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Please help: Dad not speaking after operation


Guest wilko74
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Guest wilko74

Hello everybody. First of all, thank you to all those who run this website and everyone who clearly offers so much valuable support in difficult circumstances.

I have some questions which I’d be grateful if somebody could answer, although I appreciate there’s no definitive answers when it comes to medicine.

My dad collapsed with a SAH exactly a week tonight (Monday 28th July 2008). My father is 75 years of age and, although he has other problems such as chest complaints, he is declared by doctors to be in good condition.

In the immediate hour after Dad collapsed and was rushed to hospital, he spoke to my Mum and even asked if our neighbour was still at the hospital (i.e. knew names). In the hours after this he went into something akin to a coma, albeit he was constantly moving his limbs, sneezing, scratching his head, denoting he had a headache by pointing. However, he didn’t speak.

On Thursday morning my Dad underwent the coiling procedure/operation, following which he’s made what doctors again say is as good a progress as could be expected. Apart from the SAH, they say he's in relatively good health.

On Sunday morning a nurse at the hospital told us via phone that he had spoken - just simple answers to questions, such as replying 'yes' and 'no'.

Today we visited the hospital again and were shocked to discover Dad doesn’t appear to be looking at us or recognising our presence. Yet – when we spoke to him and told him who we were, reminded him how much we love him etc his eyes seemed to well up as if he was tearful and did indeed know us.

What’s seriously worrying us, however, is the fact that he seemed to be in something of a world of his own, wasn’t especially squeezing our hand as we held his (this he did when he was in the stupor-type state before the operation).

Basically, my Dad’s crossing his legs, scratching himself, moving his arm – albeit his left is stronger than his right side (he’s not really moving his right arm) – and his eyes are moving and staying open without any prompting. But.....he doesn’t seem to know who we are.

Is this often the case in this kind of illness and is there any hope that time, as we’re told, is a great healer? I appreciate that doctors can't predict the outcome with regards to emotions and cognitive states but they say he's doing well medically.

Nevertheless, has anybody else experienced similar with regards to the non-speaking state of a SAH sufferer in the immediate aftermath of the operation and, basically, should we remain hopeful that Dad will respond to us and get back to some sense of 'normality' with regards to recognising his loved ones.

Sincere thanks in advance for any help or support you can offer us as we feel almost numb and are finding it hard to keep hope.

Thank you.

Joanne

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Dear Joanne,

I am sorry about your dad feeling poorly i hope and pray he makes a good recovery.

I had SAH in March 2008 and i was told i had something similar to your dad, my family were really worried. The doctors felt that it was the pressure build up in the brain they had to drain the fluid surrounding that area through lumber punture drainage after a week or so i still felt a bit bewildered and slowly i started remembering people and making progress. I could not talk and when i did it did not make much sense.

It is a slow process for some people and recovery depends on the the individuals medical circumstances i am still recovering and making a steady progress but i am sure your dad will get better soon.

Myra xx

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Hello Joanne and Welcome

It must be a very hard time for you all at the moment but hold onto the fact that the Doctors say he is good condition medically. Everyones recovery rate is different but it is very early days for your dad and in the first few days after it is very usual to spend most of the time asleep or in a confused state.

I'm sure most of us here would agree that we don't remember who had been in to visit us whilst in hospital. With brain injuries the mind seems to slow right down as its busy working on healing itself.

I hope your dad starts to improve soon please let us know how he doing.

Janet x

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Guest wilko74

Hello Myra and Janet.

Thanks beyond words for your replies and support. It really does mean so much at this time.

Can I just ask you all something else please?

Am I correct in thinking it was the original collapse - when the bleed occurred - that would have caused a) the most damage and B) was the most critical stage?

The reason I ask is this: in the immediate aftermath of the collapse a week ago - around an hour later (and before the coiling surgery on Thursday) - Dad was able to recognise my Mum (knew her name and said it); he was also able to refer to the name of a neighbour who took us to the hospital behind the ambulance (even though the neighbour wasn't in view) and he was able to say he had a bad head (as if he'd been hit).

My hope is this: that such comments after the attack means his current long spells of silence (bar the occasional 'yes' or 'no' replies to nurses in the past 24 hours) is simply indicative of the brain rewiring itself (so to speak) and the fact Dad is so unbelievably tired.

Does anybody have any thoughts on this please?

Apologies in advance for having so many questions.

Sincere thanks again and I really do wish the very best to all of you (sufferers and families of sufferers alike).

Joanne

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Hi Joanne,

Welcome to this wonderful site. I was like you, being the one to watch someone you love very much suffer a SAH. My husband Jim suffered a sah in December 2007. He did not need to be coiled as he did not suffer an anyuersum.

It was very hard seeing him early on and my heart and prayers are with you all. Jim also did not remember much at all and still to this day there is a lot he does not remember about being in the hospital. Jim did talk some but not much. I think he was just too tired and really needed to rest. People do recover differently. It is good that your Dad has his motor skills. He has been through alot and as Janet stated I do also believe the brain makes the mind slower because it really does need time to heal. And yes, your Dad is and will be tired for sometime.

Please let us know if there are any questions you need to ask. The many people on this site have been a God send to Jim and I. They are truly a lifeline.

Take care and please try to take care of yourself also. I know how hard that can be.

Cal

XXXX

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Hi Joanne

Obviously the bleed in the brain does cause damage but the effect of coiling or clipping also cause some trauma and also in the first few months there is also irritation from the blood drainig away. It is very natural for your father to be the way he is at the moment if the Neurosurgeons were at all worried they would let you know.

No need to apologise we're a very friendly if slighty nutty bunch on here and there will always be someone to answer any questions you may have.

Janet x

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Hi Joanne,

Hope that you're Dad is doing okay ...... must admit that I was in a stupor for at least the first couple of weeks .... got a feeling that it's probably some of the drugs that they give you as well....

All I wanted to do was sleep and if it hadn't been for having youngish kids, then I don't think that I would have probably spoken! It seemed to take a huge amount of energy, just to relay a sentence ..... and there was many a time, where I would nod off!!

Joanne, your Dad is 75, so it will probably take a heck of a lot out of him ...... just keep doing what you're doing ...... encourage him and be there for him ..... even though many of us were probably falling asleep when we had visitors, we still remember them being with us.... good luck and take each day as it comes ..... xx

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Hello Joanne, Never fear we are all happy to answer any questions you may have :) When I first had my SAH ( the first hour or maybe a bit less) I too was very chatty, spoke to everyone and knew that the ambulance man was an ambulance man etc, then I withdrew completely had no idea where I was or why, and to this day I have no memory of any of the first week at least, maybe a bit more. I think that although I was awake I was not truly concsious therefore did not really react to people, including my partner. I'm fine now in that I speak,recognise etc but I still don't remember any of the incident. I had my SAH in March, as Karen has said if the Docs say your Dad is in good condition then he is and will doubtless soon be more his normal self! :)

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Hi Joanne

Sorry to hear about your dad but it does sound as if he's recovering fine. To reiterate what everyone else has been saying, I can remember speaking to the ambulance man both before and in the ambulance but then nothing for about a week to 10 days, other than snatches of memory which keep bobbing up even now so it seems to be a 'normal' occurrence.

I hope your dad continues to recover and that you see improvement every day. Keep popping in; as Janet says, we're all a bit nutty but probably all were before our SAHs!

Take care

Sarah x

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Hi Joanne

I am also very sorry to hear about your Dad, and hope he continues to improve. I was the same as the others, chatting away at the beginning, but seem to have lost lots of memories after being clipped, my hubby has to fill me in. I did not speak much at first, my hubby said i was drifting in and out of sleep alot. I agree with what the others have said about the brain mending, just takes time. I am fine now, it probably took a month before i was was talking normally, but still so very tired. Sending lots of love your way and thinking of you, time is a great healer,and your Dad sounds like he is doing just fine. :D

Take care

Love Tinaxx

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Hi Joanne

I'm so sorry to hear about your father. It can't be a nice thing to watch someone you love go through - I felt sorrier for my husband watching than myself going through it.

When I had my SAH, I was having conversations with the ambulance men - can remember being taken down the stairs to the ambulance but nothing after that for 48 hours. Apparently there was another girl in the hospital called Samantha and she was unconscious so the nurses were shouting her name and I was shouting "What?!" but they weren't talking to me. I could answer all the questions they asked - who is the prime minister, what day is it, where are you? etc etc but can remember nothing of this. I can only agree with what the others have said - to heal the brain needs to slow down everything else. If the Docs are happy with his recovery then take comfort from this and just be there to support him and let him know you're there and that you love him.

Please keep us updated on his progress - my thoughts are with you and your family.

Take care and try to stay positive - it helps.

Love Sami xxx

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Guest wilko74

Hello again everyone.

I can’t thank you enough for your replies and for offering me some comfort at this incredibly difficult time. Sincere thanks for taking the time to respond.

The latest on my Dad is that, to our distress, he is still yet to speak – we’re beginning to wonder whether the nurse who said he answered ‘yes’ and ‘no’ on Sunday was right in her analysis – but we’ve finally been told that the nurses are checking his cognitive skills every single hour.

The latest is that, when asked to stick his tongue out (in response to the nurse showing him how to do this as my Dad has had lifelong deafness in one ear) and squeeze the nurse’s hand, he did both.

However, try this again an hour later and the response can be wholly difficult – i.e. almost zero.

It has been admitted to me that they would have liked to have seen more progress by now but at least they are doing everything they can.

I’m also informed that the physios are periodically using splints to stop something to do with the drooping of the foot (caused, I imagine, by the fact the patient – in this case my father – can’t walk or even get out of bed). I imagine this is standard procedure.

The drain (or shunt) continues to be in and my Dad’s temperature continues to be a little high but there appears to be no sign of infection.

Other than this we have little or no news and we’ll continue to try to speak to my Dad and certainly won’t give up on him.

Thanks again. I hope it’s ok my writing a further lengthy response in this way as I appreciate my father isn’t the only person to be suffering but I did just want to post an update.

I’ll be honest: if he would just speak one or two more words I word relax so much with regards to my Dad’s state of health and prognosis, but the non-speaking is truly terrifying me as my Mum and brother and myself genuinely fear his being in something akin to a vegetative state.

Joanne

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Hi again

Its horrible when somebody you care about is like that am thinking of you and hopeing things improve although it takes time believe me......impatients can be on both sides yours & his.....

No dont stop talking even just chatter just because he cant answer dosnt mean he dosnt understand oops sorry that because that happened to me......dsont sound like a 'vegitable state' to me although he maybe dosnt respond an hour on he dose respond.

I have a shunt in my head, its ok it keeps me alive its my friend not foe.....

Ok rambled enough if you want to ask me anything PM me or just ask away I had my SAH 8years ago kinda been there and done it, so to speak......

Take care & look after yourself....

Louise.xx

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Hi Joanne,

At least your Dad is responding in some sort of way ...... hold on in there and just keep encouraging him..... the initial tiredness after a SAH is pretty horrendous and for many of us on this message board, the fatigue still haunts us when we're years into recovery ..... when the fatigue hits me now, I tend to go extremely quiet and just want to be left alone.....I can still find it hard to find the right words when tired.....

I know that it must be pretty hard holding a conversation with somebody that doesn't respond, but may be try taking some old photos in with you and see if that stirs anything ..... even if he only squeezes your hand in recognition etc .... anything is worth trying if it helps him to engage with you..... but, he's still v.early days, so yes, he's going to feel exhausted .... stay as positive as possible, as he's got a lot to contend with..... I was only 42 when I had my SAH and to have gone from being active to somebody that came out in a wheelchair, was horrifying..... I couldn't get over how weak I'd become ..... my recovery has been snail like, but recovery is still happening for me, 3 years later .... it is possible....

Good luck Joanne and keep us updated when you can .... all I can say, is that recovery can pretty much be "baby steps" .... any small sign or achievement is progress ..... we've had a couple of members on this message board that had a pretty bad prognosis, but went on to achieve an awful lot more than the medics predicted ......

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Hi Joanne and welcome

I keep thinking that I remember everything but according to my mom I was alot like your dad but I just don't remember it. I read your message to her and she said oh you were like that. I hope your dad keeps on improving but don't forget to look after yourself aswell. Jess.xxx

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Guest wilko74

Hi Jess and everyone else

Thanks so much for telling me this as it does make us feel we still have hope - such a valuable commodity at times like this.

We're told again today that my Dad seems bright enough and that the right side of his body appears a little stronger now and more flexible (he was barely moving his right arm). We're going in later today to talk to him so here's hoping for some recognition, although I now fully appreciate we can't/mustn't try to rush him and just have to hang in there.

I'll keep you updated if that's ok.

Thanks again and take care everyone.

Joanne

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Hi Joanne

of course keep us updated, yes it all takes time but you'll be surprised at things maybe not just now....I'm speaking from having had a SAH but also knowing what my husband went through from their side too....

take care

Louise.x

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Hello and welcome Joanne

I hope your dad is doing better x x

I cant remember anything for my first 3 days in hospital.........I can remeber getting to the bottom of the stairs and thats it...

My husband said I was telling him to follow in the car ( scares me when i think about what i cant remember )..

I can sort of remember hearing voices and seeing pictures that my family had put up ALL over above my bed but not speaking

to them x x

The first thing I can remember is high dependency unit 3-4 days later and thinking what is all the fuss about x x now i know x x

But we get there Joanne, everyone takes different lenghts of time for recovery xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Keep us informed how your dad is doing xxxx

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Guest wilko74

Hello again everyone.

I know I've said this a thousand times now but in all sincerity thanks for your support and for helping to keep my hopes and morale higher than they might otherwise be.

We've just visited my Dad in hospital and we did feel there was an improvement from Monday (we live a VERY long distance away from the specialist hospital in which he had the operation, hence we simply can't get there every day - however much we'd love to - and so on every other day we keep in touch by phone).

It seems now as if my Dad is in something of a stupor - Mum kept talking to him and the more she spoke the more we saw flashes of recognition (only brief) and he kept putting his arm up to his head, scratching himself the odd time and squeezing Mum's hand. He generally seemed more aware, kept his eyes open for long periods of time. He also looked at me and - I know this sounds crazy (although I promise we ARE realists - i.e we're not seeing things that aren't there) - it was as if he smiled a little as we have a running joke in our family which I tried on Dad. This might sound a silly comment but the truth is it feels a bit like we're talking to Dad, we're getting through at times but it genuinely feels as if he's in a mood with us and it's a case of 'I'll speak to you when I'm ready and not before'. Does that sound silly? I do worry about the timeline though as it will be 7 days tomorrow (Thursday) since he had the operation (coiling procedure) :?

I really felt uplifted when I walked out of the hospital - I felt as if there was little hope on Monday - as my Dad even seemed to notice things, such as when a consultant came into view from the side and walked past. He also periodically turned his head - such as when he looked directly at me - and even seemed to nod again (just a little....but even little things are big things to us right now).

Anyway, I won't drone on but I did just want to post an update for those of you who've offered me such support at this time. I hope this doesn't sound too selfish a comment but it just feels as if it helps writing this down and being able to chat with others who've either suffered SAH or witnessed it in a love one.

Thank you so much again.

Joanne

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Hi Joanne

So glad that you have seen some small improvements its good that he's looking at you and squeezing your mums hand he's probably just too tired as yet to make the effort to speak but he has let you know he's still with you.

I think as we've all said recovery is very individual but the first few weeks its really hard just keeping your eyes open and talking is difficult as when you try to speak everything comes out jumbled and mixed up or you just can't find the words at all.

I sincerely hope that when you next visit your dad you will see some more improvements.

Janet x

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Hi Joanne,

I've just read your post and I'm so sorry for your Dad and my thoughts are with you in what is a truly emotional time for you and your Family.

You are in great company here, there is a wealth of information and support which help you through this difficult time.

Phil

x

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Hi Joanne

Thanks for keeping us up to date - one thing you can be sure of is that everyone on here really cares about everyone else as we've all, in one way or another, been there.

As Janet says, it's a very confusing time for the patient and there could be a bit of anger there too. I know I got very angry due to not understanding what had happened and having to stay in hospital when everyone else could come and go, despite there being no way of me being able to move! I had so many irrational thoughts and emotions (still do, which I'm trying to sort out and work on) and I'm convinced it's through lack of understanding, although no one can help you understand as we're all so different.

Take care and thinking of you all

Sarah xx

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Hi Joanne,

I am so glad that you Dad is making some improvements. And yes, do bring in pictures of everyone if you have not already done so. It will be good for your Dad to see faces he knows.

Please continue to keep us updated.

Take care,

Cal

XXXX

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