survived severe brain injury: Has anyone managed to... - ICUsteps

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survived severe brain injury

Riri04
Riri04

Has anyone managed to survive severe brain damage? Managed to come out of a vegetative state

15 Replies
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I think it’s possible for them to make small improvements such as communicating via blinking but, as I said before it’s highly unlikely they will return to being the same person they were before xx

Hi Riri04,

So sorry to hear what you’re going through at the moment. My family were in a similar situation In 2003. I had been admitted to hospital (delivery suite) and was in labour with my second child. My first labour was normal with no complications. In the final stages of labour I collapsed and stopped breathing for approximately 3 minutes. I know that’s the appoximate time as I’ve seen a transcrypt of my medical notes and the midwife thought I’d fainted. Luckily my husband disagreed and pressed the emergency buzzer and the crash team came and rescuscitated me. My blood pressure was 58/34 then was unrecordable and I’d had a cardiac and respiratory arrest caused by an Amniotic Fluid Embolism. My baby daughter was fine because her head was “born” as I collapsed so the midwife managed to deliver her. I was ventilated and transferred to ICU for 8 days, (ventilated for 5) and then transferred to the Stroke and Rehab unit for 13 weeks. I don’t remember much about ICU or first 3 weeks on rehab unit but remember some bits from then on. It was quite strange because I used to be a Senior Staff Nurse in Theatres and Recovery but also looked after ventilated patients and knee the Drs who resuscitated me and ‘saved my life’. It has been a long and hard road to recovery and I’m disabled with a permenant right sided weakness, very similar to a stroke and cognitive issues. I don’t want to give you false hope by telling you this, but my family were told that I wasn’t expected to survive 24 hours or may possibly be in a permanent vegative state if I did, but I was one of the lucky ones. I’m not saying that what the Drs have told you is wrong, they have to prepare you and be honest with you of your partners possible prognosis but I hoping that he shows some improvement. Sorry for wittering on, I tend to do that now. Sending my thoughts and healing wishes to you and your loved one,

Rachel xx

Riri04
Riri04
in reply to rfk1974

I’m really glad for your recovery and thank you for sharing your story. When you say disabled, is that referring to not being able to walk?

rfk1974
rfk1974
in reply to Riri04

Hi,

Sorry I didn’t explain fully about my disability. I can walk now with the aid of a stick or elbow crutch but do prefer to ‘link up’ to someone as I have quite a few falls. They probably happen because I can’t feel my right leg and foot very well as the nerves were damaged and I’ve got dense sensory loss to my right side.

When it initially happened I was completely paralysed down my right side of my body so when when I was transferred to the Stroke and Rehab unit I was hoisted in and out of bed and into my wheelchair. I remember overhearing one of the Drs saying that it was very unlikely that I’d walk again and I think that’s what made me more determined to prove them wrong. I had physio every day and had to learn to walk again which was incredibly difficult to begin with but I just kept on trying. After 12 weeks I was able to walk short distances with a frame or elbow crutch and begged the Drs to discharge me as I had my 13 week old daughter at home and wanted to be with her. I don’t remember anything about the birth or most of my hospital stay, which is a good thing I suppose. On the day it happened I arrested twice on delivery suite and then once in the lift on the way across to ICU. The Drs stabilised me and attempted to remove ventilation (the breathing tube) on day 3 but I was too weak/ill so I was intubated again (a new breathing tube out in and connected to ventilator). On day 5 the Drs tried again and I could breathe unaided so that was obviously a positive sign but I couldn’t speak or make sense of what was happening. The bit I do remember about ICU was thinking ‘what am I doing here? ‘. When I got to the ward I was still very confused and did weird things like eating a lipstick and pulling faces at staff and visitors. I had speech therapy and regular sessions with the O.T (Occupational Therapist). She taught me things like washing and dressing myself, tying my shoelaces and putting my bra on with one hand. It wasn’t easy but I got there in the end. I also had and still have numeracy problems and my short term memory is poor. I’m fortunate that I’ve retained a lot of my long term memory and can remember a lot from my nursing career.

Having a brain injury is complex and it takes a long time for the brain to heal itself. I have got cognitive damage and new learning is more difficult. However, the brain can regenerate new pathways and some degree of recovery can be possible. Just try not to give up hope, I really do hope he makes a good recovery and look after yourself too xxx

Riri04
Riri04
in reply to rfk1974

Oh I see, that’s really good in your recovery I guess. With my partner even though he’s “vegetative” I give him physio everyday as the hospital is not doing that. I feel ss if I stimulate everything, when he does come out of this stage, it won’t be as hard for him if that makes sense

rfk1974
rfk1974
in reply to Riri04

Yes it does, thank you. Aren’t the physio s doing chest physio on him it has one of them taught you? Do the staff get him sat out in a chair? I’m just asking because he’s more susceptible to chest infections xx

Riri04
Riri04
in reply to rfk1974

They actually don’t which is my concern, the special chair has a waiting list

rfk1974
rfk1974
in reply to rfk1974

Because he probably can’t clear the secretions from his chest completely by himself I’m guessing?

Riri04
Riri04
in reply to rfk1974

The nurses do the secretion for him every 1-2hours

rfk1974
rfk1974
in reply to Riri04

Sorry but that’s ridiculous about the chair (but I can understand it from working for the NHS).

You say that the nurses do the secretions every 1-2 hours. Has he got a tracheostomy?

Riri04
Riri04
in reply to rfk1974

I know but we’re pushing the doctors for it and yes he’s got a trachy

rfk1974
rfk1974
in reply to Riri04

You do right about the chair, it’s ridiculous that a patient in ICU/Critical care has to wait for a chair.

I thought that he must have a trachy from what you were saying. Is he sedated? and is he on full or partial ventilation or breathing unaided?

rfk1974
rfk1974
in reply to rfk1974

I meant has he taken some breathes for himself yet?

Riri04
Riri04
in reply to rfk1974

He’s breathing unaided but he’s not sedated at all, it’s his severe global brain injury to cause him to be vegetative

rfk1974
rfk1974
in reply to Riri04

Well the part of his brain that controls respiration is obviously working well. Please try to stay positive and just continue what you’re doing. Be with him when you can but remember to look after yourself too. It can be physically and mentally exhausting for families. I’d better go to bed now but message me again if you want to talk. Stay strong xx

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