Treated Like Family
What was began as a lighthearted family excursion one day in late November 2010 ended in a life-changing couple of seconds for Craig Wooten.
Wooten, his mother, sister and young niece were driving from the animal shelter after adopting a kitten when the unthinkable happened. Wooten’s SUV was struck from behind by another vehicle, sending his car across the median strip and into oncoming traffic.
“I was in front on the passenger side, and that’s the side that got hit,” said Wooten. The 30-year-old Greenville man was seriously injured; he had breaks and fractures in his skull, jaw, pelvis, chest, ribs, one arm and one leg.
He was taken immediately to the only trauma unit in the area, Miami Valley Hospital, where he would spend the next 10 weeks.
Wooten said he was unconscious for most of that time.
“I don’t remember anything from December,” he said. “My family told me that I would talk, sometimes not making sense. I don’t remember talking to them at all.”
Wooten remembers opening his eyes the second week of January in the trauma unit at Miami Valley Hospital and beginning his long road to recovery.
“My right leg was in traction for the longest time,” he said.
What Wooten does remember was that a score of caregivers, nurses, doctors and therapists rallied to his side and encouraged him to push on.
In the days and weeks after regaining consciousness, Wooten’s caregivers guided him through the grueling work to get him back on his feet.
“Right away, they taught me to transfer myself out of bed and into the wheelchair,” said Wooten. “They’d have me lift my legs, it was really hard. It felt like my legs weighed 100 pounds.”
But there was a great deal of comfort, said Wooten. The Miami Valley Hospital staff became his constant companions as well as his caregivers, he said. When he asked a question about his injuries, Wooten’s nurse used all the tools at her disposal.
“She showed me the X-rays,” said Wooten, adding that even he didn’t expect his reaction to seeing the image. “I was fascinated more than anything else.”
Wooten’s caregivers were on hand for anything he needed, he said.
“I was pretty well taken care of,” he said. “One day I was cold, and they brought me a blanket. Another day, I was hot and they brought me a fan.”
After two months and two weeks, Wooten was able to go home, but he still had Miami Valley Hospital to turn to for continuing care.
“I had occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy,” said Wooten.
That regular follow-up was a big factor in his progress, Wooten said.
“Rehab had a lot to do with it,” said Wooten. “I didn’t think they’d have me as far along as they did, but I made it.”
Now about “90 percent recovered,” Wooten said he was able to drive himself to a department store to go shopping for the first time in early May. He hopes to go back to work at a landscaping wholesale business later in the year.
Looking back, Wooten recalls that it was the upbeat attitude and encouragement of the Miami Valley Hospital staff that kept his spirits up.
“The positive energy of the nurses really helped,” said Wooten. “When I’d get down about not going home, they’d say, ‘Think about recovery, and you will be going home.’”
Wooten said he was able to recover at the speed he did because he was treated with dignity and compassion.
“If somebody’s just treated like a number, they won’t believe they’ll get better and won’t feel they’re cared for,” said Wooten. “I felt cared for. I was treated like family.”