It’s a Family Affair: The Medical Roller Coaster


roller coaster

Your family receives the call no family wants to receive:  “Your loved one has been in a terrible accident.”  Your family rushes to the hospital where you are told by the attending physician that “he probably won’t make it through the night.”  When you arrive at the hospital, your loved one is in a coma.  There are doctors and nurses trying to explain what has happened and what the outcome may be.  They don’t always tell you how long the process will be if your loved one survives.  The brain heals slowly, and it is not unusual for things to get worse before they get better.  And so the roller coaster ride begins.  Will he live or not?  Will he ever be the same again?  There may be additional surgeries required to relieve pressure from the brain.  If he survives the first night, the first week, medical personnel are telling you what a miracle it is that he survived at all.  This initial phase of recovery is called the acute phase, and it often feels like a terrible roller coaster ride.  However, the goal is to ensure medical stability.  It is impossible to know how long this phase will last or what the long-term prognosis will look like over time.  The most important things to remember are:

  • your loved one has survived, which means there is hope
  • be patient
  • be willing to accept help
  • ask questions
  • educate yourself
  • become an advocate for your loved one’s care

About Nancy Weber, MA, CBIS

Brain Injury Case Manager/Clinical Evaluator

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