Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Acquired Brain Injury Day 4

I had read the booklet the night before and even though I knew the next few days and weeks would be challenging, I was in good spirits as I walked into the hospital. I had learned that with Acquired Brain Injury patients every day is a new challenge and today would be a challenging day.

The first day the nurses had started talking to me about my wife's condition and I discovered that the condition my wife had was called Acquired Brain Injury, rather than a Aneurysm bleed. The Aneurysm bleed had caused the injury to the Brain.  Acquired brain injury (ABI) is  brain damage caused by events after birth, these result from either traumatic brain injury (e.g. physical trauma due to accidents, assaults, neurosurgery, head injury etc.) or non traumatic injury derived from either an internal or external source (e.g. aneurysm, stroke, brain tumors, infection, poisoning).  

The nurses told me that ABI can result in cognitive, physical, or emotional, behavioural  impairments that lead to permanent or temporary change in functioning. So I needed to be prepared for anything and that I needed to keep myself well, so that I could help my wife.

Following Acquired Brain Injury it is common for patients to experience memory loss; memory disorders are one of the most prevalent cognitive deficits experienced in sufferers. However, because some aspects of memory are directly linked to attention, it can be challenging to assess what components of a deficit are caused by memory and which are fundamentally attention problems.  

My wife has at this point,  no short term memory so the events as to why she was in the hospital. were a mystery to her. In addition, she had no short term memory retention, so that for example, when she was told to not pull out her tubes, she forgot that she had been told that instruction. It turns out that her memory was linked to her attention span so she could not pay attention to the rules, let alone remember them. 

So when I walked today my wife was in bed, with her hands wrapped in bandages, so she could not use her fingers, The nurse told me that she had pulled out one of the tubes last night and to prevent her from hurting herself they were keeping her hands bound. 

The other way the staff could prevent her from taking the tubes out was to restrain her, and they did not want to do that as that would be very traumatic for her. One difference between treatment here and in Canada would be that in BC they would have restrained my wife. This would have been done, not because it was best for her, but because the government of BC and Canada, has reduced funding so staffing is not available as needed for patients.

The morning was quite depressing as Colleen was very agitated and excited and she had no idea who I was, but as the morning ended, she fell asleep.  I was emotionally tired, and feeling very upset, so  I went to the park across the street from the hospital  to enjoy the sun and to get some air. 

When I returned Colleen was awake and seemed to be alert, but within an hour her condition went down hill very quickly. She became very disorientated, fading in and out of consciousness and was not responsive to commands of the nurses. 

One of the nurses took me aside and told me that between the fourth and seventh day after the operation, there is a possibility that the arteries and the veins in the brain would start to vibrate. If not controlled these vibrations could lead to a stroke, paralysis, blindness, deafness or death. 

A Dr. came over and told me that the Neurological team thought that Colleen brain was undergoing an episode of vibration. They told me they were going to start her on new medication and would be starting to pump more fluid into her--the fluid would expand the arteries and the hope was that this would work with the medication to slow down  the rate of vibration. If the vibration could not be controlled there was greater likelihood of a stroke or death.

I was told to go home as there was nothing I could do at this time, the medication was either going to work or not and all everyone could do was wait. I  did not leave but sat with my wife for another two hours as she slept, then I headed back to Rye wondering what I would tell my daughter.

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