It's Thursday, May 16th, 1996. Yesterday morning my significant other of seven years, Linda, suffered a severe brain aneurysm. She spent nine hours in surgery. When the doctor came out, he told us that the surgery had been successful but that we should expect some paralysis and that she would have some speech loss.
Linda and I have been together for seven years. I have never been so scared as when I woke up yesterday morning and Linda was unable to speak. She could not stand up on her own. The night before she had complained of a severe headache but was moderately coherent. I called an ambulance who thought she had suffered some sort of drug overdose and took her to a local hospital.
I sat in the waiting room and watched the ER doctor come out and interview relatives of other patients. I knew that the situation was serious when he called me into a quiet place in the corridor to talk. He explained the situation and that Linda was being transferred to another hospital.
So, 48 hours has passed. Linda is still in a coma in ICU. I have gone to her bedside to read and pass on the expressions of all of those who have called and sent cards. It doesn't help me a lot because I am very scared for both of us. I really don't know what to do.
Linda, my almost fiance (I guess that she is a "significant other"), was stricken by an brain aneurysm last Wednesday. The night before, she had complained of a massive headache coupled with blurred vision. She refused my request to take her to a hospital so I decided to let her try to sleep it off. The next morning, Linda was unable to speak and could not stand up on her own. It was at that point that I called the ambulance.
Sitting in the waiting room of the hospital, I watched the ER doctor come out and speak with family of the other patients. I knew that Linda's condition was serious when he called me into his office to tell me that a CAT scan had revealed the aneurysm and that she was in a coma and would be transferred to Legacy Emanuel - a Portland-area hospital specializing in trauma cases.
That day was hell. Linda spent eight hours in surgery. Early in the surgery the neurologist, a Dr. Johnson, came out to explain the extent of the injury and the expected ramifications. However, as either the doctor or the State of Oregon does not recognize our relationship, he directed his comments to the family and tried to exclude me from the conversation. Nonetheless, we all trouped out to the hallway to hear him explain that Linda's brain had suffered severe trauma from the aneurysm and that he expected, at the least, partial right side paralysis, speech impairment, and some memory loss.
Linda spent the next seven days in a coma. Over the last 24 hours she has shown some signs of coming out of it but only for the briefest moments. She is being fed through a tube in her stomach and has a breathing tube down her neck. The nurses tell me that the tube is only to help her breathe when she can't do it on her own, not a replacement for her own breathing mechanisms. She is on medication for brain spasms and is getting heavy doses of codiene.
The ICU nursing staff at Legacy Emanuel has gone out of their way to answer the barrage of questions Linda's family and I have thrown at them. I have received a huge amount of online support from a posting I wrote on the Aneurysm Support Page. I guess that I just wanted to thank all of those kind people who took the time to write to me and update them on Linda's progress.
I am aware that this process is a long one. I have to supress my desire to be overly optimistic when I see a twitch of a finger or a flicker of an eyelid. Miracles can occur but I am not going to sit back and expect prayer to bring one about. Linda is stubborn and one heck of a fighter. I believe that she has the capacity to pull out of the coma and will fight to bring herself as close to normalcy as her mind and body will allow. And I will support her and urge her on and cajole her and help her to believe.
All of this still doesn't help the pain.
Linda is in her third week at the skilled nursing facility. Life has settled down to a dull roar. Her right side paralysis is showing some signs of lifting with a 5-10 degree range of motion in that arm and the ability to show "thumbs up" on that hand. Some involuntary toe wiggling. She cannot see from the bridge of her nose to the right. The aphasia continues to be a major concern. Linda is beginning to show the ability to produce words but those that are intelligible come rather infrequently. The speech therapist has indicated that he fears this will be the most difficult part of her rehab.
I visit her daily and read and tickle and cry with her. I bring the cat on the weekends but she still can't say his name. She wants to get up out of the bed so badly but doesn't realize that once she is up, she won't be able to walk anywhere. The PT will be beginning walking exercises this week so perhaps Linda will be able to become mobile. And, she has begun to eat. Not much, just a bit here and there, but she did have ravioli last Saturday night.
The house is lonely and messy. I think the cats miss her almost as much as I do.
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