Miraculous recovery

Family, community welcome Kim Thome back from horrific crash
by Sue Mroz Special to The Review

Hayley, Shaun, Kim and Madison Thome at home in Plymouth following Kim’s lifethreatening vehicle accident on March 19. — Submitted photo Hayley, Shaun, Kim and Madison Thome at home in Plymouth following Kim’s lifethreatening vehicle accident on March 19. — Submitted photo PLYMOUTH - When bad things happen to good people of Plymouth, family members, friends, Plymouth residents and those from surrounding communities rally to their support.

Kim Thome, 33, co-owner with her husband Shaun of Antoinette’s, Antonio’s and Amore, Plymouth, can attest to this.

On March 19, she was involved in a horrific rollover accident on State 57, being ejected from her SUV window. She sustained a fractured skull - traumatic brain injury (TBI) - and other serious injuries, including three broken vertebrae.

Kim narrowly escaped death. Her doctors consider her recovery miraculous. She was hospitalized nearly two months, returning home on May 17 and is currently undergoing physical, occupational, speech and group therapies at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, Milwaukee, to regain mobility, speech and daily living skills.

Hayley, Kim, Shaun and Madison Thome prior to Kim’s life changing vehicle accident. The family is very well-known for their community involvement. — Submitted photo Hayley, Kim, Shaun and Madison Thome prior to Kim’s life changing vehicle accident. The family is very well-known for their community involvement. — Submitted photo The Thome family still has a difficult journey ahead, due to Kim’s severe brain injury, her short-term memory losses, and blurred vision in her left eye, which she nearly lost in the accident. She also developed kidney stones from lying in bed so long. Therefore, they remain guardedly optimistic.

Shaun, Kim and daughter Hayley, 13, related details of the family’s ordeal the past three months.

On the afternoon of March 19, Kim was heading south on State 57 with her daughters in the back seat of their Trail Blazer SUV, en route to Cedarburg. It was a blustery, snowy day, with winds from the west causing patches of snow and ice on the highway.

Just south of Sumac Road, Hayley said, “there was a white-out. My mom hit some black ice, and we did a complete doughnut.”

The SUV rolled over four or five times across the median, landing on all four wheels. Kim was ejected from the car and landed on the highway, while the girls remained belted in their seats.

“We got out of the car and started screaming for help,” Hayley recalled. “Someone took us to a car and called 911, and I called Dad on my cell phone.”

Shaun arrived shortly later, unaware of the seriousness of the accident. “Highway 57 was totally shut down in both the north and south-bound lanes,” he said. “The police officer told me to go through the barricade. I saw the SUV, but I didn’t see Kim. I asked where she was, and they said she had been taken to Aurora Hospital in Grafton.”

From there, the Flight for Life had transported Kim to Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, Wauwatosa.

“I was numb,” Shaun recalled of learning the extent of Kim’s injuries. “Dr. (John) Wolfa, Kim’s neurosurgeon, said, ‘I don’t know what to tell you. We did the best we could. I give her a 50-50 shot to make it three days.’”

Shaun finally was allowed to see Kim, who was on a breathing machine, at 9 p.m. that evening. “I don’t know how I got through it,” he said of observing her in that condition.

The physicians told Shaun that the following three days were critical, regarding the intensity of the brain swelling. Fortunately, the swelling began to abate. However, Kim remained in a coma.

“On the Thursday before Easter, the doctor told me that if Kim was not better by the following Tuesday, we would have to make a decision whether or not to take her off the breathing machine,” Shaun said.

When that day arrived, Shaun walked to the left side of the bed, and other members of the family were in various other parts of the room. “Kim appeared to be looking at me,” Shaun said. “Then someone on the other side of the bed asked, ‘How are you doing, Kim?’ And at that time, her eyes tracked all around the room to that person.

Her daughters were finally able to visit their mom

April 6. “I consider this the day Kim woke up,” Shaun said. “ We walked in, and she was propped up in bed. The girls fed her water on a sponge. Our friends Jim and Michelle Marshall were there too, and Kim started mouthing words like ‘Thank you,’ and had some facial expressions, like smiling.

“It felt good to see the progress, but I was still apprehensive,” he admitted. “The doctors had told me that she wouldn’t wake up as the same person, because she damaged a large part of her brain. With a TBI, it takes a person up to a year to regain the memory and skills he or she has lost. But that is not guaranteed.”

“Dr. Davis, her main doctor at Columbia St. Mary’s, said she has not seen a patient do as well as Kim in the past seven years. She is one in a million.”

Behind the scenes, relatives, friends, church members, and area residents showered the family with support.

Shaun started journaling on CaringBridge.org to connect and share news and for others to offer support. Shaun related Kim’s story on the website and updates it regularly.

The family had happily anticipated Kim’s arrival home last month. Their elation on Kim’s homecoming was short-lived. The day after she returned, “I was helping Kim take a shower, and she had a seizure,” Shaun said. “She was rushed to St. Nicholas and put on antiseizure medication.”

Following the seizure, “Kim regressed and lost half the progress she had made. I felt it was either the seizure or the medication that was at fault.”

Kim returned to Plymouth for good June 8.

Hayley is thrilled to have her mother back with the family. “It’s great, because it was hard living without her at home,” she said.

Ashley Duwell. Kim’s sister-in-law and a registered nurse, is aware of the trauma Kim has endured. “It was very bad. I did not expect this progress,” she said. “I don’t see miraculous recoveries often.”

For now, the Thomes are sending up prayers of thanksgiving for Kim’s continual progress. “I can’t say thanks enough for all the support we have had,” Shaun said. “We are very grateful to God, our family, friends and community for their support, cards, meals and donations.”

“It’s amazing how many have reached out to us,” Kim agreed.

Thome benefit Sunday

To welcome Kim Thome home and to assist the family to defray escalating medical and other expenses, a committee of community leaders - Lee Gentine, Alan Bublitz, Sam Suchon, Jim Marshall, Todd Neils, Lisa Hurley, John Zimmerman and Shaun Thome - is planning a Welcome Home Celebration and Benefit. The child-friendly event will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, June 23, at Amore and Antonio’s, 18 W. Mill St., Plymouth.

It features a brat fry, beer, and bake sale, raffles, silent-auction items and a live auction at 3:30 p.m. There will also be a bounce house, face-painting and games.

Two groups of musicians are donating their services. The Toys will perform from 2 to 6 p.m., outdoors under the tent, with Pete Scheuerman inside Amore, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thrivent Financial West Sheboygan County Chapter will match a portion of funds raised during the event.

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