Help please

Hi my dad suffered a massive heart attack on the 4th of May 2014 and suffered an anoxic brain injury. I was informed that he needed a heart bypass to survive, but the cardiologist would not operate unless there was neurological improvement. The exact parameters to what qualifies as neurological improvement has never been specified, but I was led to believe this would be the ability to follow commands.

Anyway to try and cut a very long story short, my dad has progressed from a induced coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state to a confused conscious state, which currently is the state he is at now. He is 70 years old, so the recovery he has made is quite impressive, particularly as he has received no neurological rehabilitation apart from some limited attempts to orientate him from the hospital. Unfortunately it has been left to me to try and act as a healthcare professional and I have been doing my best to provide stimuli and to aid his recovery, I keep a neurological diary and record our interactions, so I have hard data that he has improved significantly. As I have already stated his improvement has been quite rapid in terms of cognitive thinking, however in terms of his orientation there has been some very limited improvement. For example he knows what ward he is on and normally the name of the hospital, but he never knows the date or the year. I know he has the ability to learn new information from the tests and games I have played with him .

During my dad's hospital stay I have been fighting for him to get any sort of neurological rehabilitation and as I said earlier this has not been forthcoming. He was meant to go onto a neurological rehabilitation ward, but this turned out to be a elderly care ward for dementia patients, so this for the last 7weeks has been more like a holding cell for my dad. Additionally I have been trying to find out if he can get his bypass operation and unfortunately I received the devastating news that the cardiologist would not perform the operation unless there was significant improvement. Apparently the mortality rate is 10% for the bypass op. Now the cardiologist has never spoken to me (I am my dad representative as he cannot give informed consent) and I believe his findings were based on a couple of neurological tests which were heavily orientated centric and performed on the elderly care ward. basically the cardiologist has not examined my dad and has not seem him since 1 week after the heart attack. I have no idea if a risk assessment has been carried out to see if the op is less dangerous then leaving my dad to cope without the op. I have been told his 3 arteries are completely shut and he is basically a ticking time bomb, so you can imagine why I feel this ruling is like a death sentence for my dad. I am currently trying to meet with the cardiologist to try and understand this decision, as I can accept it if its the right decision, but I do not know this to be the case, especially saying the hospital has shown no cohesion in terms of the care of my dad.

So I would be forever grateful if anyone one else has been through this situation, what can I do to aid my dads neurological recovery.

Also can anybody explain the dangers associated with heart surgery I understand that going on a heart by pass machine is extremely dangerous and that further brain damage can/will occur, but do not understand how if my dad is more oriented these risks reduce. This bit makes no sense to me, but this is what was conveyed when I met with doctors yesterday, when they acted as a intermediary for the cardiologist.

Thank you for reading and wish you all well with your recovery and that your loved

ones are well. apologies for the long post, but I could have written much much more!

Take care

Michael

6 Replies

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  • Hello Michael. I'm sorry to hear about the problems you've encountered regarding your dad. Firstly, it is a basic fact that brain injuries of any type need a considerable amount of healing time which is exactly what you don't have. So whereas it's the recurring answer here, to be patient and wait for recovery, you might be better speaking to one of the professionals via the Headway helpline.

    The number is 0808 800 2244 and lines are open 9am-5pm Mon-Fri.

    You are obviously a very caring son and I wish you all the best in finding help for your dad.

  • Thanks Kat3. I have already rang the helpline and I spoke to a really helpful lady who is sending me some useful information.

    I suppose it would be great to hear from people who have been through similar experiences as well as hearing about how people recover from anoxic brain injury.

    From all the research I have done I understand the first 3 months is where most iof the significant improvement occurs. It would be interesting to hear if this correlates with the community.

    Thanks again for replying its appreciated

    Michael

  • Three years down the line of a much milder lack of oxygen than your dad and I still struggle with the year, month, day of the week. Being in hospital with the same daily routine muddles people when their brain's are normal.

    I'm thinking that you have a terrible dilemma. If they agreed to do the heart operation and it didn't go well your dad could be more brain damaged. Without it as you say he's a ticking time bomb, and yet you've seen an improvement in him over the last twelve weeks.

    Could you speak to a Cardiologist? Neurologist? I once asked a consultant 'what would you do if this was your parent? ' He was very candid with me and it was very helpful.

    Best wishes.

  • Thanks for your post Stardrop.

    As I type I an trying to arrange an appointment with my dads cardiologist as its important for me to know the correct decisons have been made in relation to his care.... as for speaking to a neurologist I've had no luck. This is why im trying to find out as much information as possible and why I'm grateful that people like you are posting sharing your experiences.

  • Thanks for your post Stardrop.

    As I type I an trying to arrange an appointment with my dads cardiologist as its important for me to know the correct decisons have been made in relation to his care.... as for speaking to a neurologist I've had no luck. This is why im trying to find out as much information as possible and why I'm grateful that people like you are posting sharing your experiences.

  • Thanks for your post Stardrop.

    As I type I an trying to arrange an appointment with my dads cardiologist as its important for me to know the correct decisons have been made in relation to his care.... as for speaking to a neurologist I've had no luck. This is why im trying to find out as much information as possible and why I'm grateful that people like you are posting sharing your experiences.

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