Important COVID-19 Information Read More
Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

An open letter from teen stroke survivor’s father

June 15, 2017

Brian “Skip” Christiansen and his son, Gavin, pose for a photo on Gavin’s last day of outpatient physical therapy at Madonna’s Omaha Campus.

Father’s Day is special day.  This year it has extra special meaning for a father who watched as his 14-year-old son fought to recover after a stroke.

In this letter from Brian “Skip” Christiansen, of Omaha, he describes how his son Gavin’s recovery as he went through the continuum of care with Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals was a family journey. A journey that has made this Father’s Day more significant.

 August 5, 2016 is a day that will never be far from my heart.  Gavin, my son, was lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life.  A stroke, 35 days in an intensive care unit and four brain surgeries later, we began our recovery as a family.

I remember following his ambulance from Omaha to Lincoln, on his way to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Upon admission, Gavin failed to control basic motor and communication skills that we all take for granted on a daily basis.  From day one, his therapists and nursing care made Gavin’s physical recovery, and our emotional recovery as a family, their top priority. Gavin struggled, but reached for continuous healing every day. Through intense physical, occupational, recreational, vision and speech therapy, Gavin regained the skills required to function independently.

The Alexis Verzal Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit was our home away from home for many months.  I never felt like I, or Gavin, was a guest or a patient in a hospital.  They all made the necessary experience livable.  When I was there, I wasn’t angry.

We are so grateful to watch the progression of Gavin’s rehab from inpatient care, to Rehabilitation Day Program care, to outpatient care in Omaha.  He is a true fighter and I am thankful to all involved for allowing me to hug him every day.

Brian “Skip” Christiansen
Gavin’s (14-year-old stroke survivor) thankful father

“Day by day, we get better and better.”

Last month, Gavin celebrated his last day of outpatient therapy. He and his father enjoy fishing and Husker football together.