Posted on August 3, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 5 of 22 in the series DJ

DJ’s Caregiver was his Mother who was by His Side: DJ Part Five

DJ’s Mother, his caregiver, was by his side during the entire 16 days while he was in a coma.  DJ states wanting to see his mom his caregiver, once regaining conscientiousness.

“When I came out of my coma I wanted to talk to my mom.  The next day she came to the hospital – I didn’t know who she was.”

 Caregivers Role While Loved One is Comatose:

As a single man,  DJ’s mother, his caregiver,  was by his side along with his father, also a caregiver,  who waited through the 16 day coma for DJ to wake up.

A Caregivers Vigil

Your mother, your caregiver, was by his side through most of your coma?

Yeah, that’s another story.  They came up every day, my dad was a truck driver in Orlando, and he used to get out of work around 7:30 in the morning.  They would come right up to the hospital, that way they could get that out of the way and visit.  Then he could go home and sleep from 10:00 or 11:00 until 4:00 or 5:00 at least, and get a decent day’s rest, but they did come to the Halifax every day.  And as well as Health South, when I went there.

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.

They came to the hospital for the next seven days and I didn’t remember my mother.  I remember my father though.  And I’ve read, in some articles, where they say that the person that disciplines you, when you were younger, is the person when you come out of a coma that you will recognize, and that would, that would be my dad.  But I did not recognize my mother.

You started talking, wanting to talk to your mother, your caregiver, but when you were face to face with your mother, you didn’t recognize her?

No, when I came out of my coma I wanted to talk to my mom.  The next day she came to the hospital, I didn’t know who she was.

Do you, do your caregivers tell you anything about that they could tell you were waking up, that there was a transition from a deep coma, this Glasgow 5, until the point at which you actually started talking?

Just that on October 24, I called them.

Caregivers Fear of Damage Caused by Injuries

Do you know what did the neurosurgeons tell your caregivers about your possibility of waking up and the severity of your injury?

Ah yes, my mother said that when they got to the hospital around 10:30 on October 9 – in the morning, in Daytona, they said that they had to get in, do emergency surgery, control the bleed, they did an angiogram and they ruled out vascular, what’s the bad one, aneurysm.  They ruled out aneurysm and, you know, it was definitely a vascular hemorrhage due to the head injury.

But they did state that there was, the reports even say, it’s kind of chilling to read this stuff about yourself, they said the parents were notified about the placement of the shunt, and no guarantees were given.

My parents got there around 10:30 in the morning and you can clearly see I have a very long thing face, they said my head was round and I think gray or ashy.  My mother was told to bring a camera, my father didn’t bring it, and my mother said she couldn’t take pictures of what I looked like.  I wish they had.  But I don’t blame them.


So how long were you in Daytona then?

From the night of morning of October 9, about 8:00 in the morning, until the 31st I’d say.

Then where?

Then I went to Health South in Melbourne for around 30 days.

What were your specific injuries?

It was intraventricular hemorrhage, subdural hematoma.  Because there was no neurosurgeon at the first place, it turned into a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage, severe hydrocephalus.  I went into pneumonia while in Daytona, pulmonary lung infiltrates, insulin levels go through the roof, you lose brain chemicals, a lot of things go crazy.  Did I say pneumonia?  A lot of things – I was in bad shape.

What else do you know about the treatment you get before your memory starts to come back – let’s say from the 9th of October until November.

I read at the Daytona, the pulmonary infiltrates over a course of time, they took a lot of CAT scans about every two or three days, and the pulmonary infiltrate in the lung, cleared up, the hydrocephalus was taken care of with the VP shunt, the, nothing was done to my spine until November 7, where they did a lydocaine and marcaine trigger point injection at my cervical C5‑6.  I wasn’t awake to complain of pain, but I was in a Glasgow Coma Scale of 5.

Do you know why they were giving you the GCS of 5?

I just wasn’t reacting to pain, or stimulus, verbal, or pain.  Just wasn’t reacting very well.  The lowest coma scale is 3, so 5 is not good.


You hit the top of your head at the time of injury?

I’ve never read where I actually hit my head and I don’t know.  It’s normal that they usually put the shunt on or about the place where the bleed is, to the closest ventricle.  (The shunts) in my third ventricle.  So the shunt goes down and then it comes out, around, and then it drains in my stomach.

So, in terms of your understanding, where was the bleed?

Intraventricular hemorrhage.

So basically inside the middle of your brain?

Yeah.  Subdural hematoma and then it turned into a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage.

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


Next in Part Six –  Early Rehabilitation from Severe Brain Injury

About the Author

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