TBI Coma Survivor: Betty Part Two
One of the common denominators of all TBI coma cases is the shock of the phone call to the family. Our page http://waiting.com written in 1997 begins with these words:
“You have a phone call”
“From the hospital.” he adds.
Everything turns flat and dull. I pick up the phone and a voice tells me my husband has been in an accident.Everything takes on an air of unreality.
I am so trapped in that moment that I can scarcely breathe.
Caregivers response to their loved ones in a TBI coma
Perhaps what grabbed me so much the first time I heard Lethan’s story, “Who Am I Again” was the voice of his mother, with eerily similar words, her remembering to take the dog out before she rushed to the hospital. I am always touched by that voice, even when it is coming third hand as it does with Lethan, as it does with Betty. Betty tells about her parents vigil while waiting for her to come out of her TBI coma:
Both of them got on a plane and flew down Thanksgiving Day. My father, who is a dentist, stayed in Mississippi with my mom for approximately a week or a week and a half and then he had to come back up to return to work and my mother slept on a cot in my room or in another room in the hospital the whole time I was there.
It is clear that the fork in the road choice that put Betty in that car, has caused her father considerable heartache.
I’m particularly close to my dad and a few years later after my injury my dad said that he had woke up that morning and he felt – had a sick feeling and he had gotten an emergency call so he had to go to his office. Immediately he tried calling me to tell me not to go to Kim’s mother’s house and by the time he got through my roommates told him that I had already left. So he was the one that answered the phone when the neurosurgeon called.
Clearly those questions of fate trouble everyone who has spent time in an ICU waiting room, waiting on their loved one to come out of their TBI coma, yet reversing the order of things would not eliminate tragedy just shift it. Events are set in motion by each little choice that any of us make, all of our destinies intertwined. The only blame lies with those who acted without due regard for the safety of others because those choices are an invitation to tragedy, a tempting of the Gods of fate. Thus as we keep in our hearts the permanent tragedy of traumatic brain injury, the immediate and long term grief of those who have waited is always remembered.
I can very distinctly remember the voice on our answering machine. It was my son’s room mate and he was trying to tell me that Jon had been in an accident and they flew him down to Phoenix…he was in a coma. Cold water flowing down my back, shaking legs and hands… I called to hospitals trying to figure out where he was. The next day I was going to try to get a ticket from Albany NY to Phoenix but I passed out in the bathroom and spent the day in the ER. No reason for the faint, I just blacked out. I’ve been hurt before but this was all new territory for a father to experience. The neurologist in Phoenix told me to go home, forget about my son, he was gone and would never wake up. He was wrong, mostly. Jon “woke up” for a year or so, trying to mouth words, giving us the “thumbs up”. Then he had 3 grand mal seizures and he hasn’t moved or tried since. It’s been 11 years.