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Deatrick recovers from fall

Deatrick recovers from fall
Deatrick recovers from fall
From left, Emmalou, John, Nicole, infant Brynlee Hope Marie and Coleton Deatrick continue the healing process after John fell into a dry pit in December. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and a shattered pelvis in the fall. Photo by Alan Stewart (click for larger version)

John Deatrick remembers little from Dec. 10, 2012.
He said he remembers that he and co-worker Nathan Faith ‘ both Town of Corydon employees ‘ were working above ground at a dry pit at the town’s water plant and that he had helped gather tools. Deatrick was set to go to an ultrasound with his wife just a few minutes later while Faith was going to go into the pit.
Then, nothing. No memory of anything until about three weeks later.
Deatrick, 26, fell through a small entrance door approximately 20 to 25 feet into the pit. During the fall, he hit a valve, which shattered his hip bone and caused a huge, gaping wound, then he hit the ground, knocking him unconscious.
Emergency workers quickly arrived and were able to remove him from the pit using a backboard and rope. Deatrick was then flown via Air Methods helicopter to University Hospital in Louisville.
‘There were clues that something bad had happened to John. He hadn’t called, and he was running late for the ultrasound,’ John’s wife, Nicole, recalled. ‘That wasn’t like him.’
She said she was initially told that her husband broke his leg. While en route to the hospital, she learned the accident was much more severe. A friend didn’t want to tell Nicole the extent of the injuries because she was several months along in a pregnancy.
‘I bawled the entire way to the hospital,’ Nicole said Monday, as she squeezed her husband’s hand. ‘There was so much going through my mind.’
John was placed in a medically induced coma, and doctors told his wife that he likely wouldn’t survive his stay. And, even if he did, he’d never walk or talk or be the same as before the accident. His situation was so dire that doctors said there could be no stimulation of any kind while he was in intensive care. A photo of John on the hospital bed showed a man battered, bruised and on the brink of death.
‘His body was at its breaking point and the doctors said I couldn’t touch him or talk to him or anything. That was so hard. They were so concerned with his head injury that they didn’t work on his side, which is why it’s infected now. (The newspaper story) made it sound like he was OK, but he wasn’t, at all.
‘Doctors were telling me I was selfish and to think of (our) children, and that I needed to sign the release to end life support. They told me he was going to die,’ Nicole said. ‘I didn’t care if I had to bring him home as a vegetable. I wasn’t going to let him go. I wasn’t going to do it.’
‘One of the doctors even went on vacation and said that he didn’t expect to see me when he came back,’ John said.
John was strong, and their faith was stronger.
Yesterday (Tuesday), Deatrick was to undergo surgery to replace a portion of his skull on the right side of his head that was removed during emergency surgery to reduce swelling on his brain.
It’s another step forward in an incredible journey of healing and overcoming obstacles.
Deatrick said other than his vision (‘Still kind of messed up’), his raspy voice (‘It’s still kind of weak because of the tracheotomy’) and weakness on his left side, he’s not feeling too bad, all things considered. The gash on his side has some infection in it, which doctors say will need to be scraped out soon.
John, who can only remember one person visiting him at University and some of his time at Frazier Rehab a few weeks after the accident, does therapy from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. three days a week in Louisville. He’s slowly gaining his strength and said he’ll return to work with the Town of Corydon once he’s physically able.
The couple and their other two children, Emmalou and Coleton, welcomed a new Deatrick to the world on Jan. 18: Brynlee Hope Marie.
‘(Nicole) does a lot of the baby stuff and has been taking care of a lot of the stuff around the house. She’s been an inspiration in all of this,’ John said.
The couple has met with another Harrison County couple that went through a similar traumatic brain injury. Trevor Whittaker, who crashed on an ATV last summer, had an almost identical brain injury as Deatrick’s, even on the same side and in the same area of the brain.
‘They’ve been really great,’ Nicole said of Trevor and wife Lynn. ‘They answered a lot of questions and told us not to worry about (Tuesday’s) surgery. It’s helpful when you have someone who has really been there and gone through what we’ve gone through.’
With John out of work and Nicole’s pregnancy, the couple have seen bills pile up. Several fundraisers have helped (one is still going on through, as has $300 the couple received from friend Candis Keith of Laconia through WAVE-3 television’s ‘Pass The Cash’ promotion. Other fundraisers may be forthcoming.
‘It’s been hard. But we really appreciate everything that’s been done and everyone who has helped out. I’d like to thank everyone around for what they did. It’s nice to have people help out,’ John said. ‘It’s one less thing to stress about, and I appreciate it a lot.’
Nicole, who lived in Arizona prior to moving to Corydon, said she’ll never leave this place: ‘The love of the people here and how they have helped has been amazing. I don’t ever want to leave. Our kids may grow up and leave, but this is where we want to be for the rest of our lives.’