Posted on December 14, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 7 of 24 in the series TJ

During Coma Emergence: TJ Part Seven

No loved one who waits for someone to awake during coma emergence is qualified to have a medical opinion.  But what they do have is “observation.”  In my experience, observation trumps opinion in almost every case.  When someone is waiting and watching, they almost always notice signs during coma emergence before the medical staff, even to the point that in the majority of cases, there is an argument with the staff about what they are seeing.  I asked Michelle during coma emergence in TJ’s case:

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.

At 7½ weeks the medical professionals are looking at the statistics and saying he’s not going to  wake up. 

Mm hmm, yeah.

But observing signs during coma emergence and actually contributing to it, are two different things.  One of the most asked questions we have had in our years of brain injury advocacy is what can we do to speed up emergence, i.e. coma stimulation.  Michelle is convinced that what they did helped.

Is there a real shift in your whole approach, your hope when those lights start to come on during coma emergence 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.

That’s just the way we, we looked at it.  I mean, if you’re building a home and the workers go home but you start painting the walls, you’re going to  get more done in a shorter period of time.  I don’t know what other way to explain it.

How did you know what to do in helping with the therapy during coma emergence?

Just watching them, and it’s common sense.  It truly is common sense.  You can’t, you can’t fail.  I mean whether you’re reading to him.  It doesn’t even matter.  It could be an article in the newspaper, you’re stimulating your brain.  So, you know, just a lot of talking.

I would put up a lot of charts around his room.  I’m trying to remember early on.  I mean we just, we’ve done a lot, but I had a big poster that said his name, who he was; that he was a Yankee fan and a Giants fan and on the wall, which wasn’t too popular being that we were in the center of Boston right across the street from the park.  So, that wasn’t too good, but anyway.

We said he had a daughter and certain things so that he would see that, and then we actually in the journal, it was, we wrote out what had happened, but very briefly and then as time progressed we actually went in more detail so that he did know where he was.

Next in Part Eight – Nature of TJ’s 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