Hypoxic brain injury


7 months ago my partner, Claire, suffered a cardiac arrest resulting in a serious Hypoxic brain injury. After 5 days we were told she would never wake up and the best thing to do would be to turn off her life support. Reluctantly we agreed with the doctors. After 2 days waiting for her to pass away, she opened her eyes. She was put back on critical care. Over the following few months she improved slightly to the point of being awake all day and being able to say about 4 words. 7 months on, she hasn't improved. In fact she has gone backwards. She now doesn't say any words although she does try. She cannot follow commands. We have no way to communicate with her or her to us. She does laugh and cry and kisses us. I have tried to stay positive but am worried that after 7 months, things aren't going to get any better. I suppose what I am looking for here is some sort of hope to cling to that maybe someone can tell me, maybe through their experience that things may improve. I know I'm probably clutching at straws, but I am devestated by what has happened to the love of my life at the age of just 46. Thanks for reading this. Steve

6 Replies

  • Dear Steve, I'm so sorry to hear this. I don't have any experience of this type of injury but I do have experience of calling headway for advice. You can also email them and someone will answer with more info for you.

    Contact our helpline free on 0808 800 2244 or helpline@headway.org.uk

    9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday.

    Each brain injury is different and don't give up yet.


  • Hi Steve

    I'm so sorry to hear about your wife's injury, you must be heartbroken beyond words. I can only imagine what you're going through although I do share elements of your experience, the outcome is quite different.

    My wife's brain injury also left her without speech, and with cognitive impairment. She still finds it hard to understand what people say to her quite often, and has extreme difficulty speaking, although some words do get through. Usually they're not the words that convey the meaning though, so talking is an exercise in frustration all round. It's been 18 months since her brain injury, but I have no idea how much more she will recover. I've heard about people continuing to make progress some 5 years after their injury, which makes me hopeful. But I understand you must be finding it hard to cling onto any hope; I know what that's like, and I really wish I could offer you some comfort other than the fact that you get a bit more used to it as time passes, and it feels less raw. If I think back to how things were 7 months after my wife's injury, a lot of healing has taken place since then. I think it's reasonable to hold onto some hope.

    I don't have any answers for you, or any predictions. All I can offer is my sincerest wish that your wife makes a good recovery, and that you can both enjoy life in whatever way it chooses to present itself from now on. Do you have the support of friends and family, care workers etc? It seems imperative to me that you have some people around you at a time like this.

    Very best wishes to you and Claire.

  • Aww Steve - I feel for you I really do. I can't imagine how you are really feeling. My husband suffered a cardiac arrest and I was told in intensive care by a neurologist that his prognosis was very very poor but he defied the odds and over 2 years on is now working, driving and cycling again - and just has short term memory issues and lack of 'executive functions' and cognitive fatigue. I can't wave the magic wand you so desire but I can tell you that I have found this website a great source of support and information. Have you had any contact with 'Headway' at all - they provided such good information and support I would really recommend contacting them. I'm crossing my fingers that things turn a corner for you and Claire xxx

  • Thank you for your comforting comments. They are very much appreciated. I have good support from family and friends. Claire is currently in a neuro rehab hospital, where she has been for around 4 months, with a Headway office on site. I have had some information from them, but not actually spoken to anyone which is something I must do. Thanks again. Steve

  • I'm so sorry for what you're going through Steve, and how I wish I had some positive words for you. But I think we both know that talk of recovery is laden with doubt, though it isn't unknown for people to defy the odds.

    It's natural to hang on to any thread of hope for a loved one, and no one can accurately predict the outcome of a brain injury. But perhaps you should accept that this might be as good as it will get, so that anything more would be a bonus.

    It's the cruellest turn of events when illness causes this state of limbo ; your heartache must be off the scale. Please phone Headway for extra emotional support.

    We're always here if you need company.

    Love and all best wishes for you and Claire. Cat x

  • Hi Steve

    I'm sorry to hear about your wife, my partner suffered a cardiac arrest resulting in serious hypoxic brain injury 4 and half years ago.

    I agree with Cat's comments, it is very easy to live your life waiting for improvements in Claire's condition, but the sad fact is that may never come. The one thing I have learnt in my 4.5 years of sitting by Johns bed in neuro rehab units is that no two brain injuries are the same and even two that are very similar would see the patients recovering (or not) in very different ways. Even the best neurologists I've met, and I have met a lot, can never tell you what Claire's outcome may be. John was 39 when he had his brain injury and never really regained any consciousness, although and had sleep and awake times he was classed as being in a permanent vegetative state.

    Make sure you look after yourself and remember to keep living and smiling, I know it's hard, I went through stages of not even wanting to eat something nice because the guilt I felt for enjoying it when John couldn't eat was unbearable.

    If you need any help, advice or just someone to listen who understands we are always here for you on here so don't be alone.

    Best wishes to you and Claire

    Sharon x

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