On Aug. 14, 2015, Harrison Waldron was involved in an all-terrain vehicle accident from which he suffered traumatic brain injuries. Due to the seriousness of his condition, he was med-flighted to Erie, Pennsylvania, to undergo emergency surgery. Overcoming a period of uncertainty, Harrison Waldron was moved from Pennsylvania to Atlanta, Georgia, to the Shepherd Center, a spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation facility.
Over the past six months, through multiple surgeries, many hours of therapy and countless prayers, Harrison Waldron has been slowly recovering, according to his wife, Hayley Waldron.
On Wednesday Jan. 27, the couple moved home to Nashville, Tennessee, to continue the recovery process.
“The greatest blessing since coming home is being surrounded by our family and friends,” Hayley Waldron said. “We felt so isolated in Erie and Atlanta. The people who know us best are here in Nashville, and as we go through the most difficult time of our life, it is such a blessing to simply be known and to be loved.”
While Harrison Waldron has limited movement, his mental cognition is still intact, and he is able to communicate using an iPad.
“(I find joy in) faith in God and the doctors,” Harrison Waldron said via iPad. “And the prayers have helped.”
According to Hayley Waldron, the simple fact of being able to do small, every day things brings her joy.
“Some fun things Harry and I get to do together are basically just normal things that I would have taken for granted before his accident,” Hayley Waldron said. “More recently, these include sleeping in the same tiny twin hospital bed, making trips to Sonic and the grocery store and going for walks outside. I have been doing everything alone for months and poor Harrison didn’t even get to leave the hospital. For us, fun is having each other and being free.”
Hayley Waldron said that the next few months will be challenging, especially as she adjusts to being her husband’s primary caregiver.
“I think a couple of the greatest challenges of not being at Shepherd are the lack of sleep that I get, since I am the one getting up at night to help Harrison clear his secretions and turn him to one side or the other, and the increased responsibility in caring for Harrison,” Hayley Waldron said. “I’m not a therapist by any stretch. Sure, I learned a lot at Shepherd, but I feel an immense pressure to help Harrison rehabilitate while I balance caring for his physical needs and making sure I am scheduling doctor appointments and shipments of medical supplies. It’s really a full-time job, and it’s one that I am so happy to do. My love for Harrison makes each challenge seem simple to overcome. And with God’s help, I know we will adjust to our new normal and the challenges will seem less troubling.”
According to Hayley Waldron, Harrison Waldron will eventually start Vanderbilt’s outpatient rehab program, Pi Beta Phi. His cranioplasty surgery, in which fabricated plastic bone flaps will be placed in his skull, is scheduled for March 10. Haley Waldron said her husband reports headaches frequently, and she suspects that those headaches, among other things, will discontinue after the surgery.
Strength and encouragement come from in many forms, Hayley Waldron said. Whether it is friends who bring lunch or strangers reaching out on Facebook, the consistently thoughtful acts help to strengthen the couple daily. Most importantly, according to Hayley Waldron, she also gains courage from her husband.
“I definitely gather strength from Harrison,” Hayley Waldron said. “You could easily think it’s me who keeps him strengthened and encouraged, but he is the one who keeps my spirits up. His attitude throughout this whole process has been simply beautiful and every day I know that if he can be strong, then I can be strong, too. Harry has always made me more confident and fearless. He’s always been strong where I am weak, and that’s still true even in this situation. He’s my hero.”