part three: home

I lied, but it was only a half-lie. 🙂 You may recall from Part 2 of my story (posted two days ago) that I said I wanted to run the next day (that is, yesterday) so I was going to bed early, but I would be back tomorrow (that is, yesterday).

Still with me? Good.

I did run- I had a fantastic Thanksgiving morning run- but I wound up spending the day solving jigsaw puzzles with my mom. I was only able to spend a few minutes on the computer, and updating this site didn’t make it to the priority list. It’s a holiday, ya know!!!

Anyway. If want to catch up, here is Part 1 and Part 2 of my story.

My story wouldn’t exist without the love and the prayers of so many family and friends during this time. My parents came to the hospital as soon as they found out, of course. My pastor followed soon after. My older sister was living in SE Asia at the time, working for a nonprofit there, and through her and her colleagues, I had people all over the world praying for me. Plus there were many, many people nearby in Kansas City who were visiting me regularly and praying for me regularly.

My family now gets a chuckle anytime we see a person wake up from a coma in the movies, because it’s nothing like that! I seriously doubt anyone has ever woken up from a coma, yawned, stretched, and remarked on how they feel so well rested.

On the 11th morning of my coma, my doctors informed my parents that, if I did not come out of my coma by that evening, they would have to perform a tracheotomy. In other words, they’d have to take the ventilator tube out of my mouth and cut a hole in my throat. Once again, they tried to wean me off of the ventilator– to put it simply, they removed the ventilator to see what would happen. (It’s not as risky as it sounds. If I had breathed normally and my oxygen saturation remained normal, then they’d leave it out. If there were any problems, they would have intubated me again. They would NOT have allowed me to go without oxygen for any length of time.)

Somehow the stimulation of removing the ventilator was enough to bring me out of the coma. That was good. But with brain injuries, the reality is that surviving is sometimes the easy part. The long term side effects of brain injuries are wildly varied. The brain is the most mysterious of all the organs of the human body. After a brain injury, a patient may have very few mild side effects or may be severely brain damaged, or anywhere in between. Worse, there’s almost no way for a doctor to predict how badly injured a patient will be.

After I woke up from my coma, I was alive. But for several days, the severity of my brain damage was really unknown. I didn’t remember the accident, so I didn’t really understand that I was in the hospital. I also didn’t connect that I was still in Kansas City! At various points, I thought I was in Colorado, Oklahoma, and several other states- places where I had been previously on vacations. I also thought at one point that I had flown to Paris- literally, flown, with no airplane.

A side note on amnesia: I don’t really remember this time. I don’t really remember much from the hospital. I have a few vague memories- a hospital room that was across from the nurses’ desk and down from the elevator, a physical therapist who was a brunette, an occupational therapist from India. But with all of those memories, it’s like I’m only seeing tiny parts of a big picture, and I can’t see the rest. Nearly everything I know of this time has been told to me by my parents and doctors.

One last vague memory… I remember when I was released from the hospital. I remember walking under an overhang to my family’s old 1987 Chevrolet Celebrity, driven by my mom.

I remember being confused, because I thought I was in Oklahoma, yet it only took thirty minutes for us to get home. If we were in Oklahoma, it should have taken us six to eight hours.

Yet I also remember not caring much. For ten days I had been confused. Now I was home. That was all that mattered.