SAMANTHA TRUBILLA OVERCAME A SEVERE BRAIN INJURY, A COMA AND A 10% CHANCE AT LIVING TO NOW THRIVING
Ten years ago, Jeremy and Danielle Trubilla were staring at the broken body of their young, beautiful daughter, Samantha, with the rest of her life in front of her.
Unfortunately, doctors told Jeremy and Danielle there was only a 10% chance that Samantha would get to realize that life.
In October of 2009, Samantha was on her way to work – something she did countless times. This day, though, would change their lives forever.
“She never made it to work,” Jeremy said. “As she was driving on a dark country road, a shadow of a jogger emerged in front of her. In an effort to avoid the jogger, Samantha swerved into oncoming traffic, hitting an SUV head on.”
As a result of the horrific accident, Samantha sustained several major injuries including a broken arm, broken coccyx, multiple lacerations (including an almost de-gloving of her right hand), and worst of all, a diffuse axonal brain injury – something that happens when the brain rapidly shifts inside the skull as an injury is occurring.
“At the hospital, the doctors explained it to us as if her brain was a jar of glass marbles and someone shook it very hard causing fractures inside all of the marbles,” Danielle said. “They also told us not to Google the injury and stay positive.”
The reason? With this type of injury, there is a less than 10% chance of recovery.
The possibility of Samantha being in a vegetative state was not out of the question.
“We were told at that time that if Samantha woke up out of her coma, there was a 90% chance she would have no quality of life,” Danielle said. “It was horrible news to receive. As a mother, I could barely breathe but I had no choice but to stay strong – for my daughter, my two sons and my entire family. I pulled myself together and told the doctors, ‘You have no idea who my daughter is. She is so strong and will pull through.’”
Samantha remained in critical care for the next several days until she decided she would commit the first of many miracles to come.
She woke up.
“Not only did she wake up, but she was able to mutter the word ‘mom’ to my wife,” Jeremy said. “As positive as this news was, the fight of her life was still in front of her. Samantha was still on a breathing machine and cognitively was functioning on the level of an infant with very little motor control.”
Within the next few days, she was taken off of the breathing machine and soon transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation facility. At the rehab facility, they would start to push her to re-learn how to walk, how to talk and how to eat.
“It was a scary process as the whole time in the back of our minds we knew it could come to a screeching halt and she would be as ‘healed’ as she would get,” Jeremy said. “As scary as it was, my wife was convinced that she was going to walk out of the facility. This seemed like a far-fetched concept given Samantha was mostly bed or wheelchair-ridden and could only ‘walk’ with the help of her therapists. She had to wear a bed monitor because the one time she did try to walk on her own, she fell down and hit her head hard.”
Miracle No. 2 would occur the day before Thanksgiving, just over one month from her accident.
“She proved my wife right,” said Jeremy. “She walked out of the rehab facility. Not only did she walk out, she did so with very little assistance. It was still nerve-wracking because she was at the mental age of a toddler. She did show signs of her long-term memory coming back by being able to recognize her brothers and pictures of our pets, but was still a long way from the 19-year-old she was.”
The next several months would be filled with countless appointments for physical therapy, occupational therapy, neurology, orthopedics, etc., but they were also filled with progress. The type of progress that takes every bit of your soul to kick, scratch and claw your way forward. The type of progress that brings you to your knees with humility when you are able to witness it.
“The most amazing part of this fight is that even with her memories flooding back, the person she was before the accident had been completely erased,” Danielle said. “She had to not only deal with the physical pain of her injuries she sustained, but also the mental pain of trying to remember who she was, and it not being possible. She literally was reborn at the age of 19 and rebuilt herself piece by piece right before our very eyes.”
A year after her accident she walked back into the very same trauma intensive care unit where she had been, all but lifeless, not that long ago. She did this not because anyone asked her to, or that she felt obligated to do it, but because she wanted to let everyone know how far she had come and also how grateful she was for them never giving up on her while she was there.
Samantha currently lives with her boyfriend, works, drives and does everything you would expect a normal person to do. She carries on her right arm and hand two large scars – scars that, after the accident, she spent years trying to hide out of embarrassment. It wasn’t Samantha realized how powerful her story was that she no longer cared what people thought if they stared at her.
“We have a great deal of respect for APEMAN,” Jeremy said. “My wife and I love the things you stand for, and the mission you have set out on. When we saw the SCARS shirt and read the meaning, we both knew instantly that it was meant for Samantha. For my wife and me, those scars are a reminder of the miracle of the human spirit, a reminder that despite how badly our outside shell can be damaged, with a little bit of love and belief in yourself, absolutely anything is possible.
Even if the odds are less than 10%.”