Posted on December 12, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 5 of 24 in the series TJ

Waiting in the ICU After Severe Brain Injury: TJ Part Five

Part Five we discussed with TJ’s step-mom about the pain of waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury and not knowing what to expect.  Whether he was going to live or die and would he come out of his coma and what would he be like when he did.

I explored further with Michelle, the time waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury for TJ to awake.

What does he look like while you were waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury?

What does he look like?  Well, you know, this was the thing.  He looked like TJ.  I mean, I don’t even think we really gave that much thought to what he looked like.  His head was larger than it should have been, but we really, we really

TJ’s father, who wasn’t actually interviewed, but listened in on both interviews added while waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury : “He was hooked to every machine.”

Yeah, he was.  That’s my husband in the background.   He was hooked up to a lot of machines.  We were just happy he was breathing.  Did it look like him: yeah.

I just finished reading a book about two girls that had, one had passed and one was alive and it was mistaken identity after with brain injury and I mean, that wasn’t our case.  We knew that this was TJ.  So, I look back and I’ve put a lot of thought into that actual question.  There was no denying who was laying there.

Interesting.  That’s not an unusual story while waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury .  I had a case myself where the mom was told that her daughter was dead.  But in fact she had survived, comatose. It was the other girl in the wreck who was killed. 

Yeah.  See, we knew right away.  I mean, there was no denying

What was the first conversation with the neurosurgeon you had while waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury ?

The first conversation I don’t recall.  We, you’re very much in a fog (while waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury).  Like I said, it was, there was no thought processing to what he looks like, or really anything.  It was just, you were hoping he was not going die.  That was it.

Once he came to, once I came to, not him, once I came to and I was able to get my wits about myself , we had meetings with the neurosurgeon and the staff and the doctors, nurses. I had questions to ask them.  I will not forget this day.  It was the neurosurgeon, his neurosurgeon was called away so another neurosurgeon came in and I had my questions and my first question was where was he ranking on the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Well, I mean, apparently they didn’t expect me to be as educated as I was at that point and the questions, and the nurse responded, and I have huge respect for nurses.  My mom is a retired RN; my father was a New York City Police Officer.  So I have respect for people in positions and I understand how they have to distances themself from the situation that’s going on, but I was composed, had my questions, and this nurse responded.

Well, I happened to know that she had, I had never met her and I had met everyone thus far, so apparently she, this was her first shift in the morning with TJ and I asked her that and so what really gave her –

The nurse was the only one who responded to your question about the Glasgow Coma Scale while waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury?

What happened was definitely the one nurse responded to my question, but what annoyed me was, here I/you wait for the time period to sit down with the the neurosurgeon and discuss the case at hand. These are not appointments that you get every day.  I mean, they’re coming and going and I understand all that and you’re sitting there waiting.  It’s like watching a pot of water boil.  It takes, you know, one minute, it’s, feels like an hour when you’re sitting there almost watching an open coffin is what it feels like.

So, to have a nurse respond to me to my first question I just was, I lost it.  I couldn’t believe that.  I said, no, you, you’re not who I’m here to talk to.  I want to  know from the neurosurgeon what is going on; where do we stand at this point.  So, they have to kind of take a little step back and for anybody out there, I mean, that’s my thing that you have to take the initiative.  You have to compose yourself because they can’t speak.  They’re lying there and you need to find out the answers.  We went in not knowing what brain injury was.

When they kept saying it’s going to  be a long road.  What do you mean a long road?  I remember months later when we were at Spaulding and they said Michelle, you know, you’re going to outbursts.  That’s probably going to  be an issue that you’re going to have to (deal with.)

I had no idea what that meant and he was beyond loving Tony and I, my husband and myself.  We would walk in and hugs and kisses and I mean, he couldn’t wait.  He’d be standing at the door waiting for us to come to Spaulding and what a nightmare we had that followed.  TJ has very bad outbursts, so.

TJ’s parents spent many hours waiting in the ICU after severe brain injury with very few answers.  TJ was in a coma and the medical staff was not very forth coming except to tell her she had a long road ahead.

Next in Part Six – Breathing On His Own After Severe 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