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Anoxic Brain Injury

by Maria
(Philadelphia, PA, USA)

In June of 2010, my father, age 62, suffered a massive heart attack and coronary arrest. He had no symptoms and was in pretty good health so this was quite a shock. He was without oxygen for approximately 10 minutes. As a last ditch effort, a surgeon placed 2 stents in his heart. The surgery was successful. We were just so happy that he survived that we did not think about or care what was going to happen from there. I am sure we all know of someone who has had a heart attack and been home within 3 or 4 days. Like I said, we had no idea.

He was in the ICU and sedated for approximately 8 days. As they began to ween him off of sedation, we were warned that if he didn't ask where he was and why when he woke up that was a sure sign of brain damage. I remember looking at the doctor and thinking that he was crazy. My dad - brain damage? I don't think so. Well, I was so wrong. My dad is suffering from an anoxic brain injury.

He knows everyone by name, which is such a blessing for us, but as far as his memory is concerned, it is like living the real life movie "50 First Dates". His sense of humor and sarcasim are two things he did not lose. I thank god for that.

His symptoms are that he can't remember 2 minutes ago or 5 years ago or 20 years ago. This is supposed to be a short term memory problem. I am not sure why he can't remember 20 years ago. He also "recognizes" everyone, which is sometimes uncomfortable when he grabs an older lady's arm and says "Hey Mrs. such and such" and the woman is ready to jump out of her skin. He also gets VERY emotional over things that we might find sad, but to him it is devestating. Another problem is that he can't remember that some family members and friends have died. We pretend they are alive because when we have tried to tell him the truth, he gets so upset that it is unbearable. He calls our new dogs by name, but doesn't realize our old dogs are gone. He hallucinates, which at times is very, very scarey. At other times, it is just sad. They can go on and on. A major problem is that if he sees something on tv or hears it on the radio, he turns the event into something that has happened to him or someone he knows. This can also be a problem when he is talking to strangers. We have learned to keep the news, cop shows, medical shows, etc. at a minimum.

We have tried everything to help him. He went to inpatient and outpatient rehab and has seen doctors regarding this. We play cards and Wii games. We repeat, repeat, repeat. He sees his family often. We try to keep him occupied until he gets tired. When he gets tired, he can sleep for hours and then get up and go to bed for 12 to 14 hours.

On one hand, his brain needs to heal and those doctors say for him to rest. On the other hand, his heart needs activity and those doctors want him to move. It is all very confusing for us.

It seems that everyone is different and I realize how lucky we are that he knows us and pretty much gets around by himself. We are blessed that he doesn't have outbursts or get angry.

My concern is that I see his mind reeling about what is wrong. I have tried to explain it, but he doesn't remember what I say. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to comfort him and ease his mind a little bit? I would appreciate any advice, especially from someone suffering from this same injury.

Thank you all for telling your stories. They have helped me a great deal. Keep fighting and doing what you are doing. Being in this situation is very difficult. Find a way to laugh everyday. It is so important!

Comments for Anoxic Brain Injury

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searching for memories
by: theresa

My husband had a heartattack back on dec.1,2012 and was out of oxygen for 5min.He now has anoxic brain injury. He has long &short term memory.everyday he asks same questions all day long.I answer him and then 5min.later,he asks me the same questionagain.I get so frustrated but Im getting better at it,cuz I realize he cant help it.But here's my question,Is there any suggestions on how to make his memory improve?Its going on alittle over 2years since his heartattack,and he has improved tremendously but I know its going to be a long process but Im hiswife/caregiver 24/7 and I love him so much and I will never give up on him!so there is a light at the end of the tunnel and staystrong.Thank you in advance for your sggestions!

by: Ann

It's very sad to continue reading these posts and hearing loved ones whose husbands have ended up with obvious brain injuries from various causes. I know the desperation you feel as we are now just past 'celebrating' the 3-yr anniversary of my husband's heart attack and anoxic brain injury. Things are still up and down but if I knew 3 years ago that he could mentally be in the place he is now, I could have saved myself a lot of tears and frustration. He's in no way fully recovered from this trauma. He's still a very confused guy. But slowly, very slowly...he is understanding more and more about what has happened. What used to be questions repeated every minute over and over (because he couldn't remember anything) has subsided considerably as his short-term memory improves (he still has no real long-term memory). An example: Instead of the "Do I work?" question, most of the time he now says: "I don't work, do I?" That may seem minor...but for a person who is distraught and anxious over fearing that he's missing work (because his mind tells him he's years in the past), it's a huge advancement and revelation. Again, I know each and every case is different...but I feel if I had given up years ago, we'd never be in the place we are now.

by: Diane

Reading your comments is identical to that of my ex who suffered his heart attack in June 2012. He did go to rehab and was there for a few months but eventually they said he cannot be rehabilitated and needs to be placed in a mental health care home where he is today. It is very sad but the only other option is to have your loved one at home but this is a 24hr job and you would need two carers which you would have to fund yourself. Best wishes to you!!!!

Husband sedated for 6 wks
by: Sarah

My husband went in this year on May 22nd and had an aneurysm on his ascending aorta removed. To remove it they had to treat it like regular heart surgery. What should have been 5 to 7 days in the hospital has now turned into 4 months going on 5. Shortly after the surgery, 4 days, he went into ICU Syndrome where he didn't know anyone. He was sedated but he never started recovering. The doctors couldn't for awhile figure it out then the team of doctors in the ICU finally decided he had severe pancreatitis. Thereafter he went through two surgeries on his stomach after he was sent by ambulance to a hospital in our state's capital to a surgeon who specializes in pancreas. He finally started his way back from sedation or the affects of around Aug 1st. He is now in what is called a critical care/rehab facility but he is sooo confused (and rightly so)and doesn't want to participate in rehab. He knows people but can go off on some wild story, he can get angry and be sweet at other times. It is heartbreaking because physically he is starting to mend but mentally I just don't know. I am now looking at nursing homes and also in the process of applying for medicaid. We have had so many ups and downs and thought we were going to lose him. I feel at times that I may have already gone through the grieving process although he is still alive, it is so unreal. Our two children and I wonder will his mind recover from such a devastating period of ups and down or will he permanently be in a nursing home. It would be impossible for me to handle him at home in his present condition.

Husband suffered heart attack at age 45
by: Chinadoll

My husband suffered a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest. He had a blood clot. They told us he was without oxygen for about 15-20 min. They told us he was going to be in a vegetable state so we could either take him off life support or have a trackeotomy done. We had the trackeotomy done. We wanted to give him a fighting chance. After a month he started to kick his legs. As the days went by he started to move more and more of his body the docs say they are involuntary movements. This happen on may 2013. He is going into his 4th month and we are in a rehab hospital. They told us there is 8 stages to this kind of injury. He is in stage 4. He is very aggressive scared and screams a lot. He moves all his body parts he says a few words . They changed some of his meds so the docs say that it could be medication withdraws of just the stage that he is in. Before they changed his meds he was focusing and noding his head yes and saying a few words and 3 word sentences. Now he is very agressive and screams a lot. Does anybody know what comes next or what else I can do to help him be more calm?

To Diane
by: Anonymous

I just want to give an answer to your Q re: memory. My husband had his heart attack and anoxic brain injury almost three years ago. Over the past 6 months or so, his mind has started to improve a lot as far as memory goes. He's not 'remembering' his lost life (about 50 years of his 69 years when he had the injury)....but he's now able to 'relearn' his past. It's slow and laborious and when he's tired all bets are off. But more and more he's able to know where we are / when it is / the circumstances of our family and his work history...all of which was so important to him and caused him such anxiety because he didn't know these things and if he was told, he'd forget almost immediately. Flash cards / powerpoints / interactive timelines ... you name it, I've used it. Never give up no matter what the doctors say!

How much longer
by: Mary

Hi my husband of 16 years was working underneath are daughter car when the jack slipped and the car laid on his chest. I was inside so I don,t know how long he was under the car. I do know that his face was blue but his body was warm.

After a months they sent us home telling me that my husband would die within two weeks. It been three years he is alive the first month I had the catheter taken off, the next month weaned him off he meda I give him herbs only for medicine. Fresh foods through his peg tube. I just had his trachea taken off. I have not taken him to a neurologist since his accident. I know god hand is why my husbands with me. I just wish he would talk walk eat on his on be a complete to his body. I just start sitting him on the side of the bed. He seem to understand but does not responded to command. Please help me understand if there is hope to have my husband back again.

by: Mary

My husband as well suffered anoxic brain injury when working under a car . The car jack slipped. The doctors have given up on him . I need help

Progress after 3 years
by: Ann

I've written comments a couple of times before on this site but it's been a while. My husband will 'celebrate' the 3-yr 'anniversary' of his heart attack and anoxic brain injury in Oct 2013. We've had many up's and down's but my main point (after seeing so many more comments than when this page started) is that there is hope. But only if you believe that your loved one can/will get better and are prepared to 'teach' skills/memories repeatedly (not a few times but hundreds/thousands of times)! You have to be in it for the long haul. After 3 years, my husband is finally 'getting' that he's had a heart attack which caused a brain injury which makes his brain tell him all kinds of incorrect and/or 'crazy' stuff. Any given day/time, especially when he's tired...all bets are off. But there is progress. He's finally learning to walk better (at first he walked fine but had balance problems and fell if someone wasn't with him) because he had no clue there was anything wrong with him. Now, just like a child, who has become 'ready' to learn to walk...he can 'remember' to stop and try to balance if he gets off a bit (of course, someone is always with him to help if needed). He's now been almost weaned off Keppra (from 3000mg/day to 325mg/day....which may also be helping clear his mind a bit. The point is: Keep trying and don't get discouraged! And NEVER believe any doctor/neurologist who gives you a time frame....we were told by one doctor to give him 6 months and then 'accept' the way he was. Totally incorrect and certainly would have doomed him to a life of mental illness with no hope if I had given up and accepted what he was like 2-1/2 yrs ago (thinking he was still in the military and AWOL because he didn't remember his discharge)! Now he knows the truth and is much more took years of pictures/timelines/slideshows/etc...reteaching him his life. Don't give up! :)

A year on!
by: Diane

My ex who had heart attack and revived after 20 mins a year ago is now in a mental health residential care home,, it does break my heart to see him, although he understands everything his speech has now practically gone and he will never walk as he is not stimulated apart from half hour physio each day. I feel not enough was done he is not paralysed but his brain does not tell his body to move and I just feel everyone has given up now and this is as good as it gets.

Does anyone have similar story?

My Dad is in the exact same boat!
by: Megan

Maria, I see your story is from 2010 so I hope you still read this but my dad has experienced almost exactly what was written, same age, almost the same story to a T! His cardiac arrest happened a month ago today, my question is were there improvements in memory over the last three years?? Thanks :)

Hi Amber
by: Maria

I am so sorry to hear about your mom and I wish there was something that I could do more than speak to you this way. I always suggest talking to the nurses. They know way more about your mom than the doctors that pop in for 1 minute. Also, check out the bulletin board at the hospital or their on-line info for any support groups. Sometimes it helps to find people that are in a similar situation. They can give the best advice of all.

I will keep you and your mom in my thoughts. Please let me know if you have any questions I might be able to help you with and take care of yourself. I know that is hard to do, but it is very exhausting and people forget to do that.

Massive heart attack
by: Amber

My mom suffered a massive heart attack Friday her left Artie was fully blocked they did the hope procedure where they put her in a comma and made her cold today when they warmed her up she started haveing seizures again for 3 hours so they have her on 3 different types of seizure medicine and one bp medicine they said she has a 5 percent chance of survival I am so scared I love my mom and I don't want her to die anyone with any advice please let me know my email is i want my mom to live but I also know her wishes on the matter

Sudden cardiac death
by: Anonymous

My partner suffered "sudden cardiac death" 8 months ago. She was in ICU with all sorts of complication and eventually got an ICD implanted. We transferred her to the best possible rehab hospital as soon as possible where she learned to walk with a walker and control her bowels, eat again, etc. while the progress has seemed unbelievably slow, she now is almost back to normal. Major issues remaining are sleeping 11-12 hrs a day, some minor balance problems and can't legally drive. She does...exercise every day with personal trainer and no longer needs any walking assistance. Her memory sharpens every day and we are building new memories to replace any that are lost by repetition and enriched experiences which are discussed repeatedly. My advice, assume the role of a diligent teacher and never give up. P.S. if you have unclear legal relationships with the one you love, get a lawyer that can draw up papers for Health care power of attorney. That trumps blood or marriage relationships! We had that and it gave me a very smooth path to negotiate all the medical and insurance worlds.

Memory retention
by: Anonymous

Hi. My son had many of these symptoms with memory. I used to leave him notes to help him remember. I started out with just one idea - for him it was a note to remind him where he was - the hospital. Now we keep three boards in his room. For schedules and things to remember, His memory retention has improved over the year, but it still takes work.
Don't give up!

To Diane
by: Maria

Hi Diane. I am glad that your loved one is speaking and has his memory. That is a true gift. You would think after a heart attack, the doctors would want him up and moving. If that is not possible, some kind of rehab therapy should be happening. Just a thought I have-is there a rehab facility in your area? Maybe you could contact them and explain how his recovery is going. At least it could be a start to get pointed in the right direction. Best Wishes.


Fuzzy mind
by: Maria

Hi. I am not sure of your name, but I hope that you get this post. I am not sure of your exact injuries after the heart attack and I am by no means an expert. Neurologists seem to care about who the president is and what drugs they can prescribe. It does appear that you need some kind of assistance. Maybe your issue is something that will heal in time on it's own or maybe you need to seek guidance from a doctor. I would start with your primary doctor and see what he/she recommends. I hope that you can find relief and comfort and that the fuzziness goes away. I know that rest is key in any brain injury problems. Just from experience with my dad, if he is not rested, there are a boatload of problems that can happen to him. Please take care.


by: Maria

Hi Jean. I am so sorry to hear that your partner's daughter is, well frankly, being a childish b###h. Maybe she does not understand the importance of the patient hearing a loved one's voice or the holding of one's hand during recovery. I hope that she will wake up and realize that your partner picked you to love and that contact with you would be so very critical in your partner's recovery. On top of her ignorance about the love that you two share, the legalities of it are a nightmare. I hope that your Brother-In-Law can get her to understand that anything that could aid in your partner's healing, should be taken advantage of. She should put her feelings for you aside and suck it up. Please keep us all posted and I do so hope your partner improves and gets some relief. Take care of yourself as well.

3 heart attacks, heart stopped for 32 minutes, brain bleed
by: Jean

My partner is still in hospital. Has been there for about 10 days. Was on a life support machine until yesterday. They cooled the body for a few says, then gradually warmed it at 3 degrees an hour for a further few days. SENow had tracheotomy, tube inserted into throat to enable breathing and is off machine. I am not allowed to see her as her daughter is next of kin and doesn't like me so only get news through brother in law. My partner seeing neuralogist tomorrow. I have at least 30 members of my family all praying for my partner. I so wish I could just go and sit in the hospital but as I say, I'm not family, as far as daughter is concerned and has arranged a password, so that I cannot even telephone the hospital. I can only hope the prognosis is good and the hospital will arrange the after care, as the daughter said to my sister she wished they would just turn the machine off so she could get back to Malaysia as she has so much to do. Wat a cold evil person. Fingers crossed.

by: Anonymous


Slow Recovery!!!
by: Diane

Hi, my ex husband who had a severe heart attack at 51 and was given only a 5% chance of survival is now doing much much better in a rehab hospital, he talks all the time with pretty good memory although very very slurred and hard to understand but it is him and his son is delighted. We are now coming upto five months after his heart attack and still don't know what he will ever be capable of, they have not tried to see if he can walk yet, we're hoping this is the next step. It is very sad as he is so frustrated and can't understand why he can't just get out of bed and walk out of the hospital, all we can do is hope for the best and tell him to keep believing he is going to do that very soon. There is hope out there as our story was one of no hope at all!!

To Lynn
by: Ann

Hi Lynn...

Your story underscores how different each one of these heart attack /anoxic brain injury stories are. They all start out the same...heart attack / loss of oxygen to the brain / coma / and at some point awakening. But there the roads go off in different directions. You seemed to have some pretty severe issues at the beginning. But if you can write your story, understanding what actually happened to you, you're miles ahead of many others who still struggle to even know/understand what happened to them. Good for you....hope you continue to improve! :)

by: Maria

Hi Lynn. Thank you for posting because you have given me a little insight into what my father might be thinking. A difference in your situations is that once he came around, he knew all of the basics so that was not what he needed to relearn. Unfortunately for him, he has lost all of his memories. He has no stories or jokes to tell, he has no memory of events. He looks at photos and sees videos as if he has never seen them before. I suppose it is almost like amnesia, in that he lived this whole wonderful life and has zero memories. I see him struggling and he tries to express his thoughts, but he just can't explain. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

Been there
by: Lynn

On Nov 17 2010 I went to sleep and woke up seven days later to a voice telling me I'd had a heart attack and had " lost some time" . I was hospitalized for 55 days during which time I discovered I'd had a major heart attack, had two stents placed and had suffered an anoxic brain injury when my heart had completely shut down. I was put in a medically induced coma for seven days then transferred to a specialty hospital. I was there for 55 days. I suffered hallucinations, could barely sit, could not walk and had no conception of what was happening to me. I knew when my husband was there but did not really recognize him. I could not count, name states, do the alphabet. I knew there were gaping holes in my mind. After release I had months of physical, occupational and speech therapy. My took time but it did get better. I will never be the same, I was a computer programmer and I cannot do the high level work I once did. I'm just happy I'm not still in the awful mental place I was two years ago. It's horrible being trapped in a mind you don't understand. I may never return to 100 percent. That's fine. It is still improving it by bit. I was 64 and heAlthy when this happened

A Response to MAC
by: Anonymous

This is in response to MAC and your story of hallucinations and the possible connection to Keppra. When my husband had his heart attack and anoxic brain injury almost 2 yrs ago, he had seizures when he was still in a coma. They had him on 3 anti-seizure meds at that time. We weaned him off of two of them, but when he was released from the hospital and acute rehab 2 months later, he was still on 3000 mg/day of the Keppra. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the highest dose, apparently. After about a year, which was the length of time they told me he'd have to be on these meds (minimum), we started 'weaning' him off them. He never had any 'seizures' but did seem stiffer and shakier so after cutting them in half, I left it at that for a while. But the more I hear about this stuff, the more I want to see what he'd be like without it. Apparently his brain scans still show activity that's not 'normal' so his neurologist doesn't really support taking the meds away. However, in the past year, his memory and thinking/reasoning ability has improved quite a bit. When he's tired, all bets are off, and he still has his times of insisting that things have happened that haven't/etc....but it's much improved over the way it was when we first came home from the hospital. So one of these days, we are going to start eliminating more of this drug and see what happens. If his mind clears up, it would be almost criminal of the doctors to condemn a person to basically being mentally ill as opposed to having a clearer mind. Anyway, I'll let anyone knows that's interested how this turns out. As I've said before, this is a journey of YEARS, not months or weeks. It's almost as if the injured brain is like a newborn (with more knowledge, obviously). So this takes a lot of patience and time.

I wish I could help.
by: Maria

Elaine, I am so sorry that you are going through this. It must be extremely difficult for you-physically and mentally. I don't know if I can offer any advice on how to care for your son physically because my father's physical problems were mostly resolved before he left rehab. My advice to you is about the doctors. Our family members are just numbers to them. Everyone I have talked to has some similarities in their stories, but every patient is different. The doctors prescribe pills and think they know everything. I tell them to move in with us and see for themselves what they don't know. I am guessing we have been to 15 doctors in 2 1/2 years and we finally found one who listens and tries new things, switches his meds, gives us ideas. Keep trying new doctors and keep talking to anyone who will listen. Maybe someone could offer you the right advice. I will keep you in my thoughts.

My son
by: Elaine

My son suffered cardiac arrest last year at age 41. we feel he was without oxygen to the brain for less than five minutes. A stent was inserted, which opened the artery with no damage to the heart, but as we found out, moderate anoxic brain damage resulted. Maria, you are so lucky to have your dad walking. My son suffers from severe spasticity, so is paraplegic. Can't communicate most of the time, but is cognitive. I think he goes through much of what is being discussed on this site (some short-term/ long-term memory loss, etc.), but as he doesn't talk very much, I am not sure. I belong to the anoxic brain injury site on FaceBook, which has been very helpful. We also have a fantastic doctor for him, which has been a blessing. So many of the doctors I meet don't have the experience, knowledge or want to work with patients who have anoxic brain injury- it's such a shame. These people can't get the help they desperately need!

To Diane
by: Ann

Hi Diane...

My husband had a massive heart attack and I would say it was a good 45 minutes before they got his heart beating properly again...that includes the first responders shocking him several times/being shocked as he was in the emergency room/getting a stint in one of the blocked arteries and being shocked after that to finally get the heart beating correctly again. He was given a 'hypothermia' treatment and was in a coma for about a week and a half with a very dismal prognosis from the neurologists. He did finally come around and is still here almost 2 yrs later. He has a lot of issues but is much better than he was 2 yrs ago. Write me at if you'd like to keep in touch or know any more specifics about what we've gone through and how we've dealt with this very difficult issue. :)

Keep Your Hope
by: Ann

This is a comment directed to the 'Anonymous' whose 64-yr-old friend had the heart attack/anoxic brain injury and after 9 days was still in a 'coma' of sorts. My husband was 69, went through a 'hypothermia' treatment and when he didn't come out of the 'coma' in the time allotted (2-7 days is what they told us), the prognosis became more grim. Again, like you, we had the positive and the negative medical professionals, although most were positive. But eventually he did surprise everyone (except us) and gradually came around. He had also had seizures which was a sure sign of brain injury, unfortunately. We are now coming up to the 2-yr anniversary of his heart attack. I can't begin to describe this 'journey.' We've had some very low/discouraging times and some wonderful, remarkable times. But he keeps improving and I keep fighting for him. Improvement, however, is painfully's like a child learning things all over again, in a way. My email is I'd love to hear how your friend is progressing. Good luck! Don't let the neurologists affect your attitude on what is possible. Read 'The Brain That Changes Itself' if you want to have an uplifting experience that gives you hope. :)

Donna's Story
by: Anonymous

My mom suffered an anoxic brain injury just on May 3, 2012 because of medical error in the hospital for routine surgery. She was given to much oxygen in the recovery room causing both lungs to blow out and then sending her into cardiac arrest. She is only 73. She was very vibrant and active. Now she is home with my dad and he is devistated because she isn't the person she use to be. She has no short term memory, sketchy long term memory, is incontinent and seems to be exhausted all the time. She is cranky and crabby but not angry thank goodness. She sometimes seems like her old self and then says something really odd and makes things up about what she did earlier (probably because she can't remember what she did). It is sad because they use to be full-time RVer and snow birds. Now they are tripped living their life in my sisters basement because can't live in an RV anymore. We just can only hope for more improvement down the line so that she can at least get back to living in the RV some day. She is only two months out from the injury. Can people improve more with memory issues as time goes on or is this the best we can expect? Here is my mom's story on my blog. Plesae email me if you have any help or encouraging stories about recovery after anoxic brain injury at Here is her story.

Heart Attack at 51
by: Diane

My ex husband and father to my 14year old son had a major heart attack last week and was revived after 20 minutes. The doctors say that there is only a 5% change of survival and even if he does he will be completely brain damaged as 20 minutes of no oxygen to the brain is lethal. He is still sedated in ICU and undergoing brain scans. I would like to hear from anyone who has a similar story to share who anyone that can give hope to this sad story.

Anoxic Brain Injury - husband
by: MAC

Hello - my husband suffered an anoxic brain injury as the result of a cardiac arrest in Oct. 2010. He was down for approximately 40 minutes total (CPR) and we think without oxygen for approx 6-10 minutes. We went through a period of time where he was hallucinating quite a bit, and incorporating things he saw on television into his life/thought process. A pharmacist friend suggested to us there was a slight possibility that the hallucinations were being caused by his anti siezure medicine (for his myoclonic twitches), Keppra. He was on a does of 1000 mg per day which is a standard dose. Our neurologist worked with us, and after much trial and error, the hallucinations WENT TOTALLY AWAY. He needed to be on the Keppra, as the other anti-siezure drugs weren't affective at ridding him of myo-clonic twitches. However - the amount he is on is now just enough to keep the twitches at bay (250mg in a.m. and 250mg in p.m.). He knows who everyone is. The 'high emotions' thing has gotten better over time. But he is still exhausted a good portion of the day (he would sleep all day if you would let him). He's also 'freezing' most of time even if it's 90 degrees out.

Your dear friend
by: Maria

I am so sorry that you are going through this very traumatic ordeal. It is very difficult, especially in the beginning to sort through all of the information. I can tell you that my father was placed on anti-seizure medicines asap. I am not sure why the doctors would not offer that as an option to your friend. Perhaps there is a reason, but maybe a suggestion should be made. When my father began to come around after being heavily sedated, he could not speak, he looked around the room and seemed confused. His eyes did not look like his own. It was visibly apparent that there was brain damage. As the days went on, he began to look more like himself. His eyes had more focus and he could say words. It took some time before he could speak in sentences. He did recognize all of us, but some people were known to him by a word associated with that person. I am very thankful that he knew me and my name. Even my mother, his wife of 43 years was known to him by her maiden name. He knew who she was but couldn't find the words. Today, he knows everyone and why he knows them.

The brain is an amazing thing and can do amazing things, but time and patience are the keys. We were told that the 2 year mark is when we would know how much of his brain has healed. It has been over a year and a half now. He is on several medications for his heart and his brain. His memory and his behaviors leveled off about a year ago.

My first suggestion is to start talking to the doctors about rehab facilities now. They are not easy to get into and the more information you are armed with, the better. I have learned that every person's injury is different although they have the same disorder. I have learned that every minute of some days can be a challenge and that every minute of others can be completely delightful.

It can be very overwhelming for my dad to be around a lot of people. Noise is a problem, but pictures, phone calls and repetitiveness really seem to help him. We follow his lead. He may not always be able to express what he needs-like he just can't find the words, but over time we have figured it out.

I pray for you and your friend. It is the most difficult thing I have ever gone through, but I have time with my dad and for that I am grateful.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. I would be more than happy to help with any information that I might have. God bless.


very recent anoxic brain injury
by: Anonymous

A dear friend who is 64 years old recently had a heart attack, was without oxygen for 15 minutes, and suffered anoxic brain injury. It has been 9 days now and she is currently still in the ICU, trying to wake up with difficulty, and sometimes suffering with what may be seizures. She is opening her eyes and appearing to track faces, but not responding to instructions or requests. Some nurses are very positive about not giving up hope and the benefits of continuing to read, sing, and talk to her, and others express the opposite. It is so difficult to sift through the feedback alongside our own, subjective feelings about what is going on, and where to go from here. Could those on this posting please comment about their experiences during this stage of the process? Thank you very much.

by: Maria

Hi Ann. I feel the same way as you. My dad has come a long way too, but my fear is that this is as good as it will get. We have tried everything and have seen every doctor nearby. The doctors do not seem to know a lot about anoxic injuries and it is very frustrating. They just switch a pill and ask him who the president is. I don't care if he knows who the president is. That isn't my top priority for him.

On the plus side of things, his sense of humor is still the best around and just the other day, we spent 2 hours together that seemed like nothing was wrong. I will cherish those hours forever.

I pray you find some peace and that your husband can find some comfort. Please keep in touch. My email is Maria

Anti-seizure meds
by: Ann

Since there is more than one 'Anonymous' on this webpage, I'll sign my posts with 'Ann' husband was the 69-yr-old with a previous history of heart disease (and bypass surgery at age 49) who ended up with a heart attack and anoxic brain injury. After over a year, we have had a lot of progress but are still plagued with balance issues and long-term memory loss (along with cognitive problems/short-term memory issues/etc) which is just devastating. Most of the time he knows who I am but just last nite after a couple of days of not sleeping well, I became his "mother" for a while. He is still on anti-seizure meds although he hasn't had any problems with seizures for over a year. My next appt with the neurologist will be to try to 'wean' him off that to see if that might help 'clear' his brain up a bit. Any comments on anti-seizure meds?

Response to "trying to help my husband"
by: Maria

Hello. I am sorry if it has taken me some time to respond. I think that it is horrible that these rehabs do so little for us. They don't seem to understand that each individual patient is just that-individual. No two "normal" people act exactly alike, so why do they assume that each patient is going to walk through the door and do as they plan.

I hope the best for you and your husband. It really sounds like your hands are full. It is so difficult to deal with my father, who has his sight. I cannot imagine the daily stress it is on you.

Please contact me again. I would love to hear from you. If I ever learn anything new, I will pass it along through this site.

Best wishes,

Trying to help my husband
by: Anonymous

My husband had seizures from too much ammonia going to his brain. A tips procedure gone wrong. doesn't have cirhosis but does have portal hypertension. The seizures affected his vision but he is in denial that he can't see. They believe he has cortical blindness and charles bonnet syndrome. His emotions are all over the place. No brain injury rehab would take him because of his medical issues. The rehab he is in now doesn't restrain and he already fell and ended up with 3 stitches in his head. He thinks he can see and his brain tells him he can do things he can' walk. He spent 82 days in hosp. 24 days in acute rehab no he is in the only sub acute rehab that would take him. I am afraid they are going to tell me I need to move him because of his angry outbursts. He is only 53yrs. Lost his job and I am working overtime trying to pay bills and see him very day. This nightmare started on June 30, 2011.......will it ever end

RE: A New Mother
by: Maria

I am so sorry that you are going through all of this with such a young family, but it seems like your children are adjusting to the "new normal" that we all have to endure. I have noticed that there has not been much change in my father's behavior. It is almost a good thing because the routine for him has not changed. We know what to anticipate most of the time.

I have found that most doctors do not know how to handle an anoxic brain injury. We have seen a neurologist, a psychiatrist, he has been in rehab, etc. They compare it to dementia, but it is nothing like dementia. I find that we are in limbo with getting any professional help. We have just had to figure it all out as we go. We know my father the best and we know what is best for him. The doctors want to ply him with pills. It is frustrating. So I find that this site is so helpful because the caretakers are the ones who know the real deal.

I do wish you and your family the best and may your husband heal. Please keep in touch. It is always nice to have an extra "ear".


by: Anonymous

Hi Maria...

The email address is:
Is that the one you tried? I'll be looking forward to hearing from you. My husband's heart attack was one year ago on Oct 30 so we are entering a new year with this injury and still trying to recover. Hopefully we can share strategies/etc... :)

by: Maria

Hi. I just tried to email you, but was told that the address was incorrect. Could you please send it again. Thanks.

A New Mother
by: Anonymous

My husband suffered a heart attack July 25, 20011 and now has anoxic brain damage. He is 41. I have read so many of these comments, but none has come as close to my story as yours. My husband has been asking about people who have died and I too have not had the heart to tell him the truth. He sees signs or something on tv and comes up with these stories that are not reality. He sometimes calls my children by his cousins' names. They just remind him who they are and go on. Im so glad that they are doing well with this ordeal. I wish you and your family the best.

Similar Situation
by: Anonymous

Hi Maria...

My husband too had a heart attack about 8 months ago and suffered an anoxic brain injury. After reading about your dad, I saw many similarities with what we are going through. Long-term memory loss mixed with short-term memory loss is devastating. I would really like to connect with you and share experiences. Perhaps we can help each other with suggestions about what works and what doesn't. My email is Please email me if you want to talk about this further. Good luck with your dad...our prayers are with you.

Thank you Larry
by: Maria

Thank you so much for responding to my post. It really helps keep things positive to know that others are going through similar situations and can keep upbeat about it.

I pray for you and Beth.

Thanks again,

Thank You
by: Larry Jameson

Maria, thanks for your story. As you probably know, my wife Beth also suffered an anoxic brain injury. Like your father, she has no short term memory but she does still have long term memory.

Confabulation is a term used for people identifying themselves "in" events they never were really in. There is an article on this site about that.

Repeat...repeat...repeat is an excellent strategy. Photo albums and Wii are other good ones. You seem to be doing many of the right things. Emotional control is something that may take more time as the brain works to heal itself.

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