REGIONAL- The face of Chuck Goggleye’s cellphone is riddled with cracks, a stark metaphor for the lives that were shattered the night of Nov. 15 when a car accident took the life of 17-year-old …
REGIONAL- The face of Chuck Goggleye’s cellphone is riddled with cracks, a stark metaphor for the lives that were shattered the night of Nov. 15 when a car accident took the life of 17-year-old Tra’von Boshey and critically injured Goggleye’s then 17-year-old son Matthew.
Boshey was pronounced dead at the scene, and Matthew Goggleye was airlifted to Essentia Hospital in Duluth with life-threatening injuries. A serious head injury required an operation to relieve the pressure on his brain, one that likely saved his life. And since that night, Chuck and Matthew have been walking the long, long road to recovery together.
The Timberjay reached out to Chuck for an update on Matthew’s condition and met with the two of them on Saturday in Matthew’s hospital room at Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis. This report will refer to Chuck as Goggleye, and his son as Matthew.
Goggleye was in good spirits Saturday as he described Matthew’s progress over the past week.
“He is doing amazing,” Goggleye said. “They’ve been doing really good work with him here. (The therapists) have been seeing him twice a day, and once a day on the weekends. He’s trying to get up more, he’s trying to communicate more, his energy is up more. He’s the talk of the floor – they refer to him as the rock star because he’s impressing them so much. They’re just blown away by it.”
Goggleye paused as he turned his attention to Matthew, clearing some fluid out of the tracheostomy tube in his neck. For about a week and a half after the accident Matthew had a ventilator tube inserted down his throat to regulate his breathing, but doctors then performed a tracheostomy, saying it was a better long-term option for Matthew’s recovery. Goggleye got training from the hospital staff to be able to help with the tracheostomy tube.
“He’s taking all of his breaths on his own,” Goggleye said. “He’s just getting oxygen and moisture through there. They gave him a popsicle earlier to test out his swallowing – that’s what the coloring is, but hardly any came up in here, so he’s starting to swallow.”
Matthew had another tube leading to his stomach to receive nutrition. And he’s cleared another hurdle in Minneapolis, a lengthy abdominal operation to fix a digestive reflux problem that is a remnant from an operation he had as a young child that was hampering his recovery.
Goggleye shared one of the biggest communication accomplishments for Matthew in a Facebook post last Wednesday.
“Finally got to hear ‘I love you’ again,” Goggleye wrote. “Speech therapy was in and put a speaking valve on and he was counting and doing some ABC’s and said love you dad. I am happy.”
The other major tool that has opened up communication is a laminated alphabet board that Matthew is now using to spell out answers to questions by pointing his finger at the letters. Another communication board has pictures of things he can request, but Goggleye said he prefers using the alphabet board.
Meanwhile, physical therapists have Matthew standing up and walking a bit with the aid of an apparatus to bear his weight, as his muscles have shriveled after over two months of inactivity. He’s been able to stand up and shuffle around his bed with support, too.
Return to November
Goggleye shared his recollections of the day of the accident as best he could recall. Some things are vivid, others blurry, and he occasionally choked up and came close to tears as he talked.
Matthew had been living with his aunt in Hibbing, but returned to Nett Lake to live with Goggleye in his trailer so that he could go to North Woods School and be part of the Goggleye basketball legacy at the school. Goggleye didn’t have a regular job but was finding enough odd jobs to get by and provide for them.
Matthew would regularly touch base with his father after school, but that day Goggleye didn’t hear from him. He assumed that being a teenager, Matthew was probably out running around with friends. Still, it seemed odd.
“It was just a weird feeling because usually he finds me and checks in with me but he didn’t come home right after school,” Goggleye said.
“I was sitting there waiting for him, doing little chores around the trailer and all of a sudden I get a knock on my door,” he continued. “People don’t stop by that much.”
When he called out to see who was there, the response was “St. Louis County Sheriff.”
“I knew something was wrong,” Goggleye said.
The deputy and a Bois Forte police officer described some scars on an individual and asked if his son had any such scars. When Goggleye said yes and asked what was going on, they told him Matthew had been in a serious accident and had to be airlifted to Duluth.
“As soon as they said that I just turned around to go get my bag,” Goggleye said. When an officer asked if he had a ride, Goggleye was in shock at the news and automatically said yes, although he actually didn’t have a way to get to Duluth. Goggleye said he went to his brother’s house to try to get a ride, but when that didn’t come through he walked to the home of his friend Shawn Jensen, who agreed to take him.
When they arrived, Goggleye was in for another shock.
“We walked in there and started asking where my son was and the person at the front desk didn’t know,” he said. “How do you get life-flighted down there and you don’t know where he’s at?”
Goggleye got agitated and later apologized, he said, and he finally got connected with the doctors and Matthew.
“He barely made it,” Goggleye said. “By the time I got down there they already had his head cut open and drilled or whatever, and I guess that’s what saved him. The whole side of his face was black and blue, his chest was black and blue the whole way down. They had him on his chest – that was one of the last things they could do to help him breathe, and they put him right on a breathing machine because they didn’t think he could breathe on his own.”
“They prepared me for the worst,” he continued. “They didn’t think he’d be able to move anymore. They kept telling me he might not make it. It was just awful. I was scared until the next morning, but after he made it through that first night I knew he was going to make it. And then it was just like ‘Where do we go from here?’”
Jensen stayed with him for several hours that first night, and Goggleye’s sister, brother and aunt arrived later to provide more support. Goggleye’s sister Crystal started a GoFundMe page to help with expenses and provide updates.
“I just don’t know how it would’ve been without that,” Goggleye said. “Because I had that I could stay in a hotel, get my own stuff to eat. I went and got Matthew new shoes and clothes for therapy, and it’s helped the family deal with gas coming back and forth to support him. I don’t know how to explain how that feels. I was just mind blown how many people have donated. I thought I knew a lot of people, but he knows a lot of people who care for him. I’m just so grateful.”
Goggleye has essentially been living out of hospitals since the night of the accident, except for a short stay in a hotel in Duluth. He’s been sleeping in Matthew’s room in Minneapolis, not wanting to leave his side.
“They’re concerned about me being here all the time,” Goggleye said, “They say I need to get out and this and that, but I don’t feel comfortable being away from him. It doesn’t feel good to me. I’ve gone to eat a couple of times and it just feels weird being away from him because he can’t talk. I just want to be with him until he can move by himself and talk and everything.”
The move to Children’s in January has been a positive one, with Matthew getting more therapy from clinicians more focused on what he’s capable of rather than what he can’t do, Goggleye said.
“(In Duluth) they were acting like he wasn’t going to be doing things anymore,” he said. “They kept treating it like he wasn’t going to be moving anymore, he wasn’t going to be talking anymore, like he was going to end up in a rest home. That’s what they were telling me, that’s what they were trying to prepare me for, and I just wouldn’t take it.”
But what’s missing from Duluth are all the people who visited Matthew on a regular basis.
“Some of his friends stopped by in Duluth,” Goggleye said. “The first month it was a lot, and then it tapered off. Linda and Doug from Tower-Soudan, one of his old teachers from grade school came in and was reading to him like every other day. They came down and saw him when we first got down here, too, and they plan on coming back. Lately it’s just been immediate family coming in. His mom’s been here a couple of times, his brothers have been here. But ever since Duluth it’s pretty much just us for the most part.”
Matthew recently asked what had happened to him, and Goggleye had the hard task of telling him about the accident, including the passing of his friend Tra’von. Goggleye said he doesn’t know what or if Matthew remembers anything about the accident, and isn’t sure how much he comprehends, given his ongoing communication limitations. He also expressed his sorrow for the Boshey family and what they’ve been going through since the accident.
Goggleye is encouraged by how much Matthew wants to get out of the hospital, but while he’s thrilled with Matthew’s strength and desire, he remains a realist.
“I get so amped up because I want it to hurry up and let’s go, but it’s not like that,” he said. “It’s a slow process. You’ve got to do it step-by-step and do the therapies to get his movement back. He can already try, he just doesn’t have the strength in his tendons and muscles from laying there for two months. But he still makes me happy. I cry because I’m happy. I went from crying from being worried to crying because I’m happy.”
Goggleye is working on getting Matthew transferred to Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul where he can receive even more specialized treatment. It’s not quite as easy as the transfer from Duluth because Matthew had his 18th birthday on Jan. 16. Now legally an adult, that means Goggleye has to jump through some extra legal hoops to be designated his guardian. He was confident it will all be taken care of soon. If there’s any word that would describe Goggleye’s attitude toward anything dealing with Matthew’s recovery right now, it would be confident.
For anyone who would like to donate to the GoFundMe campaign, the page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/matthews-family-with-expenses-for-hospital-stay.
Editor’s note: This interview was conducted standing beside Matthew’s bedside so he could be a participant in the conversation and hear everything that was said. He preferred letting his dad do the talking and declined an invitation to answer any questions. He did, however, consent to having his picture taken for the story.