How to Recognize Angels

AngelsIn Laura’s Story, Part 5, by Christine Scott, she remembers the angels in their lives who came to their aid after the death of her father. We often think of angels as beautiful beings with wings, but Christine was referring to family, friends and even strangers who helped them through a difficult time. A friend of her father sold equipment and hang gliders and put collection jars around town to raise money for their family. An aunt single-handedly packed up their belongings to help with the move and grandparents who welcomed them to live in their home.

These were angels who walked among them on earth—real people with mortal bodies. These wonderful people seemed to be sent from above and knew just what was needed at the moment. How can we recognize the angels in our lives? The answer is simple: acknowledge the kindness and help given to you. Those people who have made a positive impact in your life. I’ve been thinking about it and have listed a few.

  • Our biggest angels are parents. They brought you into the world and most of them sacrificed time and money for your care and well-being. They spent sleepless nights when you were sick or out too late. They were your advocates in sports, music and/or drama. They were your cheerleaders in school and other activities.
  • Our littlest angels are children. They are pure and wise beyond their years. Their innocence and curiosity gives us a new and delightful outlook on things which are often taken for granted.
  • Friends who are honest and loyal and lift you up when you’re feeling down.
  • Teachers who taught you how to read, write and do arithmetic. Most have angelic patience and without their help, you wouldn’t be able to read this right now.
  • Doctors and nurses who attend to your medical needs and help you feel better.
  • Therapists who help you overcome hardships and improve your abilities with their knowledge and encouragement.

We can all be angels by lending a helping hand. As we appreciate and recognize the good in others, more angels become apparent.  When I think of the angels in my life, I realize they all have at least two things in common. First of all they are thoughtful and caring and second, they don’t always seem like angels. But how can they? They are people with mortal bodies and not perfected yet.

It reminds me of a “standing joke” Mark and I have. When I help him stand up I often say, “Look up at my halo,” to encourage him upward. To that he replies, “Oh there it is, resting on top of your horns.”

It’s true, sometimes I’m sweet and sometimes I’m not. However, by recognizing and appreciating the helpfulness in others, it usually triggers more kindness.

Who are the angels in your life and why?

There’s No Place Like Home

Nestled in the gorgeous Wasatch Mountain range is the beautiful Sundance resort. For the past several years my brother Steve has pampered us along with our parents and other siblings to a delicious dinner and outdoor theater tickets. Just a few days before Mark’s surgery in July, we found peace and entertainment surrounded by the huge pine trees as we enjoyed the Wizard of Oz. The storyline and music were perfect timing for the turmoil ahead. A few tears streamed down my face as Dorothy sang, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The promise of blue skies, dreams coming true and troubles melting like lemon drops gave me hope for a brighter future. I’ve reflected on the story often through Mark’s recovery.

In the classic story written 77 years ago, of Dorothy and her dog, Toto, being caught in a tornado’s path which took them to the magical Land of Oz where life is strange, but beautiful. Wishing to return home, she is helped by the Good Witch of the North, but in trouble with the Wicked Witch of the West. She follows the yellow brick road to Emerald City where the great wizard lives in hopes he can take her back to a familiar way of life with the people she loves. In her travels she meets a scarecrow who wants a brain, a tin man who yearns for a heart and a cowardly lion who desperately needs courage. They all hope the Wizard of Oz will help them before the Wicked Witch of the West catches up with them. There are many twists and turns in their journey to meet the wizard who everyone says can help Dorothy return home and grant her new friends their wishes for a brain, heart and courage.

It’s common to hear in the halls of a rehab center, “I want to go home.” I’m quite sure it is the sentiment of most patients and the motivation for everyone who works hard in therapy. Some landed in rehab after surgery, while other storms such as a stroke, illness or loss of limb brought them there. All have left the comfort of their home in an effort to improve or save their health. The physical condition cyclone has taken each of them to a life that’s strange and unfamiliar. It’s made beautiful by a caring environment and other patients who understand the pain and share the goal of recovery. Wishing to return home, each is helped by good doctors, nurses, aides and therapists. The patients follow their advice like Dorothy followed the yellow brick road in hopes to get the help they need to return home. In real life there’s no Wizard of Oz who can magically get you home with all your goals achieved. Instead it takes persistent and painful work. Just as the scarecrow, tin man and lion found out, most patients learn from the journey they have within them what it takes to obtain their desire.

Dorothy was right, there’s no place like home and on Friday we were finally able to return. There is nothing more restful than sleeping in my own bed. However, I appreciate wonderful places like Rocky Mountain Care when we’re not capable or safe to be home. I’m filled with gratitude for therapists who work a bit of magic with their knowledge, and a caring staff that is all heart. I value the friendships we made there and am motivated by their life stories and courage. The environment there is very different from home, but it’s made beautiful as people improve and friendships form.

It’s hard to say goodbye to people we may never see again, who have inspired us in our lowest hours and have been with us daily in the pain and success of recovery. We return home changed by our experience and blessed by many people’s influence.

I am grateful to Steve for a wonderful annual summer tradition and for this years play which reminded me that Somewhere Over the Rainbow, skies truly are blue.

Current Situation

Giving Thanks Always

I’d be willing to bet every caregiver has had to make a difficult decision concerning their loved one’s health and it’s hard to give thanks for all of it. For the past several months we’ve been struggling with what to do about Mark’s hip pain and the lack of movement in them, which makes every transfer tough. Because he can’t bend his hips at 90 degrees, his sitting posture is poor, causing spine and neck issues. We finally concluded that the situation isn’t going to get better on its own and without a total hip replacement his general health will decline. With his osteoporosis bone loss he has a risk of a hip fracture, which is why this decision for a total hip replacement has been difficult. Also, his muscles need to be strong enough to hold the hip replacement in place, which is an additional risk. When we weighed the risks against the probability of decline in his movement if we don’t go forward with the surgery, the scale tipped slightly in favor. Therefore, next month Mark is scheduled to have his right hip replacement done and in October he will have the left hip done. He will have a three day hospital stay and three weeks in a rehab center. This year will have major medical expenses, but we can give thanks to a skilled orthopedic surgeon, nurses and therapist who we put our trust in for his care. I’m sure there will be more lessons to be learned from this journey. I hope we will be a quick study.

A New Routine

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a crystal ball and could see into the future? It would make decisions and choices so much easier if we knew ahead of time what the outcome would be. The feeding tube was an answer to prayers for Mark’s improved health. If I would have known the difference it would make, I wouldn’t have given the feeding tube a second thought. With better means of nutrients came more frequent and longer episodes of consciousness and alertness. I continued to play Mark’s favorite music along with cassette tapes with voice messages from his mother and sisters from out of state. I read and talked to him, assuming he understood everything I said. He continued to have speech, occupational and physical therapy every day. While Mark was becoming more aware of his surroundings, I was learning how to talk and encourage him. We were growing together in new and unfamiliar territory.

Mark with Christopher and Katie 1991 Just a few days after waking from his coma.

Mark with Christopher and Katie 1991
Just a few days after waking from his coma.

Christopher and Katie were developing in this different world also. They went with me nearly every evening to visit their dad and reassured him of their love through hugs and kisses. Mark was unable to hug and kiss them back, but that didn’t seem to discourage them. One evening after we left, Mark told the nurse he needed to work hard because he had two kids that needed him. They inspired him to exertion.

Three weeks after the feeding tube was placed, Mark passed his swallow test. He was able to eat yogurt, Jell-O and pudding, which made eating dinner with him more interesting. The kids cheered him on as he learned to chew and swallow as I fed him the food. After our meal, we’d push Mark in the wheelchair to go outside to enjoy the nice summer evening air and we watched the kids play on the green lawn. Often I would question Mark about the colors around us in the sky, ground or of the ball the kids were playing with. Usually he got the color right. One night near the end of July I started singing with the kids some of our traditional campfire songs only without the campfire. To our pleasant surprise Mark joined in. He didn’t sing every word, but I knew he was following along in his head because every few words he’d say with us.

On the wall near the clock was a paper with the month and year on it. Another paper told the date. To help keep him oriented, the nurses and therapists asked him often about the date, time and year. If he couldn’t recall, he soon learned where to look to find out and hallelujah, he remembered how to read! Also on the wall was a lined piece of paper for the visitors to write their names and the date of their visit. Some would write a brief note of encouragement or an improvement they noticed. The therapists and I would use the information to remind Mark of what went on during that day or the night before.  Every day his alertness grew and we were encouraged.

Since we were so close to home, Mark received visitors nearly every day. Family and friends were a great source of support and comfort. Mark’s mother and sister, Jerrie, flew in from Washington State for a few days. Jerrie brought her wedding photo album from eight months before. Mark could name family and friends in the photo album.  What a relief to see he remember every person who came for a visit. Sometimes he’d get confused, but usually it was just his short-term memory he struggled with. His responses were delayed, with only a few short words, but we were thrilled to be able to converse with him.

On Sunday’s I’d take the kids to church and after Sacrament Meeting, while the kids were in Primary, I’d drive to Western Rehab to take Mark to the Sacrament Meeting there, then drive back to church to pick up the kids from Primary. On Sunday, August 4, 1991, I wrote in my journal, “Pay day – Mark said, ‘I appreciate you and all you do for me and the kids.’” He not only comprehended, but was grateful for my efforts.

A few days later when my brother Steve was visiting, Mark said, “I want to talk about your sister.”

Steve asked, “Which one?”

“The one I take care of, Barbara.”

“What about her?”

“She works hard and is always busy.”

This was particularly meaningful because Steve was also one of my employers. It appeared not only did Mark recognize family and friends, but remembered their connections. He was aware of my busyness. Every simple realization and improvement was a step in the right direction.

There was a large sitting room at Western Rehab where family and friends could gather to visit. In the corner of this room was a piano. My oldest brother, Mick, along with his family, would often come to visit on Sunday evenings and he would play the piano. Other patients gathered there with us to enjoy his playing and the encouragement his music brought. Once his talent was known, patients or staff would asked him to play whenever he came to visit. The entertainment was always a welcomed distraction from the pain and hard work of rehabilitation and the loneliness of not being home.

My sister, Rosanne, and her family put together a few musical programs to perform for us and any other patients who wanted to come to the sitting room. Usually a good crowd was there to be lifted up by the sounds of my brother-in-law, Klint, at the piano, Rosanne on the cello or flute and their five children, age’s five to fourteen, all on violins.  Everyone in attendance enjoyed the entertainment and the healing power of music.

I am grateful for our family and friends who turned what could have been the dark days of rehabilitation into sunshine. However, there is no place like home and as the summer was coming to an end, I longed to bring Mark home.

Closer to Home

by Katie, May 1991. One month after her 7th birthday. A picture of Katie and Christopher. Our cat, Spook in a picture on the wall. She expressed her biggest fear, “I hope you will remember us.”

Mark’s neurologist explained that it’s difficult for any physician to predict the outcome of traumatic brain injury. Along with family members, they have to “wait and see” how the patient progresses. They encouraged me to bring Mark’s favorite music and surround him with familiar people and things.  After meeting each one of the therapists assigned to work with Mark, Mom drove me home.  What a huge difference it made having him only 2.3 miles away. What used to be an hour drive to see Mark now took five minutes. This relieved the pressure of feeling like someone needed to be at the hospital at all times. Knowing I could get there quickly in an emergency lightened the stress. My dad, brothers and brother-in-law would no longer need to take turns spending the night at the hospital. I will be forever grateful for the weeks they did so.

May 1991, Christopher’s drawing of the swing set Mark built for the kids

I picked up the kids from the neighbor’s house and they gathered pictures they had drawn and colored for their Dad over the past seven weeks with get well notes to him. They were excited to decorate his room with them. Christopher put his prized pinewood derby car in a bag, along with the first place trophy he had won the week before. I packed up some family pictures, clothes and dinner for us to eat in Mark’s new hospital room. We were all anxious to be together again as a family and we went there with the intention of making Mark’s hospital room feel like a second home. Our excitement made the memory of their fearful first visit disappear.

Scan0015At the hospital, the kids helped me tape their pictures on the salmon colored walls and closet door right in front of Mark’s bed. I put framed school pictures of the kids and some family pictures on the shelves above the drawers. We hoped these pictures would be the first thing Mark would see when he opened his eyes. While I placed underwear and socks in the drawers, I encouraged the kids to read to their Dad, which was the nightly routine before the accident. I hung a few pullover shirts and sweat pants in the closet before taking a seat in the room. There was a small, round table with only two chairs in the room. I asked  the nurse if I could bring in one more chair from the recreation room so we could each have one. The three of us sat around the table and we ate our first meal by Mark’s bedside. It felt so good to all be together again and the kids seemed to be happy to see their dad. Christopher pulled the pinewood derby car and trophy from the bag and set it on the night stand next to his dad’s hospital bed. A touch of home was now in the room. We knelt by his bed and said our prayers with him before leaving the hospital. This became our nightly routine which enabled me to sleep better than I had in the previous seven weeks. Having Mark so close to home was indeed a big blessing.

Scan0013Struggling to understand this complicated condition, I made sure I was at the hospital every morning for Mark’s therapies. On my way, I would drop the kids off at the neighbor’s home or my parents would take them to their home or their cousin’s home to play for the day. Before dinner, I would pick up the kids from wherever they spent the day and we’d take dinner up to the hospital. After our meal together, the kids would play with the other children in the hospital playroom; some of them were patients while a few were visitors. They enjoyed playing and helping the children. The nurses and aides were friendly and caring in helping our children adjust to our new situation. They helped the kids become comfortable in the hospital setting, encouraging them to sit in the wheelchairs and learn to maneuver them.

Scan0019The uncertainty of Mark’s health condition was frightening. Each family member and friend dealt with this crisis in his or her own way. Being responsible for Mark’s well-being,  I felt an urgency to learn everything about his condition so I could make wise choices in his behalf. All the stress and worry made it difficult for me to concentrate and remember explanations given to me. Keeping a journal of events, feelings, concerns, and questions became my way of coping. Overwhelmed, I felt the need to write down my questions and the answers I received from therapists, doctors and nurses. Some of the staff were fine seeing me doing this, while it made others feel guarded and suspicious of my motives. I was constantly taking notes because I didn’t want to forget what I was told and it helped me understand and stay focused on what I felt was most urgent at the time. I was aware of each staff member’s concern, but I just focused on the most critical ones at a time. I believed Mark would come out of his coma once his other injuries and infections healed, but for his therapists, the coma was the most concerning.

Scan0018After three weeks of the powerful intravenous medication, Amphotericin B, Mark’s red and white cell counts were in the normal range and it was another victory to complete this treatment. The next focus for improvement was weaning Mark off the ventilator. The respiratory therapist came three times daily. I asked and kept record of his respiratory rate and the breaths Mark initiated on his own. I was encouraged every time the preset pressure value was turned down. After one week of weaning him off of the ventilator, the tracheotomy tube was downsized and a smaller tube was inserted. The smaller size allowed for the stoma site to shrink. The next step towards removing the tracheotomy was to plug it. The purpose of this cork was to insure that he was able to clear his own airway effectively without the need for suctioning. After a couple of days without any complications, the doctor ordered the trach tube to be removed. Glorious news, but I was taken by surprise when they pulled the tube out right there in his hospital room and then covered it with dressing and taped it in Respiratory Therapistsplace. I was unprepared for the gasping, high-pitched sound he made and I panicked. It was hard to watch him struggle. The respiratory therapist kept a close eye on him and tried to reassure me the hole would close up on its own quickly. Since I had no previous experience with this, I doubted him. It was the first night since Mark had been at Western Rehab that I didn’t dare take the kids to see him nor did I want to leave him. Thankfully, Mom and Dad were able to keep the kids overnight and within twenty-four hours, Mark was breathing more easily all on his own.

The Move

Moving On2After the doctor left with the agreement that Mark’s update reports would take place in the conference room in the future, I returned to his bedside. I held his hand, hoping to feel his spirit. Where are you Mark? Are you trapped between two worlds? Am I going crazy and imagining movements just because I want to see them? A thought came to mind, or possibly his spirit answering me, all energy is going to fight the infection and blood clot. Maybe, a coma is the best place for me right now.

Intermixed with all the worries, the improving numbers in his red and white cell counts were triumphs in my mind, along with his temperature and heart rate going down. With each passing day I was getting more and more anxious to move Mark to a rehab hospital closer to home.

The therapists were getting Mark out of bed two or three times per day now. After several weeks of lying in bed it was refreshing to see him sitting in a reclining wheelchair. Sometimes when his eyes were open, there was a blank stare. Other times I could see he was focused on something. However, every time he was moved, his eyes grew wide and he looked terrified. I felt and understood his fear. He had no control over his body and where it would land. I knew he was aware of the movement; I saw it in his eyes. In a soothing voice, I tried to reassure him everything would be okay.

One day I walked from one area in his room to another and noticed his eyes followed my movement. I walked a little farther away and lost his focus. When I got closer to the bed, I knew he could see me again and as I moved from the left side of the bed to the right side, he lost focus again. As I watched him from his right side, it appeared to me he was searching the left side to find me. I tested this a few times, moving from one side of the bed to the other. I was positive he could see me on the left side, but for some reason could not focus on me when I was on his right side. Every day I read to him and we listened to his favorite music on cassette tapes.

Christopher and Katie were now out of school and my mother was with them most days, but on the morning of June 12, 1991 she came early to be with me for the doctor’s report. Quickly walking towards the conference room she said, “Hi Mark,” as she walked past his room. Mark turned his head towards the door, obviously recognizing his name and her voice. A nurse was following behind her and somehow missed seeing his reaction, or at least wouldn’t admit to seeing it. In the conference room Mom told the doctor she was sure he recognized his name and her voice and he responded. The doctor and nurse would not agree that Mark’s response was worthy of any progress notation.

I was anxious to move Mark to Western Rehab Hospital for several reasons. It had a wonderful reputation for specializing in spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries and it was close to home. They only had a few beds available at the time and I was worried they’d be full when the doctor released him from McKay-Dee Hospital. The sixty mile daily commute to and from the hospital became increasingly difficult with the kids out of school and the frustrations the doctor and I felt for each other were becoming intense.

“When will Mark be released to go to Western Rehab,” I asked again.

“I don’t feel he’s should be moved yet.”

I reiterated my reasons for being anxious to move Mark and recounted all the positive improvements we had seen in the past ten days, including the response my mom had just had.

Exasperated, he said, “Well, if you’re so smart, why don’t you take him out yourself?”

Surprised by his statement, I asked, “Can I do that?”

“Yes. I don’t recommend it and you’ll have to make the arrangements yourself, but you can do it.”

“I’ll do it,” I exclaimed.

I was elated when I called Western Rehab to verify they had a bed for Mark. They helped me arrange for an ambulance to transport him there and requested the medical records from the hospital. I hadn’t been this excited since the car accident. While Mark was sitting up in the reclining wheelchair, I trimmed his beard, shaved his cheeks and gave him his first haircut since they shaved half of his head for the shunt placement, which had now been removed. All trimmed and shaved he looked better than he had in seven weeks and I was confident he was ready to move on to this next stage of his recovery. That night Dad came by the hospital and I asked him to give Mark a special blessing that all would go well with the transfer.

Saying good-bye to the Call family, whom I had shared the McDonald House with and the Peek family, who were residents of Ogden made leaving the hospital hard. These two families had become my hospital family. We spent many worrisome hours together in the waiting room while our loved ones were in ICU. We ate meals together, attended church services at the hospital and shared tears over concern for our loved ones. I knew I’d miss their love and support.

The moveI didn’t take my decision to move Mark from the hospital lightly. I wanted to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible and was hoping I could ride in the ambulance with Mark to Western Rehab. Mom knew of my desire and was supportive in every way, so the next morning she drove me to the hospital and waited with me for the ambulance to arrive. Two EMT’s came to the room and with a white sheet under Mark’s body, they pulled him from his hospital bed onto the stretcher. The IV bag was moved to a pole on the stretcher, while his trachea tube was attached to a portable ventilator, which was placed at his side.

“May I ride with him in the ambulance,” I asked.

“Yes,” said one of the EMT’s, “you can ride in the passenger seat.”

The move1

As excited as I was to get Mark out of this hospital and closer to home, I felt intense gratitude towards the team of doctors and nurses for saving his life. I thanked each one of them as we gathered his medical records and packed up the last few personal items before walking out the door. I was leaving the hospital a changed person, realizing Mark’s life and recovery was now my responsibility. I was confident in my decision, but the accountability weighed heavily on my mind.

Conflicting Viewpoints

WritingWith my collarbone healed and my right arm free from the sling, I started writing daily notes about Mark’s progress. I recorded his red and white cell counts, temperature, heart rate and respiratory pressure support. I did this so I could recognize the improvements no matter how small they might be. It helped me stay focused on just parts of the recovery instead of thinking about everything Mark needed to overcome.

Mark’s white cell count was high and since the increase indicates an infection, they did a body scan. Mark’s liver was abnormal. With his weakened immune system, they treated the liver infection aggressively with a powerful intravenous anti-biotic because they were worried the infection would spread quickly to other organs, causing death. Within a week his white cell count went from 50,000 down to 11,000, which was an answer to our prayers. He was schedule be on this medication for two weeks with the goal range of 5,000 –10,000. In my mind he had almost reached the elevated end of the goal range.

With high blood sugar levels, Mark was now on insulin and with a large blood clot in his right leg, he was getting heparin. He was now in a floatation bed to help with the blood clot problem. There were so many health concerns that at times I thought I’d lose my mind from the anxiety. I found it helpful to write down the worries and the normal or goal range for his white and red cell counts, heart rate, temperature and the respiratory pressure support. I tracked the numbers daily. I recorded when they did a test and then the test results. Gathering all the information I could helped me understand the process and what was happening with Mark’s body. I recognized and celebrated every little miracle that happened.

Mark’s low red cell count was a cause for concern because it could indicate internal bleeding, bone marrow failure or kidney disease. Within this same week his red cell count increased from 3.3 to 3.8 million with the goal range of 4.0-4.5. I saw the numbers as a great improvement.

I also noted on one day I saw Mark move his finger, on another he held his head up slightly to cough and another time he yawn. I rejoiced in every movement and recorded them in my journal. Unfortunately, Mark wouldn’t do these things when the doctors, nurses or therapist were there so my joy had no merit by their standards.

Without meaning to, I annoyed the doctors and nurses with my records and positive notations. It became a daily routine when the doctor walked into Mark’s room with the hospital records and stated, “No change.” I would then read from my records and report what I had witnessed. The doctor then left the room as frustrated with me as I was with him. We definitely did not see Mark’s progress in the same way. He never specifically said, but it was written all over the doctors face, who was I? A young 32 year-old spouse, uneducated in neurology, who had the audacity to question and challenge his words. I was truly grateful for his knowledge and skills which saved my husband’s life, but I didn’t appreciate his bedside manners. My observations were not taken seriously. The doctor was the medical professional, reading and understanding what the results of many tests were telling him. However, I knew Mark and was the one spending many hours with him day in and day out. I felt his spirit and knew he felt mine. It was so frustrating that what I witnessed had no value with the professional caregivers. I wanted us to be on the same team, working together in Mark’s behalf, but instead it felt like we were on opposing teams. There were a few days I was tempted to throw my shoe at the doctor as he walked out the door. Equally frustrated at me, I’m sure he was tempted to stitch my lips together.

The day after my 32nd birthday, they did a Brain stem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test which measures how the brain processes the sounds you hear. The BAER test records brainwaves in response to clicks or other audio tones that are played. The test can help to diagnose hearing loss and nervous system disorders in people who are not able to participate in a standard hearing test. While Mark was lying in bed, a technician placed small electrodes (sticky patches with wires attached) on Mark’s scalp and earlobes. The electrodes were connected to a machine which recorded his brain activity while he heard a series of clicks and tones played through earphones.

brain regions1I was elated as I watched his brainwaves being recorded in black on the continuously fed white sheets of paper. He was reacting to the noise he heard, which confirmed my belief that he could hear and his brain was processing it. My spirit jumped for joy with each spike his brain activity made every time he heard one of the clicking sounds or other tones. The printout of the test results was something tangible which showed the spikes. I didn’t know what a normal or abnormal test looked like, but the report appeared wonderful to me. I was excited to hear what the doctor would say. I was positive it would be good news.

brain-labelsThe next day the doctor told me that the test indicated significant damage to the brain stem, which is responsible for breathing, sleep patterns, hunger and thirst, blood pressure, heart rhythms, and body temperature. It regulates the central nervous system. “Mark has bruising and injury throughout all parts of his brain, but the most severe damage is to the brain stem. When you go to sleep, it’s the part that wakes you up. With the amount of damage he has, I don’t expect he can ever wake up.”

A chill ran up my spine while a flashback flooded my mind. After I gave birth to Katie, I hemorrhaged and had to have an emergency surgery. When I was coming out of my sedated state, I heard doctors talking about all the blood I had lost. I felt one of them pull down the bottom part of my eyelid as he commented on how white the area was, which should be pink in color. Inside I panicked, but could not make my body move. I worried they thought I was dead and I felt helpless to show or tell them otherwise.

With this doctor’s words, I felt Mark’s terror. He, too, was trapped in a body unable to respond. I followed the doctor as he left Mark’s room. “Please don’t ever give reports like that at his bedside again. I prefer we meet in the conference room to have these discussions. After all, the BAER test confirms he can hear, right?”

“Yes, he can hear, but I don’t believe he understands a word that’s said. However, if it makes you feel better, we can meet in the conference room from now on.”