“You just can’t put words to it, getting her back,” said Deb Theriault, blotting tears. “She’s worked so hard.”
Meg felt more like herself, but craved the day when doctors would rebuild the missing part of her skull and she could ditch her helmet.
“Sorry you have to see me like this,” she told two of her friends.
But soon they were laughing and chatting about Meg’s plan to return to school.
“I don’t remember seeing this shape at all. ... We just went over this, but I don’t remember.”
Meg’s mind wouldn’t work the way she wanted.
“This is really pushing your brain to compensate for difficult material,” her therapist said.
But something inside Meg urged her forward, a kind of determination captured in a poem on the wall of the therapist’s office.
“That one day, changed my life ... That one thing that counts, one thing that I can’t let go, the faith that one day I will be whole again,” the verse said.
She had been home for more than a month. Her complexion was clearing. She was thinner and back to wearing makeup and earrings. She had been reviewing an accounting textbook and seeing more friends.
But her parents made her sleep with a baby monitor at night. She still couldn’t drive a car.
Her left arm floated away from her side when she walked, giving her a robotic gait. She exercised to build her core strength and banish left-sided weakness from her brain injury.
Physiatrist Seth Herman said Meg’s memory and mobility had improved a lot, but might never be what they once were. Due to the frontal lobe injury, she had trouble with insight, including recognizing her shortcomings.
“She probably still thinks she can go back to school,” the doctor said.
But the day in September the fall semester started, Meg woke before dawn and went back to Massachusetts General Hospital.
The time had come for surgeons to fix the hole in her head.
(Next: Meg’s determination to go back to school)