My Injury was an illness rather than injury and certainly not as severe sounding as your husbands. Although my husband and mother were told that had I not been found (passed out on the floor due to the fever) when I was, I was six to ten hours to death.
So here is what happened from my perspective.
About three weeks before, I felt a bronchitis cough coming on and after a couple of days went to the carenow clinic. Meds and diagnosis for bronchitis.
A week later, no improvement and back to the clinic. More meds, diagnosis secondary pneumonia. A couple of days into it, I couldn’t keep the meds down. I am allergic to penicillin so I sort of remember thinking that even though it is all over my records they must have given me something related to it. I wasn’t having an allergic reaction though, it would just come back up immediately. So I stopped trying to take it because I wanted to keep at least water down.
A week later, a trip to the er that I do not recall. They gave me oral rx’s and sent me home even though my husband says he and I both told them that I had been unable to keep anything down in the past three days including meds. My husband was surprised to find that I don’t remember this trip to the er. He says I walked in and that I filled out the paperwork and answered their questions. It was clear I was ill, but I wasn’t gone the way I was when he found me on the floor. I have no memory of it. So that was a Saturday night into Sunday morning. We arrived home around 3 am he said and I went straight to bed.
I was found on the floor of my bedroom just outside the bathroom door around 3am on a Tuesday morning, so roughly 48 hours after the ER visit. At the time I remembered nothing after the prior Thursday evening by this point I’d already lost 4 days. (For clarity, I have been told a few things that once told I think I recall, but I am not sure if I would have recalled them if I wasn’t told.)
Clearly I had passed out before getting back to bed. My husband found me on the floor when he woke in the night. He told me I had to get up. I tried and my legs didn’t work. I was having the stand up thoughts but the message wasn’t getting from my brain to my legs. I felt week and confused and I couldn’t stay awake. I have been told that he spent about 30 minutes trying to wake me and get me to get up and to help. Eventually he realized how serious things were and called the fire department.
When they arrived and checked vitals my temp was over 104.8, I remember them telling me I have to give consent to be taken to the hospital and not being able to articulate consent. I remember my husband saying clearly she isn’t capable, I’m saying take her please! I managed a head nod or something and then don’t remember more until in the er and seeing my mom and husband in the far corner of the room. Both clearly exhausted and worried. But that is all I remember, waking and seeing them, maybe I nodded or lifted my hand or something. The next memory is back to the firefighters telling me I have to sign their computer pad. I remember a nurse, seeing her head and thinking she was kind, but then nothing else until a day or so later waking in a room. I couldn’t speak and was too weak to even adjust my comfort in the bed. I was there over a week and only sort of remember and don’t remember much.
My recall begins in rehab, I remember arriving by ambulance or that sort of transport. I think I pretty much remember all of the rehab. I spent about ten days regaining ability to talk, gaining strength to sit, stand, transfer to a wheel chair, shuffle with a walker, walk unaided and then to climb a flight of stairs. I had occupational therapy twice daily to help me dress and shower and later to stand by for safety sake while I did all that on my own. I had physical therapy privately and with a group daily as well as visits from family and friends where most of the time I wanted to get up and sit with them or walk out into the nice area with chairs and sofas rather than lay in bed when they came.
It was all very hard work. Exhausting. Confusing. I can recall answering questions and seeing on their faces that they couldn’t understand what I had said. And I recall not being able to understand why I was so ill. I mean I knew I had bronchitis and pneumonia, but I was flat on my back with no strength to even adjust a pillow, unable to talk clearly enough to be understood and I knew that my vision and my brain weren’t working. I didn’t just feel ill. I felt I was measurably stupider, easy to confuse and frustrated about it. I remember asking if I had a heart attack or a stroke and being told no.
Everyone was supportive and encouraging but I recall feeling like they didn’t understand how hard I was working and I was hyper concerned they would think I wasn’t trying or my slow shuffle walk wasn’t trying hard enough. I was throwing up every meal without it seemed any warning, but I didn’t have a virus or any diagnosis other than sepsis of unknown origin. I wore a heart monitor for all of that time and they found nothing wrong other than the night that I lost the call button in the night, I didn’t have the strength or desire to shout for help, nor did I want to wet the bed, but at that point I couldn’t yet have gotten from the bed to the bathroom at all even with help, I was still struggling with strength to move my legs if they had covered them with a sheet and blanket, so I plucked each of the leads off the heart monitor one at a time until a nurse came to check on it.
Each day of the therapy I got better although I felt miserable, was in pain, had some vertigo and nausea most all of the time and often I wouldn’t realize I was doing better until I could look back, so even my understanding of improving lagged by about a day.
We are five months out and I no longer have any kind of care or follow up.
I have recovered the physical strength and stamina that I had before. I have to wear glasses now. I went from not needing them to trifocals and not legal to drive without them which is okay. I kind of never liked driving anyway. Functionally that means that where I used to look across the room and see my husbands bright blue eyes and know from the shade of blue if he was teasing or not, to looking across the room and seeing him, able to tell it is him but it is a blurry him without being able to see the color of his eyes.
I still have the odd vomiting thing on occasion. Never any warning or nauseous feeling, just a certain kind of cough that I now think of as the oh no cough and up whatever I ate shortly before comes.
I still have some vertigo and balance issues. Everyone seems to be positive this is my brain getting used to glasses rather than a lingering after effect of the illness.
Much of the time I still feel measurably less intelligent than I was before, but I also have moments were I realize even that is getting better. On the phone with my mom yesterday and made her laugh with some Dr. Suess style poetry that I just made up on the fly as I was trying to convey my frustration with a situation. Then she was like, do you know what you just did? That is the old you, your quick is back.
My situation is clearly different than your husbands, my brain injury was fever induced, rather than traumatic.
So what do I have for you? My husband’s presence, support and faith in my ability to recover meant everything to me. He still had to work, but everyday he came straight from work. Asked questions of at first the nurses and then, as I got better, me about my day. He made sure I had clean comfortable easy to put on clothes to wear every day. When I couldn’t remember what day it was he gently helped me remember. When I cried about the lost time and memories, he let me. He told me the things he knew I would want to know and let the other stuff go. He was happy for me when I showed him an exercise I accomplished or showed or told him how far I walked. He was patient and kind when I was hurting. He was honest when he was exhausted. “You’re doing good. You want to stay up or want me to put you to bed? I have to go get some rest. I will call you when I get home and in the morning before work.” He would check to make sure my phone was charged and in reach. He would send a text in the night for me to find in the morning that he woke in the night and was checking on me. If sleeping I was to ignore it. Witty guy.
I don’t know you and I know things are different and people are different. But I want you to know that my spouse was my rock steady. He is the reason I worked hard when it hurt. He is the reason I sat up even though sitting up meant throwing up. When I didn’t understand what was going on around me. I understood that he was there and that mattered. It gave me a place to look when I didn’t understand. It gave me a hand to hold when I was scared. Getting home to him kept me going. Knowing he was coming to see me, helped me get through the next step in the process whatever it was.
I bet you are his rock steady too. Remember to take care of yourself too. I remember feeling grateful that he could say to me, I am just exhausted I need to go to bed early, lets get you settled and I’ll call you when I am safely home. I liked that he was taking care of himself and not being a martyr to his own health to sit with me for appearances sake. I like that he had faith in my ability to get better between now and after work or morning time.
He was just there and when he wasn’t there he was where he needed to be for us. That was exactly what I needed to get about the business of getting better.
I wish you both healing and comfort in this hard time.