Wake Up Call: Coming to Consciousness After a 12 Day Coma
May 20th, 2011 was a big day. This is a moving story for me, but I have no memory of it, so I’ll let my mom tell it:
Sent: Fri, May 20, 2011 9:53 am
Subject: Cavin Balaster Day 12
Well, Cavin woke up tonight…I spent the morning with him, then went out to run some errands and get a mani/pedi. Bought him some toys to squeeze with his hand etc. got back to the hospital and gave him a mani/pedi, and started working with him with his toys and explaining to him what he needed to do to get better…… —(she was talking to me while My eyes were closed and I was only partially “there”)—
Then it was onto trying to get him conscious and to get him to cough productively and spit it out instead of relying on constant suctioning which is hell on the mouth, throat and lungs…. we made a lot of progress…. he cooperated. —(unconsciously… Sort of)—
Jamie (his girlfriend / former girlfriend / best friend) called to tell me that she would pick me up from the hospital but didn’t think she’d come in because it was going to be after visiting hours. I asked her to please come in; to call me when she got there and I’d get her in… when she called me to tell me she was outside, Cavin opened both eyes… I told her what had just happened…..Jamie told me to stay put, she’d find her way in.
I did and she did get in…. by that time he had kept his eyes open and continued to rally. She put a song they love on her ipod by his pillow and he started reacting more and more. He kept coughing and spitting out with great difficulty but with eyes wide open. I’d ask him “where’s Jamie” and he’d turn his head and eyes to the side of the bed where she was. He was also rubbing and squeezing her butt (that’s our boy)…. and gazing at her. At one point I asked him to stick out his tongue… cause it looked like he had thrush… he couldn’t understand or wouldn’t comply.
Then Jamie said, “Cavin, make ‘wacky face'” which is a joke between them which involves wrinkling his nose and widening his mouth, showing his teeth and sticking out his tongue. It also involves waving one’s hands like Miss America… he only did the face movements. She said, “what about the hands that go with wacky face”, and he started doing it immediately the same way he always used to. (with right hand only). That’s when we knew he had memory and knew who he was with.
He continued to be highly activated and engaged with both of us, besides the coughing … and continued to come more and more “on line”.
It was pretty earth shattering for us, because he showed humor, personality, recognition and memory. We know it’s just a start, but far more than we expected to see at the outset of his coming to full consciousness.
We stayed til midnight when they finally threw us out, and his eyes got very wide (and did I detect indignant?) as we were leaving.. He was ready to go all night. We had an amazing experience with him and are eternally grateful for such a meaningful rally.
And to think that last night I was signing a consent form for a tracheostomy…. Bless you all for all your healing energy and intention…
I know he rises being lifted up by all your love and prayers.
Will keep you posted
Love you all
I finally woke up after this successful extubation when Jami was not in the room, but just outside of the hospital trying to get in… As if I could sense her presence or hear her voice through the phone, or something. I woke up from a coma after 12 days, and the first thing I did was grab my former girlfriend’s butt! Ha! Jami recently told me that she knew that I was gonna be ok when I grabbed her butt. That day must have been extraordinary for Jami and my mom… I don’t remember it, but when I read that email for the first time, almost a year later, I was very close to tears. It is extraordinary to me as well. I wish I could remember it (but I’m afraid of what else I would remember.)
I could not talk when I first woke and was given paper and a pen to communicate. I have a lot of the notes I wrote. I couldn’t write legibly at first, but the first thing that you can sort of make out looked like a 5 year old wrote: “Where’s my phone?” My mom thought that I was just concerned about who had called or texted me. I think she’s wrong. I think that the reason that I wrote that was because I obviously could not write to communicate so perhaps I thought that a keypad would be much better. It really sucks not being able to communicate… Especially when you’re in a dependent state.
“Where am I?”
“Where’s my phone?”[vimeo id=”81247221″ width=”600″ height=”350″]