Young Married Couples
Most young married couples are busy trying to choose the furnishings for their home, discussing when to start a family, and settling into their new lives together. Most young couples believe that they have their whole lives ahead of them, and they don’t expect life to throw them a few curve balls here and there. When something like this does happen, it takes them by surprise.
Ryan and Jill Finley
Ryan and Jill live in Jones, Oklahoma. They worked hard all week and looked forward to taking it easy on the weekends. Ryan worked as a plumbing contractor, and Jill worked as a loan underwriter. They loved to just relax around the house together. On their days off, Ryan loved to sit on their front porch, reading the newspaper. His wife liked to sleep in, so he tried to be quiet as not to wake her. One Sunday morning in 2007 started as a typical day in the Finley household, but soon, Ryan would realize that the day would be far from ordinary.
Ryan was sitting on the porch like he always did early in the morning, and Jill was still in bed. For some reason, Ryan felt like something was off on this day. He decided to go inside and wake Jill. When he got to the bedroom, he tried to wake her up, but she didn’t move. He tried many times to wake her up, but she remained asleep. He says that he was yelling and shaking her, but nothing would wake her up. When he realized that his wife wasn’t breathing, he panicked.
Calling For Help
Ryan knew that he would be no help to his wife in panic mode, so he tried to calm himself. He ran to the phone and called 911. While he waited for the ambulance, he took Jill from the bed and placed her on the floor. He began performing CPR, hoping to keep her alive until the ambulance arrived. Fortunately, he had taken a CPR course ten years earlier but never needed to use the skills that he learned until now. He fought hard to resuscitate his wife until help arrived.
Ryan says that it felt like forever for the ambulance to arrive. It took the EMTs 15 minutes to get to the house, and they took over as soon as they arrived. Ryan stood outside of the bedroom to give the medics room to work. All he could do now was hope for the best. The EMTs use a defibrillator to revive Jill by administering a dose of electric shock currents to her heart. Ryan says that he could hear a thump, then a second thump. It was Jill being lifted up from the floor and then back down. Soon, it was time for them to leave.
Rushing To the Hospital
The paramedics knew right away that Jill needed immediate care, and they rushed her to Oklahoma Heart Hospital. Ryan needed to be by his wife’s side, so he got in his car and followed the ambulance. He was so distraught that he didn’t know how he managed to drive. When Jill got to the hospital, the medical staff put her on a respirator. When Jill didn’t wake up right away, the doctors knew that they had to take further steps to save her life.
Ryan says that it took 20 to 25 minutes to stabilize his wife enough that they could treat her and find out what happened to her. That was the question on Ryan’s mind. How did she end up like this? Thanks to Ryan’s quick action, the doctors were able to get Jill breathing again, and her heart was beating again. Unfortunately, Jill wasn’t out of the woods yet.
The doctors determined that Jill had suffered a cardiac arrest in her sleep, and had been deprived of oxygen for nearly five minutes. They had to place her in a chill suit, which is designed to induce clinical hypothermia in an attempt to reduce the chances of brain damage. The doctors wrapped her in large cooling pads, and they treated her with circulating cool water for 24-hours. This lowered her body temperature to 90-degrees. According to Jill’s doctor, Dr. Michael Schoeffler, studies had shown that this treatment could help protect the brain so that she could recover. Ryan could do nothing but wait.
In a Coma
The next day, the doctors started warming Jill’s body. They were hoping that she would wake up during this process, but she didn’t. The doctors ran tests and discovered that she had very little brain activity. They gave Ryan the news, but he refused to give up on his wife. Jill was in a coma, and her situation wasn’t looking good. Ryan stayed by her side and refused to leave, regardless of what anyone said.
By Her Side
Ryan wouldn’t leave Jill’s side. He was sure that she would beat the odds and come back to him. He started sleeping in the hospital, just in case she came to in the middle of the night. He stayed by her side, reading verses from the Bible to her, and laid in the bed next to hers. Days passed, and Ryan refused to leave Jill’s side. The doctors didn’t have much hope for Jill’s recovery, but they didn’t want to tell Ryan directly that there was no hope.
The doctors told Ryan that things were grim. They told him that only about one percent of the people in Jill’s condition make a total recovery. Ryan knew that the chances were low, but in his mind, there was still a chance. He prayed that his wife would be alright, and he kept a diary. It was his way of expressing his feelings about what was happening to his wife. It was a very dark time for Ryan, but he knew that he couldn’t give up on Jill. He had to fight for her.
As the days passed, Ryan’s fears grew. The doctors told him that she was showing no signs of recovery. If she did pull through, they told him that there was a chance that she would remain in a vegetative state, or not fully recover where she could function on her own. He didn’t know what to do. He also didn’t know what Jill would want him to do.
Two Weeks In a Coma
Ryan and Jill’s friends and family members remained hopeful that she would wake up. When 14 days had passed, the doctors had the same news. Jill’s condition wasn’t improving at all. The time was coming where Ryan and Jill had to make a decision. For Ryan, it was one of the hardest decisions that he had to make in his life. He didn’t want to lose Jill, but he also didn’t want her to have to spend the rest of her life in a hospital bed. In his diary, he wrote, “Today could be the worst day of life. I essentially have to decide whether or not Jill will love. My soul mate. My everything.”
Jill didn’t have an advanced healthcare directive or a DNR order, but Ryan remembered something important. When his aunt was hospitalized and put on life support, he remembered something that Jill had said. She told Ryan that she would never want to live that way. She didn’t want to spend her life living in a bed on a machine. He was under pressure because the doctors told him that it was time to make a decision.
After talking to Jill’s family and friends, Ryan made the most painful decision of his life. He decided that it was in Jill’s best interests to remove her from care. He knew that she didn’t want to live in a hospital bed forever, so he decided that it was time to inform the doctors of his decision. Ryan says that it wasn’t easy. You never expect to make a life and death decision for your 32-year-old wife.
Before Ryan and Jill’s loved ones said goodbye, the doctors let them know what to expect when Jill was taken off life support. They told him that she wouldn’t die immediately, and some people experience reflexive moves. Some even make sounds that are referred to as “the last rally.” The family said their goodbyes, and Ryan held Jill’s hand while the doctors turned off the machine. He braced himself for the worst, which he knew would be coming.
Called By a Nurse
On June 9, 2007, Jill was removed from life support. Ryan says that her upper torso shifted a bit, and she started mumbling. This was too much for Ryan, and he ran out of the room and got sick. Ryan didn’t want to leave the hospital until his wife was gone. It was hard to stand in the room because he kept feeling hope. Hours passed, and Jill hadn’t passed. Suddenly, the nurse told him to get into the room quickly.
The Last Rally?
It was 11 pm and five hours had passed since they had taken Jill off life support. Ryan sat by her side as she mumbled out loud. She thought that she was showing last rally signs and that she would be leaving him soon. He listened carefully to his wife and tried to make out what he was saying. Suddenly, she did something that shocked her husband.
Get Me Out Of Here
Ryan was listening to his wife when she began speaking coherently. She clearly said, “Get me out of here.” She continued saying things that made sense. She said, “Take me to Ted’s and take me to the Melting Pot,” which were Jill’s two favorite Mexican restaurants. Ryan started to ask Jill questions to see if the words were actually coming from her, or just a reflex.
Caught On Film
Ryan took out his phone and started recording. He thought that he might need proof for the doctors when he asked Jill their dog’s name, their cat’s name, and their phone number. She knew all of the answers and even told him their address. Ryan realized right away that this wasn’t the last rally. Jill was waking up!
Everyone was shocked by Jill’s recovery. Everyone, including the doctors, was sure that she was going to die. Now, she was breathing on her own, and she could answer every question Ryan asked her. Within six days, Jill was healthy and back to normal. She said that she didn’t remember much about her time in a coma. She remembered being wheeled into a big shower every day, but nothing else.
The Right Decision
When Jill learned that Ryan chose to discontinue care, she wasn’t angry at all. Instead, she said that he made the right decision. She says that she didn’t want to live hooked up to machines, and Ryan did the right thing by discontinuing care. She stood by what her husband did because she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in a bed.
What Caused It All?
The doctors ran some tests, and they determined that Jill had a congenital condition that caused her heart to stop while she was sleeping. This is what led to her coma. The one thing that the doctors cannot explain was how she woke up from the coma. They can only chalk it up to a miracle. Jill agrees that it was a miracle that she woke up, and she credits God and her husband for saving her life. She is sure that God answered Ryan’s prayers and brought her back to him.
Getting Her Life Back
After Jill woke up, her recovery wasn’t over. She had to relearn many things, such as how to brush her teeth, tie her shoes, and even how to cook. Between visits to the occupational therapist and the speech therapist, the surgeons implanted a pacemaker in her heart to prevent another cardiac arrest. Jill is just thankful that she has a second chance at life, alongside of her loving husband. Husband Agrees to Take Comatose Wife Off Life Support, Doesn’t Realize She Hears Everything, and he never truly gave up on her.