August 17, 2009 I was so tired. I didn't sleep at all the night before, I was so worried about everything. I spent the night forcing all of our belongings into the two suitcases we were allowed to bring.
I had to have Jared dressed and ready to go by 7am. Our time in the Little Rock VA had been so stressful, they were short staffed most of the time and seemed to be unfamiliar with Jared's condition. On this particular morning I had a disagreement with Jared's nurse, she didn't want to dress the bed sore on Jared's tail bone before the flight. I wound up doing it myself.
An ambulance picked us up and drove us to the airport. They loaded Jared into a tiny plane and strapped him down. Jared was very alert during the flight, he even seemed to enjoy it. He kept reaching up and touching the wall of the plane and throwing the objects we handed him to hold.
When we landed in Virginia another ambulance was waiting for us, we drove 30 minutes to Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. There were several people standing outside the emergency room as we unloaded Jared. I giggled to myself when I realized what they must have been thinking as I unloaded both suitcases from the back of the ambulance.
They wheeled us up to the polytrauma unit and settled Jared into bed. I was finally able to meet Dr. G, the man that was finally going to help Jared.
Dr. G had so many questions, I answered as many of them as I could before I burst into tears. Unable to speak I dug into my bag for a picture of Jared and haded it to Dr. G. I said "This is my husband, it hurts so much to look at him like this. I can handle the brain injury and coma, I can't handle seeing his body in this condition." referring to the 50 pounds he had lost and the bed sores on his spine and tailbone.
I went outside and called our family members to give them an update. Emotionally drained I dragged myself back up stairs. I dried a few tears and leaned down and gave Jared a hug. He reached up and hugged me back, patting me on the shoulder. Jared had never shown me affection like this since the accident, it was like he knew how hard I had fought for him and he was thanking me.
Jared knew who I was and he loved me. I will cherish that hug forever.
With Dr. Mac in charge and Dr. G following we came up with a game plan. The MRI showed Jared's ventricles were slightly enlarged. It could have been caused by shrinkage of the brain after it was injured, or it could be normal pressure hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is caused by over production of cerebral spinal fluid or under absorption. Either way it causes pressure to build in the fluid around Jared's brain, enlarging the ventricles.
The doctors decided to try some nuro stimulating drugs and suggested that we do a lumbar puncture to test Jared's intracranial brain pressure. They would also remove 30 to 50cc of fluid and watch for any improvements.
Jared also began daily therapies. Five days a week Jared attended physical, speech, occupational, recreational, and kinesiotherapy.
August 24, 2009 the lumbar puncture was done. Jared's pressure was slightly elevated. The following day Jared showed a significant improvement. In occupational therapy Jared was able to open a water bottle, attempted to drink from it several times, then replaced the cap. Jared was no longer considered to be in a coma.
33cc of spinal fluid was the only keeping my husband in a coma. Doctors had given up on him and had tried to push me into placing him in a nursing home. They hadn't listened to me when I told them he had regressed after the drain was removed. In my opinion he would have emerged from his coma sooner if they had listened to me and done something to help him. Finally someone had listened to me, with an open mind, and those people were able to help Jared.
I wasn't crazy after all.
Jared had great progress in the following two weeks, eventually pressure began to build and he regressed.
Neurosurgeons and the PM&R doctors agreed Jared needed a shunt. The shunt would be a permanent solution to the problem and would offer the best chance for recovery.
September 15, 2009 neurosurgeons placed a shunt in Jared's brain. Surgery went well and they were even able to use the existing hole where the EVD had been. Jared was a little sick the day after surgery, but continued to improve as the days passed.
September 21, 2009 I left Virginia and went home. The hospital was doing a great job taking care of Jared, there was no real reason for me to be there. I desperately needed to go home and pull our life back together. I had so many things to do and all of our bills were past due. I planned to work and make the changes necessary for Jared to come home.
Since I have been home Jared has made an awesome recovery! He became more active, started following commands more consistently, answering yes or no questions, eating pureed foods, drinking thickened liquids, pushing his wheelchair down the hall, and interacts with people. A few days ago he played Uno with his speech therapist. He's doing so many things. He is able to communicate sometimes with gestures, hand signals, and very whispered words. Last weekend he told me "I love you" for the first time.
Jared is still suffering from weakness on the left side of his body. He can't move it at all. His muscles are contracted and he can't straighten his legs or left arm. Dr. Mac suggested a Baclofen pump. They did a Baclofen trial with good results and Jared is scheduled for surgery November 13th. I plan to leave on November 10th to see Jared.
I'm so excited, I can't wait to see him.