Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Dreamline Modular Homes celebrates Steve Kennealy's progress after coma

When Steve Kennealy, a friend of the modular housing industry, landed in a coma shortly before last Thanksgiving, his doctors weren’t certain that he would live.

Struck in the head by a piece of building equipment at a Waltham construction site, Kennealy began a long stay at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center days before Thanksgiving. More than three months later, not only is Kennealy, who works at Lexington-based Dreamline Modular Homes, still alive, but he has been out of his coma for about two months.

Steve and his family celebrate his progress

Kennealy started waking up from his coma seven weeks after his Nov. 20 accident, in early January, according to Kris Megna, one of Dreamline’s managing partners. The awakening began when Kennealy opened his eyes and started moving the right side of his body. Things have progressed from there, Megna said, explaining that doctors gauge post-coma patients’ progress as they move through several stages of recovery.

“Over the course of January, he slowly progressed out of his coma state,” he said.

Shortly after waking up, so to speak, Kennealy moved from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to Spaulding Hospital for Continuing Medical Care, Cambridge. He moved to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charleston on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

“We are thrilled at the progress that he’s made,” said his wife, Cindy Kennealy.

Challenges and milestones

While Kennealy’s right side is reasonably strong, he doesn’t yet have control over the left side of his body, “which affects his smile; it affects everything,” Cindy said.

“He has significant difficulty with speech,” she added. “It’s very challenging for him now.”

The current challenges, nonetheless, arrived in tandem with other milestones. Kennealy graduated from a thickened liquid diet last week—this, after doctors removed his tracheotomy tube

“We keep joking and saying he’s wireless now,” Megna said.

And despite the clear changes in Kennealy’s appearance and abilities, “he’s 100 percent in there,” Cindy said. “Initially, [he wasn’t], when he first started coming out of the coma.”

Megna agreed. “He’s recovering,” he said. “Steve has a lot going on in his brain in a good way—cognitively. There’s nothing that was permanent damaged; it’s just a matter of time.”

Since the beginning, Cindy has been a constant presence at Kennealy’s side, with strong support from the couple’s three grown daughters, Courtney Thibeault, Corinne Miranda and Brenna Kennealy.“She’s been at his side every single day,” Megna said. “I don’t know how they’ve done it. And their positive light has certainly helped everyone.”

Cindy works as an occupational therapist for Taunton Public Schools. She had just returned to work in November after being hospitalized with an infection when Kennealy’s accident happened. Since then, she has used vacation and sick time to stay with her husband, and plans to stay the course until he’s doing better. “We feel like it’s made a huge difference to have us there every day,” Cindy said.

A wide circle of support

What’s helped Cindy these past months, in addition to her daughters, has been a wide circle of colleagues (his and hers), friends and extended family that’s closed in to support the family.

“Kris has been phenomenal and Doug has been phenomenal,” Cindy said of Dreamline’s managing partners, noting she didn’t know Megna that well before her husband’s accident.

Moreover, “people I don’t even know have visited and sent meals,” she said. Many of them are employed by Massachusetts’ Department of Public Safety, where Kennealy worked as director of the Manufactured Buildings Program before joining Dreamline.

While the family wishes Kennealy hadn’t been hurt, the outpouring of support has been eye opening. “We have never felt this kind of love and support before. It’s been a blessing,” Cindy said, quoting her daughter Courtney.

“He would help anybody in a heartbeat,” she added. “And all these people he’s helped [are helping us now].”

At Dreamline, “obviously I don’t feel comfortable putting anyone [in Kennealy’s job],” as his recovery continues, Megna said. “Everybody’s stepped up and done a little bit more. It’s been overwhelming, of course. I just know him enough that I know he wants to come back.”

At the outset of Kennealy’s hospitalization, Megna set up a GoFundMe campaign. So far, it has raised $75,000 to help the family stay geographically close to Kennealy (the couple live in Taunton), funding apartments in Boston and Cambridge. The fund remains open.

With the life-and-death question now behind Kennealy, Megna has heard doctors say “I didn’t expect it to go this way,” driving home the deep uncertainties of a serious brain injury—and Kennealy’s good fortune.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My Thoughts & Prayers Go Out to You and your Family Sir!