Comatose Vermont trucker on the comback haul

© 2005 Gordon Alexander
Cynthia and Jeffrey Thompson of Newport Center, Vermont

Posted 10.10.05

NEWPORT CENTER, VT | It has been a long haul for trucker, Jeffrey,"Willie" Thompson and his wife Cynthia as he remains in a coma eleven months after his accident last year.

Thompson is cared for at his home on Rt. 100 by his wife and daughter as he slowly progresses. It could be another five years before he is able to get out of bed, walk and talk according to Cynthia.

," At least he is able to open his eyes and is aware that I am home with him," she said.

," He still has his sense of humor," Cynthia said," The other day while I was moving him, I accidentally hit his head on the edge of the bed. I told him I was sorry, to which he playfully responded"Uh Huh," she said with a smile.

It all started back in early November last year when Thompson, 46 was unloading some lumber at home. A 4 x 4 slid loose and struck the trucker on the head." He was slightly stunned and bled a bit, but seemed okay," Cynthia recalls .," Later that week he was scheduled to take a load to Lubbock Texas, over 2000 miles from Newport. While unloading there he collapsed and was rushed to the Covenant Medical center, where he lapsed into a coma. The doctors there said is was the result of being struck earlier," she said

Upon hearing the news Thompson's family Cynthia, and daughters Dezarae, Ravan, and Kazia rushed to his side in Texas, where they took an apartment near the hospital. In January, the hospital stabilized the still-comatose Thompson and he was flown home.

In February Thompson suffered an aneurysm and was rushed to the Dartmouth Medical Center. After surgery Thompson was returned home. Two months ago his tracheotomy tube was removed.

"The North Country Hospital kindly loaned us a bed. unfortunately since Jeffrey is so tall we could use a longer bed with a 32 inch pivot point so he could be more comfortable while he is sitting up," she said. "He keeps sliding down in bed, but I guess we should be thankful, the bed is really far better than the one we started with' she added

"Everyone has been just wonderful. The lions Club built us an access ramp and the Newport Center Modern 29ers have had bake sales to help us with the finances, and there are many others that I don't know how we could have managed without," she said.

Cynthia, when she is not caring for her husband is working as a nurse in the state prison health system in Newport . While she is there daughter Desiree cares for her father. Cynthia, who has her bed beside Jeffrey gets up every three hours during the night to perform a multitude of tasks including tube-feeding him, seeing to his bathroom needs, turning him to prevent bed sores, administering his medications and exercising his legs to maintain circulation

Cynthia remembers how he responded when their grandson visited this past summer. "He ( their grandson ) was lying in my bed, beside Jeffrey's bed, when he said something about grandpa to which Jeffrey tried to talk and turn over towards his grandson.' she said

According to Cynthia, since the accident Thompson's trucking business, J & C Transport, was being looked after by a friend Roland Brown in Peace Dale, Rhode Island. " Unfortunately, this did not work out so I guess we'll be giving up the business and selling the truck and trailer," she said.

The Thompsons' met in Rhode Island, where they were both working, and married in 1982. They have lived in Newport Center for fifteen years and have five children. Their three daughters live at the family home on Route 100, just outside Newport Center. Their two sons are living and working elsewhere.

Thompson's bed has been moved so that he faces the mountain range alongside Jay Peak. Near the ceiling there is a TV and by the window a wide assortment of country and western tapes. Beside his bed is his old guitar that he used to enjoy playing.

"With a lot of love and prayers he'll be playing that guitar again as only he can," Cynthia said.

Copyright © 2005 Gordon Alexander/Log Cabin Chronicles/10.05