Nearly two years after accident, woman enjoying some independence
“I feel good,” Marla Williams Gettman says, sitting in her parents’ living room in Glenwood Springs. “Tired, but good.” By Carrie ClickPost Independent Staff”I feel good,” Marla Williams Gettman says, sitting in her parents’ living room in Glenwood Springs. “Tired, but good.” Those are monumental words coming from Gettman, 31, who suffered a severe head injury, crushed her right arm and broke multiple bones in a car accident on Dec. 13, 2002. Marla’s boyfriend, Robert Sousa, was driving Marla’s car on Highway 40 to Winter Park for a day of snowboarding when the car slid off the road and into a steep ravine before hitting a tree. Marla says she doesn’t remember the accident at all – which, in retrospect, is good. “We nearly lost you,” says Marla’s father Leo Williams, sitting across the living room gazing at his daughter. And indeed they did. Emergency medical personnel arrived within 10 minutes of the accident that December day and transported Marla on a Flight for Life helicopter to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver. Marla suffered a stroke in the left side of her brain, as well as the fractures to her right arm, her jaw and her clavicle. Shining throughMarla doesn’t remember the weeks she spent at St. Anthony’s – two of which she was in a coma. She also doesn’t remember being transferred to Craig Rehabilitation Hospital on Jan. 7, 2003. But even though Marla doesn’t remember, she’s living proof that she’s been working as diligently as humanly possible to regain her speech, the use of her right arm – and her life.Marla moved out of Craig Hospital in Denver in April 2003 and back into her own townhome. Her parents, Mary and Leo Williams – Mary is a nurse and Leo a retired counselor at Glenwood Springs High School – lived with her at her Northglenn house as she had more than 13 surgeries and extensive therapy. “She’s still working on her speech, but her intelligence and sense of humor shine through,” Mary says. Time for socialization, recreationMarla, her cat, Puck, and the Williamses just moved back to Glenwood Springs Oct. 10, and back into the Williamses’ home. Even though Glenwood is home – Marla was raised here – it’s been an adjustment.”Half of Marla’s house is in her room!” Mary says with a laugh. Not exactly, but as with everyone who’s left home, Marla has plenty of belongings to use or stow somewhere. “We’ve been packing and unpacking,” Marla says. The other adjustment stems from the network of friends and work life Marla had in Denver. Marla has a master’s degree in education from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and taught elementary education for six years before the accident. Mary says it’s been hard for Marla to leave the life and friends she had in the Denver area. Now she is looking for help in making that transition easier for Marla.”Marla’s neuropsychologist has made several suggestions,” Mary says. “He says that the two most important factors in the next phase of her rehabilitation are socialization and recreation. She needs to develop more independence and spend less time around Leo and me” (see box). Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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