Jan. 4 was a big day for Noah Venesile.
He finally came home.
Since suffering a traumatic brain injury in his neighborhood Nov. 6 after colliding with a car, 9-year-old Noah and his family have endured heartache and triumph.
From the moment Noah was taken by Life Flight to MetroHealth Medical Center, the lives of Noah, his parents Amy and Chris, sisters and brother were thrown into turmoil.
Those first days, documented on the family’s Facebook page, Prayers and Support for Noah Venesile, were filled with heartache and uncertainty. Noah, in the pediatric intensive care unit, faced an uncertain future.
“Noah sustained a severe closed-head injury. He is being medically sedated, is on a ventilator to support his breathing while he is under sedation, and has a cranial pressure monitor in his skull (those words were so hard to type),” Amy wrote.
Family, friends and the community rallied. Noah's third-grade classmates at Westview Elementary School sent well wishes. Community members made signs and held a “Lights on for Noah” night in Avon Lake, joined by those in other towns.
From there, postings, read by more than 6,000 people who "liked" the page, documented Noah’s bleak condition that slowly, slowly began morphing into heartening news.
His breathing tube was removed. An intercranial pressure monitor was removed.
But then the hard part of Noah's recovery began.
He went through a period of neurological "storming," a state that many patients experience after the heavy sedatives and painkillers leave the system. He was moved out of the PICU yesterday to the pediatric section, where he “endured three excruciating days of thrashing and agitation.”
Support and progress
Pictures of Noah, taken in his hospital bed, begin to tell the story of his recovery. He smiles at a photo of his dog, Delilah, who is then allowed to visit Noah at the hospital. He laughs and cuddles with sisters Sydney and Paige when they come to visit. Noah’s humor is deemed intact.
By early December, Noah is fist-bumping his sister. It’s evident he has a long road ahead of him, but the signs of progress continue. A video of Noah shows him cautiously reading aloud from a Shel Silverstein book.
On Dec. 12, Amy’s posting revealed hope for her youngest child.
“Noah is exceeding expectations,” she said. “Drs. are very pleased with his progress and the acceleration of that progress. He is further along than many brain injury patients are within a month of their injury. For the first time a medical professional actually said that Noah has a positive prognosis.....and of course I cried like a baby.”
Two days before Christmas, Noah was up on two feet, taking tentative steps with a physical therapist. And on Jan. 2 came the best news of all: A pajama-clad Noah, talking into the camera gave this message: “Hi everyone, I have some awesome news. I’m coming home this Friday.”
On Jan. 6, Amy said the homecoming was a thrill for the family.
“Of course we’re very happy to have him home,” she said. “The last couple of weeks he’s been saying he wants to go home.”
Noah’s been enjoying playing with his friends, including a group outing at Wood and Wine. He was even able to enjoy a few days with older brother Nathan, before he headed back to the University of Cincinnati.
What lies ahead remains to be seen.
“Frankly, we don’t know how far he’ll go,” Amy said. “His rehabilitation (personnel) and doctors are very encouraged by how far he’s come and his rate of progress. It’s faster than many brain injuries.”
Noah still has work ahead of him and he'll require physical, speech and occupational therapy three times a week.
“He’s doing well, but he’s aware things are going to be different,” Amy said.
And he’s ready to go back to school.
“On Tuesday we’ll have a full re-entry meeting for getting him back to the classroom,” Amy said.
That includes a meeting with special education teachers, the principal and administrators.
A Night for Noah
Neighbors and friends have been organizing fundraisers to help out with costs associated with Noah’s recovery. On March 9, from 6 p.m. to midnight, join supporters at Avon Oaks Country Club in Avon for a major fundraiser. Currently the group is seeking sponsors and donations for the evening, including items to be auctioned off. Tickets are $55. More information on tickets or donating auction items/sponsorship can be found here.
A second just-announced fundraiser will be held Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Parma Brew Garden. Tickets for that event, which runs from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include domestic and draft beer, wine, spirits, soda and buffet. There are a limited number of 300 tickets available that will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets can be ordered on Facebook.
If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate, please visit "Support for Noah Venesile's Journey."