While Betty was receiving some type of rehabilitation at each point of her recovery journey, even while still in a coma, her recollection of that begins towards the end of her three months of inpatient stay. After discharge, she went to outpatient therapy at Curative Rehabilitation, in Wauwatosa.
But Betty’s one of the miracles, a person with a coma that last into the second month, with amnesia that stretched into the to start all over again that wouldn’t be a problem but since I can remember, you know, who I was before I was hurt and the obstacles I’ve had to overcome that’s been difficult.”
Chris’s coma lasted months.
Chris’s Mom says that emerging from a coma is nothing like you see in a soap opera.They don’t wake up and everything is great. It’s not one day they just wake up and their life continues. It’s a slow process. There are many stages to a coma. It’s not, you just wake up one day and things are great.
The return home wasn’t the end of the process of rehabilitation from the coma, just another step. Chris’s Mom:
Emerging from her coma was nothing like one would see on television. For her it was slow and unpredictable process. Making the coma more difficult for her mother was that the information she needed wasn’t forthcoming from the doctors. Worse, an intern stepped in and told the family they should consider removing life support, even though that was not the treating physicians opinion. When the neurosurgeon learned of the interns actions, he quickly reversed this advice he got more actively involved, telling the family that at nine days it was way too early to give up hope of emergence.
DJ states how long he was in the coma and begins to explain coming out of it: “So from the time I got home, into the shower, and then subsequently getting into an ambulance was maybe an hour, and already I had fallen apart to the point where I don’t remember anything from somewhere around 11:30 on the night of October 8, 2005, well into November.”
DJ talks about coming out of his coma; “The funny part about it is I guess around the 24th, which was about 16 days into this, apparently I pulled out all the bells, whistles, sirens, and feeding tubes and, I was on the floor. Apparently the nurses came in, because, you know, all hell is breaking loose, the sirens are going off and they said where you going? And I told them I was going running. But I came out of my coma, and the first person I wanted to talk to was my mom. I’m closer to my mom than my dad. But she said I called her and asked her what happened, why do I have this lump in my head, why do have these stitches in my head. That was on October 24. So 16 days, totally knocked out.”
Doug states; “I broke both my legs, had one of my bones come out of my leg and I suffered a coma – I was in a coma. I was in a coma probably – let’s see – I think they said I was probably in a coma until, because I remember – once I came out of the coma, they shipped me to Milwaukee – so that must have been probably sometime in February or March, March. So I must have ntil March.”
For every miracle recovery story after coma, there are multiple of tragedies after mild TBI.
Even though her coma injury required her to be hospitalized for a whole month, her therapy was cut off two months after she left the hospital. In workers comp cases, the employer’s insurance company can deny care that would normally be considered reasonable and necessary.
The key to understanding Elizabeth’s disability is first to understand that Elizabeth’s brain was left highly vulnerable after her coma injury. While she had a remarkably fast recovery, the overall efficiency of her brain was drastically reduced.
Fred explains coming out of his come; “I was in my coma for about two weeks and I’m told that after I woke up I was not lucid. You would look at me and you wouldn’t think that I had the accident, but, talking I sounded the same. But I was told that I was talking about how like the zombies were going get me and just different things. And then also there was a time period that where they had to seclude me, lock me in a room, well not lock me, but put me in a room by myself to where no outside, no noise or light or color or anything could stimulate me, because it would drive me crazy.”
Fred’s Mom describes his waking up: “He would respond more to physical stimulation when he was, you know, he was still in a coma. He started getting more physically agitated which is a typical symptom. He didn’t necessarily wake up per se but he he really weird noises, and things like that. It was a little subtle things at times.” What was he like when he woke up? Fred’s Mom states; “Crazy. He didn’t recognize anybody. He didn’t know who we were. He didn’t know who any of us were, no. He couldn’t, he couldn’t identify – he didn’t recognize anybody after he woke up for another week and a half to two weeks. He would recognize some people sometimes and other people at other times and you could walk in one day he might know who you were, you’d walk in another day he didn’t have a clue. He wouldn’t – he didn’t talk a lot, you know, but then when he would he would go off on a tangent of something out of a dream world and you couldn’t veer him away from that. That was an all obsessive conversation and he was very upset. He would get very agitated. If you were – the sounds, sounds bothered him. He, he just had just so
Gina was in a coma for eight days. Her husband explains what that time was like: Gina’s husband states; “It was pretty hard. I’d go in and see her. My son never did see her in that state. He just didn’t want to go see her in the condition that she was in. Well, she was intubated. They had her head wrapped up, monitors, and a lot of different devices hooked up to her and pretty much just laid and didn’t really do a lot of moving. When asked what the doctors told him of their prognosis he stated “And they said that if she doesn’t come out of the coma by Monday they were going to do another surgery and place an A -feeding tube and a trach so that she could breathe rather than being intubated. At first, they said they didn’t know and I remember talking to the trauma surgeon on a Friday; that must have been the following Friday.” ” Monday; over the weekend she came out of the coma and the doctors were quite surprised about that as well. Right after she, she came out of the coma I was there. It was a gradual thing, and when she did become responsive she really wasn’t her own person. She was talking a lot of nonsense.”
Gina’s husband tells about her first hours of emergence from the coma: “That was the first time that I was with her that our son was with as well, and it was kind of incredible because she did remember both of our names and that kind of was an exciting moment.She was able to speak but her voice didn’t sound normal. She wasn’t making sense.” Her husband continues: “She was very disorientated and didn’t really know where she was; didn’t make any sense at all.”The next week was pretty terrible, actually. After she became responsive, I had a big battle with the insurance company because she was at a hospital weren’t going to pay for an ambulance to transport her, so I had to make arrangements and we actually took her out of that hospital and transported her. Her father drove the car and I was in the back of the van with her because the insurance company wouldn’t pay to transport her.
Ian’s Mom explains his emergence from the coma: “You know I don’t remember. I think he came to a little at a time. I mean he didn’t know how to write, and he wasn’t too sure who was who but the focus was off because of it but we couldn’t be there all the time as much as some, you know like with his friend that’s with, he would go and sit with him so we didn’t really see a lot of when the changes weren’t dramatic.” Ian’s friend further explains the beginning of awareness: “I really don’t think he knew what was going on around him yet. He was really doped up. I do know that much and I had taken pictures. He woke up first during the day so when I came in at night, you know, he was back sleeping again but I think he woke up every once or twice before because I went and stood by him and just kind of talked to him for a little bit.”
You’ve woken up, let’s say it’s four weeks after, after injury. Tell me the process you go through from this point.: “Well I remember, I kind of remember waking up and my mother was sitting at my bedside. And of course I wanted to who all knows where and if I’m, where I am because I have a job, I have a car payment. You know, you have responsibilities and so if you’re just back in a hospital you want to know where you are so. I couldn’t talk because of the tracheotomy in my throat, so I turned to her and I, like I pointed at it, what is this thing, and she says that’s your breathing tube. And I says does Pam know? Pam was my roommate, and she says yes, she does. Then another therapist would come, a therapist came in after that and offered me a breathing treatment, because they were trying to get me off of the trach.”
What have they told you about your time that you were sleeping?: “My mother said that as soon as I started moving she said that she put a pencil in my hand, and that she helped me try to write, and that I began writing pretty early on. My dad really doesn’t talk about it. They’re both feeling so much pain, they don’t like to remember it or talk about it.”
So my neuropsychologist somehow got to me when I’m thinking, if I could revert, I guess when I became alert from the coma, my brain functioning had related to what I equate to as less than a newborn child, because I couldn’t eat independently, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t crawl, I couldn’t do anything independently, and my brain functioning developed pretty rapidly.
Michael talks about his first memory coming out of the coma: “I do remember the first time my dad came to visit me. I think it was probably one of the most important things. I was in my wheelchair, my dad comes in, sits on the couch, he’s really upset. I’ve never seen my dad this touched before in his life and he’s like, Mike they told us, you know, they didn’t know if you could walk, if you’d be able to talk, if you use your arms, you just be a vegetable. I perked up and said “broccoli.” He said “you’ll be fine.”
MIkes wife state; “So then after probably, I don’t know, maybe six or seven days, eight days, whatever how many days it was, Mike woke up eight days later. At eight days he woke up and the doctor said you know what he’s, he’s doing pretty good because you know what, after the second or third day I would have told you there’s no way he would have been here, so now the doctor’s kind of changing his mind.”
“Then one day when I was there he started spinning it on my finger. When the nurse walked in I was like look it, he’s moving my ring, and he took it about three quarters of the way off, he went like that and then he pushed it right back on. He never was going to wake up and then he did on the eighth day.” What day was that?: “That was September 9, September 9, the day I went down to the gift shop and I bought this letter thing that says “Today is a gift from God.” :Did you buy it before he woke up?: “No, I bought it after he woke up, and I hadn’t been down there at all. I just went down there that day and I just wanted something of that. I bought a little candle holder and it says “Today is a gift from God” and I wrote the day’s date on it and Mike came home on a weekend visit and he seen that and he just read it. He didn’t know what it was. He just happened to read it.”I said that was what I got for you the day you woke up out of your coma. And he actually, he cried and then of course I cried.
Mikes wife explains when he came out of his coma; ” So on the eighth day my daughter and my two grandsons were there and they went in to see Mike, and my son-in-law comes running out to the waiting room and he says Mary I think Mike is waking up, and I barreled out of there and I ran in there and my grandson, who is 4 at this time, is Mike’s best buddy. He comes and spends lots of time and they used to go on the tractor and the four-wheeler, and I knew if anybody could wake him up it was his bestest buddy, and all of a sudden Joe went like this. He winked and gave the thumbs up, and I knew if he did something like that he was going to be pretty much okay because that’s something normal that people do and it was normal for him to do that.” Was he able to speak?: “No. He didn’t speak. I’m not for sure how long. It was a while. It was quite a few weeks, I would say probably about a month, and it was very frustrating because I couldn’t understand him and I know he wanted to try to talk and I couldn’t understand him, and it just made me so mad because I just wanted to know what he wanted or was saying. He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t sit up, he didn’t eat. There wasn’t anything that he could actually do besides lay in the bed.
Nancy was in a drug-induced coma for how long?: “She was kept under for five days. On the fifth morning they started weaning that medication off of her to see how she would come around.” Did she?: “Yes, she did. She came around. We were concerned maybe with her swallowing function at that time because it seemed liked there wasn’t any. She would pocket saliva and keep it in her mouth and she didn’t really talk, her eyes were swollen shut, she couldn’t see anything but she could hear us and she’d be tapping constantly when she came out of that medication.”
So she did wake up when they removed the medication?: “Yeah. She did wake up. She woke up, if you want to call it that.” What’s the next couple weeks like?: “Well, the next couple weeks were just still waiting to see, you know, what, what was going to happen. I mean, she finally did open her eyes. But, she couldn’t communicate. Well, you know, what I did – she did start blinking her eyes. She did kind of start communicating that way.” Before they removed the medication?: No, no, that was after. That was after.” She also had another thing happen, too, which, I didn’t really realize it at the time. I found out later on. But sometimes when your brain, when it swells so much, they actually, they cut her from, you know, right under her breast bone down all the way down. So she has this big, huge, long like slit in her stomach. And it was basically, it’s something that they do to relieve pressure. So the whole thing was just, – even now when I think about it, I can’t believe I lived through it because it’s just so, you’re just kind of like a zombie walking around. You cannot make really any decisions on your own. You’re totally relying on these people, these experts that have dealt with this to
When they start to pull the drugs off at three weeks, is it right away that you start to see this eye fluttering?: “Yeah, she starts opening her eyes. Yeah.” And is she responsive at first?: “I want to make sure I got it right. I feel like she was communicating. I did. In my mind she was. I remember one time I got real close to her and I said, you know, I love you, and, and she blinked her eyes like three times, and it’s just, it was a surreal kind of thing. You don’t know, but it seemed like, you know. You want to think that, uh, she was communicating.” Okay, while we were off the camera, you pulled out your cheat sheet there and looked up the answer. What did you, what did you ind?: “It was the first week of January, she looked, she opened her eyes and looked straight ahead. And that same week she started moving her thumb on command.” Were you the only ones who believed that or were the medical people, the nurses and the doctors seeing it as well?: “Oh, no. They’re taking care of too many people. We were the ones that were there doing, you know, everything.” Rita’s mom continues; ” Like I said, you know, you need to ask her something, she’d raise her thumb. Her eyeballs started moving around the next week I
And when they said the coma was over, what was different that day versus the day before?: “Nothing. 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 you have any difficulty persuading the medical people that what you were seeing was happening?: “Yes. There were times – there were times that it’s like no, he did this, and they were like, they would look at you kind of funny, like no, I don’t think he did. No, really, he did. You got the impression that they think you’re making it up, that you know, it’s false hope.” Is there a real shift in your whole approach, your hope when those lights start to come on and you start to see progress?: “Yeah. We had discussed how we were going to handle this and what we had thought about was we are both young parents. If we hit this head on that we can make some change; that just because, if the therapists are working with him for an hour, well if we picked up that extra time slot and worked with him and really learned what they were doing and again when any of the family, all that, that we would probably get some improvement, more than.”