This remarkable journey that my husband, Allyen, our kids and I are all on together has taught me some important lessons already. One is that just like home remodeling snowballs into something bigger (e.g., repair the toilet becomes take-the-bathroom-down-to-the-studs), health crises happen the same way just faster.
This is what happened to Allyen. Without warning, a blood clot formed in his leg, broke off, traveled up to and through the heart, coming to rest at the juncture that feeds the lungs. He couldn’t breath, but what happened next was actually far more dangerous. Without the breath and therefore the oxygen, his heart stopped.
When your heart stops, and during the necessary CPR, the brain is deprived of the important oxygen it needs to survive. It doesn’t take long for damage to occur. It was a cascade of physical crisis.
Ensuing problems such as kidney failure, lung problems, etc., can often be addressed and resolved over time. But what happens to the brain becomes the long-term issue for recovery. It’s called an anoxic brain injury. I read a medical study from April 2011 that indicated that just 3% – 7% of those suffering brain injury after resuscitation from cardiac arrest return to their previous level of functioning.
The initial physical cascade happens without you really being aware. Then, there is the physical cascade in the early days following: kidneys get unhappy; new medications are introduced; lungs struggle to repair. You start looking at every little number on the monitors and in the labs. It is a cascade of information and, for someone not medically trained, it’s tough to know what is important.
The communication cascade also begins immediately with friends and family. Calls generate more calls. Facebook has frankly saved me on this one. Sorry to those not connectedÂ — I reserve my Facebook for family and close friendsÂ — but it has been the easiest way for me to work through this part of the cascade. My messengers have kept my wider network and Allyen’s network apprised.
So, where did we land in the neurological part of the physical cascade? We don’t really know yet. At the moment, Allyen’s got passing cognitive ability (he instructed me the other day how to get our investments back on track), and his memory is sound.
What isn’t working is his body. Whether it’s a loss of coordination or unintentional muscle movement, we just don’t know yet. Now that all the other medical stuff is resolving, we will be able to focus on the neurology and hopefully find a direction. We’ll have to be patient and wait for the next phase of the cascade.
NOTE: I’m sure there are nuances in my postsÂ that aren’t perfectly medical correct. I’m not a doctor. But, I’m going to continue to do the best I can to explain our journey as best I can.