Posted on March 4, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Chris

Emerging from a Coma: Chris Part Three

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.

Not Enough Information Regarding Emerging from a Coma

Sadly, the information, the hope, the support she needed from the doctors, wasn’t forthcoming for emerging from a coma .

I would say it was nine days into her, her coma. There was an intern who was watching over her case. We had some questions that we wanted to ask, so I had called a meeting with him in the morning and he told me that it was the best thing for Jessica if I would take her off life supports because he told me that she would never amount to anything, that she probably would be in a nursing home for the rest of her life as a vegetable and it would probably be a good choice for me to remove her from life support and just let her go peacefully then to spend the rest of her life in a nursing home.

Emerging from a Coma Not Hollywood

That first three weeks, it was just such a roller coaster, and you kind of always trust your doctor whether he’s an intern, or whoever it is, that they’re giving you the right information.

I had talked to my cousin, who lives in Chicago. And I told her what was going on and she said: “Do you want a second opinion?” And I said “Yes.” She goes: “Did they ask you if you wanted one?” And I said “No.” So she actually called the hospital, and I don’t even remember who she talked to, but she told them what was going on.

In between all this time had elapsed, they had, this doctor (the intern) had a special meeting for all of Jessica’s friends and family who wanted to be involved. He gave a special talk to classmates and relatives who wanted to listen in on it, saying that what he thought the best decision was for Jessica at that time to remove her from life support, and, even though she was in intensive care, he let them go in like two by two’s to say their final good byes to her.

I just remember it was about midnight that night, the nurse came into the waiting room and woke me up and said that the doctor was on the phone and he wanted to talk to me, and this was her neurosurgeon. He was livid to say the least. He had not given that intern permission to talk to us. He did not believe that was going to be her outcome. He said: “I am not saying that it’s not going to come to that. (But) he said but her injury is only nine days old, she’s young, she has her age working with her. Time will tell. It’s too early to make any kind of decisions.”

So he reassured me that that was not his feeling at that time, that it was an intern who talked to me and that he didn’t say it wasn’t his place to say it, but he did say that at that time that was not what he had diagnosed her with.

The intern was wrong. Chris did wake up. While the first sign of her emerging from a coma was opening her eyes, it wasn’t really an “eye opening” experience, as she had no comprehension. It began towards the end of her three-week stay at the first hospital her emerging from a coma and continued all the way through her three-month stay at the next. Chris’s Mom:

I don’t think we ever gave up hope. I think from the minute she opened her eyes, it was a constant, constant working with her. I know they had told us many times at Sacred Heart, that family is very important in the recovery process, so even though we couldn’t be there during the week, we would go there on the weekends and, just never gave up working with her. Just kind of talked to her, did things with her, rubbed her legs, rubbed her feet, gave her different sensations to feel, gave her things to smell, things to look at. We just worked with her every weekend when we were there.

Family Stress from Distance and Chris Emerging from a Coma

Milwaukee, where the second hospital is located is a nearly a three hour drive from Chris’s home. Many of those drives were longer as it was still winter when she was transferred. She stayed at that center for three months, but it was not until she was transferred again that she started to make real progress emerging from a coma.


About the Author

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