Bosqueville boy inspires Central Texas amid brain battle

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 2:16 AM CDT
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BOSQUEVILLE, Texas (KWTX) - Six months ago, Colter Clements’ life suddenly changed forever.

On March 6, Colter, of Bosqueville, was on Spring Break with his family when he suffered an unexpected brain hemorrhage.

“We had no idea, and you’re kind of like ‘why us, why him?’” said Jill Clements, Colter’s mom. “You never think it’s going to be you, you never think it’s going to happen to you, and then here we are, grieving that version of your child that you lost, I still deal with that on a daily basis, I don’t have the eight-year-old that I did on March 5th.”

The Clements family was on vacation in Brownwood when, without warning, the unthinkable happened.

“He was with all the kids, and luckily when he told his brother his head felt like it exploded, his brother actually took him seriously,” said Jason Clements, Colter’s dad.

Big brother Cooper took Colter to see their mom who, at first, thought her youngest son was just being dramatic.

“He just kind of walked up and said ‘Mom, my head hurts’ and kind of fell down on the ground...and then eyes rolled back in his head, and we called 911,” said Jill Clements.

He was supposed to be flown to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, however, the weather wouldn’t allow it.

“We lost time,” said Jill Clements. “The night it happened they couldn’t CareFlite him, because of a cold front that had just flown in they couldn’t transport him to Cooks, so we went by ambulance to McLane Children’s, but by the time we got to the floor, after surgery, they said ‘you lost five or six hours during that time, so we don’t know what kind of neurological damage was done.’”

At McLane, she says he went straight to surgery to relieve the pressure in his brain.

He stayed at the hospital for 37 days, mostly under intense sedation.

“We switched off in hotels every night: she would stay, next night I would stay,” said Jason Clements.

Then, finally, Colter woke up.

“I was with my mom at the time, and I remember it was just a really powerful moment,” said Jill Clements. “He looked me in the eyes and I knew he was in there, there’s kind of a moment when you look in your child’s eyes and you see that they’re there, and we just knew in that moment that his personality was there, and he was going to be okay.”

Although he was awake, Colter’s hospital journey was far from over.

“Had an ETV instead of a permanent shunt, the ETV was successful, and then they brought him off of sedation and then we ended up transferring to Cook at that point,” said Jill Clements.

After a month at Cook, Colter went to an aggressive inpatient rehab facility, Our Children’s House, in Dallas.

“They believe that he retained a lot of his high-level cognitive function, but he was fairly immobile, and part of that could have been just atrophy from laying in bed for months, and a lot of it was jus the nature of his injury in the brain stem, it just affects all of those gross motor skills,” said Jill Clements. “It was really slow, inpatient rehab, but we just had faith and hope that we would get through it, and anything they asked him to do he would respond well to, and that’s how we knew we’ll get through this, he can get through this.”

In June, as the Bosqueville community lined the streets, Colter finally came home.

“We just knew that when he got here he would flourish and thrive, and that’s exactly what he’s done,” said Jason Clements. “Being home with his brother, his pets, all of his things, his hamster, his cats, everything, it just brings a smile to his face and because of that he works hard to do what he needs to do to get back to where he was before.”

Now 9, although he can understand a lot, Colter is having to re-learn how to walk and talk through hours of daily therapy.

“We go really hard, we push outpatient therapy, Monday through Thursday, because we believe that he can walk again, and we believe in his strength, and he’s showing us that, he just crushes his goals every week,” said Jill Clements. “He still has his personality, that’s apparent, we’re working on verbal skills, he’s just starting to verbalize, say words, he can mouth full sentences, just recently he said ‘mom’ which was his first word...he can communicate really well, it’s just we can’t always understand what it is that he wants, so there’s a lot of frustration and agitation right now, and anger, I mean he’s angry.”

One of the most frustrating parts: there was no warning.

“If we could have known, we would have absolutely done anything and everything that we could have, so that’s probably the most difficult part of this,” said Jill Clements. “It’s like time stands still, you have these memories of the baby that’s in the pictures around the house and my child prior to the bleed, and now it’s just a different version of Colter.”

Since the brain bleed, both Jason and Jill have returned to work.

At first, Jill, who works for Baylor Scott & White Health in a non-medical practitioner role, was taking on all of Colter’s care herself at home.

However, in the last few weeks, they got a fulltime, home health nurse.

“I never knew what it would be like on the other side of it,” said Jill Clements. “Be an advocate for your child, but also lean on your family, your community, and allow them to give, that was hard for both Jason and I, it’s hard to accept that.”

To help pay for his medical expenses, last month the community came together to throw the Colter Classic, a benefit for the Clements family.

“We couldn’t believe how many people were there,  all of our friends and family, the whole community, it was bananas,” said Jason Clements. “There’s no words for it.”

Through Colter’s struggles, he’s had an entire community cheering him on.

“The community’s rallied behind Colter from day one,” said Jill Clements. “‘Thank you’ to the community for supporting us from day one at the hospital, it’s just been completely overwhelming.”

Jill says, for her, the best support has been prayers.

“That was really the only thing that made me feel better, prayers just mean the most right now,” said Clements. “This has definitely strengthened our faith, there’s something about a life-altering event that brings you to your knees that will humble you pretty quickly.”

They’re hoping the prayers will continue as doctors have found a cavernoma on Colter’s brain stem.

“It came to the surface, so you either risk a re-bleed, or they can do surgery,” said Jill Clements. “We’re debating which direction to go, that’s high value real estate, so it’s not something you jump to do surgery on.”

In the meantime, they’ve put Colter back in school for a couple hours each week.

“They were amazing and welcoming, and a lot of the kids were looking forward to having him back,” said Clements.

Teachers will also come to their house to read to Colter.

“We’re not going to give up on him,” said Jason Clements.

The prognosis for Colter is uncertain, but the Clements are hopeful.

“One of the neurosurgeons told us he suspected he would make a significant recovery,” said Jill Clements. “The others will tell you that every child is different and every child has a unique recovery, it’s just an emotional roller coaster, just not knowing, it’s the unknown, we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.”

The Clements are trying to take it one day at a time and appreciate their blessings thus far.

“You live in this fast-paced world, and it’s just a reminder to slow down and not take things for granted and really soak it in,” said Jill Clements. “We’re grateful for where we are: number one, that he’s here, and all of the miracles that he’s been given along the way, we believe that God’s going to continue to work through him and give us more miracles.”