WOODSTOCK — The parents of a Woodstock teen critically injured in a February hit-and-run accident in Athens were moved Tuesday afternoon as they stood outside their home in Woodstock and watched volunteers working to prepare the house for their daughter’s return from months in the hospital.
About 20 volunteers worked to prepare the home for Emily Bowman, 19, who will soon come home to Woodstock after more than three months of being hospitalized after she was hit by an alleged drunk driver while she walked along an roadside Feb. 19.
Dale and Debbie Bowman are divorced, but said Tuesday that they will soon live together again to care for their daughter, Emily, who sustained severe brain injuries in the accident and now uses a wheelchair and is unable to communicate.
The Bowmans said Tuesday afternoon that they were thankful for the work Sunshine for a Ranney Day, an Alpharetta-based charity, is doing to get their house ready for their daughter to come home.
But they said their daughter won’t be coming home as early as they previously thought.
The Bowmans reported in mid-May that Emily was set to return home this week, but they said Tuesday that she had yet another surgery earlier in the day, and that it will still be another few weeks before she leaves the most recent hospital in her months in medical care, Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta.
Dale Bowman said he hopes his daughter could stay in longer, as he and Debbie are only preparing for her to come home now, but her insurance is running out.
“It’s kind of scary right now,” Debbie said, speaking of how Emily’s return home will go. “I’m sure we’re going to have some nursing going on and home health care (coming in).”
Debbie Bowman said that she and her ex-husband are concerned about their daughter coming home, because a recent surgery to relieve fluid from her brain caused a downturn in her recovery.
Before that surgery, Emily had improved and was able to reach for things and write, her parents said.
Now, she has been having what Dale Bowman calls “brain storms” where she sweats profusely and her heart rate elevates.
Debbie Bowman added that Emily has been having “posturing” episodes, where her muscles tighten drastically.
“Her hands sometimes are in fists, and you have to pry her fingers open,” she said.
Recent changes to Emily’s medicines have helped these episodes, Debbie Bowman said, and after surgery earlier Tuesday, she was doing well.
But Debbie Bowman said history tells her that Emily’s condition could change with little notice.
Whenever Emily comes home to Woodstock, Holly Ranney, founder of Sunshine for a Ranney Day, said that her group and their volunteers hope to have it ready.
Ranney said they started work on the Bowmans’ two-story home a few weeks ago and are making progress.
At 6:30 Tuesday night, about 20 men and women worked both inside and outside the house with dust clouding from tools and sweat pouring from their faces.
They were all volunteers, Ranney said.
Once complete, Ranney said the home will be outfitted with a donated hospital bed, a first-floor bathroom with a walk-in shower and new tile flooring to accommodate Emily’s wheelchair.
The crews are also adding a wheelchair ramp in front of the house and making vast renovations inside.
Two rooms on the first floor are being turned into bedrooms, one for Emily and one for mother, Ranney said.
The two bedrooms will be connected by a door so Debbie can be close, Ranney said.
In total, Ranney said the renovations will be around $15,000 worth of work.
Debbie Bowman was visibly moved by the group’s charity when she arrived at the house Tuesday, wearing her T-shirt that read Emily’s name on the front and “#1 Mom” on the back.
“I couldn’t believe it when I drove up here,” Debbie Bowman said, smiling. “I was just like ‘What in the world.’”
Dale Bowman agreed and said he was grateful for the help.
“There’s a lot of good people in (metro) Atlanta,” he said.