Carol's Story

NFP’s integrated model of care helps patient deal with a life thrown off course by a car accident.

In 2011, Carol Hadley’s life was full. She was a successful, independent woman who owned a thriving pizza restaurant, where she worked an average of 14 hours a day, seven days a week. She worked hard to grow the business, and took pride in her intelligence and motivation to provide her customers with great pizzas and other menu items, made from scratch with fresh ingredients.

Everything changed when she was in a car accident. She was driven to the hospital and examined, and while they thought she might have a minor concussion, no formal diagnosis was made and she was not admitted. “I was such a type A personality, all I could think about was my business, and what would happen if I wasn’t there, so I went to work the next day,” says Carol.

But when Carol got to work, she just stood there, with her employees working around her. Turns out, Carol did indeed have a brain injury, which was difficult for her to accept. For three months, she stayed in a hotel near her business to make it easier for her to get to work. 

“Things weren’t going well, but I attributed it to stress. It took a long time for me to realize that my brain wasn’t working. I could recognize numbers, but not know what they were. My secretary would ask me a question about a recipe – I’d written all of them – but I couldn’t remember,” Carol explains. 

At the same time, chronic pain in her back and legs was becoming unbearable. Without her former level of involvement, her business was losing money, with Carol paying employees out of her savings. About a year after her accident, she decided she couldn’t keep going and closed the business.

And that’s when she realized how much that car accident had impacted her brain function. “When I no longer had the daily routine I’d been making the motions of going through for so long, I could barely function,” she says.  

A long-time patient of Neighborhood Family Practice, Carol was not one to come to the doctor on a regular basis. But in the year after her accident, she had some pain related appointments with her NFP physician, Anne Wise, MD, at the NFP Detroit Shoreway Community Health Center.

Dr. Wise referred Carol to Peggy Keating, LISW-S, NFP’s vice president of behavioral health and care integration, who has been a practicing clinical social worker for many years. Peggy specializes with issues related to trauma, abuse, addiction, disabilities, anxiety and depression, so she was well-suited to help Carol.

“The car accident left Carol with not just injuries to her body, but also to her brain. When I first saw her, she refused to admit anything was wrong, though she was very depressed – feeling like she truly wasn’t herself anymore, and not sure she wanted to be the person she now was. And she was in a lot of pain from her physical injuries as well,” says Keating. “One of the great things about Neighborhood Family Practice is the integrated care we’re able to provide. Along with treating Carol’s physical and medical problems – helping her to regain strength along with her ability to stand at length and walk properly – we incorporated psychotherapy to help her deal with her depression and connect the dots of who she is now, get her on appropriate medications, and more. We were able to care for all of her issues at the same time – treating them on what you might call parallel paths.”

Today, Carol may not be as filtered as she once was, or able to carry on an abstract conversation like she used to, but she’s in a good place.

“Thanks to every one of the very kind people who work at NFP, and who all know my name, especially Dr. Wise and Peggy, I’m here today. Without them, I’m not sure I would be, because there was a time when I thought about suicide. I truly credit Peggy with saving my life. I yelled and complained, a lot. Sometimes she just held my hand. Other times, she let me cry. And there were times she pushed me really hard, especially as I got better. She helped me accept that any improvement was going to take time. I didn’t want to wait – I wanted to be back to the way I was, and quickly,” says Carol. “Now, I’ve learned to put the past away and not dwell on what was. There’s a new me, with parts of the old me, but I’ve learned to accept my new normal.”

Carol (left) with Peggy Keating, LISW-S, vice president of behavioral health and care integration, who is part of Carol's care team at NFP. 

Carol (left) with Peggy Keating, LISW-S, vice president of behavioral health and care integration, who is part of Carol's care team at NFP.