Posted on December 7, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 3 of 24 in the series TJ

Severity of Brain Injury: TJ Part Three

Waiting is never a complete void of information. Often, it is a flood of the wrong type of information, in a language that only the doctors understand, used not just by habit, but because the lingo masks the reality. The reality is that the doctors really don’t know much  about the severity of brain injury and what may happen and the , than “we will just have to wait and see.”  Michelle tells us what she learned about the severity of brain injury in those first days:

The situation that really surrounded us was that he was in the Trauma 5 hospital, that’s Beth Israel, and then he was put into a step-down unit still in a coma state.  His Glasgow Coma Scale was a 4.   So there was nothing, no tracking going on, nothing like that.

Because of our work and our lifestyle I was able to actually be there most of the time, which was fortunate.  I learned a lot from the therapists and once he was moved over to Spaulding they’d have him craned out of the bed into a wheelchair and that was therapy.  He was sitting up.  Nothing was going on.  There was no vocal; there was no movement from him, but he was there.

He was in a coma for how long?

It was about 7½ weeks.

And when they said the coma was over, what was different that day versus the day before?


It was very strange.  Awakening from a coma you don’t awake.  It’s not like boom you’re awake.  It takes a long period of time before you come out of a comatose state.  The only thing I could say that was, you know, every day there was little progresses.  What I say is that all of a sudden there’s light bulbs that start going off and then one day you might have a lot of them.  The whole house may be lit up and then the next day maybe only a few.  It’s just, it’s small improvements, but let me tell you, you take every grain and morsel you’ll take at that point.

What was the first light bulb that went off?

That he actually moved his eyes and he tracked something.

His eyes opened somewhere before that, but they weren’t tracking?

Yeah. But there was nothing, nothing going on.

Did they tell you that he was never going to  wake up or the  severity of brain injury?

At one point; they said that it was very slim odds and we had to look at the fact of turning off the respirator and see what happens and we did actually do that just to see if he would breathe on his own and he did, so.

While in a coma there is no scale for judging the severity of brain injury so there is no way of knowing until the survivor emerges from the coma the severity of brain injury which will be discussed in later parts.

Next in Part Four – Who Was TJ Before his Severe Brain Injury

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447