Geraint suffered an asthma attack in January 2014. As he was not responding to medication we took him to the doctors where he was put on oxygen and monitored but as the attack escalated, he was admitted to hospital.
He was given back-to-back nebulisation but his oxygen levels continued to drop and his heart rate kept rising. Geraint was extremely distressed with a lot of pain in his chest and nothing seemed to work. The hospital then decided that he needed to be taken to intensive care and intubated. However, Geraint had took a turn for the worse. He'd had a cardiac arrest and doctors had to work on him for 14 minutes.
Geraint was in an induced coma for a week. We didn't eat or sleep, just stayed by his side. We played his favourite music and performed passive joint movements to stop him getting stiff. Geraint was slowly taken out of his coma. Any slight finger movements or a flicker of his eyelids felt like a small victory; it gave us a huge lift. After another week of tiny improvements, I felt him squeeze my hand. I was ecstatic. His other hand then curled up. My elation was quickly dispelled as it looked like a spasm to me. The nurse went to get a consultant. My heart sank, as I knew what this could mean- potential damage to the brain.
The neuro consultant showed us the MRI results. At first, the images looked healthy but as they showed more of the scan they explained all the white area was dead tissue, meaning Geraint had suffered extensive brain damage.
Small improvements were made and we had his first smile. The spasms increased in intensity so much so that Geraint would arch off the bed if we didn't do the passive movements. However a few months later his tracheostomy was removed but it meant we could hear him screaming in pain all day which made it a lot harder as you knew he was in so much pain. This was distressing for us and the staff.
Kayley was speaking to Geraint on the phone on evening, when she finished the conversation by saying goodbye, he replied totally out of the blue. We all looked at each other in disbelief. I asked him to say dad and he did. The look on his face when he realised he could communicate was priceless!
Geraint left to go to a rehabilitation centre, The Children's Trust on 30 June, two days after his 12 birthday. Leaving the ward was emotional. We had built up great relationships with the staff. It was particularly hard for Geraint. He has always been an emotional child but it seems the injury had intensified his emotions.
Geraint settled well into the routine of therapies and all those working with him had the personality to get the best out of him. His wheelchair was a hindrance as it didn't fit well and he was covered in bruises a lot of the time. It had to be padded out to make it more comfortable.His eating, speech and motor control skills improved and he was monitored by his doctor who showed great patience in answering all questions or concerns.The discharge day soon came around., although we did believe that he could have done with more rehabilitation.
Adjusting to being back home...
Geraint settled well at first. He went to his new school for physio and occupational therapy three times a week. But things started going downhill after a week. The care plan was not fully in place, so we done everything over 24 hours everyday, such as medication, continence care and feeding. After three weeks Geraint was admitted to hospital as his spasms had intensified and because of other problems.
However, Geraint is back home now and has started school at Heronsbridge which is amazing for him. He seems to have come on a lot since starting there as he has been able to use the swimming pool, rebound therapy, relaxation plus his normal lessons!
When an injury like this hits a member of your family, your life changes dramatically forever. People are always surprised when I tell them it was an asthma attack, that caused the injury. Looking at the extent of the damage on the scan, he should not have progressed so much. All his memory and sense of humour is still there, but he is struggling to gain motor control. How much he'll gain back we can't tell, and what behavioural problems he may have, we don't know. That's the problem with this type of injury; no one can tell how much the brain will adjust. Every person with exactly the same injury will have different outcomes...