Small Signs of Hope

“We’re greedy,” I told my father today. “We see one sign of progress, and we want two . We see two and we want four.”

My dad remains in a coma.

In the comments to the previous post I mentioned that my father was holding his arms together and kicking his legs off the bed. Those behaviors repeated many, many times today. (Besides regularly kicking off his blanket, he repeatedly let his leg fall of the bed so many times that the nurse joked that he was teasing my girlfriend, who was immediately placing the leg back on the bed.)

We don’t see the eye openings from yesterday, but my folk wisdom (and hope) is that the these improvements are cumulative.

Another good sign is that when I try to lift up his hands, arm-wrestling style, my dad will typically apply counter-pressure. This normally happens when his heart rate is high (around 90 beats/second) and the exceptions are when his heart-rate is low (around 80 beats/second). So I now have a useful way to distinguish “rest” and “stirring” in my dad’s deep sleep.

A conversation with a doctor and another with a nurse also made me hopeful. The doctor, who I spoke to in the morning, confirmed that my dad’s tracheotomy was delayed until Monday because of the good news. If he starts “responding [to commands]” by then, there will be no need for either the tracheostomy or his breathing tube. However, even if this progress continues it may be two or three weeks until we reach that stage.

Later, at early evening, a nurse mentioned that she had removed my dad’s arterial blood pressure meter. ABP is a very accurate measure of blood pressure because it is not skewed by physical movement as non-invasement measures are. The downside is that the ABP is somewhat dangerous (“blood what shoot to the wall if it came out,” we were helpfully told). The NBP is less accurate, but as Wikipedia describes:

The non-invasive auscultatory (from the Latin for listening) and oscillometric measurements are simpler and quicker, require less expertise in fitting, have no complications, and are less unpleasant and painful for the patient, at the cost of somewhat lower accuracy and small systematic differences in numerical results.

So we take this as a good sign: the hospital is no longer so worried about my father’s health that they have to use a complex, slow, expert, complicated, unpleasant, and painful method of measuring his blood pressure.

Another good sign was something that didn’t happen. During the first few days, and even that period when there was no progress, we were visited by social workers. We aren’t any more. Nor are we told we may have to make “serious decisions” soon.