SL woman making slow strides in recovery from aquatic center fall

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:12 AM

Andy said he is grateful for every bit of progress Brenda makes, and thankful for all the support and prayers from the community. It’s what keeps him going, he said.

Andy has been by his wife’s side day and night since Brenda’s fall when a mechanical lift on which she was working tipped over. She suffered spinal cord and backbone injuries. Fortunately, it was compression and not a tear, Andy said.

“She also suffered a fracture to the back of her head and brain trauma,” he said.

Brenda had surgery the next day to straighten and put pins into her spine, Andy said. Two days later, a section of her skull was removed to relieve pressure from swelling of her brain.

The 49-year-old Spring Lake woman was put into a chemically induced coma for about two and a half weeks, her husband said. School had not started, so their two children — Emily, 16; and Evan, 15 — spent as much time as possible at the hospital with their parents.

The first three and a half weeks were spent in critical care at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. Andy said Brenda was then moved to Spectrum’s long-term acute care unit on Fuller Street. On Oct. 20, she was moved yet again to Spectrum’s neuro-rehabilitation center on Kalamazoo Street, he said.

Although doctors initially told the Blahniks that Brenda could come out of this ordeal in a vegetative state, Andy said there was still hope she would recover.

“We decided we wanted her back no matter what,” he said. “It took 7-10 days before we started seeing any progress” in Brenda coming out of the coma.

Andy said the bills are piling up, but he really hasn’t had much time to look at them. Fortunately, they had some money put aside that has been helping them with the travel costs between Spring Lake and Grand Rapids. Andy said there will also be insurance co-pays to handle, as well as the costs to modify a house to fit her needs for when Brenda finally does go home.

To help with the finances, a fundraiser has been planned for 1-2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lakeshore Sports Center, 4470 Airline Road in Muskegon. There will be a silent auction and other activities. The public is invited.

For more information on the event, or to make a donation, call Bonnie at 231-578-1015.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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