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This article was published 3/2/2016 (1479 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
One year after a horrific snowmobile accident that left him with a serious brain injury, Rob Hollohan has surpassed everyone’s expectations of recovery.
On Jan. 6, 2015, Rob was sledding on his property in Brookdale when the ski of his machine caught a hidden barbed wire fence and launched him into the air. The 43-year-old landed on his head in a nearby field where his wife, Vickie, found him.
Rob was rushed to the Neepawa Health Centre, where he was put on life support and induced in a coma before being airlifted to the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg to undergo emergency surgery.
"He showed no signs of regular brain pattern, so (doctors) said he was legally brain-dead in the beginning," Vickie said, recounting the tense days following the accident.
Four days after his surgery, Rob wasn’t responding to tests and doctors told Vickie it was time to say goodbye.
"We had a family meeting after all the tests came back from the brain surgery, and they said ... he will never come off life support, he will never have any type of quality of life," Vickie said.
Unable to accept the doctors’ prognosis, Vickie went to Rob’s bedside and pleaded with him to give the staff at HSC a sign.
At 5 a.m. the next day, she received a call from one of her husband’s doctors with news that he had wiggled his fingers and toes during a coma test.
"People are too quick to judge. I get it, I saw the scans myself," said Vickie, who had worked as a nurse’s aide in the rehabilitation department at Brandon Regional Health Centre. "I understood completely, but I know my husband and he’s a fighter, he’s not going to leave me and the kids."
In the following months, Rob regained consciousness, got off life support and began an intense rehab program to relearn nearly all of his motor skills. The accident left him with total paralysis on his left side and blindness in his left eye.
While Rob was making significant gains in therapy, Vickie was certain they would have to forgo plans to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows — but her husband promised it would still happen.
"We stood on the beach in Minnedosa with our kids and we renewed our wedding vows to each other," Vickie said of the August 2015 event. "He stood on his own two feet, holding my hand, putting the ring on my finger."
Rob was able to come home to Brookdale in October and is now attending regular physio and occupational therapy sessions as an outpatient at BRHC. He still has weakness in his left side and memory issues, but every morning he gets up and makes lunch for his kids — Emily, 10, and Nicholas, 14 — before they head to school.
Vickie says that while Rob’s progress has surprised every doctor they’ve talked to, she’s worried they will have to cut back on therapy because of the financial burden. After the accident, Vickie stopped working to take care of Rob and the family has had to take out a line of credit against their house to keep up with bills.
"It got to the point where everything that we had in savings was exhausted," she said. "This week, we had to cut back from therapy every week to once every two weeks because we can’t afford the travelling back and forth ... How do you give up when you’ve come so far?"
In order to continue the upward trajectory of his recovery, Rob needs to get a special pair of prism glasses and undergo vision in therapy to regain the full use of his left eye — his vision has partially returned since the crash.
Last week, a friend of the family started a GoFundMe page to raise the $10,000 needed to cover the cost of the glasses and the therapy.
"They came over to our house a couple of weeks ago and (Vickie) was mentioning how they now needed this $10,000, plus previous bills that they’ve accumulated ... and so I said something’s got to be done," friend Kylia Carew said.
The Carews and the Hollohans connected several years ago when the two families spent an entire summer camping next to each other at the Minnedosa Beach campground.
While this is Carew’s first foray into crowdfunding, the campaign had already raised more than $3,700 by Tuesday afternoon after going live just a few days earlier. The page has been shared on social media more than 240 times.
"It’s such a great thing for them because they’re really great people and they have been through so much this past year," Carew said. "It just shows them support in the community and shows how all their friends care for them so much."
As for Vickie, she says the fundraiser is overwhelming.
"It’s amazing," she said before being overcome with emotions. "We’re just so thankful. Everybody is supporting Rob’s recovery, it means so much to me and my kids."
To donate to "Rob’s Medical Fund," visit gofundme.com/3jzzz3dt.
» Twitter: @evawasney
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 3, 2016