Wounded soldier Trevor Greene marches forth
Published Friday, March 16, 2012 9:52AM EDT
Six years ago, an axe attack left Capt. Trevor Greene nearly dead. The reserves captain had been speaking with elders in an Afghan village when a Taliban fighter attacked him as Greene held his helmet in his hand as a gesture of peace.
The axe sunk 5 centimetres into Greene's brain, cutting it almost in two. It was the beginning of a long march to survive and recover that Greene has laid out in the pages of a new book he co-wrote with his wife Debbie.
"March Forth" chronicles everything that's happened to the Greenes in the six years since the attack – the struggle they both went through to accept how Trevor had been changed, and their resolve to press on.
Greene's story is well-known to many Canadians. It was the subject of an award-winning documentary that aired on CTV's W5, and the couple have never flinched from speaking to reporters. But Trevor, who still has some trouble speaking, says he wrote the book because he felt like a part of the story had never been told.
"I wanted to show the world what Debbie went through. My story is well known but Debbie's isn't," Greene told CTV's Canada AM From Vancouver Friday.
For Debbie, the book was harder to write than she had expected.
"We were going back a few years, so like any type of pain, it decreases over time and you forget how difficult it was. But when we looked back when we were writing the book and reliving it all again, it was hard to go through it again," she says.
After the attack, Trevor was evacuated by helicopter and flown to Germany for surgery, where he slipped into a coma.
Debbie says she didn't understand the scope of Trevor's injury at first, because doctors were most concerned at first about simply keeping him alive.
"It wasn't until we got back in Vancouver that they told us how bad things actually were. We were in complete shock when we heard," she says.
What doctors told her was that there was little chance that Trevor would emerge from the coma. When he beat the odds and did eventually wake, doctors told them Trevor would likely be bed-ridden for life.
Debbie says she refused to accept that.
"I was in a bit of denial. I thought he would wake up and he would do some rehab and then move on with life. And that didn't happen so quickly," she says.
"I never wanted to prepare for the worst because I never accepted the worst. I just couldn't accept that someone like Trevor who only ever set out to do good in the world could be taken down so easily."
Once Trevor woke, he was unable to understand what had happened to him. For 18 months, though his arms and legs hardly worked, he couldn't seem to grasp that he was badly disabled. Even while he was being taken back and forth to rehab facilities, he thought he was there for rehab for his voice.
"That was my brain protecting me, I think," Greene says.
Debbie says forcing Trevor to become self-aware was heart-wrenching but necessary.
"I knew that if Trevor didn't realize that he had these severe disabilities that there would be no chance of recovery. We were told when we arrived for the rehab that you cannot have recovery without awareness and Trevor didn't have awareness of his difficulties," she says.
But as Trevor's awareness grew, it brought its own demon: the torture of delusions and the flashbacks of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Six years later, Trevor's physical therapy still hasn't ended and he still dreams of walking again one day. Through it all, Debbie says one thing has remained in constant.
"My faith in Trevor," she says. "He has a very, very strong will and a very strong spirit."
The couple is expecting their second child in July.
Proceeds from the Greenes' book will go to the Greene Family Education Initiative Fund, a fund the Greenes founded to train women in combat zones to be teachers.