Monday, November 2, 2009


Tonight I figured I would write a little bit about being helpless. As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I spent a month of this fall in a coma. In the following three weeks before I entered the rehab unit, I drifted in and out of a drug induced haze. I was unable to move a muscle. Not a finger. On top of that I was unable to speak for the better part of two weeks. During this time I was expected to participate in PT while still in the ICU. In order to do this I was lifted bodily out of bed by means of a hoist device. I would be strapped in, nylon bands cutting across my torso and groin, pinching my catheter, my feeding tube, oxygen tube, and a half dozen more wires and hoses getting caught on all sorts of things. This then would pull at my face, crotch, chest, you name it. It was never simple. Some days I would get whacked in the face (more than once!) with the spreader bar of the hoist. It was never uneventful or relaxing.

Then they would move me to a reclining chair with the premise that being upright would help circulation and help get me over my pneumonia (which it did). For the first week, being upright made me cry. It was all I could do to sit up. I couldn't even hold myself upright. I would start to lean within about 4 minutes. Some days the PT nurse would do range of motion exercises and I couldnt even add any input. By the end of the second week, about the time I could finally talk via this device attached to my trach tube, I was ready to speak my mind.

Instead I found myself so grateful to be able to communicate, to be able to tell Nancy how much I loved her, to be able to talk to Aurora to let her know I was ok and that she was loved... with all of that foremost in my mind, I couldnt really complain.

Which brings me to my thought for the evening: there is a transition from being helpless to being able to begin to help yourself. For me, I knew I was making that transition when I was able to help encourage others on the rehab ward. So what does it mean to help yourself? What does it really mean to be helpless? How does one ask for help? I am lousy at asking for help. Yet as soon as I was unable to physically ask for help, it came out of the woodwork.

I cant begin to thank everyone who has helped Nancy, Aurora and I. Without a doubt, we couldn't have done it without help. I would not have made it back from that coma without all the help we received. Saying thank you sounds so small compared to how I feel. I am so thrilled to be alive... to be back... to know I have more life to live.

Many friends have asked what it was like in the coma. I am going to try to write about it. I will probably try to put it into a small book form rather than the blog. If you have a desire to read it when it's finished, let me know. I can tell you it wont all make sense and the imagery is both personal and surreal.

For now though, I need to catch up on some sleep before another day of PT tomorrow.


notengomiedoclay said...

I can't imagine. I was in the ER for a few hours with severe muscle spasms, unable to control my body's movement, and it was TERRIFYING. I can't imagine spending much more time than that without control.

Congratulations on your quick recovery, and best wishes for further improvement!

Bulldog Pottery said...

Thanks Alex for sharing. I am glad you are back and communicating with everyone. I am glad that you are on the road to getting better. Now that you mention it .... What is it like being in a coma?

judsculpt said...

So great to find you are posting blogs again, although it was good to hear your progress from Nancy, thanks. It must be so hard to work through this rehab but my thoughts are with you, so best wishes and keep writing about your trials and we wil keep you in our thoughts and will be cheering for you every time you achieve another new wishes from Australia, Judy

jimgottuso said...

your description of being helpless sounds like a bad dream... so happy you are back with us alex. good luck with your continuing PT

Judy Shreve said...

What you have been through is truly amazing! Please continue to express what it was like -- You are truly an inspiration & it's good to have you back communicating.

Give Nancy a GIANT hug - for all she did to keep us informed.

Keep getting better!

jenny said...

You have been in my thoughts and prayers since I had news of you being in ICU. My mom put you on her internet prayer chain list. You may not believe in prayer, but it was something we could do, rather than helplessly worry about someone who means so much to Carrie. You are such a good friend to her. She is so grateful for every experience she has had with you.
God speed your recovery.

Linda Starr said...

Oh my so very very happy to hear from you, and so very happy for your family too.