My 54 year old father suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke on February 18th, 2012. He arrived at the emergency within 20 mins and was transferred to another hospital within 2 hours. We were told the bleed occurred in the thalamus deep in the left side of his brain and could not be operated on. His first night in the neuro ICU, a drain was inserted into his head to remove the blood and relieve the pressure on his brain. In addition, he was placed on a ventilator and sedated to control his blood pressure.
On Day 2, we were told that the sedation was lifted and he did show signs of agitation but was not responding to commands nor did his pupils show any response to light. The doctors said that all we could do was wait and hope for his body to reabsorb the blood on his brain.
On Day 3, the doctors said that during his morning exam, my dad was no longer showing any response to pain stimulus and that his only remaining response was to the cornea blink test (when they touch the eye and a person blinks). We were told that this is usually the last response to go in a person with a stroke of this kind and that he had a zero chance of recovering. That night, his family and friends were informed that he would be taken off the ventilator the next day and that they should come say their goodbyes. We decided to wait until the next day to allow for family to come in from out of town.
On Day 4, we began planning a funeral while waiting to meet with my dad's doctors in the afternoon. Just before our meeting his doctor preformed a clinical exam on my father in which he was now responding to pain again. The doctor apologized for his prognosis the previous day and he now gave my dad a 15% chance of waking up advised that we wait until Friday when we would reassess his condition (Day 7). You can understand how heart wrenching this was for us when my family had already begun grieving my father but it was not even a question for us to give my dad time to fight.
On Day 5, we celebrated by dad's 55th birthday. While it was a solemn occasion, we tried to honor my dad, who is always the life of the party, the best we could. Day 6 was quiet, the doctors said if anything, his responses had deteriorated slightly.
On Day 7 (today), we reached our checkpoint. The doctors told us, my dad was responding to pain a little more than the previous day and that his eyes had opened a little during pain stimulus. (He was moving all four legs and arms and his head). However, the ct had shown no progress in terms of the blood on this brain reabsorbing and his pupils were still not responding to light. We don't know if these responses are at all voluntary or simply reflexes. We've decided to give my dad more time, our next checkpoint will be Monday (Day 10).
The doctors tell us that the longer he does not wake up, the less of a chance he has for any sort of meaningful recovery. As many of you know, it is unimaginably difficult to draw the line between giving your loved one a chance to fight and putting them through unnecessary trauma and stress. My mother passed in 2003 at the age of 45. My brother is 20 years old and I am 26 years old and we still both live at home with my dad and are incredibly close with him. As is my entire family and his friends, he is truly our rock.
My brother and I are the ones making all of the decisions for my dad and we want to make sure we are comfortable with any decision that we make and that we are keeping our dad's best interest as our priority. I have found many of the posts on this forum both comforting and encouraging. I am wondering, for those of you who have had or have had loved ones with a similar non-operable hemorrhagic stroke, how long did it take for them to wake up? And how long did it take for the blood to reabsorb? What were the responses they showed over time? (The doctors seem to be very hung up on his pupil response). Any other advise?
Any feedback would be immensely appreciated. My entire family is completely heartbroken and we already lost without him. We could really use some advice.
I can't offer any specific medical advice but I can tell you of an experience I had several years ago. I am a massage therapist. I had a client come to me each week over several weeks and he told me his story.
About 6 months ago he had a major stroke (sorry I don't remember what type exactly) but he was in a coma for almost 2 months. His family were told that he wouldn't recover and were advised to let him go. His wife refused to disconnect life support as she had a strong feeling that he just needed time.
He now has a slight paralysis on his left side and is working on a speech problem and some confusion, but he is otherwise ok. I see them occasionally hand in hand in town. They are in their late 60s.
I know that each case is unique and this man's condition may be different to your father. But I wanted to tell you this story as it has a positive outcome and I believe that miracles do sometimes happen.
Stay strong, find some time to be still and quiet, and believe in whatever your feel deep inside.
I feel for you and your brother as it must be a heart wrenchingly difficult time. My thoughts are with you. x
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