Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using this site to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your continued prayers and words of hope and encouragement.
On Monday, March 19, 2018 Mak went unconscious while in weight training class at Campbell High School. Thankfully, his close friends (Connor, Mason and Michael) and his Lacrosse trainer, (Sam Viola) immediately called 911 when Mak did not respond to a sternum rub. Mak was rushed to Kennestone Hospital where scans indicated there was bleeding on his brain. Emergency surgery was performed to relieve the pressure on his brain. It was determined that Mak suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage due to the rupture of a congenital arteriovenous malformation (or brain AVM). Because his bleed was so massive, he suffered not only a brain injury, but also a hemorrhagic stroke. Based on where the bleed occurred, deep in his left frontal lobe, the doctors let us know that he would likely suffer deficits to he is speech and paralysis to his right side. Mak also was immediately intubated (on a ventilator) to assist with his breathing. They were also hopeful though that since he was young and athletic, recovery was promising. However, Mak did not awaken when expected; he remained in an obtunded state which is between conscious and unconscious. Because of his state, they were unable to perform any breathing trials to see if he could breathe on his own and he was being fed intravenously. On day 9, Mak was still obtunded, thus doctors performed a tracheotomy (for breathing) and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG tube) for feeding via his abdomen wall. We learned that there were several benefits to this route of care for him. There is less chance for infection, less pain killers required, better recovery progress and it was safer for him in case his brain did not recall how to swallow properly once the breathing tube was removed, which ended up being the case.
On April 9th, Mak was considered medically stable and admitted to the Shepherd Center ICU because he was still on the ventilator. Within an hour of being there, Shepherd had him off the ventilator and he was able to breathe on his own! Hallelujah! Mak was moved out of ICU on April 11th to regular room in the Acquired Brain Injury Unit. On April 20th, Mak was determined to have emerged from his "coma like" state. Praise God!
As of April 30th, Mak was still on a feeding tube, but was starting to have some movement in his extremities. He could wiggle his toes, stretch his fingers and give a thumbs up. He also has was fully aware of what was going on and recognized us! He frequently smiled at his friends and grinned at jokes. He totally was getting funny situations and he was grinning when we teased him. His biggest challenge was to learn to swallow again so that the trach and the feeding tube could be removed. He was also not able to talk due to the trach. He was also challenged with painful muscle spasms that his medical team were trying to figure out how to rid him of or manage them. Because he had much to re-learn regarding mobility and movement of his limbs, he was confined to his bed and his wheelchair. On June 7th, Mak was able to have the trach removed and began re-learning to eat, drink and just generally swallow so that he could have his feeding tube removed. Due to where his injury was in the left frontal lobe, Mak's speech was impaired and we learned that even without the trach, talking again would be a challenge. However, on July 26th we heard Mak's voice for the first time since the injury when he sang with his sister, Jadyn. A different part of the brain is used when singing versus talking and it was a glorious day to hear his voice again! Tears of joy to hear his sweet voice!
Six months after his injury, on Sept 7th, Mak was discharged home from Shepherd Center. He began outpatient therapy at Shepherd Pathways in Decatur on Sept. 10th. On Sept. 20th, Mak underwent stereotactic radio surgery (also called radiation therapy) to treat the AVM (and aneurysm) in his brain. The doctor says it could take up to three years for the AVM and aneurysm to disappear and on average it takes two years. He will regularly have to be checked via MRI and MRA to monitor progress. Until it is gone there is always a chance of a re-bleed so we ask that everyone please faithfully pray that the AVM and aneurysm disappear quickly and there is no re-bleed as it will further damage his brain or worse, be fatal.
After working really hard, Mak was finally able to master swallowing enough food and liquids to sustain himself so on Nov. 11th, Mak had his feeding tube removed. Hallelujah!
Mak was discharged from Shepherd Pathways in Dec. 2018. Since then he has continued physical, occupational and speech therapy at CHOA and One Point Physical Therapy. He also works hard at home using a home program prescribed by his OT, goes to aqua therapy, receives neuromuscular massage therapy and flotation therapy, and participates in neuro-feedback, PNF stretching, and uses a vestibular chair at his chiropractor. All of this in an effort to re-gain his ability to walk, talk and use his arms and hands, in other words, to become independent again so that he can attend college by himself. Despite these challenges, he remains positive, joyful, faithful and courageous and for that, we are so thankful.