Hello friends! Welcome to this week’s remarkable episode of the podcast, the Coleen and Lauren Murphy story. This week’s episode is unlike any other episode we’ve ever aired in this way. Coleen is a wife, mother to seven. She was an operations manager, a hard worker had her focus and vision professionally sound.
She’s an author, she’s a speaker, but her whole life was changed when her 25 year old daughter was hit in Los Angeles by a car in a [00:01:00] freak traffic acts. And ended up with major brain trauma. So this story talks about never giving up, dealing with grief, dealing with guilt, dealing with anger and how you not only deal with it, but recover and grow and prosper.
So get your pen and paper. Enjoy this remarkable episode. And if you need anything after listening to it, please reach out to Colleen or myself. We want to help you in any way that we can. So I’m David Pascoe alone. Enjoy this remarkable episode of the podcast, the Coleen and Lauren Murphy story.
INTERVIEW RPP E87 Colleen and Lauren Murphy: Hey Coleen, how are you today? Good. How are you, man? I’m fantastic. Remarkable even, right. I am. I was just telling our audience and our community about you and your story. [00:02:00] And at this time, Just jump in wherever you see fit, you can go all the way back to your formative years where you were born, how you were raised to kind of give a structure for the rest of the interview.
And then we’ll just go chronologically right through your story, the highs, the lows, everything in between how your family is all involved in this. And we will hopefully just share stuff that glorifies God. Helps our audience helps you helps me and we all grow together. Sound good. Sounds great to me.
Awesome. Then I will stop talking. The mic is yours. Alrighty. Okay. I was the baby of three children. I had perfectly loving parents. Great parents, great upbringing, great childhood. Went through private Catholic schools. So I was kind of raised to know God loved Jesus, all that good stuff. Wasn’t overly religious.
You know, my foundation was always there, but it was never really high importance until I started having kids of my own. And then I wanted them to have kind of the same upbringing [00:03:00] that I. So I had my first baby at 18 last baby at 31. But there were seven of them. So I had had some pretty productive years there.
My husband and I have six daughters and one son. Good Irish Catholic family. Exactly. Exactly. My father was thrilled. I married a Murphy. So he could have been a serial killer, but his last name was Murphy, so it was fine. Yeah. Fast forward to, you know, life was good. Obviously we had that typical, you know, financial struggles, all that good stuff with having a large family, but you know, my husband and I are solid.
My kids all went on to college too. My two oldest children had master’s degrees. I had one in college, actually, two more in college and three at home. And I got that dreaded phone call that every parent fears and my second oldest daughter had been involved in a [00:04:00] serious accident. She was living in New York at the time and was on a business trip in Los Angeles.
And while she was just out on a typical morning run, she was hit by a car. So I got that phone call that she was critically injured. They didn’t really know too much. But we had to hop on the first plane we could out of St. Louis and get to LA and we weren’t even sure that she was still going to be alive when we got there.
So that’s the crux of that was, you know, part a of my story was everything was hunky-dory and then part B is now what and roughly, how old was your daughter when this happened to her twenties? She was 25. Yes. So my baby was 11 at the time and my oldest was 26 and she is my second oldest. So she was 25.
So you and your husband have already gone through. Your development, you’re raising your kids. You have some in college, some in high school, some in the world working. And you’re just thinking, you know, sunshine and lemonade and moving from. Yeah. You know, you, you, you teach your kids to do [00:05:00] right. And obviously they make stupid choices throughout the years.
They’re teenagers, but they’re still, you know, they were all good kids. They stayed off of drugs. They, you know, went to college. They, you know, had good careers. They were very driven people. You think? Sure. My work here is done. Not so fast. That’s just not the way it works. So unfortunately we got a little bit of a curve ball that we didn’t sign up for, but, you know, Yeah.
So what happens? You fly into Los Angeles. You’re not even sure if she’s going to be alive. You’re not in your home. She’s not in her home. Everything’s new. Where do you go from there? Sure. So when we got there she had just had her first brain surgery and they had told us I was still at the airport when I she was out of surgery and they had to remove a portion of her brain.
Now, my first thought was, will she ever be able to lead a normal life at this point? And. The response was, they didn’t know. So, you know, we didn’t even know, you know, what her future looked like, and really didn’t even have time [00:06:00] to think about it because we were still in survival mode. Like, is she going to make it through the hour, through the day, through the week, et cetera, et cetera, before we could even determine the amount of brain damage she had, where you go on.
I don’t want to distract, but I don’t want listeners to be hung up on a D. How did she get hit? Like where she, what happened? Good question. So she was training for the New York marathon. She had just been accepted into the New York city marathon, which is not easy to be accepted into. And she was out on a morning run.
She was on Hollywood Boulevard and she. She had the right of way, but it started up flesh we’ve since learned that that is not an invitation when it starts to flash, when there’s like 15 seconds left, you no longer have the right of way. You’re not even supposed to step into the intersection. That’s kind of like if you’re halfway through, you’re supposed to hurry up.
Well, she thought she could make it. And she darted across the street, very busy street, obviously Hollywood Boulevard. And there was a truck in the turning lane that was pushed up over the line, making a left. So her [00:07:00] focus was on, you know, he was kind of blocking the crosswalk. Her focus was trying to get around this truck instead of looking over her right shoulder to see the oncoming traffic.
Cause the light turned green witnesses were honking, but she couldn’t hear cause she was listening to music. So she had her ear buds in and when he hit her, you know, he had no time to see her. She had no time to see him. She flew straight up in the air. Came back down, her head hit the windshield and she flew over 30 feet and landed in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard and actually arrived at the hospital as a Jane DOE.
I don’t think anybody thought she was going to even survive the hour, much less survive. So it was, she was in pretty rough shape. So her story also spread like wildfire. And I think people related to it, cause it wasn’t like she was doing any risky behavior. She was just, you know, this is going to happen to any of us.
So it was just a really. Relatable story, you know, she’s just a girl out on a run trying to exercise and be healthy and, you know, boom, you know, we all hear, and it’s funny too, because so many people [00:08:00] still like that expression. Oh, I feel like I get hit by a bus. And when they say it to me, I almost like laugh.
Cause I’m like in a few minutes, they’re going to realize what they just said to me feel real laid back. And I’m never offended by it, but I’m always like, I’m going to see in a few minutes, they’re faced with when they recognize what they just said to me. But I’m like, yeah. I don’t think you could feel like you got hit.
Yeah, that’s no joke. So this was a legit accident. It wasn’t like she got bumped or braised, or she wasn’t in a car accident. This was a full blown. Somebody who’s trying to rush through the intersection. She’s just doing her thing, but yeah. Yeah. And I think too, because she was running so fast and the car was going so fast, it was, you know, double jeopardy.
And the doctors told us that, you know, not only does she have really severe damage at the point of impact on the left side of her brain, but she also has. What’s mimics like shaken baby syndrome, because as she flew through the air, it was such velocity that there’s damage throughout her brain and her CT scans.
When you look at them, there’s, you know, we all know our brain has two hemispheres. [00:09:00] That middle line is way off to the side. Her whole brain shifted in her head. So it was a really, really severe head injury. No, I don’t want to get ahead in this story. So if this is something you’re going to discuss in the next few minutes, just wait.
A lot of times we can have organs and be in car accidents and they. And then God has made us where we heal and they moved back. But with the brain, do things shift back or is that one and done? You know, that’s a really good question. Cause I don’t know. I mean, I know they did brain surgery, so I don’t know if they’d like slid it back over.
I know, you know, I know they had to take out some pieces of rubber. But you know, as far as looking at a CT scan now, I don’t know that it, you know, that is a very good question. I’ve never even actually considered it. I would assume it’s back to where it needs to be. Because her brain was hemorrhaging for a long time.
It was, you know, we had, she had a drain that was just, I would sit there in the ICU room and watch, you know, [00:10:00] Bag after bag, after bag of brain fluid, that was just full of blood fill up. And they, I mean, these were bags that were this tall and you know, you just look at them and they’re full of, you know, red spinal fluid.
And they were just draining all that out of her, out of her brain. Cause it was hemorrhaging so much. Wow. And so during this time, what were you and your husband thinking and feeling. It was at shock or was there a distinct thought process going inside of you? Yeah, I mean, it was, and we took on just completely different roles, which was really unusual for us.
You know, I’m usually the one that’s on social media and the what’s whatever. And he took over like responding to all the messages and all the texts. And I was kind of just like in survival mode and, you know, I didn’t really want to leave her. That’s hard because I was so afraid that, you know, I would walk out and go to cafeteria and she would die while I was gone.
And I just, I wouldn’t leave that room. And for him, it was really hard for him to be in that room. You know, men are fixers [00:11:00] and he couldn’t see her like that. And on the times that he was in the hospital room, he would turn the chair. And face me because it was just too hard to see her being kept alive by machines.
So he went into survival mode and started, you know, he would feel all the phone calls and, you know, deal with the kids at home because we have six. So he would be dealing with all of that. We had to try to find temporary housing. You know, the doctors told us, you know, this is not a quick thing. You have to move here.
You know, this is you’re going to be here a long time. So he started working on all of that. And I just kind of went into, you know, I had tunnel vision that Lauren was my only focus. He was also a little more cynical. Like, you know, we’re never going to get out of this, you know you know, looking at the facts and you know, this is, this is bad.
And I took on the poly positive attitude. We switched. That’s not usually how we are, but that’s just, you know, for whatever reason. And I think probably a lot of it was my faith. I had a strange sense of peace that we were going to be. No matter what the doctor said. And even though I knew [00:12:00] how bad it was, I’m like, we’re going to get out of this.
I man, that’s, that’s, that’s the most important thing that positive attitude, because being negative doesn’t help, help. And let me ask you this, you might’ve mentioned or alluded to, but what year was this? 2013. So we’re coming up on nine years on April 9th. Okay. So there’s still internet, Facebook, social media.
That was still within our existence today where everything’s high-speed okay. No Snapchat yet. No, no, but I’m saying your husband is you guys are probably being inundated with texts and information. I even had like the internet on the plane, so. Emails from my daughter. Cause she was calling the hospital and getting updates because we had to take two planes.
We didn’t even arrive in LA till 2:00 AM St. Louis time. So I was getting all the updates on my computer while we were flying there. And now with your careers, you’re being told you need to move out there. You have other children. Did you have careers where you could move out there and just telecommute or work [00:13:00] through your computer?
Or did you have to give up your career at this point? So I gave up my career and I went on a leave of absence for about six months before I knew that, you know, I’m not going to be able to go back. And for me, I was a stay-at-home mom for years. And I had only been really in the workforce for about four or five years.
And I was super proud of my career and I loved my career and it was a small company, but I was able to move up the ladder and it was an operations manager and I was super proud of what I did and I loved what I did, but I love my daughter more. And I knew that you know, insurance would have covered nursing care 24 7, but I’m like, they’re not going to push her.
Like I’m going to push her and they’re not going to care. Like I’m going to care and I’m still, you know, sometimes I still. You know, I’m a little sad when I realized what I missed out on. And you know, every once in a while in my closet, I come across the contents of my desk and it makes me a little sad, but I also feel like, you know, what, my job was so much more important.
You know, what I needed to do. And then my husband was on a leave of absence for a while as well. Yeah. A [00:14:00] hundred percent. But I mean, if you’re going to look back at the contents of your desk, you think, oh, what I miss in my career, but you might be sitting here, what did I miss with my daughter? And we can never get time back.
You can, you can make more money, you can get a new career, you can get more stuff, but that’s your little girl. So I think you made the right decision personally. Yeah. Yeah. Real. And it was a no brainer. I mean, it was, you know, I knew, and at the six month mark, I could have extended it, but, you know, It was part of that too.
When I, when I quit, I felt like I was giving up on her because I could have extended my leave, but I knew that this was not going to be a quick fix. Okay. So you’re in the hall. Let’s go back a little bit. You’re in the hall. This is all new. You’re watching fluid chemo. I can’t even imagine, like as a dad, how much you love your kids and your husband can’t even look because of the pain.
And like you said, he’s a fixer, like most of us are, and we can’t fix it. So we feel helpless. So where do you go from there? So you know, we just, you know, an [00:15:00] early on my husband and I made a pack, we are not going to fight. We are not going to be at each other’s throats. You know, this is a tense situation.
And. It was hard. It was really, really hard. And I knew we hit a crossroads when one day he was eating an apple and the way he was chewing was making me crazy. So I’m like, okay, we’re, we’re in the clearing now, because now I’m getting annoyed with him for like the simple things. But he had to go back home and take care of the rest of the kids.
So I had to, you know, stay there and make all the decisions. And he got thrust into carpools and. Making lunches and all of that good stuff. So we just had to survive. And once she was medically stable and she had to have two more brain surgeries while we were there. I’m giving you this super condensed version of, of the story.
But once she was medically stable, she was airlifted to a rehab hospital in Chicago, which is one of the best. Rehab it institutes in the country, there’s three, top three, it’s one of the top three. [00:16:00] And you know, so I moved to Chicago after that. And when she was airlifted, I mean, she was still in a semi vegetative state.
She had no use of their whole right side of her body. She didn’t have any facial expression. She didn’t really recognize anybody. We didn’t know if she knew who we were. She was pretty much just existing at this point when we transferred to rehab. And that’s when the hard work. What was the time between the accident in Chicago?
How long was that? So it was, I think it was like seven weeks, maybe April 19th was the accident. June 2nd was when we were transferred out. Okay. Okay. So now you go to LA, now you’re in Chicago, she’s in rehab. And like you said, that’s, that’s even harder. What, what goes on at this point? So the first thing we had to work on is, you know, teaching her how to hold her head up and they wanted to remove her trake right away.
And she also had a central line. And you know, when, when we got there, the doctor was very aggressive. He was like, yeah, we’re gonna take the track out. We’re going to take out this central line. I’m like, wait a minute. You know how, [00:17:00] and at that time she didn’t need the Trek to breathe, but people that are bedroom.
They get a lot of fluid in their lungs. I mean, I learned so much through this. I didn’t know any of this before a lot of pneumonia, a lot of pneumonia and they, they can die from that. So that’s, that was his medical concern. Yes. And she had pneumonia twice while she was in ICU and, and, and beat it. But.
When she had the trait, we could suction her lungs. So there was like a long tube that would go out and I would have to put the long tube in and then suction her lungs. So when he said they went to take the track out, I’m thinking, well, how is she going to get this fluid out of her lungs? And, you know, I soon realized that it Ric, they had no intentions to let her lay in bed.
She is not going to be laying around getting fluid in her lungs. So they got her up and moved. Fairly quickly, her one of her first rehab sessions, her therapists stood her up just to see what she would do. And she took a step and he said, well, I didn’t expect that to happen. And I thought, well, don’t underestimate my kid, you know?
And she still couldn’t hold her head up and her, if she looked terrible, but she was [00:18:00] an athlete and you know, that muscle memory kicked in. So It was tough. You know, her sense of gravity was off, you know, it’s like where, where we feel centered here. She felt centered here. So having to try to reteach her where her center is, it was tough.
She probably progressed the fastest with physical. As far as like walking and sitting up, pulling your head up, moving her limbs now. Well, by the fastest, I mean, that was still slow, but compared to everything else it was, it was rough. So, I mean, I could not even, you know, it was hard because I couldn’t take care of her because I didn’t know how to position her.
I couldn’t get her out of her bed to her wheelchair. In the beginning, she had to be moved with the sling. That was like a crane type thing. They would move this blanket underneath her and then hook it up. Things and then wheel her. And she was only about 90 pounds at this point, cause she was probably only 110, 115 pounds at the time of the accident.
So she had lost a lot of weight. She had a feeding tube. But once I got confident [00:19:00] enough with moving her from bed to wheelchair, she did what was called, like stand and pivot. You could stand her up and she could kind of move a little bit. And she was at that point for months, you know, where, but I was more confident where I could move her and then I.
Take her out on walks like in the Plaza, I’m in the wheelchair. And then I got to the point where I could take her and kind of walk with her in the halls once she started getting better at walking. But once you get better at walking, then the behavior issues started because she’s confused and doesn’t know where she’s at.
And. She’s nonverbal. And I didn’t know it at the time, but that brain surgery that they did. And they probably told me early on, but it was just not really on my radar because we were worried about is she going to survive? But that piece of her brain that they removed is it was the portion that controls language.
And so she now has something that’s called. Which was pretty severe. It happens a lot with people with strokes it’s caused with damage to the brain, but it makes it [00:20:00] hard to communicate. She can’t understand words. She can’t find her words. She can’t read or write, you know, she can’t do math. It’s just, all language is affected.
With aphasia and hers was pretty severe. And, you know, she started while she was still in rehab, being able to say small things, it was like a whisper, but it was things that were automatics like Goodman. Hi, how are you? She could maybe count to 10. She could maybe say the days of the week, but she couldn’t say anything meaningful because her brain would have to think and process to say that her brain doesn’t really have to think to say Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
So. She was pretty much non-verbal the whole time we were there. And we weren’t sure that she was ever going to get that back. So it was, it was really, really tough. Yeah. And truly even doctors that they’ve spent their whole career studying the brain, we know so little about it. And so if I’m hearing you correctly, the road memories, the things that were just done [00:21:00] tens of thousands of times, those would still flow any kind of cognitive putting parts together.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Nothing. And, you know, and all they kept telling us is, you know, she’s young, we’ll wait and see, you know, that was really, the only positive they had for me is that she’s young and there’s neuroplasticity and you just never know. But we really, it was a long time before we had any type of meaningful conversation by long time.
I mean like a couple of years before we had any type of You know, she couldn’t order her own food, but she couldn’t tell me, you know, what she liked. You know, one funny story is when we got home and she was just starting to talk and by the time we got home, it was the end of August. And it was August 24th.
So you were in Chicago for about four months? Yeah. So we got home August 24th and you know, she hadn’t lived at home in a long time. And so I didn’t know what she ate. And she used to eat pretty healthy. Well, I made her grilled cheese one day and she just went, God helped me. It’s like, well, [00:22:00] that’s progress.
That’s one way to get her to talk. She clearly didn’t want to eat a grilled cheese sandwich. So we had a lot of funny things like that, but it was, it was a really long haul with speech. So we did speech therapy. I actually, we’re still doing speech therapy and we’re at almost 10 years. Wow. I’m sure a lot has happened in those 10 years, but what were some of the main lessons you learn?
Because the truth is many of us aren’t going to experience what you’ve gone through. Similar things. Yeah. But loss in general hardships. What were the things that you and your husband and your family did to kind of work through the pressure and the stress and staying optimistic? Sure. So patience is virtue for sure.
And I am not the most patient person, but with brain injury, you have to be patient. I’m not always patient, but it’s a slow process. And I think my, my hardest [00:23:00] thing is the grief. And it’s ambiguous grief. And I had to Google that to know what that meant, and that is when you grieve somebody that’s still here.
And there’s a lot of guilt that goes with that too, because you know, I long for what used to be and what could have been, but I’m thankful for what I have in front of me right now. And I have friends that have lost children and I feel like, you know, just a real jerk sometimes for grieving for the child that I still have.
So that’s really hard to reconcile with. But you know, I think, you know, the rest of the family has had to be on the back burner for a long time. You know, I’ve missed countless soccer games and, you know, mothers. Banquets, homecomings, proms, all that good stuff that, you know, I was there for all the other kids and I couldn’t be in and they all get it, but it still doesn’t make it any easier.
I think I have a harder time with it than they do, but, you know, they all gave up too. And I think sometimes they feel like they can’t [00:24:00] come to me cause I have too much going on. They don’t want to come to me. What they feel like is a small problem, but for me, I like to feel needed and I’m glad that they, they do come to me.
I have a couple of my kids that call me like probably four times a day with small problems. So I’m like, if you’re listening, I don’t mean you to let you need to find things at the grocery store. I mean the other problems. But you know, some of the stuff, you know, I joke about it cause they make me crazy sometimes, but I’m glad that they do it.
And I’m glad that they’re comfortable to do it. But for a long time, they had to be without me. Went all over the country, seeing specialists and living in different places with Lauren, try to piece her back together. And where is Lauren today? Like what is her status as of right now? Sure. So she lives at home with us.
She’ll probably have to always have some type of help. Cognitive, really? She, she does well she does have some deficits and you know, it doesn’t always make the best choices. But. You know, she’s she, she does really well. She’s independent. [00:25:00] She prepares her own meals, which, I mean, she never cooked before, so she doesn’t really cook, but you know, she can make a sandwich and she could microwave something.
But we do public speaking now together, and that really gives her a sense of purpose and You know, she really, really loves doing that. It’s hard for her to find things to do when she’s bored because watching TV isn’t really an option because she can’t follow the dialogue. She does really well with like old movies that she’s watched before because she, she can understand them and know what’s going on.
And she actually likes some of the Lifetime movies. Cause those are easy to follow something that’s like pretty easy. And she really enjoys watching sports Cardinals and the blues and all of that stuff. But it’s hard for her to maintain friendships. And it’s not so much, you know, I can’t blame her friends because it’s, it’s a two way street and it’s hard to maintain, maintain a one-way friendship because she still struggles with.
She’s kind [00:26:00] of like a teenager where you only think of yourself, you’re not asking what other people are doing. And she’s just kind of wired that way now since the accident, you know, that she, you know, I have to remind her, you need to ask what their what’s going on in their life, that type of thing. And our friends are always good with, you know, reaching out to her on her birthday and her anniversary.
And, you know, you know, a couple of times a year, but it’s hard and it’s, she’s different and it’s, you know, she still does. She works out with a trainer, you know, we try to keep her as busy as best we can. She does speech therapy, you know, our family is big and crazy and we always have something going on.
So that’s, that’s very helpful, but you know, life’s just, it’s different. In some ways she can be nicer in some ways she can be not so nice to her siblings. You know, she struggles with watching them, you know, do things that she wishes she could do. So that’s hard, but she’s always really good to.
Other people it’s just her siblings she struggles with. But I think some of that is a [00:27:00] little, she’s got a little bit of, you know, she’s a little immature. It was mature and it kinda took a step backwards. Yeah. I mean, I, I can only imagine the situation you’re in our listeners can too, unless they’ve experienced it.
I knew two people growing up that had brain injuries, not nearly as severe. Completely changed your personality. I mean, there was a visible, tangible shift in their whole being and they became almost like a different person. So you guys are going through these physical challenges, surgeries brain literally shifted in her head.
I mean, I can’t even imagine the effects that would have on her, but over the past 10 years you have seen progress even though. Not where you want it right now. It’s it’s still moving forward or she had a plateau. No, she’s still moving forward, but it’s slow. And I don’t notice it as often [00:28:00] as other people, like we’ll run into somebody that hadn’t seen her in months and like, oh my God, her speech is so much better.
She’s doing so well. And you know, so she was, she’s definitely progressing as far as speech goes and getting out into the community and sharing her story. It’s really good for her confidence. And it also helps her her speech because she’s more confident and she’ll talk more. But she still struggles with, I mean, severe OCD and she never had that before.
And her doctor and I are trying to tweak her medication, but sometimes I feel like, you know, we, I don’t want to keep her so heavily medicated, you know, because of. Some of these medications, a lot of them, she needs for seizures. But some of them like, you know, I just, I don’t want to turn her into a zombie either, but she really, really struggles with some pretty serious anxiety and, you know, over things that just don’t make sense.
You know, she has to make sure she has enough chap stick in her purse. She may have four tubes of chapstick, but that’s not enough. She’s worried about running out of Kleenexes and, and those types of [00:29:00] things. And I feel like in the big picture, you know, that’s simple for me to deal with, but it seems like as soon as I go.
I think it was just yesterday. I bought her teeth whitening mouthwash and she was thrilled. And then it was probably four hours later. She reminded me that she needed flossers too. So it’s like, I just can’t win. And she may have a half package at home, but she’s just like constantly has anxiety over running out of items.
And, and again, you know, that’s not a lot you know, it’s pretty, sometimes I feel like, do I need to medicate her or do I need to just learn how to accept it? I dunno, I dunno what the. Yeah. And there’s so many variables in your situation, if someone was simply OSI, not simply, but you know what I mean?
If they just don’t talk that OCD simple, but I met someone was struggling with OCD for anyone out there who has OCD. I’m sorry. But when I meant is if you’re struggling with that, Then you address that and the medications work better because that’s why it’s like a chemical imbalance not [00:30:00] damaged. So it’s very hard to find the right, you know, the right combination and even just going to any type of psychotherapy, she has the aphasia factor.
She can’t understand. So it’s just kind of like a catch 22, wherever we are, that it, it just makes. Hard and, you know, we still, you know, we go with it, we laugh a lot, you know, luckily we have good sense of humor and that’s all we can do, but, you know, I mean she’s happy and you know, I think that’s the most important thing is, you know, her life is different and she’s, you know, it looks very different than what she had envisioned, but I do think she’s happy and you know, that’s the most.
Oh, yeah. Let me ask you, before we get into more of a practical, how you’ve learned to deal with things. Quick question. Does she remember her past or is there any memory loss? You know, she remembers pretty much all of her past especially anybody that was significant. You know, I remember early on.
There was a magnet, like an old school picture on their frigerator. And I said something to somebody I’m like, yeah, I think that was either fifth or sixth. [00:31:00] Lauren was either in fifth or sixth grade and she just went, I was in fifth grade. So it’s like, sure. So I know she remembers those things. There’s certain memories that we’ll talk about and she’ll say she doesn’t remember.
So I’m sure some of it’s a little sketchy, but she did miss a full two years. From the accident for going forward. She lost those whole two. She doesn’t even remember her sister’s wedding and she was a bridesmaid. So, you know, that time where her brain was kind of, you know, the circuits were turning on and connecting, she doesn’t remember any of that, which I’m actually pretty glad she doesn’t remember some of the hard stuff.
Yeah. That’s probably a blessing in disguise right there, so. Okay, well let’s do this then. If you don’t mind. Well, first. From start to today. Is there anything else in your, and Lauren’s story that we didn’t cover that you want to cause I don’t want to miss a thing. If you think it’ll help you heal and bring value to the audience.
Yeah, no, I mean, I think just the community outreach I think that’s important. And when we speak, I, I mentioned this a lot because. [00:32:00] Somebody before Lauren’s accident that if I heard of something tragic, that happened to somebody, if they were not in my inner circle, I would not reach out. You know, I would pray for.
Quietly silently, you know, but I would not reach out to them cause I thought, well, that would be weird. They don’t know me, but those are the people that really lifted me up and made me feel better as the people that I didn’t know. You know, sometimes it’s like the people that you, you love and expect to be there.
The most kind of disappear into the witness protection program. And it’s not that they don’t care. They don’t know what to say. So they say nothing and I feel like. If you’re other listening and you know, somebody who’s going through something, please don’t say nothing, say something it’s better to say the wrong thing than to say nothing.
Just let, let someone know that you’re thinking of them. And you know, and I’ve done that before with people that have lost children, you know, I don’t want to bring up their lost child because I don’t want to make them. Well, don’t think for one minute, those people aren’t thinking about that child every second of the day, they want to hear that child’s name and know that that child [00:33:00] mattered.
So I would just say, you know, if you get an inkling to do something for somebody do it, you know, it doesn’t take anything to send somebody a text that says, Hey, I’m thinking of. Have a good day, you know, our drop something off on somebody’s porch, you know, you don’t want to bother people. I get that. But you know, we live in a day and age where, you know, we don’t have to answer a phone if we don’t want to be bothered and we don’t have to respond to a text.
So that would be my biggest thing. I would say my biggest takeaway from all of this is I could not have done it without the community support. And it’s, that’s huge. Yeah. And I, I think I’ve seen that in my own life, in so many people’s lives that I’ve observed is when tragedy happens hard times. The people they thought were their closest friends are ghost and the people they never would have expected, or the ones God uses to help them get through, to heal.
So I think that’s very true. And if you’re listening, don’t be the loser that walks away. Exactly. The person who’s there. Cause I’m going to be blind. Coleen was very polite, but basically if you’re a friend only in the good times, you’re not a [00:34:00] friend and those people just, you end up hurting. Coleen and her family are hurting more because your lack of presence is a betrayal.
So basically we’re calling and saying, I completely agree with, be there for people. And if you don’t want to do you don’t know what to say? Just sit there and cry with yeah. If there’s somebody in the hospital, you know, and there’s times too, where I’ve visited people where I’m like, I don’t want to go visit your loved one.
I’m not trying to be nosy. Or I think I’m just going to be sitting in this waiting room. And if you need something, I’ll be sitting right. I’m not doing anything. I’m just going to sit here and I think that’s the best thing you can do is just show up. Yeah. A hundred percent without doubt. So let’s do this.
If you don’t mind, you talked about processing in big EWAS grief. You talked about the guilt, you felt, you talked about, you know, needing patients. So let’s just start off with processing the grief. Okay. What did you do in your life [00:35:00] that helped you in steps? Cause we have so many people listening now in our community, myself included and we’ve had hardships and pain.
What are some of the things you’ve seen work in your life that our listeners can start applying? Hmm. I wish I could say I was over that hump, so I could say, you know, there was something that worked because I still struggle with that. But I do think when I get down in the dumps the most, I just have to remember what I’m thankful for.
And, you know, sometimes I’ll look at old videos and look at where we’ve come. And I realized, you know what? I have nothing to be upset about. It’s hard for me, you know, with, with every engagement I saw on Facebook or every new baby, you know, I would be so happy for the other person, but a little piece of me would just be, you know, hurting inside.
But I also have to remember for me, she said, It doesn’t matter what I want. So I think just doing positive things, when you feel down as the best thing you can do, and it’s kind of like fake it till you make it type thing. [00:36:00] I would love to stay in bed all day and put the covers over my head, but I don’t think that’s really helped anybody to do that.
So I just forced myself to keep moving forward. You know, I’m, old-school pull yourself up by your bootstraps and, you know, Laying around has never helped anybody. So I just I would just say, just keep moving forward now with this, you kind of alluded to it. Did you, you, you said you struggled with the guilt and the grief.
Did you struggle with anger? Cause that’s usually part of the cycle of healing. So I did have. I mean, there were a couple of times where I had anger and I remember I talked about this in my book, too, that when she had her last brain surgery, it was her fourth. And that was when she was in Chicago and she had to have a shunt.
And my husband’s out of vacation days and I’m sitting there by myself while she’s having brain surgery, which, you know, it’s just unheard of when you think of any. You know, their kids having brain surgery and they’re by themselves, but I’m in a [00:37:00] different city. Everybody else, you know, we are two months in, so everyone’s out of vacation that can come.
And I, you know, I was just like, oh, I’m fine. You know, I can do this. I’m fine, but I wasn’t fine. And I remember just sitting in that waiting room and I really, really, really struggled and. You know, after I talked to my husband that day, he actually talked to his boss and that’s when he decided to do a six month leave of absence.
And he hopped on the first plane out of Chicago. I mean, I was St. Louis to Chicago. And, you know, when he walked in that room, she was already out of, you know, she was already in a room by that point. It was like, he was like my Knight in shining armor. But that next day was when I finally just kind of like hit a wall.
You know, I spent the night in the hospital, I’m tired, I’m crabby and tired of. Crappy coffee. And I was like so mad and I in the hospital was kind of incompetent with. What to do with her? You know, I was used to being at a rehab center that knew how to deal with brain injury. You know, I was on a neuro floor and, you know, they’re great with care for patients, but, [00:38:00] you know, Lauren had to have like a medicine on her tongue for thrush because she’s not eating that causes bacteria, blah, blah, blah.
And the nurse was like, stick out your tongue. Well, Lauren can’t understand a word she’s saying, so they don’t even understand how to deal with her. Whereas at the hospital, her deficits were just kind of multiplied by. They took her down for a CT scan and brought her back up and said she can’t follow commands.
We can’t do the CT scan. Cause her brain was, there was a small brain bleed, which was keeping her from going back to Ric. So I’m like, are you just supposed to guess whether or not her brain is bleeding then because she can’t follow commands. So I had to go down with her and move her arms and do everything, whatever it was that they needed to do.
And I was just like so annoyed with the hospital. I was so annoyed with my situation and I just like, I hit my wall and I’m like, you know, why did you walk in front of this? You know, why did you, do you realize how much this has affected my life? And I realized I was like so mad at the situation. I was mad at her, you know?
And then, you know, at that point my husband was like, you know what, I’ll get it from here. We were waiting for her [00:39:00] discharge and she was going to go back to RSC. He’s like, I got it from here, go back to the apartment, take a nap, do whatever. So, you know, I stumped all the way home to my apartment because I’m so mad.
You know, then I go to try to take a nap and then I just feel guilty. I’m like, you know, she didn’t ask for this, you know, as hard as this is for me to deal with, what’s it like for her, she’s a prisoner in her own body, you know? And then that’s when the guilt hits. So then I’m like, you know, I’m just going to take a shower.
I want to get this hospital smell off of me so I can go back to Ric so I can have the other hospital smell on me. And so that was probably my, my biggest anger day, where I just really felt like, you know, I didn’t ask for. You know, I was home free and you know, this is my life now. And I was really, really anger, angry, and I was really, really sad later and felt guilty for being so angry because she didn’t ask for this, but it was just normal.
Yeah. And that’s part of the normal spectrum of dealing with loss, but what were the things you did to let go of this anger? Like to sh I mean, [00:40:00] sometimes it’s, there is a distinct point and sometimes. We’re just continuing to grow and get better. We have highs and lows, but do you feel like you have that joy and peace again?
Are you still struggling with it? You know, it’s funny. I think I did not have peace until I went to a religious retreat and I didn’t even want to go to this retreat because I was like, God, can’t fix this. You know, this is, this is not fixable and, you know, shame on me, you know, what, what can’t God fix?
You know? And I went and, you know, as soon as I got there, you know, just the tears were flowing and it was, I realized that my anger and all the built up anxiety was not because of Lauren’s accident. It was because of what I missed with my other two. And that’s what I struggle with the most. And, you know, part of this retreat was, you know, we were able to go to confession and I remember that poor priest, you know, [00:41:00] when I walked in, I was just like, I’m pissed.
You know, I got a raw deal. I feel like, you know, I did everything right. You know, I obviously wasn’t perfect, but you know, I, I tried to live a good life and. I went through all the motions. I sent all my kids to Catholic school when I couldn’t afford it. You know, my husband worked at gazillion jobs. We did everything we could to raise our kids.
Right. And this is what I get, you know, and there’s so many people that I’ve heard that have come back to church because of the miracle of Loren or their faith was restored because of the miracle of life. And I’m thrilled for that and I’m honored, but I’m also like, well, dang, Why me, why my family, why couldn’t it have been their family?
You know? And that’s not how God works, but you know, I’ll never forget, but the priest was like, you have a right to be mad. You know, you got a raw deal and that’s just kind of the way it is. And I remember afterwards, you know, sitting in that church and it was almost like, and I always hear people like, oh, I hear God [00:42:00] speak to me.
And I’m like, I never hear God speaking to me. But at this time it was almost like I had a strong feeling of him being. Thank you for showing up. We had to have this argument, you know, and, and it was kind of like, I’ve been waiting for you and this is probably about four or five years. And, you know, I, you know, I got that overwhelming sense of peace that, you know what, it’s not for me to know why it happened or why it was my family.
We have freewill my daughter didn’t know bay traffic lights. That’s just the way it is. And you know, there’s not a quota of hardships, you know, I, I felt like, well, you know, my husband and I both lost our fathers young to heart issues. And I’m just like, We don’t have a quota of hardships, you know, I don’t know what’s coming tomorrow.
So I just had to have peace with that, that it’s, it’s an honor that my daughter has changed so many lives. Yes, I got a raw deal. You know, that’s just the way it is. [00:43:00] So that, that was the biggest help for me is going on that retreat because it really, you know, you really feel close to God when you leave those retreats and God is always there, but we don’t always stop and look for the science.
So I feel like it was a reminder that you know what, you just need to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of life and realize you’re not. Yeah. And if we were to break this down, you know, famous athletes they’ll watch the video. Like Tom Brady will watch his performance and he’ll break it down.
And there are tiger woods. Look at his golf swing and they’ll do these microseconds of adjustments. So if we were to take what you were just explaining about going to the retreat, it might not have been like, you have to go to this empirical retreat with this, but what happened was. You had time to be slow, be still and know that I’m God, those verses in the Bible and you correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what I’m hearing you say.
I had time to be slow. I had time to be honest with myself. I had people that [00:44:00] kind of helped me process through the emotions and I was real with God. So if we were to give it steps, that’s kind of the steps we need to get to, right? Yes, exactly. And I feel like too, that every time I had been in church, since the accident, I was just always thinking.
You know, I never had that, you know, I’m not going to waste that hour of church to say, Hey, why didn’t you do this? I was just more, Hey, thank you for saving my child. So it was the first time that I was really able to like peel all that back. And yeah, I mean, it was, it was the quiet and I am not a quiet person.
I live, you know, house full of nine people. There’s not a lot of quiet around, but but it was very, very helpful. And I do think, you know, that is a lot of us just need a reminder sometimes to take a step back. Let me ask you this. You never mentioned this, the person that hit your daughter, did you have total peace with that?
Like it was just an accident or were you mad at that? Yeah, no, I, I actually was not ever and it never crossed my mind to be mad at him. Cause I knew right away that it [00:45:00] was Lauren’s fault, but he actually did come to the house. And, you know, God love them. I mean, it had to take a lot of courage to come there.
We did not invite him back to see Lauren because I wouldn’t have made him feel any better. She was in really rough shape at that point. You know, we we’ve gotten a couple of cards from him, you know, right before we left Chicago, he had sent a card. So he’s still praying for us. We don’t keep in touch.
I don’t really necessarily want a relationship with him, but I have no animosity. Towards him. And he knows that he knows he has freedom. Okay. Cause sometimes he could be living in guilt for 20 years. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no. And we told him like early on when he came to the hospital, you know, You know, apologize.
And I was like, there’s no need for an apology. It was an accident. You know, it was never, but you know, there was the policeman, that was the first one on the scene. She came to the hospital and she’s the one that asked me. She said he would like to reach out. And I was like, oh yeah, we have no issues at all.
With him, never did it on my husband at one point was like, you know, was he texting? Was they doing this? I’m like, you know what. [00:46:00] You know, have you ever texted yes. While you’ve driven, you know, it is, it doesn’t matter. It was an accident. There was no, it wasn’t gross negligence. He wasn’t speeding. He wasn’t running.
I wasn’t drunk. He was just, yeah. I mean, it could have been me or you, and I would want someone to give me the same respect. So yes. So that is that’s where we stand with him. And again, no issue with him whatsoever.
The guilt, the anger, the grief, you know, you’re working through it. You have worked through it. You’re continuing to work through it. That’s incredible. And it’s thank you for sharing this coming between again. Any point in the story, is there anything we skipped or any final thoughts you want to leave with our listeners before we wrap up the episode?
I think I would say never be satisfied and keep moving forward, you know, because right now my daughter’s, you know, the way she looks and add her recovery and how she is. [00:47:00] You know, people would think, oh my gosh, we never thought this was possible. And to me I’m like, okay, now what’s next. Always look forward to, what’s the next thing that we’re going to do?
What are we going to try? Just keep learning and keep growing. And you don’t have to have a catastrophic injury to keep learning and keep growing. You know, we all do and just keep moving forward.
Excellent. Thank you so much. That is fantastic advice to close the show with and for our listeners, if you have any questions about Coleen, or if you’re going through a similar circumstance or you want to delve deeper into the conversation calling, what’s the best way we’re going to get into where you are, where you’re headed, but what’s the best way for people to reach out to you.
And also where can they get the book for more information on store? Sure. So the best way to get me is either through her Facebook page, which is Lauren Murphy recovery. [00:48:00] You can give me a message there or Instagram, which is Murphy’s at Murphy’s, don’t quit our website, which is Murphy’s, don’t quit that com and that there’s a contact tab.
And I respond to every single message, every single email, and you know, many times people reach out to me because they know someone who’s dealing with something similar and I’m always happy to talk to anybody. I don’t ever share medical advice. Obviously I am not a professional, but I do share our experience.
And. You know, the medical things that we tried, but I just don’t, I don’t ever claim to be an expert on that. I’m just, I’m just a mom. That’s always, you know, always looking, but I’m always happy to help in any way that I can. The book can be, you can, the easiest way is probably Amazon, but it’s available Barnes and noble target Walmart everywhere, online, wherever books are sold, what I’m most proud of.
Of the book, you know, now that it’s been out for a few months as the feedback that I’m getting in the reviews on Amazon is that I think people were pleasantly surprised that it was funny, you know, and that’s kind of my writing [00:49:00] style is to find the funny, you know, I had an Irish father, so it was very funny and that was the best gift I got from him that even during the hard stuff, You know, it’s kind of relatable to like find the positive, you know, for me, it’s like find the funny parts, you know, and if you peel back those layers, there’s funny stuff there.
Even in the hard stuff, it took me a long time to see it. That’s why it took me so long. It took me six years before I started the book because I wasn’t ready to be funny yet, but the book is very funny. I mean, you will laugh and cry probably often on the same page. So I’m super proud of that, but I would say Amazon’s probably the easiest way and it’s actually the cheapest.
They have it on sale a lot on Amazon. To those resources and the show notes. So if you’re listening, you don’t have to worry about the spelling pulled over your car to write it down. We’ll put them in the show notes, but calling, where are you today and where are you heading now that you’ve helped us for an hour?
How can we help you get to your next point? Thank you. So I, we live just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, and you know, we are. The book was to help launch her speaking [00:50:00] career, which before COVID, you know, we were doing great. We did, you know, we, we were hoping to do a few girls scout troops, and the first year we spoke in front of over 5,000 people.
So you know, once people hear her or see her, I mean, she really lights up a room and, and loves people. You know, they really want more. So, you know, if anybody needs a speaker definitely go to our website and, you know, and give us a consideration. We actually had to Padre island, Texas in a few weeks to do a big keynote, some random person read my book and invited us to do a keynote.
So we have three big keynote scheduled in the next three months. And then several, like we do a lot of schools locally and things like that too. But corporate events are our sweet spot and it really helps give her a sense of purpose and it spreads. Awareness for brain injury and aphasia, especially because the facia is very isolating and many people don’t even know what it is.
Yeah. I’ve never heard of it until today. So thank you. With the speaking, this just made me think we’ll [00:51:00] put a picture of Loren in the show notes as well. So you guys can see Coleen and Lauren, if you’re most of our listeners around the world listened to the podcast, but we do have the YouTube. So people watch.
But we’ll go ahead and put a picture of Lauren up and then we’ll make sure that you can, you know, get that face with a name, but when she speaks and I don’t want to ask her a question, but I do when she speaks. Like for us, anytime I speak publicly, it’s emotionally exhausting. Does she have any kind of fatigue issues after the accident or is she just like normal and normal, maybe emotional drain, but other than that, she’s good.
No, she has really bad neuro fatigue, so we have to make sure she naps. So if we go out of town for a speech, we usually ask them to fly us in the day before. We don’t mind flying out the same day. Cause it’s okay if she has neuro fatigue on an airplane, but she just can’t have it to speak. But usually even if she is super tired, her adrenaline gets her through because she thrives on attention.
She always [00:52:00] has. So she does Ripley. She does really well. And usually sometimes, you know, at the meet and greet she’s, you can really see it in her face that she’s struggling because she has. Really really bad neuro fatigue. She still has to, you know, nap at least once a day. She’s also more susceptible to seizures if she’s tired.
So it is really important that, you know, she rests, but if you would see her or talk to her, you would never know something was wrong. You know, somewhere within the conversation, you know, within a few minutes you would figure out because the conversation would kind of go a little crazy. Cause she’s not really understanding.
You’re saying sometimes I don’t know if she’s faking it or if she thinks it’s something else, but it would take you a while to figure it out because she, you know, she looks perfectly fine. It’s, you know, it’s an invisible injury. That’s interesting way to say that. So is she at the point? Or do you think she will be at the point where someday she’ll, you know, meet a man fall in love, get married or is it like, cause I, you know, would there be someone [00:53:00] God has different plans?
Like could someone love her and care for her for you? Or are you like, no, her brain’s like at an eight year old level, it wouldn’t be safe. Like where is that? So part of me, you know, I’m hopeful, you know, I don’t know. But she’s not interested in. Other people with similar disabilities, you know, she’s still interested in rich guys in New York.
So it’s, you know, it’s hard because she doesn’t see herself that way. So if somebody that was quote normal was interested in her, I would be very skeptical. Like what is their motive? And I’m still pretty protective, not near as protective as my husband is with her. I think she would love to. You know, fall in love again and have a more normal life, but she’s also.
Unable to bend. And I think anybody that’s in a relationship knows that you have to be flexible for relationship to work. So I think she would struggle with [00:54:00] that, but I’m not, I’m not taking anything off the table. Again, I don’t know what the future holds for her. I hope that she has that someday. But you know, there would be a lot of things that would have to, you know, all fall into place for that.
So, you know, again, I don’t know what the future holds, but we’ll see. Yeah. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. So we’ll just pray alongside of you and we’ll come back on the show and give us some updates, you know, that’d be fantastic. Anything else that we can do for you or anything else you want to share with the audience?
As a closing thought, before we wrap up the. I guess just, you know, and I have a slide that I share that I always say, this is the most important slide and it shows a picture of Lauren and a sling being moved. And then a picture of her at commencement address, where she stood in front of 3000 people.
And in the sling, you know, she’s got a shaved head, she looks terrible. She doesn’t know where she is. Six years later, she looks beautiful blonde perfect hair. And I’m always like, look at those two [00:55:00] images and just always remember, you know, things may not be. Today or tomorrow or six months from now, but just keep chipping away.
You know, you just don’t know what’s headed and just things seem impossible. Life is messy, you know, and unfortunately, sometimes things seem impossible to get yourself out of and, you know, whether it be something that somebody else did or whether it’s your own doing, you know, nothing’s impossible. Just keep going, never give up.
Well said for, with God, nothing shall be impossible, Luke 18. So one 18, sorry. I skipped the chapter reference. All right. Well, Colleen, you truly are a remarkable woman. You’re a fantastic mom. And it’s been a pleasure to get to know you to hear your, your, and your daughter’s story. So this is the first time we’ve ever had a guest in 80 something episodes where you’ve shared actually a majority of someone else’s story.
But it obviously it’s yours as well, just completely tied together. So thank you for that. We appreciate you and to our listeners all over the [00:56:00] world, we love you. Thank you for being here today. Please share this episode with friends and family and even strangers. If you think it would help, like Coleen said, don’t be the one who puts your head in the sand and you’re selfish and focused on your own life.
But God says, love. God love others. And those are the two greatest commandments. So get out there and love someone. If Coleen and I can help you let us know. And if not, we’ll catch you in the next episode. Ciao. Bye. Thank you.
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