Ask Janet Barnes about her daughter Juli's life after sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury and she'll tell you: "This is a hopeful thing. This is a story of recovery. It is not about blame, it is not about cause."
All day every day, Juli is in a fight for the life she once had. Prior to her Oct. 2, 2009 car accident, Juli was "the light in any room," Barnes said, and though she knows it will take time, she'll try anything to lift the curtain draped over Juli's light.
"I try to remind her of who she was before, who we were together before," Barnes said. "...This isn't going to be forever."
In the early morning hour the day of her accident, Ramos was driving home from her job at in Tinley Park during a downpour, when her car skidded across a puddle, sliding passenger-side first into a utility pole. The car folded and wrapped around the pole, the right side of the car hitting the right side of Juli's body. Her head, face and brain sustained the brunt of the force. She sustained no other broken bones or major injuries, Barnes said.
Juli was comatose for six weeks after the accident. Doctors told Barnes they were unsure how much brain function and body movement she would regain when she awoke. Barnes can recall some medical professionals using the term, "vegetable" to advise Barnes on what could lie ahead. But for her and Juli's fiance , part of the battle was already won.
Juli was alive.
Medina's mother, an emergency room nurse, arrived at their side that night. Medina and Barnes looked to her for indication of the severity of the situation.
"She made him believe that there was hope, and we took that as law," Barnes said March 29, as Juli received a hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
Effective treatments could help Juli make big strides, but mostly it's many baby steps for the 25-year-old. Barnes looks to multiple forms of therapy for help, including physical, speech and Botox treatments for Juli's contracted muscles. Along the way, Barnes looks for sources of inspiration for Juli, who often struggles emotionally with the challenge of recovery. Her injury forces Juli to re-learn basic tasks, including walking, talking and feeding herself. For a while, Medina's appearance on gave her something to smile about.
"As bad as this is, she lived," Barnes said. "It took a long time for me not to be broken.
"This happened for a reason. I haven't figured out why yet. I feel a responsibility to do something good with it. I learned how strong my family is."
Patch spent a day with Barnes and Juli, watching as Juli fought through pain and frustration during her therapy regimen. We will bring you more of her struggle—and small victories—next week. Please stay tuned to Patch as we bring to light more of Juli's fight for recovery.