Carly Christine Draudt
The Carly that we remember, and the Carly we miss,
exemplified the word unique. As a devout Christian her friends admired
her strong beliefs. However, acquaintances hadn’t a clue as
to the depth of her spirituality. This is because every wonderful
deed she did silently.
When Carly was home, on break from school, she would
wake up before sunrise and get in an early morning run with her father
before he left for work around 5 a.m. The two had grown especially
close after he suffered a heart attack a few years ago.
Before the accident exciting changes were taking
place in Carly’s life. Graduation was quickly approaching and
she was starting to talk seriously about marrying Clint, her boyfriend
of three years.
Throughout her college years, Carly was always active.
She maintained a 3.8 GPA, served as secretary for the psychology club,
held a part-time job, and of course she played volleyball—which,
as a full-scholarship player at the NCAA level is a full time job
There is no way to describe the life she lived or
the lives that she touched. Carly was at the starting line of life,
anxiously anticipating life beyond the secure walls of college. On
her bookshelf, the book “The Most Romantic Destinations In the
World,” rests. She was often teased by her friends about her
old-fashioned fanciful ideas of romance and relationships. She always
had her head in the clouds. Inside the front cover are these words
written in Carly’s handwriting:
“This book was purchased in anticipation of
Carly and Clint’s adventures in life.”-August 2003
On October 14, 2003 Carly Christine Draudt was looking
for an excuse to avoid that afternoon’s volleyball cookout.
She had a psychology test the next day and didn’t feel ready.
Seeing no way out she decided to attend the cookout and then head
straight to the library.
That morning she asked Clint, her boyfriend, to
run some errands. He agreed. That morning was the last time that he
would see the Carly he had fallen in love with over the past four
years of college.
Carly never made it to the library that night. Instead
she spent that night and dozens more in intensive care at Grand Strand
Regional Medical Center.
The accident happened before dinner was served.
The volleyball girls spotted the host’s Jet Skis in the waterway.
Carly wanted to ride, but she was nervous. Her teammate and friend,
Katie, decided to drive the Jet Ski, while Carly sat behind her.
No one knows exactly what happened next. According
to reports the girls took off down the waterway. They turned a corner
down the narrow river, hit a sandbar and were propelled into nearby
trees. Katie’s face hit the tree breaking dozens of bones. She
was thrown into the water. However, she was conscious and screamed
out in pain. Carly hit her head against Katie’s and fell onto
her back. Unconscious she laid face up with her head turned to the
side. Her position on the Jet Ski is one of the many miracles that
saved her life.
Carly suffered a closed head injury. Because the
impact did not fracture Carly’s skull, the blood could not be
released and the intracranial pressure forced her head to swell rapidly.
She was rushed to the hospital where she underwent two surgeries.
In the first surgery the doctor put her brain back in place, as it
had shifted and was no longer centered. The second surgery helped
to drain the blood.
Carly’s parents were notified of the accident
and instructed to fly out immediately as it was likely Carly would
not make it through the night. Carly was kept in a drug-educed coma
for two weeks. She was woken up slowly as the swelling decreased.
Carly’s parents, sister and Clint sat by Carly’s side
for two weeks talking to Carly despite her inability to respond. Eventually,
Carly’s father had to go home and Carly’s mom stayed for
another two months by her daughter’s bedside.
For weeks after Carly came out of the coma she lay
still and almost completely unresponsive. One of her eyes would open
slightly. And her right arm showed signs of movement.
After two months of intensive rehabilitation Carly
was deemed physically strong enough to board a plane. She was transferred
to St. Jude hospital in Fullerton upon her arrival in California.
Eight days later she was sent home. Not because she was ready, but
because her lifetime insurance benefit had run out. The insurance
company had already paid more than they legally had to for Carly’s
So Carly’s therapy—where she transformed
from a vegetative state to a walking and talking individual—was
stopped. The rehab team, comprised of about half a dozen specialists
rotating every hour stopped. Instead Christie, Carly’s mom,
was handed a do-it-yourself rehab guide, which included work sheets
and exercise routines. Carly’s nurses, who changed her diapers
and filled her feeding tube, nicely showed Christie how to perform
A Description of Carly Today
When you go to see Carly, she waits anxiously at
the door for your arrival. She stands and walks with the assistance
of a cane. Before you enter the room she asks her mom repeatedly…“who
is coming? Why?” She perks when you enter the room. She screams
Her mother asks you to play a board game, such as
Memory with her. As soon as Carly and her guests are busy her mother
rushes off hoping to shower or quickly eat. Carly does great at Memory
often winning the game. Carly often laughs hysterically and uncontrollably.
Her left side does not function as well as the left and she curls
it in close to her body. She must be reminded to use it.
She does not initiate conversation or ask questions
without being prompted. She needs a rehabilitation team to be a constant
Today our dreams for Carly have greatly changed.
However, we follow her example and continue to dream. We dream of
a day when Carly calls us on the phone and ask us how we are. We go
on day to day with small goals and dreams. We have faith in our Carly
and her inner-will. Although her personality is no longer the Carly
we knew, I know her being is the same. And if inside her body is a
quarter of the drive she once had, I believe that with our help she
will be OK.
Carly deserves a chance at life. It is unthinkable
to ask one professional to take on the job of nurse and therapist
for Carly. An entire team of professionals is needed. So how can we
ask her mother, to take this on alone?
Rehabilitation in first year after a severe brain
injury is vital. After this time period any progress will be minimal.
Without therapy in the first year after rehabilitation Carly will
endure unimaginable struggles throughout her entire life. We have
an opportunity to enable her to get rehab, an opportunity to affect
the outcome of one young girl’s entire life!