Hope for Recovery?
11 October 2004
My mother is 58 years old and suffered a Class 4 brain aneurysm in the left front lobe and subarachnoid hemmorage on September 1st. My mother was in Florida visiting my grandmother and had evacuated to Tampa to avoid Hurricane Frances. She collapsed at the hotel in Tampa. She regained conscienceness and spoke to my father on the phone and told him that she collapsed. My father thought she has a concussion due to her slurred speech and called the front desk and asked them to call the paramedics. My mother was awake when the paramedics arrived but was unresponsive by the time she arrived at the hospital.
My father received a call that she had a ruptured aneurysm and that surgery was needed to relieve the pressure on her brain. He was told that there was very little chance that she would survive the night. They did not have time to do the scan necessary to locate the aneurysm so they just went in and pulled out as much blood as possible and installed a drainage device. She was in a small community hospital throughout this treatment.
Once the hurricane passed through we were able to transfer her to Tampa General. When she arrived there they did another angiogram and determined that the aneurysm had a high probability of re-rupture in the immediate future. She was not as stable as they would have liked from the initial surgery but we decided to coil the aneurym at that time. The coiling procedure went relatively well.
My mother's vascular system in her brain is such that she has only one vessel feeding the back part of her brain. The aneurysm was at a jucture off this vessel. They did not put as many coils in as they would have ordinarily done because they were afraid of cutting off this main vessel. But, the probability of re-bleeding was drastically reduced. She remained in Tampa General for several days.
At one point they told us that there was very little hope for a meaningful recovery and we put her on a DNR. We then met with the team of surgeons and were told that there was some hope. So on September 12th we transferred her by air ambulance to Cleveland Clinic which is where my parents live. She had a shunt put in due to hydrocephalus at Cleveland Clinic on September 30. She also has a PEG tube. She was transferred to a rehab hospital on 10/6/04.
I believe my mother knew we were there on September 2nd. Our family arrived within hours of the initial surgery. When we walked into the room and spoke to her she tried to open her eyes and lifted her head towards us. She was sedated at this point but I know she knew we were there. Since that time she has periods of alertness. She opens her eyes and looks at us and will turn towards our voices. There is no recognition in her eyes. She also responds to pain.
How long does it take until we will know the long term effects? The doctors keep saying it is too early to tell but it has been almost 6 weeks! I am hopeful that she will recover some meaningful life but I don't want my hope to be misguided. Any thoughts on therapies that work or similar experiences would be greatly appreciated. Has anyone done hyperbaric chamber treatments? I am grasping at straws!
My mother is very tough and has a lot to live for. If anyone can do it she can!! It is my job to make sure she is given every opportunity to regain all that she can. I believe that there is a reason she was in Tampa when this happened and that there is a reason she has made it this far. She has truly defied the odds and will continue to do so!
Thank you for your help.
Update: 20 October 2004
There really is hope!
This past Friday I took my children to visit their grandmother for the first time since her aneurysm. When we arrived at the hospital I went into her room first to make sure she was ready for visitors. My children are 3 and 1 1/2 and I didn't want them to walk into anything scary. I asked my mom if she was ready to see the kids and she said "sure". Needless to say I ran to get the kids! This was the first thing my mother has said!! My mother adores her grandchildren and she lit up when she saw them. She was very lucid during our visit. My son told her a story and when he got to the exciting part my mom made a surprised face. She was trying to speak and was doing quite well. I asked her if she would like to try to come home for Christmas and she got a big smile on her face and said "yes".
She kept asking me a question "would you...." and I couldn't understand the last part. I told her I didn't understand and asked her to say it again and she would say the same thing. I never did get what she was trying to ask me but she was definately trying to communicate something. I asked her if she remembered her headache and she rolled her eyes and said an exaggerated "yes". My father asked her if she would like him to spend the night soon. He said "I can stay here" and my mother said clear as a bell "stay here". So, he will be spending the night at the hospital soon! We called my brother who lives in Los Angeles and held the phone up to her ear. She was quite tired by then and she did not speak but broke into a couple of grins. I would shout from the background when she was smiling so that my brother would know where in his conversation he got a reaction from her. She smiled in the right places! We left that visit walking on cloud nine. Now I know that my mom is in there and we will just have to work really hard to get her out!!
We went back a couple of times on Saturday and she was again unresponsive. I figured that she was tired from working so hard the day before. Also, I am trying to keep in mind that this is marathon and we will have good days and not so good days.
Thank you all for the support and emails. I wish I could respond to each of you but unfortunately I am quite busy with my children, my job and trying to visit my mother as often as possible. I read and appreciate all of your emails.
Discussion, comments, or questions: Cindy Daumeyer
© Copyright 2004 Cindy Daumeyer