Awareness after brain hemorrhage AVM bleed 2/21/2011

On President's Day this year, February 21, 2011 and after a call to 911, my 55 year old mother was found to have had a massive brain hemorrhage. The next day, after an angiogram, the doctors found that it was caused by an AVM in her left temporal lobe. She was flown to another hospital to have a craniotomy due to the massive brain swelling. We were given a poor prognosis for her quality of life. The doctors are unable to remove the AVM at this time due to the location of it and the swelling. The bleeding has thankfully stopped but we are waiting for the swelling to go enough that they may remap and reconsider removing it.

As of today, March 4, 2011, my mother is what I have now found online to be considered in a vegetative state. Her eyes barely open, she can move her left hand and left leg, she had tried to pull her tubes out at one point but she does not listen to commands. The doctors have also taken her off the sedatives because they want her to "wake up". I understand that patients will "wake up" over time and a timeframe is never set in stone but I have done countless online searches to see when on average other people "woke up" but I can not find anything detailed.

Everyone is different and every brain injury is different but was hoping someone could tell me about their personal experience about the awakening their loved one had after a brain hemorrhage and swelling. My family and I believe that she is still in there and we are clinging to hope.

I would also like to know if someone was in a state such as this and could hear everyone around them. With the left frontal lobe affected the doctors believe she will have trouble speaking, understanding and having trouble with memories.

If anyone would be kind enough to share their or their loved ones awakening, I would certainly appreciate their experience. Thank you.

My husband was in a coma for 3 weeks after his bleed and craniotomy at the age of 18. The doctors told his parents to talk to him throughout the coma, and he thinks he was able to hear. He also tried to pull out his tubes and unwrap his head bandages during those three weeks. The situation is different for everyone, but it's too early to try to know what will happen in your mother's case.

One thing you can do for your mother is read up on her doctors and see if there are other local neurosurgeons with more AVM expertise. The doctors tend to specialize in different types of AVMs and treatments, so if you're not convinced that her current doctors are the top AVM docs in the area, having another doctor review her scans and medical records might give you more information about what can be done after the swelling is down.

Thank you very much for replying. Just to read about another person’s awakening is encouraging.

Hi Andrea. I recently found out that I have an AVM. My biggest fear is that IF I have a bleed my world will become silent. I have spoke to my husband about making sure I always have music and audiobooks, people to read me the paper etc. I believe that it what will bring me back the quickest. I pray it never comes to that but IF… As her daughter you must be so scared. Believe she is there and help her find her way back. I send you and your family love and positive thoughts.

Hi Andrea,

After my bleed I was in a coma for nearly 3 weeks, however, after a few days it was drug induced. My surgeon wanted my brain to settle down a bit before the craniotomy. I too tried to pull my tubes out and became very agitated. After the surgery I was kept sedated for a day and I woke up on my own shortly thereafter.

I wish I could tell you that I heard people around me talking, but I don't remember. I can tell you that my husband really noticed a change in me when he brought my ipod in and played my music. Even though I was mostly unconscious, I would tap my foot to the music. So, I guess I could hear what was going on around me.

It really is too early to tell what will happen with your mother. Continue to sit with her and talk to her. It certainly can't hurt.

Good luck to you and to your mother!


I am sorry to hear that your Mother and your family is having to go through this. You came to the right place, everyone here is wonderful and beyond that, they understand. My suggestion is to get a copy of "My Stoke of Insight" a book written by Dr. Jill Bolte taylor, a Harvard brain scientist that suffered a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. She lists "40 Things I Needed Most" in her book that documents her recovery.

As for talking to your mother and playing music, coming from what I read in the above mentioned book, tone and attitude of the person talking is more important than what is being said. I'll be praying for your Mother and your family.


Andrea, I had a massive brain hemorrhage on 12/23/07 at age 57. My AVM also was on my left temporal lobe.

It is true that every case is different. I was in a med induced coma for just one week.

I did have trouble speaking and now I only have a problem saying words when I am very tired. Aphasia is what they call our disability, having trouble speaking, reading, spelling and I have loss of short term memory.

Although it took quite a while to improve, having Speech/Lang Therapy, a year after my bleed, was a great help. Staying positive is the best therapy! Keep us informed on how your Mom is doing...I will pray that she recoveres soon!

To JH, Jan, Stephanie, Trish, Kim, and Louisa,

Thank you, thank you for taking the time and telling your experiences. Kim you are very much correct, I did come to the right place. I have spent countless hours reserching whatever I can about AVMs, brain hemorrhages, and the like just so I can have an idea about what my mother is going through. I read in a medical journal that one of the earliest signs (even though this may not always be the case) of slowly awakening into consciousness is tracking objects with the eyes, even if the eyes are barely open.

The doctors have been able to stabilize her blood pressure and heart rate. She does have a touch of pneumonia with a slight fever but seems to be doing a lot better than last week. I understand that we are looking at a long road but we all plan on making that journey with her. Kim, I will definitely look into Dr. Taylor’s book, thank you so much for the suggestion. And again, to everyone, thank you for your kinds words and thoughts in my mother’s recovery. You have brought me much comfort knowing that we are not alone in this unfortunate circumstance. I will keep you all posted on her journey to recovery.