Born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, 43-year old Fiona A. Moree enjoyed an active life of working as a financial analyst and frequently traveling abroad with her favorite travel buddy, her sister.
Life as Fiona knew it changed dramatically in fall 2019, when she was involved in a serious car accident. Rushed to a hospital in Nassau, Bahamas, Fiona was discovered to have a severe traumatic brain injury as a result of the crash and was in a coma for 17 days after the car accident. In addition, she had multiple breaks in her pelvis and a few broken ribs. She was placed in intensive care and then progressed to the intermediate care unit. Fiona underwent a tracheostomy to aid her breathing and was given a feeding tube to provide nourishment.
“When I came out of the coma, it felt like waking up from a dream,” Fiona said. “I had lost a little more than two years worth of my current memory and my timeline disappeared. My brain would tell my feet to move, but nothing would happen. I wasn't able to move the left side of my body at all. I was in a lot of pain, and had a lot of crying outbursts. My speech was very monotone and did not sound natural. I was fed through a feeding tube and had constant double vision.”
Knowing that options for inpatient rehabilitation are very limited in The Bahamas, Fiona’s acclaimed neurosurgeon at the hospital in Nassau strongly recommended that she be transferred by air ambulance to Miami, Florida where she would benefit to continue her recovery at the highly recommended West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital.
When she was admitted at the end of November 2019, Fiona’s goals were to “get back to being me and functioning as I used to.” At the time, she needed assistance for all activities of daily living, including bathing and dressing. She was also highly sensitive to sounds and movements. Fiona’s care team worked to develop a plan to help her regain memory, speech, mobility and independence.
Physical therapists worked with Fiona to restore feeling and movement of the entire left side of her body (arm, shoulder, full leg and foot). They also helped her to begin walking with a walker as well as safely moving from laying to sitting to standing. A major turning point for Fiona was when she was finally able to turn over and lay on her stomach. “It felt really good because I had been confined to laying on my back for more than two months because of my injuries,” said Fiona.
Occupational therapists helped Fiona improve her overall cognition and memory. As part of her therapy, they used eye patching to significantly help decrease her double vision, and worked to gradually reintroduce concepts important to Fiona, including budgeting and travel planning.
Fiona also benefitted significantly from speech therapy, where therapists worked with her to communicate more clearly, including strategies to speak in her more natural tone. They have also helped Fiona transition from the feeding tube she was on when she arrived to a regular diet, which was particularly exciting. “Getting to choose my own food from a menu made me feel like I was in a restaurant!” Fiona said.
Fiona’s family has been instrumental in her recovery. “Their support has been phenomenal. I knew that this is what families do for each other, but now I have experienced it first-hand,” she said. Fiona’s mother stayed in Miami during her entire stay at West Gables, and her sister flew from The Bahamas each weekend to visit. Her mother also participated in Fiona’s therapy and underwent training on how to help ensure that Fiona continues to improve when she returned home.
Upon discharge, Fiona shared, “I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and exploring my environment. I look forward to continuing therapy and my recovery. I've realized that I need to be more patient with the process, and that it will take time to heal.”
Fiona had high praise for her care team, saying “My overall rehabilitation experience at West Gables was awesome. Everyone has been nice and very diligent at making sure that what was required was attended to on the spot. My care has been exceptional and I've been given the tools to be successful.”
Fiona also shares some of her personal instrumental advice with others who may be on a similar journey: “It helps to pray and thank God that you made it. Believe in yourself. You can do it!”