July 22nd, 2001
The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .
By Kerry Stratton
Sept. 30, 2000 my wife and I were preparing for bed when we received the
phone call that every parent dreads. We were being asked to come to Harbor
View Medical Center in Seattle, WA to help identify a young woman believed
to be our daughter. The voiced told us she had been air lifted by
helicopter from an automobile accident in Skagit County near our home. They
continued to say she had been identified as Ember, our daughter but, the
hospital needed confirmation and to please come as soon as possible. They
would not give us any further information other than to say she was alive.
The 90 mile car ride to Seattle was silent as my wife and I could only hope
for the best.
We found our way to the emergency center and informed the staff who we were.
We were immediately ushered into the treatment area where the injured young
lady was. I will not recount the images that confronted us here. Suffice
to say to this day recalling this evening brings tears to my eyes and a huge
lump to my throat. The girl on the gurney was our daughter and we
identified her as such.
For the next week we took up residence in the Intensive Care Unit waiting
room. The next week or two are a blur of emotions, visiting family members,
doctors, nurses and unqualified decision making. You will never be prepared
for this type of situation and all the questions that need answers. To make
things easier on us and the hospital staff we rented a room near the
hospital. After the second week of ICU it was becoming clear that our
daughter would survive her accident.
I will not go into to much detail on Ember's injuries. I do need to tell
you a little about them to get to the point where this is a fishing story
and to some extent describe her stay in the hospital. Ember had broken her
jaw, her left arm and her left leg. All three of these injuries would
require constructive surgeries and her leg took several surgeries. She has
pins, plates and screws in all three and all three have required lots of
rehabilitation work. The worst of her injuries however, was Ember had
suffered a closed head injury which included what is called a shear injury
to her brain. People with this type of brain injury usually suffer the
effects for the rest of their lives and these effects can range from barely
noticeable to severe. It turns out Ember's brain injuries fall somewhere in
the middle. She has problems with short term memory loss (which is common
with traumatic brain injury) and could be describe as child like in her
mental capacity. All said and done Ember was in ICU for 31 days. She was
in a coma for approximately 45 days and spent 3 months in 3 different
hospitals. One more thing. She celebrated her 20th birthday while in a
coma in the ICU.
Most of you that visit FAOL know me a little from my posts and fishing
reports You may have concluded I enjoy steelhead fishing but, will go out
in a tube or a pontoon boat fishing for trout in the spring. Every time I
headed out to fish Ember would ask to come along. I would tell her that she
wasn't well enough to go fishing. She would humbly say ok and ask if we
could go sometime later. After talking with her mother one evening, we
decided that Em's arm had healed enough for her to be able to reel and she
was now walking well enough with her cane that we could get her into a boat.
I ask Em if she would like to go fishing on Saturday. I'm not sure but, I
believe it was a Thursday when I asked. For the next few days she would
remind me we were going fishing on Saturday. This is quite an
accomplishment for her considering her problems with short term memory.
I tied up some flies known locally as careybuggers (a cross between a Carey
Special and a wooly bugger). I was a little concerned with her ability to
use a single action reel so I setup a small spinning rod with light line to
help get the fly down.
Saturday came and we packed up all the necessary gear, hitched up the small
aluminum boat and headed to the lake. What a great day for fishing.
Temperature was a comfortable high sixties and the skies were slightly
overcast with no threat of rain. We helped Ember into the boat and headed
out into the lake. I tied a fly on her line, helped mom get her rod ready
and setup my own. We started to slowly troll with the help of a small
electric motor. Five minutes and Ember had the first fish. With gentle
instruction she was able to land a nice 16 inch rainbow. I will never
forget the joy on her face nor the joy that I felt at that moment. I have
never cried a tear over catching fish before. I must admit my eyes were
moist. At that moment I realized how much I love my family.
Ember not only caught the first. She caught the most and the biggest. She
wants to go fishing again just as soon as we can and honestly I can't wait
to take her. ~ Kerry Stratton
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