Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Fear

 Tucson cares and the proof is found in these photos of two different memorial sites started when Gabby was hospitalized.    (Borrowed from Move On).   They just keep growing and growing.  When the ambulance took Gabby from the hospital to the plane that carried her to Houston the streets were lined with well wishers and, as the ambulance went by, they applauded. They say she heard the applause and smiled and tears came to her eyes.  Both were wonderful signs of awareness.

Gabby Giffords is now in Houston and beginning her arduous rehabilitation program.  Her recovery has been near miraculous thanks to the A-1 care she has received from the beginning.  We all hope she has a full recovery and can resume her career representing Arizona.  However, I have one concern and it frightens me. To my knowledge, Gabby has not uttered a single word.  This may be due to the feeding tube and I sincerely hope that's the case.  If not, her ability to speak might be impaired as the bullet entered the part of her brain that controls speech.

I have first hand knowledge of what can happen when that part of the brain is damaged.  It may be time to tell the story of my husbands last months.

It all began on a sunny Sunday morning.  I was just getting dressed when my daughter came rushing into the room saying, "There's something wrong with Dad."  She was followed by my husband saying  "There's nothing wrong; my legs won't work right, but it will be all right."  I took one look at him and knew immediately that he had suffered a stroke.  I told him that, no, it wouldn't be all right and that we were going to the hospital.

We rushed him to the ER where he was admitted to the hospital.  I won't go into the months when the doctors falsely diagnosed the problem as an AV (Artery-Venous)  malformation.  After being released from the hospital he was getting physical therapy for the stroke and was trying very hard to do what was asked of him, but it wasn't helping.  He did not improve and was getting steadily worse.  

The doctors finally decided to do a tissue biopsy to find out what was wrong.  When they examined his brain they touched the part of the brain that controls speech.   He had multiple inoperable malignant brain tumors.  After the biopsy he only spoke twice; both times were when he was very emotional.  The first time was after the doctor told him he was terminal and the other time was when he was admitted to a nursing home. He was never able to speak again.
The doctor told me  the reason he had been able to speak those two times.  It seems that if a stroke or brain damaged person becomes very agitated it stimulates that  part of the brain so the patient is able to talk.  

The poor man was trapped in his body without being able to express his thoughts or fears or to make his needs known except by miming them.  As one side was paralyzed his ability to mime was limited also.  It had to be a living hell.

I pray that this is not the case with Gabby and that her wonderful voice is not stilled by this tragic event.   It has been 26 years since my husband was felled by cancer.  I know that they have learned much about the brain in the intervening years.   I am sure that they have more ways to stimulate the brain now.  Yet, I still have fear.

 Please keep sending good thoughts to this courageous woman as she fights to get well.


Joy Des Jardins said...

Yes, I will continue to send positive and healing thoughts to Gabby on her brave journey back...God Bless her.

Living through those last dying days of someone you love is one of the hardest and most gut-wrenching experiences anyone can go through Darlene...yet somehow we are stronger for it. I know how difficult it was to watch your husband's health deteriorate and be stuck in such a frustrating and impossible state. I wouldn't want anyone to have to endure what either one of our hubbies had to in the final days of their lives. My heart is with you... ~Joy

Tabor said...

I also hope that the optimism is rewarded. We do have Ipads and other technology that may be able to open that gray cloud for her. Sending my love to you for being the tough lady we know you are.

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Beautiful post, Darlene!

Darlene said...

*Joy Des Jardins - I know you went through a terrible time when you lost your beloved Joel. Yes, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger they say.

*Tabor - Thank you, Tabor.

*Tom Degan's Daily Rant- Thank you, Tom.

Kay Dennison said...

I share your concerns. I had a stroke when I was 31, as you might know and the technology today is so much better. Still, strokes are always a big question mark. They said I'd never walk again or have normal brain function but but I do (although some might argue the latter). My last CAT scan and EEG were normal except for a lesion that prolly caused the problems with my left arm and leg.

From my own experience, a lot of recovery is not only up to your doctors. It's up to you, too. And it isn't easy. The specialists said there was no hope for me. My family doctor said, "Let's turn the rehab team loose on you and see what happens." And wherever he is, I thank him every day.

Gabby is a fighter and I have great hopes for her.

I'm so sorry that your husband had such a difficult time -- it must have been oure hell for you and your family.

Xtreme English said...

Thanks, Darlene, for telling about this. What a living hell for you both. I won't forget Rep. Giffords. We can only hope and pray that whatever the outcome, she will face an altered life with the same courage and spirit she has invested in her time up to now.

You are some woman, I'll say that! I feel blessed to have your words and wisdom in my life.

Nancy said...

I think we all cheered in our hearts when that ambulance carrying Gabby passed by on our TV screens.

We also have a wonderful Democratic woman representing our district in the House of Representatives and I was heartsick when I mentally placed her in that ambulance in Gabby's place, so I know how you must feel, Darlene.

Also,thank you for opening your heart and telling us about the last months of your husband's life. You and he were both very brave and I admire you both very much for your endurance and courage.

rummuser said...

Since I have developed ulnar palsy I can understand the inner turmoil that someone can go through with bigger problems. I join all Americans in sending best wishes and prayers to the brave Gabby.

Darlene said...

*Kay Dennison - Yes, I do know about your stroke and you are an inspiration to all who need encouragement to persevere. You are a fighter and Gabby is a fighter. I have hopes for her full recovery.

*Xtreme English - What a very sweet thing for you to say. Thank you and I am blessed by having your words in my life, too.

*Nancy - Sometimes it isn't bravery. You just do what you have to do. Thank you for your kind words.

Darlene said...

*rummuser - Sorry you have ulnar palsy. When we endure physical problems we have more compassion for the woes of others.

K. said...

Thanks for sharing your story. What an ordeal...

I had an MS scare eleven years ago. The neurologist admitted that they still didn't know much about the brain.

Darlene said...

*K - I'm glad your experience was just a scare. I wouldn't wish MS on my worst enemy.

janinsanfran said...

Today they are reporting Giffords is out of intensive care.

Thanks for sharing your story; I watched my mother die subsequent to a stroke. She couldn't express where she was and eventually slipped away.

Darlene said...

*janinsanfran - It's painful watching someone who is incapable of communicating. I hope your mother did no linger very long. It took my husband nearly 3 months to die after he could no longer speak.