Days before Tina was sent home from the hospital, I had THE TALK with two sets of doctors et al.: Tina was wholly unresponsive though clearly alive, and at this time, 45 days after her multiple strokes, there was little hope of cognitive improvement. "What do you want us to do?" The subtext was: is this life worth saving, or shall we minimize our efforts?
I explained to both sets that Tina had recovered unexpectedly 17years ago when the choice was "home or hospice?" and again a few years ago when she was returned to us in "a vegetative state," later to recover some ability to communicate and appreciate, the classic "Come-back Kid." Though at 77, Tina is not a kid, she is a person with possibly years of life ahead.
I instructed the doctors to do what they could medically to save her life and protect her from pain, and we would resume around-the-clock nursing for her at home.
She returned home earlier this week, essentially unresponsive, virtually comatose, and we wondered what would result. For a grim few days, we saw a lot of sleeping, some looking around pointlessly, no response to any touch or sound.
Yesterday, that changed. Nurse Mary Wilkinson asked her, "Are you feeling better?" Tina gave a small, definite nod! This was repeated several times.
Subsequently, Nurses Mary and Heather Geib and I have asked Tina simple questions like, "Are you warm enough?" and have gotten small but definite nodding motions of her head and some change in facial expression, even a hint of a smile.