Husband Agrees to Take His Wife Off Life Support, And The Craziest Thing Happens
Among the things that young newlyweds are concerned about are furnishings for their new home and when to begin planning for a baby. A couple vows to love and support each other through the good times and the bad, and they secretly hope that these bad times never make them think twice about their oaths. Ryan and Jill Finley, a couple from Oklahoma, were put to the test when Jill experienced an extremely rare medical emergency.
Ryan Finley who suddenly found himself in uncharted waters, was forced to make an impossibly difficult decision when his wife Jill fell into a coma. Already in over his head, something unimaginable happened. Keep reading to hear his amazing story.
A Seemingly Uneventful Weekend
Ryan and Jill Finley, like many young couples, enjoy spending their weekends together relaxing at their Jones, Oklahoma residence. During his time off from work, Ryan was often found sitting on the front porch with a newspaper in hand.
His wife, Jill, was left to sleep in while he enjoyed the tranquility of the morning as they often did like on that one 2007 Sunday morning. Unbeknownst to them, their seemingly routine morning would be forever changed by the events that would unfold on that very day.
Something Unexpected Happens
Married for just over four years, Ryan, who was a plumbing contractor didn’t think anything was going on when his wife Jill, a loan underwriter, was in bed longer than her weekend usual.
After relaxing on the porch for some time, Ryan went back into the house and had an unusual desire to wake his sleeping wife. The decision to act on the urge might have been the best thing that Ryan did that day.
And it Was Then That He Knew
Thinking back to the morning of May 26, 2007, Ryan Finley said: “I can’t tell you why, but I just felt that I wanted to wake her up that day.” In his attempt to do so, he quickly realized that something was wrong when his wife would not stir, no matter how intent he was on waking her.
No amount of shouting or shaking could wake his wife Jill, and no matter what Ryan did, his wife would not stir. Things began to worsen when he realized that she was not breathing.
Time to Spring Into Action
While in this crisis, Ryan tries as best as he can to stay calm. After acting quickly by calling 911, Ryan placed his wife on the floor where he performed CPR while desperately waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Fearing the worst, Ryan thought back to a life-saving course that he had taken more than a decade before that day. Trying his best to remember the techniques that he had never had to use, Ryan was doing everything in his power to resuscitate his wife.
15 Minutes Can Feel Like Hours
Although the emergency response team was able to reach the Finley household within 15 minutes, Ryan thought that “it felt like forever, it felt like hours.” As the EMTs took control of the situation from a visibly upset Ryan, he stood outside of the bedroom wishing that everything would be okay.
The ambulance attendants pulled out a defibrillator which delivered a dose of electric current to Jill’s heart. As they did so, Ryan recalls “I could actually hear the machine going. A thump and then the second thump. I heard Jill coming back down and hitting the wood floor.”
Let’s Get To the Hospital ASAP
After determining that Jill would need additional care, she was rushed to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in an ambulance. Ryan, who was still shaken, managed to follow closely behind in his own vehicle.
Upon arrival, Jill was rushed to the Emergency Room where she was placed on a respirator. With no signs of recovery in sight, the doctors prepared to take action in an attempt to save Jill who was at a critical point.
How Did This Happen?
It took approximately 20 to 25 minutes for the doctors to stabilize Jill so that further action could be taken. Amidst all of the chaos, Ryan did not have the faintest idea as to how his wife got to this point.
With every passing minute, the hospital attendant did the best that they could to help the dire situation. Because of Ryan’s quick thinking and action, his wife eventually began to breathe again, and her heart was also beating. Unbeknownst to him, they were about to go down a road that no one anticipated.
It was later determined that Jill had had a heart attack in her sleep and that her body has been deprived of oxygen for almost 5 minutes. Doctors acted very quickly and decided to induce a state of clinical hypothermia in order to minimize the risk of brain damage.
Jill’s entire body was wrapped in cooling pads, and for 24 hours, she was treated with circulating cool water where her body temperature was lowered to 90 degrees. Dr. Michael Schoeffler, one of the doctors who treated Jill, said that “there [are] studies that have shown that it helps protect the brain in hopes that she will have a recovery.”
Jill Fell Into A Coma
The following day, the doctors decided to warm Jill up in the hopes that she would wake up, as many other patients do during this process. She did not wake up, and after a few tests were run, they revealed that there was little brain activity. Her husband, Ryan refused to give up.
Jill was now in a coma, and things seemed to be graver than ever before. Regardless of that, her husband remained hopeful, and he refused to leave her side, no matter what friends, family, or doctors told him.
I’m Not Going Anywhere
Ryan believed that his wife would defy the odds and he loyally remained with her, even sleeping at the hospital on occasion in the hope that she would wake up. While there, Ryan remained alert, often reading Bible verses to her and sleeping on the bed right next to hers.
With no surrender in sight, Ryan continued to do any and everything that he could to make sure that his wife was alright, and he kept on praying for the best. The days went on, and while doctors would not say that all hope was lost, they did give Ryan an estimate.
Things Aren’t Looking So Good
“It was grim; I’ll put it that way. Everything they told me was grim” said Ryan as he recounts the situation. The doctors informed Ryan that in cases like his wife’s, there was a one percent chance that she would make a total recovery. The odds were slim, and although Ryan knew it, he would not accept that this could be the end.
With uncontrollable thoughts and emotions, Ryan began to pray once more, and he also kept a journal to help him get through the ordeal. Some of the things that he wrote revealed just how heartbroken he was, but it also chronicled his resolve and will to help his wife fight for her life.
This Isn’t A Dream
In his journal, he wrote that “every morning I’d wake up and I’d realize, this isn’t a dream.” “The doctors told me that there were never any signs that she was coming back. There wasn’t.” With all of this bad news, he was trying his best to keep his composure.
Deep down, Ryan knew that if his wife pulled through, that there was a possibility that she would either not recover to her previous fully functional state or that she would stay in a vegetative state. With everything going on, nothing could prepare him for what was about to happen next.
14 Days After The Coma’s Onset
Jill had the love of and support of her family and friends, but 14 days can seem like a long time. In addition to that, her condition showed no signs of improvement, which made things much worse.
To make things worse, Ryan and Jill’s parents were now faced with making some tough decisions about their current situation, and for Ryan, it would be one of the hardest in his life.
Possibly The Worst Day Ever
Laying on the bed in front of Ryan, was the love of his life, Jill. The thought of living without her was unbearable, but he knew without a shadow of a doubt that she would not want to live like that.
Ryan would eventually have to decide whether to have his wife taken off of life support or not. “Today could be the worst day of life. I essentially have to decide whether or not Jill will live or not. My soul mate. My everything,” he wrote in his journal.
Couple Ryan and Jill had not prepared any advanced medical care directives, but a few years ago when Ryan’s aunt had been hospitalized and placed on life support, he remembered a conversation that he had with his wife about the experience.
Ryan and his aunt were very close and just having to live through it was difficult for him, but thinking back to that time, he remembered that wife said: “I would never want to live that way.” As the days passed, the pressure of making a decision about his wife’s condition was beginning to mount.
The Toughest Choice
After thoroughly discussing the issue with his wife’s family, Ryan concluded that Jill would not want to live out the rest of her days on a hospital bed. With a heavy heart, Ryan decided to remove his comatose wife, Jill, from life support.
With the help of Jill’s family, Ryan petitioned for the court order that was needed to remove his wife’s feeding tubes. Thinking back to what would have been the hardest decision of his life, Ryan said that “You don’t think when you’re 31 years old that you will have to be doing this with your wife that’s 32.”
I Bid You Adieu
The doctors explained to Ryan precisely what was going to happen after his wife is taken off life support, specifically that it would not happen right away. After the removal, some people exhibit a phenomenon known as “last rally” where they display reflexive movements and/ or make different sounds.
There was nothing that could prepare anyone for a moment like this, but Ryan along with Jill’s family sadly said their goodbyes. When the doctors took Jill off of life support, Ryan prepared himself for the worst as his wife as about to meet her end, but no one was expecting what was about to unfold.
A Call from The Nurse
Jill Finley was removed from life support on June 9, 2007, and he recalled the moment “her whole upper torso just kind of shift a little bit. And then the mumbling would start.” It became too much for him and “when that started, I left the room. I physically got sick,” he remembers.
With the doctors urging Ryan not to expect too much, he was not prepared for how hard the process was going to be. The seconds turned into minutes and the minutes turned into hours, and when the nurses hurried a broken-hearted Ryan into Jill’s room, he didn’t know what to think.
Out Of Left Field…
Five hours after Jill was disconnected from her life support at around 11 p.m., Ryan went back to sit beside his wife. Jill began to mumble, and Ryan immediately thought that it was one of the “last rally” signs.
Thinking back to that life-changing day, Ryan said: “I thought that was it, that was the last rally.” He tried his best to decipher what his wife was saying when he realized that something else was going on.
“Get Me Out Of Here”
All of a sudden, Jill began to move and talk in a more logical fashion and Ryan heard her saying “get me out of here.” She continued by saying “take me to Ted’s and take me to the Melting Pot,” two of her favorite Mexican eateries.
With the doctors telling Ryan not to have any expectations, Ryan began to question his wife to make sure that what she was saying wasn’t just an unconscious reaction. At that moment, he realized that unthinkable had happened.
We Got Everything On Video
Jill answered each and every one of her husband’s questions correctly. Ryan said that “She knew our dog’s name, our cat’s name, our phone number. She knew our address immediately.” Ryan somehow managed to get it all recorded on his phone.
Just minutes ago, Ryan was having to deal with the idea that Jill, his wife of 4 years would not be around for much longer, but at this moment, he knew for a fact that this was not the “last rally.” Jill was actually showing signs that were nothing like the last rally, and it didn’t stop there.
It Seemed Like A Dream
To everyone’s amazement, Jill woke up from a coma just hours after she was taken off life support. Ryan was amazed, and in a moment that can only be described as blissful, he said: “it was – I can’t imagine a feeling better than what I felt right then.”
Ryan said “I kind of had to take a double-take, and that went on for about 24 hours. I really couldn’t believe it was happening. The two or three days prior I was preparing for the worst, and the best happened. It was just like living in a dream for a day – then it hit me, ‘She’s back, dummy.’”
A Few Days Later
Jill Finley’s case amazed both her friends as well as the medical community when she seemingly made a full recovery just six days after waking up. She explained that “all the doctors say I’m not textbook material.”
Like many of the people who woke up from a coma, Jill did not recall the events that caused her coma. However, she did say that “I do remember the big shower they wheeled me into every day. Other than that, I don’t remember anything.” Her thoughts on her husband’s decision to remove her from life support are seriously tear-jerking.
“I Would Not Have Wanted To Live Like That.”
Many people would have been disappointed to learn that their spouse agreed to have their life support withdrawn, but Jill Finley’s reaction shocked everyone. After finding out about everything that has transpired during her two-week coma, she determined that her husband Ryan, had made the correct decision.
“I would not have wanted to live like that, and so he did the right thing, he did. Because they basically told him that I was going to be a vegetable. I was going to be laying there in bed, you know, wearing diapers for the rest of my life and that’s just not me,” Jill said.
What Really Happened?
They found out that Jill had a congenital condition which caused her heart to stop beating while she was sleeping, and it eventually led to her falling into a coma. Doctors did not know what caused her remarkable recovery, but upon reflection of this plot twist, Jill had one response.
Jill attributed her inexplicable recovery to God and her husband. “I honestly do believe that God answered the prayers,” and it turns out that her husband was not the only one who was praying. “We had so many people praying for me – just tons of different churches, and family and friends,” Jill said.
Having To Relearn Things
The Finleys, along with their families were counting their lucky stars and they were also extremely thankful that Jill had recovered. In the months following her coma, Jill’s road to rehabilitation included having to relearn how to brush her teeth, how to cook, and how to tie her shoes.
Pacemakers were implanted into Jill’s heart for her condition, and she also had to attend rehab where she had to work alongside an occupational and speech therapist. Nevertheless, the couple was ecstatic to have walked out of such a situation, and with a new outlook on life.
“We Look At Each Day So Much Differently”
Jill and Ryan, not wanting to miss a waking moment, are always together. Not saying that the couple was not close prior to the event, but after the ordeal, there was a newfound appreciation both for their loves and their relationships.
“It’s brought life to a whole new perspective; we look at each day so much differently now. We just spend every minute that we can together — going to the grocery store now, we go together, go everywhere together,” Jill said.
The Happy Coma Survivor
Having to deal with short-term memory loss and working to improve her speech during the recovery process were just very small things to Jill. “Pretty much, I am normal,” the happy coma survivor announced.
Now looking back, the couple who chooses to stay on the bright side have laughed about some of the effects of the traumatic incident. During an interview with TODAY, the recovering wife said that “One of our friends, [said], ‘I’m so jealous. You guys are like newlyweds.’”
“I Wouldn’t Change Anything.”
After reflecting upon the events of the emotional rollercoaster ride, Ryan said if given the opportunity to do it all over again, he would do the exact same thing. He said, “I think that’s only human nature, but honestly, I wouldn’t change anything.”
Taking into account everything that Ryan did, he was nominated for the Oklahoma Heart Hero Award which was given by the Oklahoma Heart Hospital to recognize the local citizens who used either an AED or CPR to save another citizen’s life. And yet still, he has not stopped checking on his wife.
A New Nocturnal Habit
Many people still don’t know the amazing story of Jill Finley’s recovery, but when she first came out of the coma, she asked to visit two of her favorite Mexican restaurants, which the couple surely did go to.
Furthermore, her concerned husband has an amusing method to make sure that his wife is okay. “There’s still not a night that goes by that I don’t wake up,” Ryan said. “I’ll usually kick her and if she kicks me back, I know we’re OK.”
Anything Is Possible
As amazing as Jill Finley’s story was, the following account shows that these occurrences are not as rare as it was once thought. This next story is more extraordinary than Jill’s, and it is a great example of how the human spirit can overcome anything, even if it is a decade-long coma.
Martin Pistorius who was 12 years old at the time could have never imagined that his life would have taken the path that it did. Martin, who was growing up in South Africa, was your average cheerful boy, that is until changed.
Where Do We Begin?
One day back in 1988, Martin Pistorius returned from school not feeling like his usual self. What started off as a sore throat would unknowingly turn into an ailment that doctors could not understand, and one that would change both his life and the lives of those around him forever.
His condition quickly deteriorated and was began as flu-like symptoms turned into a debilitating illness which made him increasingly weaker as the days passed. Not only was he unable to eat, but it was also difficult for him to sleep for long intervals. Soon, he would not be able to move certain parts of his body.
What Was Wrong with Martin?
As his ailment began to worsen, his hands and legs became very weak, and he lost his ability to move. His memory began to decline, and soon he began to forget the names and faces of his loved ones. Martin then fell into a vegetative state, making those around him feel helpless.
The New Routine
Although the doctors told Martin’s parents that his intelligence level was now the same as a three-month-old, they refused to give up on their son. His father was now his caregiver, and he became responsible for his day to day needs. One of the many things that his father did was to wake up every few hours to turn his son to ensure that he would not develop bed sores.
Every day Martin’s father would take him to a care home, and he would drive him back to their home every night. His mother, who was beginning to feel hopeless wanted to send him to a full-time care facility, but there was no way that his father was going to allow it.
She Needed Some Relief
It was hard for Joan Pistorius to watch her son suffer like that and she subsequently fell into a deep depression. While looking at what had become of her son, she said: “I hope you die.” She later recalled that things were looking very bad and that she was in desperate need of relief.
Mrs. Pistorius did not think that her son heard what she just said, but as she would later learn, Martin heard every single word.
Awakened As Age Sixteen
Martin remembers “my mind began to awaken at about the age of 16.” One of the first things to come back was his awareness, and he soon realized that he was imprisoned in his own body. By the age of 19, Martin had fully regained consciousness, but he was still incapable of movement.
Unable to communicate with anyone, he thought that he would have to spend the rest of his days in this current condition. Although he was surrounded by caretakers and family members, Martin felt alone and unloved, but an unexpected turn was just around the corner.
I Hated Barney
Everyone thought that Martin was in a vegetative state and his caretakers would often sit him down in front of the television where reruns of the children’s show, Barney would play. It was only later that he said, “I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney.”
One day, Virna van der Walt who was Martin’s aromatherapist, realized that he was reacting to her questions by nodding and moving his eyes. She then persuaded his parent to send him to school – the University of Pretoria’s Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. This would lead to an astonishing discovery.
Not A Vegetable
While at the school, the Pistorius parents learned that Martin was not a vegetable at all. His healing process began slowly, and he was given a computer which had communicative software. It was only then that Martin was able to express his feelings, many of which were confined to just him.
Gradually, the now 25-year-old Martin regained some of the control that he had once lost of his upper body, and although he was still restricted to a wheelchair, he had come an astoundingly long way. He later learned how to drive, but that was not the only thing.
Martin, an 11-year-old-boy who was said to spend the duration of his life in a vegetative state was making astounding progress. He even managed to find love with a little bit of help from his sister, eventually marrying Joanna in 2009. After learning a trade, he got a job as a freelance web designer and developer.
Although he still has to use a wheelchair, Martin Pistorius can say that he is living his best life. In 2011, he wrote a book about his incredible journey entitled “Ghost Boy,” which later became a best-seller. There was one important question, has he forgiven his mother?
Learning To Forgive
When Martin was asked about his mother’s comment “I hope you die,” he said that he managed to come to terms and that he recognized that she was desperate. Mrs. Pistorius did not know that her son was listening as all she saw was a shell of her darling son.
Because of that, he learned to forgive the gut-wrenching statement, one of the things which makes his story much more inspiring.