Home for Christ­mas

Fork­lift ac­ci­dent left fish­er­man on life sup­port


This time last year, Ran­dell Drover of Up­per Is­land Cove was re­cov­er­ing in the Miller Cen­tre in St. John’s af­ter be­ing struck and knocked over by a fork­lift in midAu­gust.

He had been un­load­ing crab from his boat at the Har­bour Grace wharf when the ac­ci­dent took place.

His or­deal made Christ­mas a dif­fer­ent sort of cel­e­bra­tion for Drover and his wife Jan­ice, who stayed by his side through­out the hol­i­days.

This year, the Drovers are spend­ing Christ­mas at home.

“We’ve had a tree up now for three weeks,” Jan­ice said dur­ing a re­cent phone in­ter­view. “Nice and early for what we missed out on last year.”

But there was some cel­e­brat­ing to be had last Christ­mas at the Miller Cen­tre, and for good rea­son.

It was ini­tially thought that Ran­dell, now 63, had only suf­fered a con­cus­sion, but bleeds on the brain, a bro­ken jaw­bone and a frac­tured skull were de­tected. He later de­vel­oped lung prob­lems.

The bleeds on the brain lim­ited his brain ac­tiv­ity and he sur­vived on life sup­port for 42 days at the Health Sciences Cen­tre in St. John’s. There were ques­tions of whether he would ever be able to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers or re­mem­ber those he knew be­fore the ac­ci­dent.

A tra­cheotomy was even­tu­ally per­formed to help him breathe, and a hole was drilled into his skull to re­duce pres­sure on the brain.

Af­ter 10 weeks, Ran­dell was moved from ICU to spe­cial care. He even­tu­ally re­gained some mo­tor skills and started to re­spond to the pres­ence of oth­ers.

He moved to the Miller Cen­tre on Dec. 13. Jan­ice was with him ev­ery day, and on Dec. 27, 2010, al­most 100 peo­ple stopped by to visit, in­clud­ing nieces, neph­ews and grand­chil­dren.

“He was start­ing to com­ing around a bit then,” she said. “He had lots of prayers said for him.”

Dur­ing that time, Jan­ice said she never man­aged to dec­o­rate their home in Up­per Is­land Cove.

“We didn’t put up a tree or any­thing last year,” she said.

One of Ran­dell’s grand­chil­dren, Noelle Drover, wrote a let­ter to Santa Claus ask­ing him to per­form a mir­a­cle and help her grand­fa­ther get home for Christ­mas.

“She got him this Christ­mas,” said Jan­ice.

Ran­dell was re­leased from the Miller Cen­tre in April. He con­tin­ues to take part in pe­ri­odic ther­apy ses­sions.

Jan­ice said her hus­band’s speech and mem­ory ca­pa­bil­i­ties have come a long way, and his sense of humour has re­turned. There have been some set­backs, but she said her hus­band bounced back each time.

“He still needs as­sis­tance get­ting up and down, but he’s do­ing good with that, too, com­pared to what he was, be­cause he wasn’t sup­posed to make it,” she said.

This Christ­mas will also likely mark the last in their cur­rent home. The Work­place Health, Safety and Com­pen­sa­tion Com­mis­sion of New­found­land and Labrador is ar­rang­ing to have the cou­ple moved into a wheel­chair-ac­ces­si­ble home with wider hall­ways.

Re­flect­ing on how her hus­band’s health has pro­gressed since the ac­ci­dent, Jan­ice said she could not have imag­ined 16 months ago that Ran­dell would ever be as well as he is now.

“Iguess we got all we wished for,” she said. “As long as he keeps on im­prov­ing, that’s the main thing. We’ll get through the other ob­sta­cles.”

Ran­dell Drover (left) and Jan­ice Drover are cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas at home in Up­per Is­land Cove. Last year, Ran­dell spent Christ­mas at the Miller Cen­tre in St. John’s re­cov­er­ing from an ac­ci­dent.

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