On a July day in 2009, 48-eight-year-old James (Tom) Boyett was riding his all-terrain vehicle around his Otsego property. He had gone out by himself and wasn’t wearing a helmet. On his way home, the ATV rolled unexpectedly and Tom was ejected.
“It was getting late and I started to worry,” says his wife, Tammy. “So I went to look for him.”
A truck driver, Tom had parked his semi across the road by a neighbor’s house. “I figured he was there,” says Tammy. “Our neighbor saw that I was upset, and he and his dog came out to help me look.”
The dog led them to Tom, who had been lying unconscious by the side of the Boyetts’ long driveway for two-and-a-half hours. He was rushed to Borgess Medical Center’s trauma unit in Kalamazoo and was in a coma for the next two weeks.
Three days after recovering consciousness, Tom was transferred to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids. As a result of his brain injury, Tom’s right side was paralyzed and he had impairment to his vision, comprehension, and expression.
“Dr. Kreitsch and his nurse were wonderful — very concerned, but also up front about the prognosis,” Tammy says. “He answered all our questions.”
Tom worked with therapists three to five hours a day. One of the first things they did was teach him how to walk, first using a walker and then on his own.
“The therapists were thoughtful, concerned and caring,” Tammy says. “They would try to get the best out of Tom each day. Although they didn’t sugar coat anything, they instilled a positive outlook in him.”
Tom was discharged on Tammy’s birthday, Sept. 25. It was “a wonderful birthday present,” she says.
“I’ve never come across such a wonderful place as Mary Free Bed,” says Tammy. “Tom wouldn’t be where he is today without all their great doctors, nurses, and therapists.”
Have you been in an ATV accident? Or recovered from a brain injury? Please share your story in the comments!