Horse-kick victim on road to recovery

Mom pens memoir, needs campaign support
By: Laura Newell, Of the Telegraph
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One mother is using the power of writing to both document her family while helping others keep faith while living through difficult experiences.

Almost four years ago, Jessica Lavine, of Folsom, sustained a traumatic brain injury while preparing for her weekly horseback riding lesson. Since then, the Lavine family moved to Vancovuer, WA, in April of 2013. Jessica is continuing to recover as her mother, Jolene, writes a memoir about their experience.

“On April 29, 2010 … Jessica was kicked in the head by a horse. She was taken immediately to Sutter Roseville Hospital, where she was in surgery for almost four hours, then transferred to UC Davis Children's Hospital. She was in a coma for eight days and in the hospital for seven weeks,” Jolene said. “It wasn't until five months later that she began to have meaningful responses and two-way communication could begin.”

In October 2010, Jolene said Jessica’s head was put back together and she entered in-patient rehab. Since then, Jolene said Jessica has been in numerous rehabs including in-patient and out-patient therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and talk-therapy.

“The accident also caused her to have acute scoliosis for which she had to have a spinal fusion done in October of 2012,” Jolene said. “She has been back in school since August of 2011. Jessica continues to do very well.”

Jolene said after moving to Vancovuer, Jessica decided she did not want to use her wheelchair anymore, but would rather use a walker fulltime – which she has done.

“She uses a wheelchair when traveling (in airports), but at all other times, she uses her walker,” Jolene said. “She continues to work on her clear speech, as her oral motor muscles and skills have not returned completely.”

Now, in sixth grade, Jessica, 13, is in mainstream classes, but has a one-on-one aide who is with her full-time and has she a modified curriculum, Jolene said.

While Jessica is still dealing with fatigue and oral motor issues, Jolene said she is cognitive, and even has her “teenage moments” like any other 13-year-old.

“She likes to watch movies, play board games and in her physical therapy, she has just started riding a bike again, so we are hoping to get her one for her birthday and start spending more time outdoors with her,” Jolene said. “She is finally back in a place where she is gaining some more independence.”

Now, Jolene is working to finish a memoir on their experience.

“When the accident first happened, I was using Facebook and some internet forums to keep people updated. I had a lot of people compliment me on the writing and suggest that I write a book one day. After about a year, I pulled down all of the Facebook updates and sent them to a writing coach,” Jolene said. “My current working title is ‘Guide Her Home’ and as much as it is about the experiences of our entire family, really, the meat of the story is about Jessica and me. Our mother/daughter journey through the tragedy that struck our family.”

Jolene is currently in the final stages of writing, and then will submit it for review and editing. Her goal is to have it all polished up to self-publish the memoir by the anniversary of Jessica’s accident.

To help pay the final costs for her memoir, Jolene started an IndieGoGo campaign. This is a crowd funding website that allows people to offer incentives, or perks, in exchange for contributions to their campaigns.

“This way, (we) can offer something to those who are interested in (our) ideas, and get support to help produce (our) projects,” she said. “My perks include things as small as a bracelet, up to things as involved as a monthly homemade gift or assistance with a contributor’s writing. (I also offer) a one-on-one meeting with me to discuss our experiences with the medical side of things, what worked, what didn't, that sort of thing.”

Jolene said she keeps the campaign website updated with family photos and videos.

“So much as changed in the past four years,” Jolene said. “It has been the hardest experience we have all gone through, but we have gained so much from it. From the sense of community, to learning about ourselves and others, and the world around us, the blessings have been abundant. I am very hopeful that we will be successful in funding our campaign so that I can share just the smallest piece of our experiences through this memoir.”

To help contribute to the campaign, visit