I've just wrapped up my biggest ever story for The Globe and Mail – a week before going on book leave with my family for a year in France. Normally I'd be packing by now. Murphy's law, right?
I'm not complaining, though.
It's been a privilege to dive into the story of Ian Jordan, the Victoria police officer who spent 30 years in a mostly unresponsive state following a car accident on September 22, 1987.
Heart-wrenching, too. His wife, Hilary Jordan, spent hours with me describing what it's like to care for someone who has only fleeting moments of awareness.
From the time their son was 16 months old to their 45th wedding anniversary in the hospital this spring, she did everything possible to give her brain-injured husband the best quality of life he could have.
My editors gave me weeks to work on this assignment, and the Globe's video team joined in too.
I visited the hospital room in Victoria, B.C., where Ian Jordan spent 15 of his 30 years in care. I met a healthcare aide who helped look after his daily needs for 27 years of those years. I spoke with Ole Jorgensen, the Victoria constable who suffered devastating PTSD after his vehicle crashed into Jordan's police cruiser that fateful night.
Finally, I had a phone interview with Hilary's son, Mark Jordan, now 32. He can't remember a time when his father could walk or talk.
But this isn't just a movie-of-the-week tearjerker. Ian Jordan's story ties in to the evolving science of consciousness.
Medical understanding of the human brain has come a long way since 1987. Cutting-edge diagnostic tools have revealed that patients thought to be unaware are often more conscious than we think. Which brings me to the story scoop.
Ian Jordan had two music therapists. What could they possibly do for someone barely conscious? My first instinct was to call just one of them. But something made me persist.
I can't say more without revealing the story's clincher. Check back here for a link once the article is published.
I'm hoping the story will run before I leave the country. (Yes, it's still a thrill to see the printed page.)
Now I'm off to pack.