Taylor is storming on a regular basis. Basically most of the time she is awake, she is storming.
What it looks like is she moves her arms up from her side towards her head, sometimes to the side, sometimes straight up. Her legs kick to the side and up and down and her head turns from side to side. These aren’t violent movements. They are sometimes smooth and slow and sometimes jerky.
What it feels like is rigid for periods then loose. She is flexing her muscles so much that she breaks out into a sweat, which is problematic because it causes her heart monitoring electrodes (pads stuck to her chest) to come off. Sometimes her actions are so strong that you are amazed at how much force she is exerting.
As I sit next to her observing this for hours, I can’t help to think that I have seen Taylor do this before. Anyone with a new born baby knows what I’m talking about since this is the exact behavior they display. The literature says that brain injury storming lasts for an average of 74 days. This is also similar to how long newborns have these same random movements. After the first three months newborns start to move in more purposeful way.
Of course, since Taylor is an adult, it is not exactly the same as newborn movements. For one thing, Taylor is not as fat as a sumo wrestler like she was when she was one month old. This means her limbs have a much greater range of motion. Judging by her grimaces, she also does not seem to be enjoying it as much this time around, perhaps because she is breathing through an uncomfortable tube stuck into her neck. There are also many dangers associated with storming for hours that are not thought to affect newborns. These dangers stem from the effects of prolonged rigorous exercise and include hypertension, high heart rate, and dehydration, to name a few. In Taylor’s case, it is causing her to lose weight and need much more water to stay hydrated. It is like she is running a marathon every day.
Also unlike a newborn, the treatment for this behavior is different. While a newborn gets no treatment, Taylor occasionally gets Morphine to calm her down. As a parent, it is a difficult thing to OK the use of such drugs on a regular basis, but it can be equally difficult to watch her flexing herself into a sweat for hours on end.
Since newborns and severe brain injury patients both exhibit what appears to be the same behavior, I wonder if this is the way the body makes connections from the nervous system to the brain. Perhaps these connections are damaged in Taylor’s case and she has to go through the same process a newborn goes through to familiarize her body to her brain?