My ninety-one year old Grandma Rose was a neighbor of the Zabriskie family. She had heard about a boating accident their son Craig had which resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 1990. He was progressing well in rehab at McKay-Dee Hospital at the time of our car accident. My caring grandma knew that if I could meet Craig and Lynne, their experience would be helpful and give me hope. She asked them to stop by and see me sometime when they were at the hospital. I remember our first meeting just a few weeks after our accident. I learned that Craig was in a coma for five weeks. I thought Mark will not be comatose for that long. Craig was using a walker. I thought Mark will never need a walker. One might say I was in denial; I would say I was adjusting to a shocking twist of fate which I was not prepared for.
Lynne visited with me a few times while Craig was in therapy. She had a better understanding of what I was going through than I did. She had seven months of experience with TBI at the time. She recommended helpful books for me to read. After Mark left McKay-Dee hospital we kept in touch through cards since email was not widely used at that time. We have in common a love and heartache for wonderful men who are survivors of TBI; we are close in age and have the same number of kids. For more than twenty-three years they have been our mentors and one of the few marriages I know which have endured the trials of TBI. Their story is amazing and Lynne has shared it in a book, The Lost Season. They are one of many special people we’ve gotten to know on this journey and I’m grateful for their example and willingness to share their story on Uniting Caregivers.
KSL report written April 14, 2009
BOUNTIFUL — A former high school athlete and former high school cheerleader had it all: two beautiful children, a thriving business and a terrific marriage. One afternoon on Pineview Reservoir changed their lives forever.
Lynn Neerings and Craig Zabriskie began dating their sophomore year at Bountiful High School. Neerings was a cheerleader and Zabriskie played baseball for the Braves in the 70s.
“Craig was the all-American kind of guy and Lynn the cheerleader, so they were perfect together,” said former classmate Bob Grove.
The pair married in 1980. Over the years, they had two daughters and Craig had a thriving mortgage business.
Their life took a dramatic turn on September 11th, 1990 on Pineview Reservoir. Another boat hit Craig while he was waterskiing.
“And unable to hear our warning cries, I watched helplessly as the boat slammed into my husband,” said Lynn.
The couple estimates the boat hit Craig going 40 miles an hour, and the impact to Craig’s head was closer to 60.
Twenty minutes later at McKay-Dee Hospital, Craig had slipped into a coma.
“When the doctor came in he had x-rays and told me his brain had just shut down, but there was some activity and he probably wouldn’t make it through the night. Or if he does, he won’t remember you or the children or he’ll never walk again,” Lynn said.
After five weeks in a coma, Craig finally woke up. “They had him sitting in a wheelchair, and I knelt down and said, ‘Craig, I’m Lynn, your wife.’ Unable to speak because he had a trach, he leaned towards me and kissed me. He remembered,” said Lynn.
Craig doesn’t remember anything from the accident, but he knew right away life would be drastically different. Ironically, Craig signed up for long-term disability insurance one month before the accident.
He said, “I just had a great life, and after the accident, it was like everything was taken from me.”
To get back, Craig would endure grueling rehabilitation. He had to re-learn to walk and re-learn the alphabet. He even had to teach himself how to write with his left hand after being right-handed his entire life.
“They put a pen in my hand and said, ‘Write your feelings, write everything.’ So to this day I write down everything,” he said.
Lynn became a writer, as well. She put their story into a book called, “The Lost Season.”
“Our goal is to help everyone out there know that life is not easy, but you can overcome no matter what life brings you,” Lynn said.
Life for Craig, now 52, includes continual therapy. One of the first things his therapist recommended was racquetball, a game Craig played for years before his accident.
“I play with two rackets, one in each hand. I serve with my right and kill with my left,” said Craig.
Craig is also a regular at Gold’s Gym where Lynn teaches aerobics. Though he can no longer work, he says life is great, despite what happened.
I’m grateful Grandma had the foresight to ask the Zabriskie’s to visit me.Their friendship has enriched my life. For more information or to order their book go to www.TheLostSeason.net.