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The 700 Club

Making the Most of Uninvited Change

A PLANNED LIFE
Jeff and Jacqui were living the American dream.  He was running a successful family medical practice in Indiana and was known in their small town as “Doc.”  They were involved in their church and excited about pouring their lives into others.  Things were going incredibly well from the outside.  “I always made sure to, at least, include Jesus in everything I was doing,” says Jeff. “He was more than welcome to be a part of my life, but I just wasn’t ready to give him total control of it.”  Admittedly, pride was always an issue for him.  “I felt I deserved everything good that came my way,” he says.  

May 12, 2012 was a brisk, sunny morning and the second day of their neighborhood garage sale.  Jeff left for the hardware store with strict instructions to call Jacqui while he was there before purchasing a few hanging baskets.  After an hour went by, Jacqui was in utter disbelief when Jeff’s business partner called.  Jeff had been in a horrible car accident and had been airlifted to the hospital.  The entire front end of Jeff’s truck was smashed in and was wrapped around a telephone pole on the driver side.  The passenger door was completely caved in from the impact of the other truck.  “It didn’t seem possible that there would be any survivors from the sea of metal destruction before me,” says Jacqui. Jeff had a large hematoma on the left side of his head from hitting the cement pole.  He had a couple of broken ribs, one which punctured his lung and caused it to collapse.  For several days, Jeff remained partially sedated and woke up every once in a while.  “It was like he was staring right through us,” says Jacqui.  

QUICK RECOVERY
Four days after the accident, Jeff got out of bed for the first time.  He couldn’t think clearly and any answers he gave to questions were vague.  It would be quite a while before doctors knew how bad the brain injury was and prepared Jeff’s family for months and even possibly years of rehab.  Though he was transferred to a step-down unit, there was still minimal responses from Jeff. “I don’t remember leaving the store or what happened the rest of that day,” says Jeff.  His first clear recollection was while he was in a rehab facility during the first week when he looked out the window which faced Lake Michigan.  “I thought I was on vacation,” he says.   After working with therapists, Jeff’s recovery started and seemed to progress rapidly.  Jeff re-learned how to do daily tasks and a month after his accident, Jeff went home. Doctors were amazed at his recovery. It was frustrating as both Jeff and Jacqui had to learn what their new life would be like since all of their routines changed.  After six months, Jeff was able to return to work.  “Because of my quick and miraculous recovery, I was not only able to return to work, but I was able to return much faster than anyone expected.”  

The fast recovery gave Jeff a false hope for his future.  He was cleared for a work trial with reduced hours and less patients each day, but Jeff still wasn’t able to get back to “normal.”  When he finally realized his new normal, Jeff became depressed which also led to anxiety and worry. He also developed obsessive compulsive disorder. “It was one of the most difficult times of my life,” he says.  Jeff decided to see a psychologist for help. “Mental illness is now a part of my story,” he says.  “And it is something I have chosen to openly accept and courageously fight.”  A vital part of his acceptance came from reading the Bible.  “The Bible is full of people suffering from all types of issues,” he says.  “But many of them chose to stop carrying their burdens and to let God carry them through whatever they were struggling with.  And that is what I am learning to do.”

Jeff started studying and applying truths in the Bible.  “I realized that in order to truly encounter my new normal, I had to start living a true Christian life,” says Jeff.  “This changed how I lived my life.”  With his new heart, Jeff found a new purpose and passion for Jesus.  “There’s no question God could have given me a full recovery,” says Jeff.  “But that was not his choice.  His plan was to give me another gift: the gift of a TBI.  That way, I could always remember where my power comes from.”

In 2016, Jeff had a bad headache and an MRI showed that his brain was shrinking.  He was instructed by his neurologist to retire from his practice.  “I’ve finally realized the only normal worth finding is normal as Jesus defines it,” says Jeff.  Because of the nature of his brain injury, Jeff’s future prognosis is unpredictable.  Because his memory could also decline, Jeff wanted to get his story out in case one day he forgot.  “Life is short. While we are here on earth, let’s live everyday like it’s our last day.  Let’s remember why we are here and who we belong to.”

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Guest Info

Credits

Author, Finding Normal, M&J Publishing 2018; M.D.

Indiana University School of Medicine

Medical Degree Family Practice Residency, East Tennessee State University

Private practice until 2016

Married: Jacqui

2 children

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