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Back to Bob’s catastrophic brain injury, which happened on April 27, 2011. After his brain surgery, he was connected to many complicated high-tech machines that monitored his respiration, blood pressure, blood gasses and more. A ventilator (life support) was noisily pumping by his left side as I held his arm on his right.

He lived through the brain surgery, which gave me some hope, so I sat down with the Emory Neurologist to discuss the prognosis. Ironically, the handsome and compassionate neurologist Dr. Adam Webb, who also taught Ethics at Emory University Medical School, was a college friend of our middle daughter Britt, who had attended Emory at the same time. Dr. Webb had grabbed a pillow in our small family room, said hi to our kids, and made himself at home while explaining Bob’s surgery and prognosis. I was reassured some by the fact that we were a strong Emory family, and Dr. Webb knew our children. That had to count for something.

I am a resilient, independent woman and take pride in my practical, realistic nature. Over a lifetime, I raised our active family while managing a thriving business, writing hundreds of articles for print magazines and marketing content for websites as well as writing many popular health trade books for renowned NYC publishers and ghostwriting articles and books for numerous celebrities such as Dr. Oz, Dr. Bill Sears and Denise Austin. Yet as strong and resilient as I wanted to be for our children, I completely fell apart just days later and so many days after that.

It was my birthday, May 9, 2011—12 days after Bob’s accident. The kids had gone back home—to new babies and careers; Bob was still in a coma and his breathing had worsened overnight. When I walked into his ICU room the critical care pulmonologists were already assessing his congested lungs and dropping O2 levels. His blood pressure suddenly skyrocketed when I spoke, and his doctor said, “Bob knows you’re in the room—a very good sign.”

With my head on his bed, I completely fell apart, sobbing and screaming out in grief the entire day. Also, on that same day, my latest health book, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan (Rodale) with Dr. Michael Breus, was presented live on the Dr. Oz television show. Bob and I had planned to celebrate these two commemorative moments with our cruise. Now both events seemed so insignificant as my precious husband and best friend of 40 years lie paralyzed in the ICU.

After watching Dr. Oz talk about my new book, the neurology fellow came into Bob’s room as I was sobbing. He lifted Bob’s hand and it flopped like a dead weight back on the bed. I glared at him as he said, “Your husband is not responding. Can’t you see? And you are tired, so go home and sleep.”

I was outraged. Who would tell someone that? That’s not what I needed to hear. I walked quickly to the nurses’ station and told the Charge Nurse the doctor had upset me and was no longer allowed in Bob’s room. They posted a sign on the door to assure me he would not come in and touch my husband or rob me of hope.

Deb Bruce
Deb Bruce
Debra Fulghum Bruce, PhD, is a well-known author, senior medical writer and health literary expert. Deb works hard and plays hard! An avid wordsmith and health communications professional, Deb loves boating, fishing and catching blue crabs at her bay front condominium in South Tampa Florida.

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