By Jessica Hogland
My 19-year-old daughter, Jamie Richards Hogland, was shot in the face on the night of Dec. 10, 2017, and left to die in her apartment. After four long hours, she was eventually found by a neighbor. Jamie was airlifted to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where we were informed that she was quadriplegic and her spine had been shattered and spinal cord severed, along with many other serious health concerns. On Dec. 27, 2017, she was stable enough to be flown by air ambulance to TIRR Memorial Hermann to begin the first phase of her rehabilitation.
During our initial stay at TIRR Memorial Hermann for phase one of her therapy, Jamie, my husband Eddie, and I learned the necessary skills that were required so we could give Jamie the best possible care at home once we were discharged. We received hands-on training from Jamie’s entire medical team: Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Recreational Therapists, Nurses and Respiratory Therapists. They guided us and trained us on the unique needs Jamie would now have, and how we could continue to assist Jamie in gaining strength and her independence.
Another benefit at TIRR Memorial Hermann was the Readiness & Preparations for Daily Self-Care (RAPS) program, a series of classes that address specific topics to educate patients and family members on how to look out for the safety and care of themselves. We attended these classes, and the topic that really made a lasting impression with Jamie was on how to prevent pressure sores or wounds. The therapy staff continuously reminds and quizzes patients about the importance of tilting back or doing a weight shift. This class helped educate us on the importance of relieving pressure points to maintain Jamie’s health.
In another session, a pharmacist helped us understand what specific medications are used for and the importance of taking meds as they are prescribed. We hope and pray we never have to face any of these challenges, but we are so appreciative of the multidisciplinary team members who instructed us on how to avoid potential problematic health issues that could impact Jamie’s recovery.
Since this was a new chapter for our family, all of the information and training would sometimes be overwhelming, but I realized I had to stay strong, focused and positive for Jamie while ensuring I soaked up all the knowledge possible. Although, there were things I was required to learn and do that were uncomfortable for me, I knew my daughter was going to need me to meet her daily care needs once we were discharged and that’s all that mattered.
Along with learning about Jamie’s needs, her injuries required additional changes in our life such as modifications to our home. While I stayed by Jamie’s side, my husband worked diligently to adapt our house to be more wheelchair accessible. By the grace of God, we were in the process of adding on a bedroom prior to the shooting, so we had an opportunity to create a space tailored for her recovery. In a RAPS class, we had learned that many times people with a spinal cord injury lose the ability to control their body temperature below their level of injury. Due to the location of Jamie’s spinal cord injury, she will need to be in a very controlled environment. While the additional bedroom had already been electrically wired to meet accessibility standards, my husband noticed our heating system wasn’t working properly and he contacted a service company to fix the issue before Jamie came home.
Upon this service call, Eddie was made aware of a zoning system that could be added to our central air and heat unit. This system would allow the thermostat to be adjusted to find a comfortable temperature in Jamie’s room while the rest of our home runs off a different thermostat, giving Jamie the ideal environment in which to recover.
Jamie has always loved to cook, so the next task was to widen the doorway into our kitchen so she could enter easily. Eddie decided to take out a portion of our bar and then he re-framed the doorway. With this minor change, Jamie has been able to access the kitchen and enjoys baking brownies with her sister. She has learned to open and close the refrigerator independently to get whatever she desires.
Building a ramp was the last home modification Eddie performed that was immediately essential. He built a ramp on our back patio so Jamie can enter and exit our home freely. Of course, there have been simple changes that were made like rearranging the furniture layout and such, but we have learned to adjust accordingly and to think outside the box.
The only modification still needed in our home is in the bathroom and shower area. The bathroom is too narrow and the shower is not wheelchair accessible. During a therapy session, the therapist gave us the specifications to guide us and we are in the process of getting quotes for this modification to our home.
Prior to discharge from the first phase of her rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann, we purchased a handicap accessible van because Jamie wanted to ensure she could get back into the community and not be stuck at home. Plus, she knew she would have numerous ongoing appointments. The van we purchased has a lift that folds out and the van lowers to the ground. Jamie can drive her electric wheelchair up the ramp, spin around to face the front and then we secure her into place with safety belts. When the time comes and Jamie is strong enough to drive, the van can be adapted to fit her specific needs.
The amount of love and support we’ve received throughout this journey has been surreal. I couldn’t have made it without the compassionate and encouraging physicians and staff at TIRR Memorial Hermann, our friends and family. We have a long journey ahead and I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask for help and guidance. I’ve also learned it’s important to take care of yourself and understand you cannot tackle this task on your own! Life changes in a blink of an eye. Rejoice when your loved ones are achieving or exceeding their therapy goals, encourage each other when difficulties arise, and never forget life is a gift so make the most of each day!
I am grateful that Jamie has recovered movement in both arms and hands, as well as gained some strength throughout her upper body. She couldn’t do these things when we first arrived at TIRR Memorial Hermann, and in my opinion, the multidisciplinary team at TIRR Memorial Hermann is the best in the world. We are eternally grateful!
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