cott Hawkins was just 37 years old when his whole world turned into a nightmare. Scott suffered a severe massive stroke while his wife Danielle was attending a class in a neighboring county. Her husband was home with their kids when Danielle received the phone call she will never forget.
It was an April day when Danielle attended a class in a bordering county and Scott stayed home with their children at their Durand residence in Michigan.”He called me and he was slurring his words,” Danielle recalled. ”He said he had an intense headache and that something was wrong.” Danielle and Scott both dialed 911 and a medical team quickly arrived to rush Scott to the hospital.
”When emergency medical crews loaded Scott into the ambulance, his blood pressure spiked, causing fluid in the lungs,” Danielle said. ”It was just very, very bad,” Danielle added before taking a long pause, admitting, “Sometimes it’s hard to talk about it.” The emergency medicals had to intubated Scott in the ambulance. When the couple arrived at the hospital, doctors encouraged Danielle to call the rest of the family members.
She was told that her husband would probably not make it through the night.“His oxygen levels were in the 60s and 70s. They told me they should be above 90”, Danielle said.
Scott had suffered a burst arteriovenous malformation aneurysm near his brain stem.The aneurysm, which had been with him since birth, caused a stroke. When the surgeons attempted to stop the bleeding in his brain, Scott tragically suffered a heart attack during the procedure, according to Health Beat. “They lost him for a few minutes,” Danielle said. “He had loss of oxygen because of that, too.”
A week after the procedure, Scott remained unable to respond or follow direction.Doctors told her at this stage, he was probably never going to wake up. Danielle was told that her husband would likely never regain consciousness or function normally ever again, let alone ever be able to kiss her or tell her that he loves her.
“They told me to let him go,” Danielle said.But she refused to believe their devastating prognosis. And Danielle knew something even the doctors didn’t know — the strength of Scott’s spirit. Instead of pulling the plug and take farewell, Danielle leaned over to kiss her dying husband. As she put her lips to his lifeless body, she felt something she never expected: Scott kissed her back.
Maybe Danielle was imagining it, she admits. But that little sign was enough for her to believe in, enough to keep life support plugged in, and enough to forever change the course of their lives. With newfound hope, Danielle fought to keep Scott on life support, determined to prove to everyone that he would recover. Her belief in Scott was slowly returned in life function. After five weeks in pulmonary rehabilitation, Scott no longer needed a ventilator. “That’s where I started proving to everyone (that he could recover),” Danielle said.
“He’s a musician, so I would bring in thumb guitars. He would flick the notes. Doctors said it was just a reflex. I told him to change the notes and he did.” Danielle knew that if Scott tried to speak to her, he wouldn’t be able to do so because of his tracheotomy, an incision in the windpipe made to relieve an obstruction to breathing.
But in a leap of faith, Danielle covered the surgically created airway in Scott’s neck — and he started talking to her. “I covered his trach and he started talking to me,” she said. “The first words were, ‘I love you,’ the second, ‘get me pain medication.’ Then, when the doctors asked him, ‘what are you playing?’ he said, ‘an instrument.’ The doctors started to believe in us.” With this indisputable proof of his will to fight, doctors finally started to believe in Scott.
Soon he was transferred to Spectrum Health’s Rehab and Nursing Center. Scott arrived there in an ambulance and spent six days a week in rehab for the next 16 weeks. Therapists and doctors used music therapy and instruments, often in co-treatment with speech, occupational and physical therapies, to help Scott regain strength and coordination.
Finally, after 16 weeks, Scott was going home — and he was going to do it on his own two feet.“ He went in on a stretcher only moving his right hand, and he left walking with a walker with one hand in the air saying, ‘Rock on,’” a thankful Danielle said. Danielle praises the staff at Spectrum for Scott’s speedy recovery. “They started talking to Scott like he was there,” Danielle said, remembering how the rehab staff fueled the hope she had all along. Also, Danielle never left his husbands side. She offered support, encouragement and even tough love when needed. Danielle definitely believed he would recover. Even when they told her to call the family that first night, she just never felt it. She never believed Scott would die.
Scott still have to recover for a very long time, but he’s making progress, step by step. “He’s playing guitar again. He plays the drums. It used to be he couldn’t swallow. He had a feeding tube for nine months, but now he can eat anything he wants,” Danielle said. I think that the biggest medical miracles happen when we believe that they can happen and give care with that in mind! The greatest thing you can give someone is a chance. The rehabilitation staff did that, seeing Scott as the man, husband, and father he was instead of just another patient chart to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Too many people take marriage for granted, tossing aside such dedication when it’s no longer easy or convenient. Thankfully, Danielle Hawkins made a vow to remain steadfast to her husband “in sickness and in health, through good times and bad,” and she meant those words, never giving up on him. This couple’s perseverance is proof that a strong bond can overcome even the biggest obstacles — and our intuition can be more accurate than any medical test.
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