Courage to Come Back Awards: Michael Coss

When I write a post, I usually have an idea what type of story I want to share. However, this time was different. At first, I thought this would be a post about therapy — physical, cognitive, or hyperbaric. Then, I thought it might be better categorized as a story about recovery from brain injury or adversity. I finally decided to share this post because it is an inspirational story of success.



Inspired by Information from Michael Coss 

Michael Coss holds photos of his six-year-old twins, Nathan and Danielle, at his Langley group home. Coss, a former salesman who was injured in an accident, is the Courage to Come Back award recipient in the physical rehab category. Photograph by: Les Bazso , PNG

Prior to his injury, Michael Coss said he lived by his motto: “Be No. 1 or be home by one.” He was never home by one.

On the morning of May 18, 2006, Michael was driving to Kelowna with his wife Ann and their seven-month-old twins (Nathan and Danielle) to attend a work function and stay with friends. Catastrophe struck while on the Coquilhalla highway — Michael lost control of the van and it rolled at least one and a half times.

Miraculously, Ann and Danielle escaped with only minor injuries, but Michael and Nathan were not as fortunate. Michael was unresponsive and Nathan had head injuries.

Nathan spent several weeks at BC Children’s Hospital. Michael’s injuries were nearly fatal. Despite compressive treatment at two hospitals, Michael remained in a coma for six-and-a-half months.

The doctors told Ann that Michael “would never eat, speak, or walk again.”

Michael’s family had researched hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), the medical use of oxygen at a level higher than atmospheric pressure. The treatments are commonly used in Asia and Europe and are available in Canada, where they are not approved by Health Canada and therefore not covered by medical insurance. The more the family learned, the more they came to believe HBOT might work for Michael, though it was expensive and came with no guarantee.

Five days a week via ambulance, his mother accompanied him from Royal Columbian Hospital to the Richmond Hyperbaric Health Centre. It worked, and on Christmas Eve of 2006, after three treatments and half a year in a coma, Michael awoke and uttered his first words.

Through a long, intensive, and grueling rehabilitation Michael relearned how to talk, eat, and is now re-learning how to walk. His dream is to be able to walk hand-in-hand with his kids.

Michael took a workshop on how to write a book in 90 days and three years later published a book titled, The Courage to Come Back: Triumph over TBI – A Story of Hope. The book is a moving account of Michael’s journey facing the challenges of traumatic brain injury. He is also the founder of the Michael Coss Brain Injury Foundation which raises money for children in need of financial support to access brain injury treatment. Proceeds from the sale of Michael’s book go directly to help the kids.

Michael says the injury made him “a better father” and made him “slow down and feel the full effects of living. I was living life in the fast lane. I’m a better person now.”

“I think that I was put on this Earth to inspire others to the best they can be in their own situation,” he said. “I would not change the life I have now for anything. I would not want to re-play the cards to have a different outcome.”


Click here to read another Beyond Injury post.

Thanks to Michael Coss for contacting me and asking if I would be interested in sharing his story; all the family, friends, doctors, therapists, and social workers who helped facilitate Michael’s recovery; all the organizers, sponsors, donors, award recipients, and attendees of the Coast Mental Health Courage to Come Back Awards Event; Susan Lazaruk who wrote the article I referenced; The Province for committing its resources to publishing the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture, video, and text I used in this post.

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