I recently came across an article in the Dunn County Wisconsin News that I hope will cause regular readers of this blog to take heart. The story was a lovely human interest piece on a local resident who survived and even thrived despite the curveballs thrown his way by a 1994 traumatic brain injury.
In 1994, Bill Benish was a 20-year-old working his family’s 300 acre farm near Elk Mound, Wisconsin. As a high schooler he had won awards from the Future Farmers of America association, but the experience from FFA and years working on the family farm couldn’t prevent a tragic accident that almost cost Bill his life.
The incident occurred when a 10-ton chopper box wagon filled with silage fell on Bill’s head. When the wagon, which had been jacked up, fell, the left side of Bill’s head took the full force of its weight. Luckily, even though he was unfamiliar with CPR, Bill’s father had the presence of mind to pump Bill’s chest. This quick thinking dislodged a blood clot that was blocking Bill’s airway and likely saved his life.
More quick thinking and well-trained medical personnel saved the day every step of the way. Bill was taken by emergency responders to Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where doctors put him in a coma to prevent brain swelling. Doctors told Bill’s parents, John and Carol, that he would not survive. The family prepared for the worst as days passed and tests showed no progress. They even discussed organ donation.
But then the incredible happened and tests began showing blood flow to Bill’s brain.
Out of the coma, Bill’s family was instrumental in helping him recuperate. Knowing that his son was an avid card player, his father John devised a test where he had Bill put a deck of cards in order by suit, number and character.
After passing his father’s impromptu neurological test with flying colors, Bill embarked on the long road to recovery at Learning Services in Middleton. Bill’s injuries were so severe that he had to relearn life skills from crawling and walking to eating and drinking.
Perhaps fortunately for Bill, he does not remember many of the details of those trying times. Besides, that was 15 years ago and Bill now leads a full and productive life. He was able to get a driver’s license, which has allowed him to work several jobs since his recovery. These jobs include, touchingly, working as a delivery driver for the very newspaper that recently published Bill’s heartwarming story. He also has his own home, where he lives with his parents.
“I feel so good,” Bill told the Dunn County News. “I made so many friends.”
While every single traumatic brain injury is a tragedy in its own right, it is gratifying to read the stories of survivors like Bill Benish who never let their injuries get in the way of their normal, active lives. Here at MLN Law we are proud to honor Bill and his family, who did not let a terrible, senseless tragedy get in the way of a full, happy life.