Before being placed in an acute care unit with coma patients, I had never been exposed to coma patients before. I was fifteen years old. I was there because I needed critical care and this was the only unit in the Rehabilitation hospital that provided critical care.
I have to admit at first I was very scared by everything. I cried a lot because I was young and just realizing that my situation was permanent and I was in a rehab hospital several hours away from my home and not allowed to have visitors at all for a few weeks. The hospital called it an “adjustment period” but it felt like punishment because I was used to my Mom visiting me every day and to be cut off from her and my family for a few weeks was very difficult and being in a new place surrounded by new people… I was so lonely and sad and scared. Of course I adjusted in time and realized that I had to work very hard to get out of this place and to get my life back. (I did not realize at the time that it would be two years I had to stay at that rehab hospital!)
In retrospect I think that was probably the best place for me to be at the time to adjust to being a newly paralyzed person because I saw people around me who had lost everything and I was so focused on them and their families that being a new paraplegic seemed minor in comparison.
You come into all kinds of situations in life and you learn from them. You learn that
you are really blessed every day that you can breathe and talk and express yourself.
I remember when I saw him
For the very first time
His hair was golden like sunlight
He had chubby angelic cheeks
With a rounded little chin
He looked so perfect when he grinned
I remember seeing his family
They came to the hospital often to visit
The nurses said he was in a bad accident
Somehow he had fell into a pool
Something had gone wrong
Had been underwater too long
Had lost too much oxygen
It caused him to go into a coma
His brain was damaged then
I remember I was so sad for this family
I knew they must be heartbroken
To see their little angel looking perfect
Yet, unconscious and in coma
His sister was just a little girl
I would entertain her so her parents could visit their baby
I really tried to help the little girl be more relaxed
Later, I read books to little Carlton
They said it might be good for him
I don’t know if he heard me...
but there was always a chance
I wanted to make it all better, take away the unhappiness
It just seemed such a tragedy to see so much sadness
I would have fixed this with a solution if I had it
It was so sad the night little Carlton “coded”
The nurses rushed around and I was so distressed that night
He was just a baby and was not supposed to die
Sometimes life hands you hardest lessons in life
You have to learn to value each moment
Because tragedy can strike at any time
There were other young children like Carlton.
There was Chris who came out of his coma but was never the same again. He called me on the telephone after returning home to Tennessee but all he could say was "hamburger, hamburger".
There was a little blonde haired child named Stacy. There was a little Canadian boy named Andrew. There was the young man who got shot... There was the girl with dark hair who I have forgotten her name but will always remember her face. There were so many young children in comas.
I won’t ever forget that time in my life. It was a turning point for me. I gained a lot of inner strength and I learned many life lessons that are still with me today. I met some wonderful people at that hospital that helped me including a doctor and physical therapist who are dear friends today.