This website is about positive news, and now that Taylor has reached this level of recovery, I can now talk about some of the negative news we initially got.
In the beginning, the senior neurologist gave us the news. It was blunt and simple: ‘Persistent vegetative state for the rest of her life.’ This news really stunk, so we earnestly enrolled Taylor in a research study, really just to get access to another professional to get a second opinion. The neurologist heading up the study talked candidly with us but in the end, said the same thing.
The research neurologist did give us a glimmer of hope by noting that before the cooling protocol, this prognosis was very accurate, but after this protocol, which Taylor received, the prognosis was only 95% accurate. As I said…a tiny glimmer. Exploring and coming up with ways to explain this 5% was the focus of the study.
Then I managed to get a young night shift resident to give it a go. At 3 am he looked at the MRI with me and very carefully took the time to explain exactly why anyone looking at that MRI would say the same thing. Basically, because the brain needs a feedback loop to process time-based information, and the feedback mechanism is heavily damaged, she will never be able to process a sentence or a succession of eye movements or anything at all. He then proceeded to talk about the other damage.
Then a friend of a friend (thanks JB) took a look at it and said it looks “not very optimistic.”
Then I cornered another night shift resident who also gave the same assessment under no uncertain terms. You see, night shift residents are young and haven’t learned the fine art of sugar coating. They tell you the text book case of things and don’t hold back. I explained this idea to a senior neurologist, and he said they do this only because they are so green that they haven’t been totally wrong yet.
The clincher was when Taylor’s eventual lead neurologist first looked at the MRI. At that time, he and I hadn’t met. I was walking in and out of Taylor’s room and when I did, this doctor was glancing over at me from behind a computer screen. It wasn’t a good glance. It was a face of incredible emotion. It creeped me out and after two or three of these looks, I shot him a WTF face. When I did, he realized what he must’ve looked like and immediately changed to a pleasant smile. When he finished with the computer, he asked to speak with me and said he had just reviewed Taylor’s records and wanted to talk about how to proceed. He was a seasoned pro and as such, carefully told me to not expect much and discussed what kind of care we could give her short and long term. He has kids about Taylor’s age and the sorrow in his raw, unfiltered expression still haunts. That look!
The greatest news of all is that we don’t care about any these predictions because Taylor didn’t just beat the original prognosis, she kicked its butt! Apparently, she is in the 5% that defy the pre-cooling methods of prediction. Of course, to anyone who knows Taylor, that’s not a big surprise.