Crash: A Mother, A Son, And The Journey From Grief To Gratitude
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
After 25 years of caring for children, first as a nurse, then as a pediatrician, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein finds herself on the other side of the stretcher when her 17-year-old son Neil is hit by a teenage drunk driver while walking his girlfriend Trista home after a study date. Trista did not survive her injuries. Neil carries his with him to this day.
Gratitude for her son’s survival ultimately gives way to grief. While initially told Neil’s only injury was a broken leg, Roy-Bornstein quickly finds herself riding in the front seat of an ambulance transporting her son to the ICU at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; his brain is bleeding.
Roy-Bornstein is now not the patient’s doctor or nurse but his mom. The world she so easily navigates in a white uniform or a white coat now must be traversed, understood, and dealt with from the perspective of a parent.
There are many dividing lines in this story. The line that divides this family’s life in two: the events that occurred before the crash and those that came tumbling and faltering in its wake. The line that separates grief from gratitude: gratitude that her son is alive and as whole as he is; grief for his loss of memory and changed personality and for having his whole world shattered in an instant. The line that separates the world Roy-Bornstein knew so well as a doctor from the new one she must now navigate as the parent of a trauma victim.
In these pages she explores all of these boundaries: between then and now, grief and gratitude, before and after, us and them. Her many years as a "medical insider" bring her story authenticity and detail, while her newcomer status as the parent of a trauma victim add poignancy and warmth in this first memoir.
allowed to take passengers. He was following the rules. The drunk driver had not. As we got closer to home, Neil started to stir next to me. In a half-awake state, he instinctively placed both his hands on either side of his coat-splinted leg, shifting position carefully but still wincing with the effort. He then settled back into a fitful sleep, his brow furrowed and sweaty. He had taken a Percocet shortly before we were discharged, but that had been almost three hours ago. He would be
morning on the back stoop. Confiscating car keys may prevent drunk driving, but it doesn’t prevent drunkenness, and bad things happen to drunken children, children of sleeping or inattentive parents. The misguided notion that if parents take away the car keys and let their children drink under their roof they will somehow keep them safe to me just ignores history. Parents who allow their children to drink in their homes open themselves up to enormous risk. Many states, including
Theater kids know how to party. They had bonfires at their drama teacher’s house. They held coffeehouses between the performances and the judging at the Massachusetts Drama Guild Competition, a contest among over 120 high schools in the Commonwealth in which each theater team had to set up a stage, perform their play, and then strike the set—all in less than fifty minutes. All these events were alcohol-free. They weren’t angels. The police were called one night when Alex Wallace led a
it’s just the kid and me in the room together, locked in a kind of health-care SmackDown: them with their in-your-face-what-do-you-know swagger, me with my more quiet “Let me tell you how it is” stance. That’s when I’ll sometimes play the crash card. After all, what’s more effective? Telling them that 11,773 people died in 2008 in drunk driving accidents or recounting being asked to pluck twenty-five hairs from Neil’s head so the crash scene investigator could match them to the ones
person charged understands the rights he is giving up if he changes his plea to guilty. Ex parte: the sidebars in which the lawyers conferred with the judge, hands over microphone to mask their words. It was a bewildering new world to be mastered quickly. The advocates helped us cram. They tried not to let anything surprise us. They didn’t want us reading about developments in the case with the rest of the region in the Boston Globe. They called us on the phone whenever the drunk driver’s