Friday, March 25, 2005


Brain Damage

With all the blog posts going on lately about the Terry Shiavo case I thought I would add my own 2 cents worth.
I have had trouble finding much information about it (because if you do a google search you mainly find blog posts talking about it) so I haven't been able to form a proper opinion of what I think would be the right way to go. I only know what I have read on people's sites. I don't watch the news so I wouldn't have found out any information there, and I live in a totally different country so I do not think it would have made a big splash over here.
I have had my own experience with head trauma's before. 2 that I can remember.
1 was a guy who lived in Texas (i think) who was not in a vegetative state but was a quadraplegic. I used to chat to him online and once even talked to him on the phone. His name is Randy. This was about 6 - 9 years ago that I knew him. He used to have to rely totally on his family for everything but the internet gave him legs and arms again with the use of a program like dragon dictate (I think that was the name for it).

The other experience is my cousin.
He and I were great friends but had not seen each other for a long time, since we had all grown up and moved along with our lives. The last time I saw him before his accident was at my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. It was good to catch up with him, even though we didn't really have much in common anymore. I was a mummy, married and pregnant with my third. He was single, jetsetting and currently working on a dairy farm.
It was about 3 months after the anniversary party that he had his accident. No one knows for sure what happened but there was speculation that he had been hit by another car, he swerved to avoid a cow on the road or that his steering was dodgy and he lost control of the car. It was also a little while before anyone found him in order to alert the ambulance. He had internal bleeding to his brain and was on the thin line which seperates life and death.
I saw him when he first came down to the major city hospital near my home. He looked just like himself except for the tubes going in and out of him, and the bruising. There was still talk about turning the machines off or not, because there was little hope of recovery as he had at least one more major bleed to the brain during his first few days in ICU.
During my visit, I went in with an uncle and we talked to him, the nurses asured us that he could hear us talk to him. I was told not to expect anything from him but I was surprised when he squeezed my hand during our talk to him. My uncle was great, he was funny and uplifting during the ordeal. It is always hard going into a place where death is more common then life.
After that i visited him every fortnight (it was not easy getting in there with a newborn, battling the city traffic, and everything else that was going on. I was also recovering from a c-section with my third)
His parents did decide to keep him on life support and he improved a little over the time he spent down there. He never really came out of his coma though. I do not think I ever saw his eyes open, even though I was told he did. He did move now and then, as if responding to touch and speech and towards the end of his stay, before being moved closer to his parents home, he would occassionally say a few things, but with not much control.
From my understanding he is still pretty much the same but is now at home with his parents. His mother being the main care giver. His parents had to sell their second house and have also sold their cattle, thus making their dairy farm redundent. I am not sure what they do for an income anymore but I think they get some type of payment from the government for looking after him. It is a full time job, something you have to be committed to. You cannot leave it a day unless you hire a nurse or put him into hospital. He will not grow out of it unless by some miracle.
I have also heard that people in this state have a shorter then expected life expectancy, mainly because their bodies just do not function as they should. They don't move around except by others physical force. All he can do is lay there, occassionally say the odd word and move his hand now and then. But he is not all gone.
When hubby was in the hospital, visiting him, he did manage to converse with him, organising some type of signals. I am not sure how the family took it as hubby and I usually visited seperately. Hubby also had a lot in common since they were both into bikes and other adrenalin type sports.

What would I want if this was me?
I wouldn't want to stay. Yes I love my family but this would be a burden on them, both expensive, tiring and time consuming. As I have read elsewhere, I would want my kids to remember me as I am now, and not as a body which you can't do anything with.
Hubby would have to give up work, and his grief would be longer lived then if I had died. He wouldn't be able to move on with life as he would have to give to me his all. I would want him to move on, as I would want the kids to have a happy life.

Right now though, hubby and I need each other, we both do what the other couldn't, without outside help. So I am not going anywhere, and he is not going anywhere. He isn't allowed to!

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