It's Just About... (Helping Another) Life

We all know it can happen in the blink of an eye. We just think it won't happen to us. But life happens.

For nearly the past two weeks Brian Granek's life has been happening as a series of life-changing ups-and-downs, literally from one moment to the next. His wife Jennifer, the mother of his three children, the love of his life, lies in a medically induced coma, after a fun-filled 40th birthday vacation suddenly turned into a fight for survival. Life happened and now it's impossible to tell what the future will hold.

Jill Suffel, Jennifer's sister-in-law says Jen is an "adventure lover" and during their trip to Costa Rica to celebrate Jen's upcoming birthday, the couple planned to go ATV riding through jungle-like terrain.

It seems like an eternity now, but Jill says it was just twelve days ago, October 1st, when her cellphone rang.  It was Jill's mom telling her Brian had just called and something had happened. There had been an accident on the during the ATV ride and Jen was unconscious.  Less than an hour later Jill says her phone rang again, this time it was Brian. "He told me there's been an accident", Jill says, "it's really bad, it's really bad, it's really bad, he kept repeating it over and over. He was crying and telling me to please take care of things at home."

Jill's next responsibility was one no one would want to tackle. The Granek's three children, Riley, Cameron and Landon were staying with Jen's mom and it was Jill and her husband David who had to go over there to break the news about Jennifer. Jill says Jen's mom didn't know what to say, "she felt panicked", says Jill, "she couldn't catch her breath - the next morning Jen's mom and dad and Jill and Brian's parents were on the first flight out of Baltimore headed for Costa Rica.

In the meantime, Jill had spoken to Brian again and he kept telling her again it was bad, "he was scared" says Jill and he said no one really knew anything except that Jen was unconscious and after being transported to a nearby medical center, she needed to be airlifted to CIMA Hosptial San Jose. Realizing Jen had suffered a traumatic brain injury the doctors acted swiftly to drill a small hole in the side of her skull and relieve the pressure on her brain. For a while it was touch and go - and as recently as last Wednesday it seemed dark, with little hope of recovery. But the past few days have brought better news for Jen's condition, though still critical but stable, Jen is showing some signs of a comeback. The comeback everyone who knows and loves her knows she can make. Her body is slowly tolerating a rise in temperature and the latest CAT scan showed the swelling in her brain subsiding a bit.

Jill says Brian is by Jen's side constantly, "he has good days and bad days and his days depend on Jen's days. One little blip on the radar throws him off", she says, "and he is very guarded and tries not to get too excited about the little improvements." But Jill says Jen's parents have a very positive attitude and her own parents are "guarded and anxious", though feeling much better after the positive and more stable news from this past weekend.

Jill & Brian

And it's the future, not the past, which is the concern on everyone's mind. As Jill explains "a traumatic brain injury brings with it so much uncertainty, no one knows what's to come and that's the scariest part."  To alleviate those fears, or at least to provide some financial foundation for what the future might hold, the Granek's good friends Scott and Lori Baylin have started a Give Forward Funding page for Jennifer. The current goal is to raise $100,000 to help pay to airlift Jen back home to Maryland and the "unknown" future costs of medical care for the family.

Currently it's Jill and David who are caring for Jen and Brian's children and they are only aware of part of the story. Jill says Brian recently talked to them on Facetime : "mommy was in an accident and she hurt her head. We can't put a cast on her head and the only way for her head to heal is to keep her asleep. She needs to keep sleeping until her head starts to heal."

Jill says the children and her own two boys, Ben and Logan have all been great living under one roof. Jill says,"the kids have made it easier on her then it could have been. All five children have stepped up to the plate and are just amazing."

And Jill says she knows Jen is amazing too. "I truly believe in my heart of hearts - I truly think Jen is so tough and so strong...she's awesome. I can't imagine her any other way besides pushing forward and working to get through this."

In the face of adversity and one of the greatest challenges of his young life, Brian has turned to Caringbridge to share details of Jen's battle and to share his own thoughts and emotions as he watches over his bride, still in a coma, and her day-to-day battle back from this serious accident, one which has forever changed their lives.

Maybe it's best to let Brian describe it himself from a recent Caringbridge Post:

I will tell you a story. It's a love story about two teenagers that fell deeply in love in the summer of 1993. They went to University of Maryland together and she taught him that you actually have to do work before you play and party. They graduated together and moved apart for almost four years. Their love kept them strong while apart and they were married on the 8th anniversary of their first date. Their wedding night was the first night they spent in their new home. They made three beautiful children and have amazing and loving friends and family.

Today, I spent much of the afternoon wiping my own tears off of Jennifer's arm as I held her hand and sat helpless and stared at the love of my life laying in a hospital bed in a foreign country. I don't like this horrifying, hellish chapter of our story...and I can assure you, it won't be the end of our story. We have many more memories to create and milestones to reach with our family and friends. My wife is the sweetest, kindest, strongest person that I know. Please continue to pray for Jennifer and our family. Thank you for all the positive energy and well wishes. We have a long way to go. Again, please hug and kiss your loved ones often.

Love, Brian

Remember you can share your own thoughts on the Caringbridge website:(

And you can donate at the Giving Forward link:

Until next time, thanks for taking the time - and praying for Jennifer Granek's full recovery.


Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speech Writer, Speaker, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH Advisors

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