On Saturday, February 8, 2020, Ryan was involved in a horrific accident when a tree he was excavating snapped, sending a large portion of a tree trunk directly into his eye socket and brain.  It entered through his upper eyelid in an upward direction which fractured his eye socket and caused significant damage to surrounding tissue, to include his brain. Initial scans revealed a concussion, lacerated eyelid, fractured orbital socket, and blood and bone fragments on his brain.  

Ryan was transferred by air to UAB University Hospital in Birmingham on February 10th and was rushed into surgery where they performed brain and eye surgeries.  In the weeks following, he’s been in treatment and recovery for a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

March is TBI Awareness month and we thought we’d share some facts that we’ve learned over the past few weeks.

Per the Brain Injury Association of America, every 9 seconds, someone in the United States sustains a brain injury.  One in every 60 people lives with a TBI-related disability.  Their annual campaign to raise awareness for TBIs and the recovery and support process is themed “Change Your Mind about Brain Injury.” 

Ryan’s doctor told us from the beginning that TBI’s are like a roller-coaster with good days & bad, and not to get too high on the good days nor too low on the bad and we’ve found that to be true. 

It’s only been a little over one month since Ryan’s accident and his comprehension, spelling, math, and writing are excellent so most of the recovery focus is on his biggest difficulties: speaking in full sentences, figuring out the right words to say, sentence structure, initiating conversation, and properly categorizing groups of words. 

His doctor confirmed that both the stick AND bone fragments entered and damaged a significantly large portion of Ryan’s frontal lobe – making it even more of a miracle how well he’s doing! (Previously, we were told it may have only been bone fragments that did the damage.) They’ll keep him on anti-seizure medications for 6 months, because the part of his brain that’s injured is susceptible to seizures. His neurosurgeon said: “Wherever he ends up {in his recovery} after 12 months is where he’ll stay, but a full recovery is likely” which we and his SLP’s are personally assured of, based on Ryan’s progress so far, the healing power of God’s word, and the prayers of many!

His progress over the past month can be seen in a few pictures here (from February 8th through March 12th):

Due to living in Birmingham during the week through the end of March, Ryan has not returned to work yet and so we are SO appreciative to the friends, family (and even those we don’t personally know), who’ve donated finances, made/donated meals, gift-cards, and more. 

On the business end, Erica has been handling calls and emails, and our upcoming Spring & early Summer shoots are covered by AMAZINGLY talented veteran photographers who’ve volunteered to sub-contract under Pure7.  The Pure7 team is handling the image-editing, and Erica is stepping back into her former sales role for proofing/ordering appointments.  It’s very similar to the team approach we had from 2009 – 2016 when Lindsey, Alan and Rachel were on staff and we’re beyond grateful to continue offering the same excellent ‘Pure7 experience’ our loyal clients are accustomed to until Ryan is back behind the camera! 

Erica’s personal summary from March 8th:

ONE MONTH. Today marks one month since Ryan’s accident. Someday I’ll write more eloquently of what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) on when life handed us something unimaginably hard – but I wanted to share a few thoughts.

I’ve learned that no matter how hard we try, we aren’t in control of anything. Life doesn’t always make sense or go according to plan. I’ll never understand why some people are miraculously healed, while others aren’t. I believe that God loves each & every one of us, so this part has always been hard for me to figure out. But what I’m learning is that it’s not my job to figure it out. My responsibility is to SURRENDER & TRUST. That can be terrifying (for an Enneagram 6, at least).

If I told you my prayer that first night was “Lord, let your will be done.”, I’d be lying. I pleaded with God to save my husband. I recall thinking of the stories in the Bible of Abraham & Issac (where Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son to prove his faith) and where Christ, when crucifixion was imminent, pleaded to God in Matthew 26:39:

“… My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

I felt guilty not having the kind of faith to pray *that* kind of prayer… ‭‭But I what I DO know is that the love of a higher power is at work all around us. All of us. God’s majestic glory has shown in each and every friend, family member and stranger who have shown us comfort, kindness, love, and supported us in every way imaginable (and continue to do so).

There’s really not much more I can muster up to say other than I’ll never take for granted what can happen in the blink of an eye (no pun intended), but am outrageously amazed & blessed by what good can come out of one day – let alone one month. Thank you all for being on this journey with our family. We feel the love. ♥️

If you have any inspiring TBI recovery stories, please share them with us in the comments below!