...a continuation of my perspective on Kate...and so the tornado cycled...days had turned to weeks...ups became downs...highs became lows...Seven days passed...if Kate didn't wake up or start breathing on her own they would need to perform a tracheotomy...Was she going to wake up? Was this my sister's life? Slobbering all over herself hooked up to a ventilator...Oh no not my sister...One day prior to her needing the tracheotomy she stunned us all by starting to breathe on her own...She still needed oxygen but they would be able to put tubes in her nose for that...She passed the first hurdle...on to the next...Everyday that she was in a coma determined that her brain injury was more severe than expected...and on the ninth day she actually started to talk...What I never understood about a coma is that when someone wakes up it can be a very slow process and there are many levels of the coma. There is better understanding when you know of the Rancho Los Amigos Scale or the Glasgow Coma Scale...A precious memory I hold dear was on the fourteenth day into our journey My phone rang...it was my mom's number...she would call to update or just need someone to talk to so I answered...all of a sudden I hear "Hey Weaner"...OMG it was my sister Kate...it was a blessing she was definitely going to be okay...you see that is my nickname and she called me that all the time...Jeanne Weanie...My heart skipped a beat...I almost laughed but just acted normal and said "Hey sis What's Up"...She wanted to tell me that Ava likes apple juice...lol I didn't think she ever gave Ava apple juice...When I got off the phone I just broke down...Called everyone to share the story to bring hope to our dwindling expectations.
Remember the highs and lows...Well I visited Kate that same day expecting the miracle that I thought had happened...my sister was back...it didn't work like that...she was very agitated...incessantly trying to pull on the tubes or swing her feet off the bed...It is the hardest thing to explain and watch her go through...It wasn't Kate...at times she was locked behind her own eyes...Kate was starting to talk but it wasn't her...she didn't always make sense...She was almost just repeating things she had heard...she would think that Sandy was me, that she was still twenty one or that aliens had done it...Everyday her blood pressure and fever would spike constantly so much so we kept a fan on her at all times and constantly worried about long term heart problems...She was such a hard stick for getting an IV going for either giving her meds or taking her blood for tests they decided to perform a pick line. That was great for a couple of days then that got infected and needed to be removed. She developed pneumonia in her lungs...a hematoma in her leg and an abscess around her spleen...her skin around the splints were getting sore...she developed pink eye from all the dirt around her eyes and a massive cold sore around the intibation tube...All we could do was trudge through this mess...Where was Kate? Would we see more glimpses of her old self? Would she be the mom to Ava that she always wanted to be?
Once her medical issues were under control we could get her transferred out of the ICU and truly as with all the miracles we encountered on this journey...She just began to heal...My mom will be able to expand on all of this as she was truly by her side twenty four hours and I hope to get her to write about what she went through...What I know was we were worried that Drake the Rehabilitation Center would not take her if she had to be restrained or if she worsened medically...and the rehabilitation center was the place she needed to be...at this point brain function wise she wanted Dad to come and get her (he passed ten years earlier)...then she would abruptly change thought and talk about accessories...We figured out that the accessories were the splints on her arms, her socks she was supposed to wear or the machines that would beep for no apparent reason...Needless to say she was like a toddler she hated them and wanted them off...she would express that she had to go to the bathroom so the process of getting her up would begin...unlock the restraints...scoot her down in the bed and off the side...steady her then shuffle...She would be so unsteady they put a portable toilet right next to her bed...and then the process would start...she would stand up and down and up and down and up and down for I don't know how many times without even going to the bathroom...just to get back to the bed and have an accident...My poor mother she already went through this stage with her and now all over again...Would this be my sister's life? Oh no not my sister!
Things that can help when your loved one has a TBI...Boom box with relaxing music to drown out all of the beeps or to calm the blood pressure...A fan to keep body temperature down...Keeping lights out so the brain can rest (even shut the blinds)...Stimulating Kate at first only for a few minutes a few times a day...In her agitation stage we were not allowed to walk Kate only the nurses because she was so unstable...we had an amazing male nurse the last week we were still at Miami Valley Hospital who would walk Kate when she would become agitated...so helpful as it would wear her out and she would actually sleep...giving my mom and herself a much needed break...I didn't want her to get stuck on the word accessories so we would repeat over and over to her the words she couldn't find in her own brain...if it was splint, socks or machine she had to explain what accessory she was talking about...Talking even in the room while they sleep can annoy them...leave the room to chat and shut the doors to keep the hallway noise out...They need a lot of rest for the brain to heal.