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MICHAEL'S Long Journey Back

10/19/2007--The last time that I spoke to my brother-in-law, Michael , was about 1:00pm or so in the afternoon yesterday; about money matters, and seeing how his search to fix his car was going. He came to the door half asleep, and dressed for bed. He briefly mentioned that he was going to play phone tag on getting various issues taken care of. Knowing that he worked the graveyard shift the night before, I took off back to my apartment across the street. Later about 6pm in the evening I went over again, knocked with no answer - thinking nothing of it - "he's just sleeping late". Nothing unusual there. My son-in-law James returned to Michael's place, to give him a ride to work; so as to get some make up time out of the way, but again received no answer at the door. Thinking this extremely odd I went over, with our spare key.

Continuing to call out his name I found Michael lying in bed, stiffening, cold, with shallow breathing and fading pulse; James could not revive Mike either. I called Alice on my cell, back at our apartment, to call 911 on the land line. Within moments the EMS arrived and discovered his Diabetic blood count at a deathly low 20mg/dL on their meter; he had gone into a hypoglycemic comatose state.

Today Michael continues in the ICU in critical condition...

10/21/2007----------I took off from work early today, too stressed to deal with it all. Came home and Alice and I went over to Mike's apartment. After eating supper we went to the hospital for a visit with Mike. Still no progress. This is not written in stone. Seems we are in for the long haul, indeed. For Michael continues on a ventilator machine, assisting his weakened breathing. Perhaps in two weeks he may be able to upgrade to a trac in his throat instead. A trac will bypass the soft tissue of the mouth and help prevent breakdown, and sores. Yet, with a trac Michael will more than likely need to be moved into a long-term care facility.

Today is Sunday, four days since he "went down". At this point, nothing has changed in his condition. Gleaning from the various things we've been told: no real assessment of his cognitive skill level can be determined; when the sedation's are turned down, within moments a noticeable change can be seen. From his sleep like, comatose state, Michael's eyes open, toes begin to curl and twitch, stiff arms slowly rise as if to pull the tubes out but then abate.

There is no real acknowledgement of our presence before him, calling his name or suggesting that if he hears us to nod his head or blink his eyes a number of times for yes or no, to questions. Then after ten minuets or so of failing to acknowledge us or the nursing staff, his sedation is once again raised to higher levels causing the comatose state to come over him in a manner of seconds; stiff and unresponsive. We were told that he's developed ARDS; a lung condition that has severely diminished is already poor condition.

We are emotionally exhausted, mentally challenged and seemingly at wits ends. The caring hospital staff seem more than eager to pleasantly meet and expand upon our many questions. We go home and rehearse everything over again among ourselves, then readjust our long short/long term plans until the next visit - what else can we do?

10/23/2007----------I went to see Mike by myself, Alice has been having a real struggle with all this and not handling things too great. As I told her, last night Michael showed more signs of progress than since he's been admitted. Small steps like following the nurse's finger with his eyes, nodding and which hand to squeeze. The Lung Specialist {Michael's lungs are the major issues at this time}, was most pleased, "because at least we know the circuits are connected". We are still nowhere near "being out of the woods" nor speculating at what cognitive level he is at now. His doctor mentioned that, whatever permanent brain damage Michael sustained while he was down, would be evident once he is able to be taken off the ventilator. Yet, when he is brought down off the sedation, for such recognition "tests" he so far does not fair very well - such is the waiting game. Michael's present condition has shaken me to my core.

10/24/2007----------Even though there may be "hoops" to jump through with Medicaid we may HAVE to go that route. No one in the family has the money to pay for him to be in a facility of any kind. It HAS to be covered through his insurance or Medicaid /medicare. If he is put in such a rehab facility we may have no choice but to let his apartment go. Because of all the issues with his car, it may be the first to go, as well.

I spoke with a Social Worker of the ICU, who will latter as he progresses, hand me off to another. I was told that depending on my brother-in-law's condition at discharge form the hospital, would determine the direction of resource support they could provide.

Last night Michael was the most responsive we've seen since he has been in the Hospital; just as the doctors have been describing: alert tracking eyes, trying to mouth words, and following simple bed ridden directions like "move your leg". Sometime today, if he continues to progress, Michael should be taken off the ventilator and grow stronger at breathing on his own. Though there's a "light at the end of the tunnel", he's not "out of the woods" yet.

10/25-07---------James and I visited him last night, and today he did not remember it at all. Today,(my wife) Alice and I went to visit with Michael at the hospital, they've taken him off the vent, and he now has a nasal O2 tube. His recognition level is still very uncertain, but appears to know that he's not hungry, and about needing to use the rest room. He is uncertain what his or even a middle name is, at this time. We are continuing to play the Waiting Game...


  1. David, once Michael gets through the next few weeks the real work will begin -- for him, for all of you -- but especially for him. I hope that with much dedicated help & support that he is able to resolve at least some of his difficulties and confront what it is that had made him so terribly unhappy and desperate. I hope that Michael is able to overcome his pain and learn to love Michael, as the rest of you do.

    Thank you so very much for contacting me and for sharing private details of another man's pain. It was both an honor and a pleasure to have interacted with you as a nurse and a fellow human being who is familiar with pain and despair. Call on me anytime.

    God bless you all.



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