The tragedy was surreal. The prognosis was deplorable. But a mother’s love for her child prevented her from letting him go.
Vaughn Salisbury found himself on life support after sustaining injuries in a 4-Wheeler accident on Sept. 1. However, his mother Kay Perry refused to pull the plug on Salisbury despite the recommendations from the doctors, and the advice from family and friends.
Once Salisbury was taken off life support and was expected to survive, the road to recovery began. However, Salisbury’s doctors told the Perry family Salisbury wouldn’t have much of a recovery as he was going to be bed ridden the rest of his life.
But a few months later, after suffering a seizure, Salisbury had a Cat Scan to make sure no more damage to his brain had occurred. The doctors found out that just the opposite was happening — his brain was actually healing.
As the months have progressed, no one actually knows how much Salisbury remembers or how much he will recovery as he has already progressed further than doctors ever thought possible.
“He’s totally amazing,” Perry said. “He can walk with assistance. He can sit up in bed. He can say a handful of words. I gave him his phone one day and he got on his phone like nothing ever happened. He got on Facebook. He can get on Facebook and communicate with his friends.
“He knows where his music is on his phone. Where his pictures are on his phone. He has an IPAD. He gets on it and plays games with no help. He can punch in the code all by himself. He’s just amazing.”
As Salisbury’s condition continues to improve, it gives Perry validation she made the right call.
“He’s just totally amazing and I just thank God everyday that I never gave up on him,” Perry said. “I was told he would never be normal. He’s still got his personality. He flips people off. He still has is quirky little smile. He does answer yes or no. He does understand everything.”
Once it was clear Salisbury was able to comprehend, Portsmouth West provided a home-school teacher. Jennifer Moorhead, a high-school English teacher, was told she would be working with Salisbury in January and in June, they finally met.
“I was so surprised because I had been told he only had eye movement,” Moorhead said. “When I met him, he was sitting up in a wheel chair. He could stand with assistance. I honestly didn’t know what to expect as far as his mind but it didn’t take me long to figure out that he is a 17-year-old teenager. I was also concerned because I didn’t know if he would have the abilities of a kindergartner. I started working at his house and I watched his mom work with him for a few days, and then I took over and I’ve been working with him all summer long.”
Not long after working with Salisbury, Moorhead realized he was still able to comprehend.
“He still has a lot of his skills,” Moorhead said. “It’s just the processing of his brain telling his hands what to do. That takes time.”
While Perry is thankful she made the right decision, she has been by Salisbury’s side since the day he was involved in the accident. Once he came home from the hospital, Perry quit her job to take care of Salisbury. Not knowing what he was going to be like when they brought him home, Shane Perry likened it to taking care of a new born baby.
“It was life altering,” Shane Perry said. “We had to tear out his closet and make it bigger. It’s been different. We put a monitor on him so we could see him at night when he was sleeping. It wasn’t like having a new born kid but then again, it was. It was like having a 155-160 pound baby.”
Kay Perry would often question if she should let someone babysit but since no one else had been there since day one, she couldn’t bring herself to trust anyone else to take care of Salisbury.
Despite not questioning her decision, Kay Perry admits only having income has put a strain on her family — not to mention the personal burden Kay Perry feels from giving up her normal life.
“There are times it’s been hard,” Kay Perry said. “Sometimes I wish I could get up and go back to work. If I didn’t know how to manage money, I don’t know how we’d be making it right now with just my husband working, but we manage. But I do have days that I sit here and wonder, would I be at work right now? Would this be my day off?
“I have my moments that I sit here and wonder if I should go back to work, or would he just be like where did mom go? Where’s mom at? I wonder if he would understand it because it would only be for a few hours because I would not go back to full time right away if I did go back.”
Kay Perry has moments where she longs for the life she once knew.
“I have my days I wish I could just go to work everyday,” Perry said. “I was never one to miss work but everybody does understand the situation. Did I make the right choice? Yes I did. I’ll never deny that. I made the right choice keeping him alive. If it wasn’t for me, I don’t think he’d be where he’s at today.”
While Kay Perry admits the past year as been rough and there are no guarantees Salisbury will ever regain all of his functions or if he’ll be able to speak fully again, the one thing that is certain — his family is there by his side as he continues his journey.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.