As many of you know, my son, Eric Cook, had a brain aneurysm on May 7. After the aneurysm, Eric showed great signs of improvement. He could move every limb, he cried as he squeezed his sister and a friend’s hand, in unison. He danced on command. We knew he was in there. We knew he was alive. He was so alive, the nurse showed tears and told us that he was moving on command so well she was having fun with it even when we weren’t in the room.
The aneurysm was coiled and he was in very critical condition with all odds against him, but daily I was told every day is progress. Every day he was alive was significant. He had a wonderful doctor from Detroit Medical Center, who I could trust. The Oakwood doctors, well, they are Oakwood doctors, and if you know Oakwood Hospital, enough said.
It was banged into our heads that Eric’s age was his number one issue against him, his brain didn’t have the room to swell, but if we could keep him alive through the critical moments, his age would be his biggest asset. Young brains can rewire themselves and do miracles with time. Time and time again I was told that you couldn’t give prognosis to the damage of a young brain.
In the beginning, we were told Eric had a stroke with right side damage. The stroke was a part of the aneurysm; it was due to the blood on the brain from the break.
The attitude from Oakwood Neurology was horrendous. They wore their God Complexes openly as if they earned their right to play the role. The mistakes seemed to manifest with poor quality health care and pompousness, but in the end, they continuously passed the buck, unable to take responsibility for their own actions, or inactions. The only person I could count on was our genius, the doctor that saved Eric’s life, but I can’t expose her at this time. She wasn’t an Oakwood staff doctor.
I watched as Eric in Neurology told our ICU nurse not to take intracranial pressure readings because he thought the transducer was plugged with clogged blood and didn’t want to change the tubing. He told her, at about 8 p.m. not to chart the pressures because Eric was going for angioplasty for vasospasm at 5a.m and “they could deal with it.” That one action gave birth to a stroke, still affecting only the right side, but it was a serious error typical of Oakwood.
It was because of this stroke that our little genius had him pulled from Oakwood. She tried to get him into DMC, but there weren’t any beds available. She assured me that Henry Ford was far more capable and she felt comfortable with it. I agreed.
Eric was doing wonderfully. He was opening his eyes. I didn’t see it, I wasn’t there during the neurologic tests, but the nurses were very happy about his stability. Still in critical condition, he was termed “very stable.” I was told that it was very early into Eric’s condition to be opening his eyes, especially after the latest stroke. I felt confident with the progress and believed they had a grip on Eric’s condition. He was progressing and that is the best we had for the situation. I liked very stable with opening his eyes.
Eric was still in vasospasm which is a collapsing of the vessels in the brain due to excess fluids and the blood that had settled from the bleed. He had already had one angioplasty, by the genius, and it went very well. At Henry Ford, his numbers were still “very stable, nowhere near what they were at Oakwood.” His intracranial pressures were between 8 and 10 which were very good.
I received a call at about 8 p.m. on May 16, asking permission to perform this very standard and simple procedure. I was reassured from of the information in the above paragraph. I felt confident as I was assured how incredibly stable Eric was and how simple the procedure was.
Time ticked and I felt it was taking too long. My daughter said it wasn’t much different than the first angioplasty. At 12:06 a.m. on May 17, six minutes into Eric’s 22nd birthday, the phone rang. The man could bearly speak. He was in tears. He was shaken. His first words were: “It’s bad, it’s very bad.” My heart dropped, but I had to keep my composure. I was expecting him to tell me they lost Eric on the table.
“The only thing good thing is he didn’t die on the table.” The man cried.
“I blew the balloon up in his head. I did this. I am so sorry. He was doing so good. He was opening his eyes and everything. He was doing so good, I am so sorry.”
“Okay, stop, explain to me what happened.” I said, heart pounding and scared to death. I knew it was very bad news.
“I put in too much pressure and the balloon broke. It caused another bleed and another stroke, most of the damage that we can tell is still on the right, a little on the left, and he is still alive. I’m so sorry.”
“You know, six minutes ago it became Eric’s 22nd birthday.”
“Oh no, I’m so sorry.” The man was totally distraught.
“Okay, did you stop the bleed?”
“No, the bleed stopped on its own which is a good thing.”
“Okay. Stop.” His tears were making it harder for me. “Obviously you are very shaken and upset, but we can’t look backwards, we have to look forward. Just find a way to save my son.”
I had the gut feeling this was a student, resident, or someone new to the field. I was angry, but I knew in my heart this kid was totally shaken up and Eric had no other choice but to live out this guy’s mistake.
Eric remained on full code. The leading doctor said that he had been doing this for 15 or 16 years and had at least 1500 or 1600 of these cases. He said that Eric’s case had him perplexed and he was “nowhere near throwing in the towel.” This was on Sunday, May 18th. He told me he ordered an MRI for Monday morning, because he needed a full staph that wasn’t there on the weekends, because of Eric’s serious condition.
Eric was now in a coma, both pupils blown, but I was told they can come back.
On Monday, I received a call from the resident asking permission for a tube to be changed. I granted that permission. I asked about the MRI. She told me it was cancelled because his ICP was too high and he wasn’t stable enough to lay flat for the test. She then assured me that the goal has not changed. The goal was to keep his body stable. She said: “Though I can’t give you one bit of optimism, we keep them stable because sometimes in these cases we see a totally different scenario in three months.”
Within the next 60 minutes I received a call from a neurologist. Without any test ran, no MRI, no CAT, he tells me we need to discuss comfort care.
Out of nowhere.
I told him every what every other doctor said. He told me I talk to too many doctors. I asked to speak to the department head; he told me the department head only does sports medicine. I told him I wanted our doctor that had him transferred to review the records, he told me there were only 7 people in Michigan that was trained well enough to know what he did and she wasn’t one of them. I told him no tests had been taken and his response was: “Are you are happy with your son breathing and hiccupping once in a while?” The guy was cold, callus, and insensitive, but he was also going against every word from every doctor.
I told him I am not ready to make that decision without some test to verify what he was saying to me. He told me he understood I was under emotional distress and he could take it to court to get guardianship to make decisions for me.
I was flabbergasted. Without test to back his words I felt the need for Henry Ford to hurry and euthanize their big mistake. But, anyone that knows me knows, that isn’t how I roll. I am not going to intimidate or crumble. My son, my job, period.
I met with him last Wednesday. He told me Eric will be a vegetable. I had two questions in my mind. 1) Is he brain dead, and 2) can he be an organ donor?”
No, he isn’t brain dead and yes he can be an organ donor.
He told me that the pressures in Eric’s brain had gone up to 60 and they were waiting for the right side of his head to explode outward and break through the stitches. He expected this to happen before days end and then Eric would be brain dead. He told me there was no way that Eric’s brain would survive through-out the weekend.
Whenever I spoke he smiled or grinned and nodded in agreement with a smile.
I said: “Eric was doing really well, he was opening his eyes, his pressures were great, until you guys blew up the balloon in his head, then it was like you dumped a cup of water in a computer and you shorted everything out.”
Again, he smiled, nodded, and said, “Yes.”
I had to stay composed. He had Eric’s life in his hands.
We made an agreement to keep Eric on full code until Monday…yesterday.
I called and spoke to Eric’s nurse yesterday. They didn’t want a meeting until today. Her words were “ he has one reflex, breathing.”
Okay, again, in a coma, breathing above the vent, not brain dead as promised by the leading man in Michigan?
“You have to start thinking about comfort care.”
Now, I already know by someone that works in trauma at Henry Ford, that there are children waiting on Eric’s organs. Organ transplant brings in hundreds of thousands, while Eric only costs them money.
I asked her exactly what it was to do comfort care. I guess this was her way of talking about euthanizing nicely.
“Well, we take him off the vent and we administer morphine to lower his breathing. The more he tries to breathe, the more morphine we administer until he goes into cardiac arrest.”
“So you overdose him.”
Mary, the nurse, became upset at my terminology. I didn’t care.
“No, it’s dying with dignity.”
Dignity for whom? Eric was anti-drug, to him overdose till heart attack isn’t dignity.
But she assured me they would have the teams set in place to immediately remove his organs.
Today I meet with the doctors at three.
Please help if you can...