Our readers speak: The importance of support
To the editor:
On Jan. 18, 1997, my son Jules and his friend J Keith were involved in a car accident at 11:45 p.m. It was then -45. I received a phone call from my daughter telling me about the accident. My wife and I arrived at NMMC in Fort Kent. There the doctor came to see us and said they had to get him stable before they could transport him to EMMC in Bangor.
Upon arriving in Bangor, the doctor there told us it was very bad. They were both in a coma. Five days later J Keith passed away. I stayed with Jules in Bangor and sent my wife home and back to school.
Jules was in a coma for two and a half months. After the first of May, we were advised that Jules needed to go to a rehab center in Kennebec, ME. There I stayed with my son for three days and would return home for four days. I did this for six months. We want to give a special thanks to David St. Peter for personally helping me, with transportation and spending time with me through this difficult time.
I went to the Borderview in Van Buren and spoke with the director Peter Sirois. At the time, Jules would have 30-40 outbursts a day. Peter said they were not qualified to handle brain injury patients, but they would give it a try. After 2 weeks we had a meeting. By that time, his outbursts had cut in half.
We were in Bangor for seven months, staying in motels. Then we came home and the doctor in Bangor said that when he was ready to return we could bring him back. When he went back to Stillwater Ave. in Bangor, he was there four more months, the staff then felt that they were not experienced enough to help him anymore. A consultation was set up by Dr. Keebler from EMMC with Dr. Bear from Boston to help assist Jules' medicines.
In May 1998, we needed more help with him. The doctor in Bangor told us about a center for brain injury in Lakeview, NH. After seeing someone there that Jules knew, he decided he wanted to be there. He was there five years. I went every week to visit with him. Meeting with his case worker Louie LaPlante, we decided the best thing for Jules was to move him back home. We then brought him home from there. Jules received help from DHS, nurses, therapy, and speech therapy. My wife and I are grateful for all the help that they gave us and Jules.
After being home for one year, we needed more help with Jules. We then found out about a center in Lee, ME, a living center for brain injurers. We decided that Jules needed to be there. Jules received his rehab in Lewiston, ME. After two and a half years, he was getting homesick, not functioning well and wanted to come home. The outbursts were then down to four to five a day. Without the doctors and staff at the center this would not have happened. They did a wonderful job with him.
One day Jules came to me and said that he wanted to live on his own. When Jules decided to be on his own, DHS told us that he should not be. I told them that I wanted to try him on his own and that if it didn't work out, I would bring him back.
Jules needed a job to keep him busy. I went to see Peter Caron and he helped Jules to get a job in the kitchen at the elementary school. Everyone loved him there. He worked there for two years. Some of the children would tell their parents 'that's where Jules lives' and they would stop in and visit him. He decided that he needed a rest, so he is taking time off.
His nurse, cleaning person and case worker and the people that taught Jules to do things on his own – we thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for him.
Jules, Jeannine, and I would like to thank everyone in Fort Kent for their assistance in helping Jules to be where he is today.
A special thank you to the state troopers, hospitals and their staff, game wardens, police officers, the school system, and everyone that knows Jules. Specials thanks to my parents, all my family members and Gary Wolcott (who helped me with Washington, D.C.), Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe for their help in establishing the Aroostook Brain Injury for Assisted Living Fund for people with brain injuries to live independent in Aroostook County.
If anyone wants to make a donation, contact me at 834-6692 and I will send you the required information for donations.
To people with families with a member that has brain injuries – wake up and fight for them. I have done this for 15 years and I need to take a break. Helping each other with Washington, we can make a stand and a difference in lives. Together we can do this. Alone, I cannot.
In Eagle Lake, there is housing for six people to live independently. I am planning to establish a discussion group and will contact you to let you know when this will happen. We all need support and support from each other.
Greg St. Peter
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