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Care Partner of the Month (cont'd)

Chrissie Brantley -
Cold Spring, NY

We circled her bed in the NICU and prayed along with the hospital chaplin and priest. As last rites were being administered I knelt beside her bed, beyond prayer myself, and simply held her hand while others bid her their own farewell. We then faced an endless night waiting for morning when Dr. Kendrick would return to take her off of life support.

To the surprise of everyone, especially her surgeon, at some point during the night Debbie started to respond to touch. He arrived very early that morning and went to examine her before coming to talk to us. Through the night many conversations had taken place including how to honor Debbie's wishes to be cremated, how to best gather her friends from around the country and who would be in the room when she went to take her last breath. Dr. Kendrick has no rational explanation for the turn of events. He, along with many in his field, is mystified by Debbie's recovery - after all he had removed most of her cerebellum that night.

The weeks that followed this initial event are too numerous to tell but involve her being moved to a Birmingham, Alabama hospital to satisfy her HMO (thus leaving the amazing surgeon who had helped save her life), a second surgery at the new hospital to place a permanent VP Shunt to drain the excess fluid from her brain, and months in rehabilitation (both inpatient and outpatient). In this new role as care partner I was with her every step of the way. At first those steps were behind a wheelchair for balance - we took them one at a time - and such has been the course of the last four years.

 

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