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Sizemores to have their 'best Thanksgiving ever'
A time to give thanks
Michael Sizemore, center, jokes around with his cousins Devyn DeHart, left, and Lauren Anderson last Thanksgiving at the home of his grandparents, Leroy and Carroll Harris, in Collinsville. Sizemore, who was struck by a car in October and severely injured, is being visited one by one by his family at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N. C. (Contributed photo)
Thursday, November 22, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Sizemore family of Collinsville is counting its blessings today.
“This is going to be our best Thanksgiving ever,” said Susan Sizemore, who with her husband, Mark Sizemore, and other family and friends will gather with their son, Michael Sizemore, also of Collinsville.
The Sizemores nearly lost Michael in October when the 27-year-old was struck by a vehicle in Arlington.
Sizemore suffered a fractured skull, two broken legs, a broken arm and numerous lacerations, and he spent weeks in a medically induced coma in George Washington University Hospital, according to previous reports.
He now is in the Sticht Center at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, N.C., Susan Sizemore said. She described the center as a “traumatic brain rehab unit.”
Because people recovering from traumatic brain injuries are unable to tolerate a lot of noise or stimulation well, “the unit Michael is in now is very quiet and visitors are limited to keep the patients comfortable,” his mother said.
As a result, she said the family will take turns visiting him today.
Every day except Sundays, Michael receives “anywhere from three to four hours of therapy,” including occupational, physical and speech therapy, Susan Sizemore said.
And while “he still has a long way to go, we see improvements every day,” she said.
“Speech will be his biggest hurdle because that’s the part of the brain that was injured,” and he is unable to stand up, other than to get from the bed to the wheelchair, Susan Sizemore said.
But she is confident that will change in time.
The family also is awaiting word on another surgery to reinsert a portion of his skull that was removed to give the brain room to swell, she said of the procedure that will be done at George Washington University Hospital.
Overall, and considering what he has been through, Michael “is doing amazing,” his mother said. Doctors “have told us that within six months” of a similar injury, “most people have recovered to about 75 percent of where they were before” the injury. “And at one year, most are at 90 to 95 percent” of their previous capabilities.
“We have already decided that’s what it will be for Michael. He’s working really, really hard,” she said.
Early on, doctors “had warned us that” Michael’s personality may have changed as a result of the injuries. Thankfully, she said, that has not been the case.
Another blessing is the fact that Michael does not recall how he was injured, she said. Family members have filled in some of the gaps.
“He knows he was hit by a car ... and he knows he was in a coma,” she said. He “is at a point now where language is hard for him, but he is asking questions.”
Susan Sizemore recalled that a nurse recently asked about the driver involved in the incident. Before Susan was able to respond, Michael said, “‘He is in jail,’” his mother said.
Throughout the experience, the Sizemores had help with daily chores such as “walking our dogs and cooking for us. When we were in Washington, one of Michael’s friends was our personal mailman,” Susan Sizemore said. “We didn’t have to worry about the daily stuff because people just seemed to take care of us.”
The family received goody bags, packed with everything from toothbrushes to stamps, while in Washington, “and complete strangers offered to do my laundry while we were there. Some were Michael’s college friends. (Some were) kids that he knew from elementary school who showed up” after learning about the tragedy, Susan Sizemore said.
The Sizemores’ employers also have “just been incredible. They told us to take the time we needed and do what we needed to do,” she said. Also, Michael’s girlfriend, Nicky Zamostny, “put her life on hold” to be by Michael’s side.
The two had been dating about seven months before the injury, Susan Sizemore said.
“Michael told us she was different, but we never got around to having that conversation” about why, Susan Sizemore said. Now, she said she understands what her son meant.
“Nicky is special. She’s been amazing. She left her job, her family and moved to Collinsville with us” to be near Michael as he recuperates, Susan Sizemore said.
Because of his injuries, this is the first Thanksgiving when Michael Sizemore has not visited his grandparents — Leroy and Carroll Harris of Collinsville and Bob and Gloria Sizemore of Axton, Susan Sizemore said.
But “as far as we’re concerned, this will be one of the best Thanksgivings ever. We have so much to be thankful for. We were told we may not even have him this year,” Susan Sizemore said. “God truly blesses us every single day.”