A snowflake. That's how Steve Guidera sees his wife of 21 years. Gentle. Beautiful. Independent.
That's also how a doctor described her: "Every brain injury patient is like a snowflake," he said. "Each one is different."
That conversation arose following Ann Guidera's October 2, 2010, fall on the unforgiving concrete platform at the Trenton, N.J., train station. She was seeing her 17-year-old daughter Jenny off for a college visit at the time. Initially, Ann was confused. Within hours, she lost consciousness.
A CT scan revealed multiple head injuries, including a skull fracture, subdural hematoma and bilateral frontal lobe contusions. Emergency neurosurgery relieved her elevated brain pressure by removing a portion of her skull. It would be two weeks until she regained consciousness.
Steve soon began daily updates on Ann's exhaustive brain injury treatment and recovery on CaringBridge, revealing a seldom-seen side of himself. "I never realized that I would spill my heart. I've surprised myself," he says. "CaringBridge has been life-changing for me. It's been such a source of comfort."
While Steve turned to CaringBridge, Ann initially communicated with eye movements and a "thumbs up." Her speaking abilities slowly returned, but Ann seldom initiated conversation. Text messaging became her preferred mode of communication with an occasional post on CaringBridge to greet her site visitors. After three months in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility, and hundreds of hours in physical, occupational and speech therapy, Ann went home following the first of the year with hundreds of people cheering her on.
worldwide prayer support
The Guideras' network of relatives, friends, current and past coworkers, high school and college classmates, and faith communities stretch from Long Island, N.Y., to San Mateo, CA, San Antonio, TX, and Taipei, Taiwan. Steve and their three daughters have been pleasantly surprised and uplifted by the shear population who know Ann and are praying for her. "We never imagined that she knew so many people," Steve says.
Fourteen-year-old Laura once quipped, "To tell you the truth, I always thought Mom had like three friends."
An estimated 30 different churches are praying for Ann's recovery from her brain injury, including the Guideras' home church, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Without CaringBridge none of these people would have known of Ann's accident and her ongoing progress. Even 18-year-old Katie Guidera, a freshman at Duke University, keeps close tabs on the journal updates when she's away.
Steve continued his daily updates until Ann returned home, believing that people deserved to know how Ann was doing and to remind them to pray for her full recovery.