Second Bank in Elburn a couple days a week.
“We just appreciate everybody’s help. With (the community’s) help, we were able to get her home, and Becky’s really grateful to everybody who’s been helping her. She’s always saying ‘Thank you’ and ‘You’re awesome.’ She’s aware of people who have sent her cards and asked about her,” Carson said.
For updates on Becky’s progress, follow the Help Becky Bounce Back page on Facebook.