The Tia Heider Story by Renee Heider - Tia's Mother
Tia before the Accident
Tia Coming Home from the Hospital
Tia as She is Now
"Before Tia's accident, she was a very bright, bubbly, active little girl. She marched in Drum & Bugle corp, she sang in the choir at school and was active in Brownies.
Then 5 days before Thanksgiving on November 23, 1996, she went to the store with her daddy. They were hit head on by a man who was drunk and driving, with no headlights on, on the wrong side of the road after dark. By the time her daddy saw the car it was too late. Tia was wearing a seat belt and a shoulder harness. When daddy hit the brakes she was thrown forward and the seat belt did not stop her. The air bag came out at over 200 miles per hour on the BACK of her head, upon impact severed her spinal cord, causing some traumatic brain injury. She was without oxygen for 6-10 minutes while waiting for rescue personnel. She was taken to our local Hospital and some precedures were done to restart her heart and to breathe for her. Then she was flown by Flight For Life Helicopter to Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin about 35 miles away. That's where she stayed for just under 2 months.
She came home for about 2 hours on Christmas Day accompanied by her rehab Doctor, Dr. Mark Splaingard.
At that time I requested she be released by her birthday, and on January 17, 1997, Tia was released. That was her 9th birthday. But before this could happen, at least 2 people had to be completely trained to take care of her. In the two weeks prior to her release we managed to accomplish what takes most families 2 months to do. We had 4 people completely trained and 5 other people trained to babysit her for a few hours.
She had to have a Wheelchair, 2 Ventilators, a Suction Machine, A Heart Monitor, a Nebulizer and many Supplies in place. The Hospital was very cooperative with accomplishing this. She has to return to the hospital on a regular basis for check-ups and has been readmitted one time for a urinary tract infection. This surprised the doctors because they expected her back sooner. She needs many hours of therapy each week, both at home and by professionals. She has had Teachers and Nurses at home since she came home."
I first became aware of Tia through the Texas D Network Ministries when her grandparents, Judy & Michael Obuchowski left a prayer request on the "Beneath the Cross" Prayer Requests page. I posted the request, and as is my custom, say my own prayers from time to time for the requests that are posted. I always know that pain is evident in some form or the other regarding these requests. Some time elapsed and for some reason "Tia" began to dominate my thoughts. I wrote to Judy and Michael and inquired about Tia. An e-mail dialog began between Judy and me. Then one day I got brave enough to ask the age of Tia, for I had no idea. When Judy told me that Tia is a 9 year old, I felt like a wall had come down on top of me. Certainly something of this nature is very tragic for anyone of any age. But somehow the impact of what had happened to this precious child squeezed my heart and it will not let go.
From Judy's input, I am beginning to know Tia and her family. With their permission already obtained, I'd like to share some of the other details of Tia's story and that of her family. We all hope that by sharing, some good will come. Renee hopes that no other child will ever be cut down in life from a drunken or otherwise irresponsible driver the way Tia has been.
Since that November day in 1996, with the destructive impact from the headon crash of the two vehicles, many lives were forever altered. Tia's normalcy as a child and future adult were destroyed. Tia's father, Arlie Heider, suffered a crushed hip and has undergone three hip surgeries. Both parents lost their jobs and their apartment residence. Everyone ended up moving in with Judy and Michael. Their home has become the center of activity in the daily routines of taking care of Tia. As I understand it, Tia is totally helpless. However, she is mentally functional. She is able to blink her eyes a required number of times to answer questions, as well as to do math problems and other school work. There appears to be some signs of movement surfacing. Recently, at a workshop for the handicap, she was able to briefly work something on a special computer by using her chin. Before her accident, I'm told that she and her 12 year old brother, Anthony, loved operating the computer. Now she watches as others use it. Judy says that she tries to smile when they goof up. She can only smile a tiny bit.
Tia must be fed through a tube. However, recently, she has been fed some baby food and was able to tolerant it fine. Judy has been graciously sharing these little milestones with me and I am elated with her every accomplishment.
From time to time I find some online greetings and send them to Tia. The family shows them to her and she seems to respond with pleasure. I started doing this when Judy told me that Tia cries alot, but they are unable to determine why. Of course, we all agree that she certainly has reasons enough to cry.
Because Tia can use all of the support and cheering up possible, you are invited to send your own greetings to her. "Tia Heider" - send to her grandfather's e-mail address: MICHAEL OBUCHOWSKI Your thoughfulness can bring a pleasant moment to a very desperate little girl. A little girl was full of life, involved in life, loved camping, acting in school plays, singing in choirs and doing crafts with her grandmother. This same little girl is now trapped inside a body that doesn't want to cooperate and let her live again. She is now only a spectator. Each day I pray for the miracle that would return some activity to her body and allow her to express her feelings and communicate with life, her family, and the world around her.
This story is far from complete. The family has only ask for our prayers, and perhaps a card for Tia to let her know that someone outside the family circle cares about her. But I have learned that the needs go much further. Tia must have special transportation for her frequent trips to the hospital and therapy. Recently the van broke down and funds had to be borrowed to repair it. The hospital bills have not only been huge for Tia, but her father's medical bills would stagger most of us. Renee can no longer work outside the home; her fulltime job is caring for Tia. Fortunately in one aspect, Renee is a nurse; the one factor making it possible to have Tia at home. Besides the needs of a normal family, the added expenses have continued on a regular basis. While insurance has covered a lot of the bills, a lot has been left over. The staggering fact remains that there is no end. The added necessities for Tia will continue throughout her life, short of an enormous miracle. The young man who, through irresponsible actions of drinking and driving, was ordered to support her for the rest of her life. However, since he is in prison, that is a moot point. The fact remains that it all has to be provided by the family. A fund was established for Tia. But the expenses have far exceded the funds. If you would like to make a contribution to this precious little girl's welfare, I know that it would be put to extremely good use, as well as greatly appreciated.
The Fund address is:
Tia Heider Fund Educators Credit Union 1400 Newman Rd. Racine, WI 53406.
Cards may be sent to the Fund address or directly to Tia:
Tia Heider P. O. Box 4697 Racine, WI 53404
Please mention the Texas D Web Site so Tia will know that you saw her page.
On behalf of Tia's family, thank you for taking the time to share our story. Your prayers and best wishes are appreciated for this darling little girl.
NOTE: You've probably already discovered that Tia is no longer with us except in our hearts and memories. I simply have not the heart to change her pages and excepts for some links, have pretty much left them as they were during that time, for the pain that her family endured due to a drunk driver can not be deleted. It is our prayer that if you drink, remember Tia and please do not drive.