Memorial Day weekend is typically associated with celebrations of life for the Hutson family. Andrew Hutson, his sister and his mother, Andrea, all celebrate birthdays around the holiday. During Memorial Day weekend in 2014, Andrea, was on her way to Andrew’s house with his favorite meal, sushi, for his birthday dinner when she saw a terrible wreck. Instantly, she knew their lives would be changed.

Andrew, who had not been wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene. An older couple had walked out in front of his motorcycle and when he swerved to avoid them, the bike slipped and hit a telephone pole. Now in a coma, Andrew would be silently fighting for his life in the weeks and months to come while his parents, Andrea and Tim, would be fighting his battles out loud.

“We met at the hospital, and they put us in one of those little rooms,” Andrea said. “The rooms that everybody hates to be put in, because if you’ve ever lost somebody, you know what that room is. It’s where they send the chaplain to tell you it’s over.”

As expected, the doctor soon joined them and told the Hutson’s their son was on life support with no brain waves, and they should prepare for end-of-life. Andrea thought, ‘this is what’s going to happen. I am going to have to bury a kid,’ when her thoughts were interrupted. Tim stopped the doctors.

“I can still feel my son,” Tim said. ‘You leave him on.”

Andrea taped Scriptures all over his room, along with pictures of Andrew’s children, his dogs and his family. The Hutsons were repeatedly told by doctors that Andrew wouldn’t make it, and even if he did, he would be ‘a vegetable.’ Andrea kept hoping and eventually, Andrew showed enough improvement to be moved to a long-term care facility.

“I had a brother who was a paraplegic, and Tim and I took care of him. When he needed extended care, he went to Kindred, and absolutely loved it,” Andrea explained. “So when they said, ‘where do you want him?’ I said, ‘Kindred.’”

Andrea continued, “Kindred took him and said, ‘we’re going to get him better.’ When everybody else was ready to give up and count him out, Kindred looked at it as a challenge.’’

Andrew Hutson with Andrea and Tim Hutson

From then on, Andrea and Tim’s journey as caregivers became less stressful. Andrea, who works in real estate, set up a mini-office in the bathroom of Andrew’s room so she could continue her business while caring for Andrew.

‘It wasn’t just us anymore. Matt would remind us to go downstairs and eat, or the staff would bring us cookies and coffee when we hadn’t left,” Andrea said. “All of the Kindred staff became our family. They knew him, and they knew what he needed.”

Andrew soon opened his eyes. According to the nurses, the first thing he asked for was sushi, the meal he had been planning to eat the day of the accident.

With his eyes open, Andrew started the next phase of his journey. Andrea watched as four physical therapists helped her son through his first rehabilitation session, concerned it was too soon.

“Wait a minute, he’s just now awake!” she said. The therapists responded, “We have to get him back, this is how we get your son back.” In a short time, he started to show signs of being Andrew again.

When it came time to leave Kindred, Andrea had a tough time. She felt comfortable with the staff, who knew the level of attention and care Andrew was getting, but he and his family carried on, and every place he went, he did better than anyone expected. 

Today, Andrew is back at home with his parents while he continues his recovery. Breaking down barriers and expectations, he recently traveled to Mexico without his parents on a mission trip. He is working on becoming a motivational speaker.

“I couldn't imagine doing this without my family,” Andrew said.

The Hutsons are proud of Andrew’s journey to recovery.

“The hardest part wasn’t trying to gain back his faculties. It is taking a look at the struggle that lies ahead of him and being aware that he still has a lot of work to do,” Tim said. “But he’s more than brave enough to step forward and do it. That makes me proud.”

If you have questions about healthcare care needs for your or your loved ones, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with one of our Registered Nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

By Maggie Cunningham