Monica Marion had a heavy heart Wednesday.
While the Wyandotte mom was happy to see her son released from the hospital after being there for more than two months, she doesn’t believe he’s healthy enough to have been sent home. But there's nothing she could do about it.
"He wasn't ready to come home, but this is what happened and we'll make the best of it," she said.
The freshman had been in Children's Hospital of Michigan since the accident, but was released at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. He’s now set to receive in-home care for the foreseeable future.
Monica said she’s upset that an insurance carrier was able to make that decision, but praised hospital staff for the care her son received while there.
“It’s not their fault,” she said. “They were just as concerned that he was being sent home.”
The teen had a shunt put in on Saturday after doctors discovered a new blockage. The timing of that surgery and when he was released from the hospital concerns his sister, Nicole Lyons.
“I would feel more comfortable if he was in the hospital,” she said. “He just got out of surgery. They aren’t giving him any time to see how his body will react to it. … What are we supposed to do when we’re home when there isn’t a doctor around? We can’t just hit a button and a doctor will be there.”
Nicole said she had mixed emotions watching her brother make his return home. She was anxious, excited, scared and nervous, all at the same time, she said.
"I'm glad he’s (home) because it might help him," she said. "I just don’t think he was ready yet."
While Jacob was showing some improvements in the hospital’s rehabilitation unit, he didn’t show enough consistent improvement, his mom said. That irregularity is what triggered his insurance sending him home, she said.
Monica said she refuses to let this latest development deter his progress. With the help of periodic in-home nursing assistance, along with some tricks she’s learned by watching hospital staff work with her son, she said, she’s determined to help Jacob continue with his recovery at home.
“We’re going to show that he can consistently show signs of progress and then hopefully we can get him back in in-patient rehab,” she said. “They know what they’re doing. They’re the professionals.”
Changes on the Homefront
In preparation of Jacob coming home, friends and family have begun renovating the family’s house.
All of the carpeting has been ripped up to the hardwood floors underneath to make it easier for a wheelchair to maneuver.
A first-floor spare room has been transformed into Jacob’s new bedroom, replacing his longtime second-story room. His new room is fully equipped with a hospital bed, medical equipment and a shelving unit full of supplies and canned liquid food. The room had to be specially wired for enough outlets and voltage to plug in all of his machines.
However, there’s still much more work to be done.
A first-floor storage room is being transformed into a handicap-accessible bathroom. The existing bathroom on the first floor is much too small.
Most important of all, an outdoor ramp has to be built to transport Jacob in and out of the house. The front door has steps leading up to it and is too close to the roadway to build a ramp. Therefore, the ramp is tentatively scheduled to be built off the back porch.
That work is set to start within a matter of days and be completed in a week or so.
Without the ramp, it took three people to carry Jacob in a wheelchair into his house Wednesday. And that was after he had to be lifted from one wheelchair and into another to make the chair light enough to be carried into the home.
“The house wasn’t ready,” Monica said. “One more week would have been great, but we weren’t given that chance.”
'Give Him a Year'
The single mother of four children said she considers herself to be the “luckiest mom” out there and continues to be amazed at her son’s progress.
Over the last two months, he’s begun blinking his eyes and squeezing his hand.
“Jacob’s going to get better,” Monica said. “He shows signs everyday. … I think we’re past the big one. He’s still with us. I want Jacob to get his life back the best we can for him. It’s about Jacob; not about us.”
Hours before being released Wednesday, Jacob was visited by therapy dogs at the hospital. When the dogs came into the room, he opened his eyes real wide, said his cousin, Stephanie Barnes.
“It just makes you hopeful and grateful,” she said. “It’s exciting. There are peaks and valleys all the time.”
Doctors have told the family that Jacob can hear sounds, but it’s unknown to what level he understands them, Monica said.
To help with that, she said, she plans to put a TV and an Xbox in his new bedroom and invite his friends to stop by and visit with Jacob while playing a game.
“He loved video games and those are some sounds he’s heard a lot,” she said. “Jacob has to reconnect his wires again, like a vehicle. The brain was damaged. … Your brain will rewire itself. Little by little, he has to teach himself: ‘This is my arm. I’m going to move it.’ Eating or even talking. Little by little, it’s like rewiring him.”
Monica said she has high expectations for her youngest son.
“He’s a strong kid,” she said. “He’s going to do it. I expect Jacob to be up and at least walking by a year. I’ll give him a year.”
His twin sister, Brittani, said she’s happy that her brother is home and is confident of his recovery. While he may look different physically right now, she said, he’s the same brother she’s always known.
“Nothing’s going to change about him,” she said. “He’s the same person. He will always be Jacob.”
A trust fund has been established to help with Jacob's mounting medical bills. Donations can be made to the "Team Jacob Marion" fund at any PNC Bank branch. Checks can be made payable to his mother, Monica Marion.