Gaylord Specialty Healthcare

Amy Beckwith: How my daughter's accident and traumatic brain injury changed our lives

June 07, 2022 Gaylord Specialty Healthcare
Amy Beckwith: How my daughter's accident and traumatic brain injury changed our lives
Gaylord Specialty Healthcare
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Gaylord Specialty Healthcare
Amy Beckwith: How my daughter's accident and traumatic brain injury changed our lives
Jun 07, 2022
Gaylord Specialty Healthcare

Gaylord's ThinkFirst Program is part of the National ThinkFirst Association, which is committed to educating youth about the devastating and life-altering consequences of poor decisions that can lead to a serious brain or spinal cord injury.

In this episode, Megan Palmer, OT, and Gaylord's ThinkFirst Program coordinator, interviews Amy Beckwith.  Amy's 19-year-old daughter was in a drunk driving accident eight years ago that resulted in a diffuse axonal brain injury a type of traumatic brain injury which changed their family forever. Amy shares a mother’s story of hardship, struggles, adjustments, and triumphs in the aftermath of the accident and through the years of Courtney's recovery.

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare is a long-term acute care hospital in Wallingford, Connecticut.

To learn more about ThinkFirst at Gaylord

Learn more about the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation




Show Notes Transcript

Gaylord's ThinkFirst Program is part of the National ThinkFirst Association, which is committed to educating youth about the devastating and life-altering consequences of poor decisions that can lead to a serious brain or spinal cord injury.

In this episode, Megan Palmer, OT, and Gaylord's ThinkFirst Program coordinator, interviews Amy Beckwith.  Amy's 19-year-old daughter was in a drunk driving accident eight years ago that resulted in a diffuse axonal brain injury a type of traumatic brain injury which changed their family forever. Amy shares a mother’s story of hardship, struggles, adjustments, and triumphs in the aftermath of the accident and through the years of Courtney's recovery.

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare is a long-term acute care hospital in Wallingford, Connecticut.

To learn more about ThinkFirst at Gaylord

Learn more about the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation




Amy Beckwith Podcast July 2022

Host: Hello, everyone. This is Megan Palmer. I am an occupational therapist at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, and you are listening to our Gaylord Specialty Healthcare podcast, featuring our ThinkFirst series. ThinkFirst is the National Foundation devoted to injury prevention among our youth, and today we have a mom here with us! Amy Beckwith is the mom of a young daughter who had a drunk driving accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. So, we're here today to speak with her about what it's like to be a mom and how you deal with a new life for your daughter and going through such a traumatic experience.

Host: I would love to first read actually an article from the Norwich Bulletin that describes the accident, and this was actually eight years ago. "According to the police report, Courtney Beckwith was traveling eastbound on Route 138 shortly before 1:24 a.m., on May 22nd when she failed to negotiate a curve crossed through the westbound lane and drove straight into Campbell's Farm Stand. She was taken by ambulance to the William W. Backus Hospital and later to Hartford Hospital. Courtney's parents, Chuck and Amy Beckwith, have remained by Courtney's side in the neurological intensive care unit ever since. "She's in a coma with a diffuse axonal brain injury. Amy said, "But she shows signs that she's trying to come around." There are brief periods during which Courtney opens her eyes part way, and there's movement on both sides of her body. Courtney is also able to follow some commands from therapists, her mother said. That Courtney is alive is everything right now to the Beckwith family, which includes Courtney's two siblings. "We can deal with any deficits. I don't care how long it takes as long as there's hope that she'll get it back," her mother said.

Host: So, Amy, welcome! 

Guest: Thank you. Thank you. 

Host: What is it like after hearing this again? From eight years ago when you actually lived this?

Guest: We've certainly come a long way since then. That's for sure..eight years. I've been going back to when it first happened. I never would have thought in a million years that we'd be where we are today. You know, she's doing well. You know, she'll never be the same Courtney that she was, but she's doing well and still making improvements eight years out. They're smaller, and they're, you know, not as frequent, but she is still improving, and she's happy and, you know, overall doing well. But boy, at the time, we really didn't think that there was much hope there, you know? 

Host: So, how old was she when this accident happened? 

Guest: Courtney was 19 when she crashed. 

Host: And do you want to just give us a little background story about Courtney [and] how this accident occurred and then sort of your path to recovery after that?

Guest: Sure. Sure. Courtney is our middle child. She was definitely heading down a wrong path in her life. She struggled with addiction. She had finally, we thought, had gotten to the other side of that addiction, and we had bought her a car, she was working, she seemed to be doing okay, and she decided that it was okay to start drinking and partying. And she, unfortunately, paid the ultimate price and got into that horrible accident that night, and it forever changed her life and our lives, that's for sure. You know, it was a horrible knock on the door to get from the police when they came. I mean, no parent wants that, that's for sure. 

Host: And did it look grim as far as her prognosis? She was trapped in a car, right? They had to extricate her? 

Guest: They did, they did. And it was it was a little bit of a prolonged extrication too. And we never really addressed that so much because her diffuse axonal brain injury was the primary [injury]. But I later had learned it took a while. They had to cut off the electricity before they could even try to get to her. That took a little while. We live in a volunteer town. So, the police, [and the]fire department, it took a little bit for them to get there. I'm sure that played a part in her brain injury, but it is what it is. 

Host: You were alerted at your house, and when did you meet her at the hospital? You never went to the actual scene of the accident?

Gust: Never went to the scene. Yeah, the policeman came and knocked on her door, and all he said was you need to get there fast, and she's breathing, but it's not good. That's literally what he said to us. 

Host: So what was it like the first time you saw her? 

Guest; Oh my gosh, it was absolutely terrifying. It was literally terrifying. We didn't know what we were walking into. She was at Backus Hospital, a local hospital, first for a very short while, long enough for us to get there and see her, and then they whisked her off to Hartford Hospital. 

Host: Was she alert or anything?

Guest: Nope, she was in a coma. She was already on life support. She had, you know, a couple of gashes, one on her chin and one on her head. So she was…

Host: Beat up.

Guest: Yeah, definitely beat up. I'll never forget going in there and obviously seeing her but also looking up and seeing my other two children standing there watching us with her. That was one of the hardest parts of all of this truly was knowing how much it just affects everybody, and we were just so scared. We were so scared. No one could tell us anything at that point. We couldn't get to the next hospital fast enough to find out. You know what her prognosis was going to be. And even then, you don't know. Like everyone tells you, day by day, minute by minute, hour by hour, and that's truly how it is. You know, it's terrifying. 

Host: So you had your husband with you and then your two kids, and they were young still at the time to in their teens. But you know, nothing is easy at any point in your life. But seeing your sister like that.

Guest: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, after her drug addiction, you know, they felt they had finally gotten her back, and it was only a few months into her sobriety that she, that this happened. So here we were again, not knowing if we were going to have our Courtney. [And] if we did, "how" were we going to have our Courtney? But quickly that turned to, we'll take our Courtney however we can get her like as long as long as she can recognize us and be happy in whatever it is, that's all we cared about, truly, genuinely being a transition in there. 

Host: You like, you will take them alive. Really. Yeah. Biggest thing. However, they come out, and you know, you'll still be there for them. But as long as they're here. 

Guest: Yeah, absolutely. You just want him happy—what a long wait. 

Host: She was in a coma for - how long did you stare at her like that with tubes and wires coming out of her? 

Guest: We stared at her for three weeks like that. And by the time that newspaper article came out, it was a good two weeks where there was literally nothing. I mean, she didn't respond in any way. She didn't open her eyes. We had to manually open her eyes to talk to her, and we played music, and you know, we just never left her side. We constantly were rubbing her arms and legs and, you know, letting her know we were there. You just don't know what someone's hearing or not hearing. You just don't know.

Host: They say that you have to continue to love them and talk to them, and you know, some people actually come out of comas and remember a few weird things that, you know, they overheard or happened. 

Guest: I'm not going to lie; I was a little afraid of that. I'm like, gosh...when you find those bright spots, you have to find those bright spots, even in the darkest, you know.

Host: Didn't you tell people at the door like this is a positive atmosphere? You're not speaking anything negative while you're in this room. 

Guest: Nothing negative, nothing negative. If you're going to speak about Courtney, speak to Courtney. Don't say anything that you wouldn't say directly to her. I made sure, and the nurses really were great. There was just one that wasn't so great, but whatever, in the grand scheme of things, there were so many. They were wonderful. But you know, I made sure everyone addressed her by name, and they did. [They] told her what they were going to be doing, and you know, that just started our journey, and we really kept that same, same attitude the whole way. She had a lot in her life that I was praying she would forget her addiction and all that. And I didn't want anyone to prompt her. I didn't want, you know, anyone to make her feel bad, reminiscing if she couldn't remember things, you know? So, it was very important that those memories just came back as they did when she finally got to that point, and she did.

Host: Good for you for like knowing to take control of that environment and knowing as a mom, like this is what my child needs at this time when she's laying there lifeless like you still knew what to do, sort of those internal instincts, maternal instincts, I should say 

Guest: It's true, it's true. I guess you just I don't know. I don't know where it came from. It just takes over. We painted her toenails when she was in a coma and in the ICU. She did her hair every day like I just wanted her to. She's still a person, even in a coma, and that's all that mattered. I shaved her legs. I mean the whole nine yards. But it made me as a mom, and my husband and my other two kids, anyone that came, my mom, it made us you're feeling so helpless in that time. So, it gave us something a purpose, something that we knew we could do that no one else could or should do for her. You know? So, it was it was important that we do those things, and it became kind of the joke of, you know, of Gaylord people were coming to us for perfume and shampoo and stuff because we had it all, you know, and that's the thing. 

Host: Yeah, she eventually did start waking up, and she came to Gaylord, and now you're here, you know, at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare with her. Now, you're seeing this diffuse axonal brain injury sort of taking shape, right? It's like rearing its ugly head. You're finding out what a brain injury is really like. Like that was not your Courtney before, and she's waking up this new person. What was that like for you guys? How did she work through those stages of recovery?

Guest: There were parts that, I mean the whole thing, none of it was easy. The one thing I can say is we never researched a thing. We didn't until we were past, I guess the safe point where we knew it was good enough. We were on the right path. I think if we had Googled and researched, I don't know that we could have continued because the prognosis of that brain injury is not good at all. 

Host: This is a diffuse axonal brain injury, basically shaken baby syndrome, and you have bleeding, bruising swelling all over the brain. So, every part of you that makes you - your personality, your impulse control, your memory behaviors- all those things, including...Courtney has visual deficits to the right...and all that kind of stuff is housed in your brain. Everything that makes you a human being. So now you have injury everywhere to every single one of those controls in your life. What's Courtney going to wake up like? What is she going to be like? 

Guest: First of all, she didn't wake up like they do on TV. We had no experience in brain injury, and you know, you watch these movies and think, oh, she's just going to wake up and just say, oh where what's been happening and it's not like that. It's a very slow process, of course. Um...  I just lost my total train of thought. I'm so sorry.

Host: Oh, that's fine. It's how did Courtney sort of wake up and start showing those brain injury behaviors?

Guest: Yes, it's definitely a slow process, and when she first woke up, I mean, she was literally a ragdoll. She just stared. If her eyes were open, she would like to stare up at the lights, and it was like, she was not in there. It was so scary. That was almost as scary as the initial [time] seeing her. It truly was. It was like, oh my gosh, I don't know if she's in there anymore. This is very scary. But then, day by day, she'd stay awake a little bit longer, and her little personality would start to show through. You could see it in her eyes, and I thought, alright, she's coming, she's coming around. But it's a slow, tedious process, and you have to trust, you know, everyone here at Gaylord for us or whatever facility your loved one is at. You have to trust the process. 

You really, really do because it's scary and unknown.

Host: For all our listeners. I was actually the occupational therapist for Courtney, and there was that moment when she first arrived at Gaylord. When we went to see her, I will never forget, Chuck, your husband's face when we attempted to set her up for the first time. And she was that ragdoll, that lifeless being beyond the eyes that are not, they are not connecting with you. There's nothing behind there. And he just left the room, went out in the hallway and took a breath and was just like, where's my Courtney? You know, like where is she? Is she in there? You know what's going to happen? And as a therapist, you just, you want to embrace the whole family and tell them it's going to get better. Like we've seen this kind of recovery, but at that moment, I mean, you don't know as a parent right where that's going to lead her.

Guest: You don't, you don't. It was literally paralyzing for us. I mean, we were terrified, absolutely terrified. You know, when it all of you caregivers, the nurses, the therapists, and I said it over and over again. But I don't know that you really understand the impact you make on the families. Yes, you're treating the patients, but you're treating and helping the families with every move you make. You really and truly are. 

Host: Well, yeah, I've been on the other side of it too as a mom in the hospital with a child that needs, um, a lot of medical attention, and you feel helpless there. You don't know how to help this person. And anything as a therapist that I could give you to help, like with her morning routine, like making sure Courtney brushes her teeth with you this way. Talk to her about the day and if it's sunny out or cloudy, home exercise programs, etc. I was forever telling you guys to do stretches, all that massage, and all kinds of stuff to stimulate her. But you're there 24/7, and you are by her side. You are not leaving her. It's like, what can you do to help her? And I think that empowers our parents, right? And it helps us too because we're not able to be with them 24/7, but that stimulation or the rest periods or that kind of thing, if we can implement a schedule, a routine for you guys, it's going to be worlds of difference for you.

Guest: And it was, it truly, truly was, you know, I feel we were very fortunate that we were able to stay here with her all that time. You know, our town, family, friends, and community really stepped up and helped us to be financially to be able to stay here. 

Host: I mean, your life just stops. What did it feel like to leave your career? Like you literally had to stop the minute she had the accident. Anything else didn't matter, right? 

Guest: And that's literally it, it just, it didn't matter. I mean, there were moments when I had to make the choice to leave my job that I loved, but at the end of the day, there's no choice to be made. You just do what you have to do, you know? And my youngest at the time was 14 or 15 years old, and she was being raised for six months, pretty much by her 21-year-old brother and his friends and my family that would come by. But I knew they were okay. I knew they were fine. They would come up, and you know, you just deal with what you're given in the moment, and the rest just falls into place somehow. 

Host: They didn't need you the most at that time. 

Guest: Yeah, Courtney did. 

Host: Yeah. So, for six months, you're living in a hospital. What is that like for like your hair and your body?

Guest: Oh gosh, it is quite interesting. We went, it is so embarrassing but so true. I mean, you do what you have to do. The longest span we went without a shower was literally ten days. You know, those sponge baths just don't cut it. And even at the hospital when she was at Hartford Hospital, it became a joke to find the sinks that had the automatic on and off so I could just wash my hair in the sink and throw it back up in a ball cap. It was desperate times, Right? You gotta do what you gotta do, and you don't even care. You're like, no, it doesn't matter—Gaylord camping. You know, I don't know. 

Host: Well, we would have told you there are showers here! 

Guest: You finally, you never would think. I mean, the whole focus is on your child. I mean, you just don't, you just kind of step back and soak everything in and just try to deal. I remember the first night we came to Gaylord. Courtney didn't arrive until after all the doctors and therapists were gone. It was evening when she came, which was very, very hard. I remember Chuck thinking, what did we do? Like is this the right place for her? Are we sure? He was so upset and nervous that he ended up out in the car like the whole night that first night because he just couldn't bear to...The transition was hard. It was really hard. And then, of course, the next morning, all the nurses came in, and they were like, this is what we're going do, this is how it works. [Thye] showed us around, and we were like - Oh my gosh, this is fantastic! But it's hard, and that's what I mean when you say you just you really, really have to trust the process. If you've chosen a facility that you believe in and want your child or loved one at, you have to trust that process and go with it. You know you really do. And we did. You know you guys are the best ever. 

Host: Thank you! That's it, and she is still working with us, right? She is actually one of our VIPs Voices of Injury Prevention for the ThinkFirst Program now. And I still remember way back, so she was there for six months, went home, was still doing therapies, and then we got her started with the ThinkFirst Program, and she couldn't talk well, so she would stumble over her words, she couldn't think of what to say. So, we actually would record her to be presented in the student classrooms, and now she speaks in front of over 100 kids in an assembly at a time. She is just absolutely phenomenal. 

Guest: She just doesn't even think twice about it, but she lives it every day. You know, it's her life, it's her passion. It's her, and she doesn't want anyone else to go down this path. She said I will be part of ThinkFirst forever. Like she'll never know because as much as it, I'm sure I hope it is helping others; it's helping her tremendously too. And it helps us. It's, it's a good thing. 

Host: Absolutely. 

Host: Well, you've watched her grow at the presentations from, you know, years ago until now, and she's just a shooting star up there. She's just like, you can tell, she really wants to help the high schoolers and the students, and she has a beautiful message every time, and she's, you know, just, she's like, don't hang out with those wrong people don't get stuck in those bad crowds, you know, ThinkFirst and she's just promoting it. 

Guest: Yeah, yeah, it's absolutely true! 

Host: And so Courtney is now, how old? 27?

Guest: She's 27. 

Host: So when you think of your 27-year-old daughter, and she's still living at home, how is it different than another person's 27-year-old daughter? 

Guest: Yes, she lives at home. She cannot drive. She's independent as far as her personal care. She showers, she feeds herself, that kind of thing. Do I trust that she could live by herself? No. She probably would, you know, maybe burn the house down, maybe leave water going or forget a pet outside, things like that. 

Host: So it's still that brain injury memory, safety… 

Guest: Yeah. She could never take care of her medications and that kind of thing.

But she couldn't hold a job. 

Host: Does she work? What does she do to keep busy during the day? 

Guest: Yeah, she works, she works three days a week, she takes care of actually another girl with a brain injury. So, the two of them hanging out, taking care of each other.  

Host: I would love to be a fly on the wall in that house. 

Guest: Me too! Oh, I ask her tons of questions when I pick her up, so what happened? You know, because I love to hear the stories, but it's nice because she, you know, yes, she's helping this girl, but that girl is helping her to she loves it. She picks up every extra shift she can, and she just loves it. But you know it's been hard up until this point eight years out. This is the first job I think she's really been successful at, she got the job herself, and she's handled everything all by herself regarding scheduling and all of that.

Host: Well, I'm sure it's been hard to hold jobs prior, you know, she can't drive, and then I'm sure her impulse control in sort of, you know, social situations might be difficult to keep a job. 

Guest: No filter. You never know what she's going to say! Those inside thoughts come right out, and then how is it for you? So she's living in your house? Yes. She lives with us, and our other two children live on their own. She definitely runs our house. I mean, everything does revolve around Courtney, you know, it just is how it is, you just learn to adapt. But overall, I mean, she's genuinely happy. She really is, that's it. And you know, there's been times I've had to remind myself of that. I mean, it's not easy. It's definitely not easy. There have been some really ugly moments, but overall, she's happy and just where she needs to be, and she can be with us forever. 

Host: Are there plans that do you think in five years she'll be able to move out, or do you think this is… the new normal.

Guest: She's lived on her own with a boyfriend. There's always going to have to be someone there who can prompt her and be there with her to ensure she's staying safe. 

Host: Well, there's a lot of things that go with being in the house alone. 

Guest: Absolutely, absolutely.

Host: Amy, you have been your own little shining star lately. Recently, this past week, you were just involved in the ThinkFirst National Conference panel on parents' perspectives. How is that? Like sharing your story amongst other people who have gone through similar situations?

Guest: It's nice. I love it. I mean, I would do it every day if I could. Absolutely, and you know, we initially got involved in these speeches and these programs because it was more helpful to us. We were, you know, new to the brain injury community, and we needed all the support we could get through. No one can fully understand your personal situation. It's nice to know that you're not alone. It is nice to know that other people understand and are there, but then at some point, it changes, and you kind of become more of the mentor, like we're okay with how our life is now. We don't feel like we're missing out. Courtney doesn't feel like she is either. That can be a little up and down in her world, but she's a 27-year-old girl, you know. But it's nice to know that you can speak to other people and hopefully help them and make a difference to them too. Participating in that panel was absolutely amazing, but with it came a little bit of guilt, I guess. Because Courtney does so well and is so happy. We're so lucky from where she came from. She shouldn't be doing as well as she is, and she's truly, truly blessed we all are, and to see other families that didn't come out quite as successful or are still in the trenches. It's hard, it's sad, but you do it because they need it. They need someone that's been there, that's going through it. 

Host: And you were there.

Guest: Absolutely! 

Host: You know, even five years ago. 

Guest: Absolutely. 

Host: Courtney was still a lot of work and a lot of work time and commitment and dedication, and you know, so, you've been there, you're allowed to be okay now, you have to allow yourself to feel like a mentor and feel like you could help someone and you can teach people from your experience now to not just be seeking out support and help.

Guest: Right. Absolutely. And, you know, we have a really good friend whose son also has a traumatic brain injury, and, you know, we're very, very close with them. And again, he was physically hurt, too, so he struggles differently than Courtney does. But it's just nice to know, as much as you wouldn't wish it on someone, there are other people out there too that are going through this. Even in my job, I'm an optician, and the doctor I work for works with people who have had brain injuries and strokes. He works with the V. A., a lot of veterans. So, I'm constantly talking to people about the effects of TBI, even in my everyday job. And now, you know, more than I do, I mean, gosh, I knew nothing, to begin with. I had no idea what brain injury was, literally zero idea how it affected everything. 

Host: Now you can speak from that point of strength and experience, and what you've been through, I can't imagine, you know, as a mom, you know, you're trying to be the rock, like you're trying to hold this family together and just to step back just for one minute about how hard it was to keep that family together when you were going through such a traumatic time.  

Guest: It wasn't easy. I don't know if you were even aware that previous to this, through Courtney's addiction, my husband and I had actually separated for a year. We were not on the same page as far as her addiction went, and it was very, very overwhelming, and I couldn't worry about his feelings and take care of my child the way she needed to be. So, we did separate, and we literally moved back together the month before her accident. And I mean when I say we separated, we lived separately. But you know, obviously, we've been together since we were 15 years old. I mean, we're soulmates. That's just all there is to it; life gets in the way.

Host: And there were some differences there with parenting. 

Guest: It was. It was hard. So, when her accident happened, we used to chuckle because everyone here at Gaylord laughed at how well we worked together, and I thought, oh dear God, if they only knew what happened just a year ago. You know, but at the end of the day, do. But at the end of the day, again, you just do what you have to do for your family and for your child. And you know, Chuck was amazing with Courtney and getting her better. I mean, he was amazing. 

Host: I mean, best dad I've seen. The way that he interacted with Courtney was just mind-blowing, especially[when dealing with] a person with traumatic brain injury. It was phenomenal. I've never seen something so incredible out of a dad like, and not to discredit any dads. I think they're amazing. But the way that he just had that mother intuition, I don't know…

Guest: Just very impressive, very, very impressive. It just came naturally to him. So that side of things was fine. But then we had Zach and Caitlin, our older son and younger daughter, at home. And specifically, Caitlin being a young teen, went to high school in the town where the accident happened. So, she was bombarded every single day. How is your sister? What's going on? You know, it was very, very difficult for her. She missed a lot of school; we were very concerned with her. We came home when we could when people would come and stay with Courtney, but those days were few and far between, and she would come up here. But it was hard, and you know, then when we got home, the roles were completely reversed. Courtney was like the younger sister, and Caitlin was the older sister, which was a huge battle. That was hard. That was really hard because Courtney said I'm the older sister, and I should be the one driving my younger sister around. I should be giving my younger sister advice; instead, Caitlin was caring for Courtney. That was really, really hard. Everyone kept telling us just day by day, day by day, and we literally lived by that. We really and truly did. I mean, even today, we make plans and hope they're going to come out all right. But they usually don't. Like last summer, we went on a trip and went to a concert, and we knew there would be hiccups, but it just is what it is. You just keep going, and hopefully, you can laugh at those times, and you just keep moving forward. That's all you can do.

Host: I just picture your family with Chuck giving Courtney a piggyback ride. 

Guest: Oh, my gosh! He's still the same way. 

Host: They are such goofballs together. It's just perfect. So that's what you need. You need some humor in your life. 

Guest: You do. We joke, and we're pretty sure Chuck was dropped on his head when he was a child. We always joke. We're like, you relate to her really, really well; maybe you had a TBI at some point in your life. 

Host: A couple of concussions, 

Guest: But overall, I mean, it's not an easy road, but again, you just deal with what you're given.

Host: And you're just lucky to have each other. I mean, that is really the bottom line. You have each other still here. 

Guest: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. 

Host: So, Amy knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have said to yourself in those moments when you stayed vigilant at her bedside? Anything you would have done differently when you look back? 

Guest: I don't.I mean, it's hard to answer that. I don't think there's anything I would have necessarily done differently, but I think you have to learn to give yourself some grace. You have to forgive yourself for those moments when you weren't that great mom, when you may be lost your cool or cried in front of them when you really didn't want to or felt frustrated at the situation because there are many, many, many moments of frustration and anger. You're scared, but you're trying to be strong, so you just have to - you're not perfect. Everyone is human. 

Host: Exactly. 

Guest: You are, and you have to feel because if you don't, it's going to catch up to you at some point. So, you really have to feel. Everyone told us you can't pour from an empty cup, and you've got to take care of yourself. I wasn't so good at that, but I've never been good at that as a mom. Like you put your kids first. That's just how I am. You just have to do what you have to do. So self-care comes later. It's alright. 

Host: There will be a day when you take care of yourself, 

Guest: But the biggest thing is just don't look too far ahead. Try your hardest not to think about what could have been, what should have been. It is what it is, and you have to somehow come to terms with that and just move forward and be thankful for every step forward. As long as they're happy at the end of the day, that's truly all that matters in life. That's my biggest message.

Host: Yeah, you don't take anything for granted and just celebrate the small successes. 

Guest: You do, you do, yes, absolutely. 

Host: So if there's a parent listening right now who's you know, in the trenches right there, they're looking for some hope something from you know, maybe this podcast, who knows, but in your own words, kind of staring at their child in that hospital bed after a traumatic accident, something's occurred. Is there anything you'd say to them, too, to help keep them their focus, get them out of that moment? 

Guest: I would say there's always, always, always hope even when you're in that acute phase, and the doctors and nurses are giving you those sympathetic looks and, you know, telling you they don't know what the outcome is going to be. We saw it time and time again. There is always, always some kind of hope, and you just have to hold on to that. You have to hold on to those small moments and do whatever you can do to make it better. Like for us, it was, you know, painting her toenails and doing her hair because we knew that she wanted that. And my husband would thumb wrestle with Courtney, and that was enough to get him through to the next day. Like maybe today is going to be the day she's going to react, and she did. So, whatever is important to you is what you should do and advocate for your child, whatever you feel is right, that's you know, that's how it should be.

Host: And just say it right. 

Guest: That's it. Just say it, and you just have to be patient and just know that there's always some kind of hope. 

Host: Well, Amy, those are beautiful words of wisdom for any parent out there who is struggling and going through a very hard time with their child. Thank you so much for sharing all of your experience and your, you know, just your whole heart with us today. We appreciate it! And I'm sure there are listeners out there who are really going to benefit from hearing these things. 

Guest: I hope so, I hope so.

Host: So, thank you, and we'll talk again soon. 

Guest: Absolutely, thank you. 

Host: Well, thank you, Amy Beckwith, for coming on our show, and I hope you all were able to really feel and learn from this podcast that there are people out there who may be struggling with similar things like you, and these are signs of hope. You can take whatever you can and hold onto it and get you through these hard times, and you'll come out on the other side, you know, maybe even a better person than you were before. So thank you again for listening to our ThinkFirst series for the Gaylord Specialty Healthcare podcasts, and we'll see you soon!