Brain-injured woman winning battles

Parents pleased at progress, pass message to others

Jodie Mattock was delighted to be visited by her son

Jodie Mattock was delighted to be visited by her son

Jodie Mattock of 100 Mile House is exceeding expectations in her recovery from a serious brain injury she incurred last summer.

Her mother, Pauline Peterson, says during Jodie’s five-month stay at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, the family fought “tooth and nail” to convince doctors not to place her in long-term care.

She adds another battle then ensued, which succeeded in November, when Jodie was accepted into the Connect brain injury rehabilitation program in Winfield – where she is doing exceptionally well, given the extent of her injuries.

“The bottom line is … we are looking at a better outcome.”

At Connect, Jodie lives in a condo-style home with group home supports and rehabilitation therapy, Pauline explains.

“Part of that therapy is learning how to live again – like doing your own laundry and learning to cook.”

She says Jodie’s own fight to get back to some semblance of her former life and to her children has been hugely impacted by the community support.

After her story was made public by friends and the 100 Mile House Free Press (July 16, 2014 edition), many people came forward and helped financially. Pauline says she and her husband, Doug, were able to stay near Jodie more often (albeit by camping in Kamloops until October when the park season ended).

“One of the huge things where the story helped is … enough people contributed to allow us to spend about 68 per cent of our time with her. They believe that is what brought her [back] into her world and she connected to that.”

That family connection is what appears to have started making the neurons synapse (nerve cells connect), Pauline notes.

When Jodie, 39, was found unconscious at her home on June 20 and rushed by ambulance to 100 Mile District General Hospital, doctors determined she was comatose and airlifted her to Royal Inland Hospital. A CAT scan revealed severe damage to Jodie’s frontal cerebral cortex.

While the doctors’ initial prognosis was dim for her to regain any quality of life – her loved ones were asked to consider removing the respirator – from the onset her family’s hope has been that she will beat the odds, Pauline says.

Now, Pauline adds Jodie is speaking, up on her feet and her walker has been set aside as she gains ground in everyday tasks.

“She recognizes everyone … there are some balance issues, but … this is a miracle. This isn’t going to be that case where she is in long-term care and can’t feed herself.”

Jodie was home for Christmas and was able to make coffee and toast, read, and be escorted around town to see familiar faces, her mother says, adding her daughter’s long-term memory is fairly intact, but her short-term memory remains a big struggle.

Pauline and Doug are not actively seeking donations, but because this has “almost financially ruined” them, Pauline says they are still grateful for any assistance.

(Previous fundraising done by Jodie’s friends in Langley ended last year, so if folks would like to help, call Pauline at 250-456-7356.)

This would support the family in its constant travelling to see her, but also help with the costly Connect rates, and some beneficial activities like therapeutic horseback riding they likely can’t manage to cover themselves, Pauline notes.

They don’t know where Jodie will go next to continue her rehabilitation, she says, adding they hope she may gain acceptance for a second year in Connect, or she may go to Alberta.

As much as her parents are working toward getting her back home, they know that goal is still a long way down the road.

She says her key message is for everyone in similar situations to hold on to their beliefs, and to not give up on a loved one, or give in to the medical prognosis too quickly.

“Believe; keep pushing, and go with your gut instinct if it feels wrong. Don’t be afraid of the doctors.

“Don’t be afraid to state your opinion [and] to do some research on your own … really seek those answers and make [the doctors] stand up for what they are doing.”