After a man suffered a severe stroke, leaving him comatose, doctors told his wife to let him go. When she leaned down to kiss her husband, she couldn’t deny what she felt. Then, she covered his tracheostomy as stunned staff looked on in disbelief.
Scott Hawkins was just 37 years old when the Durand, Michigan man suffered a severe stroke while his wife Danielle was attending a class in a neighboring country. Scott was home with their kids when Danielle received a phone call she will never forget.
“He called me and he was slurring his words,” Danielle recalled. “He said he had an intense headache and that something was wrong.” Danielle and Scott both called 911, and medics quickly arrived to transport Scott to the hospital.
“When emergency medical crews loaded Scott into the ambulance, his blood pressure spiked, causing fluid in the lungs,” Danielle said. “It was just very, very bad,” she added before taking a long pause, admitting, “Sometimes it’s hard to talk about it.”
Scott was intubated before arriving at the hospital, where doctors told Danielle they didn’t expect him to make it through the night and encouraged her to call family. “His oxygen levels were in the 60s and 70s. They told me they should be above 90,” Danielle said. “But, he did make it through the night.”
Scott had suffered an aneurysm due to a malformation in his brain, leading to the stoke. Surgeons attempted to stop the bleeding, but Scott tragically suffered a heart attack during the procedure, according to Health Beat. “They lost him for a few minutes,” Danielle said. “He had loss of oxygen because of that, too.”
With Scott unable to respond or follow directions, doctors told Danielle that her husband would likely never regain consciousness or function normally ever again, let alone ever be able to kiss her or tell her that he loves her. “They told me to let him go,” Danielle said, her voice shaky with emotion. But, she refused to believe their prognosis.
Instead of pulling the plug, Danielle leaned in to kiss her husband. As she put her lips to his motionless body, she felt something she never expected — Scott kissed her back. Was it her imagination? She couldn’t be sure, but it was enough for her to believe in the strength of Scott’s spirit and refuse to give up on her husband.
With newfound hope, Danielle kept Scott on life support, determined to prove to everyone that he would recover. After five weeks in pulmonary rehabilitation, Scott no longer needed a ventilator. What’s more, Danielle started to see signs of life, but the medical staff was reluctant to believe her.
“He’s a musician, so I would bring in thumb guitars,” Danielle explained. “He would flick the notes. Doctors said it was just a reflex. I told him to change the notes and he did.” Soon, she and Scott would prove them all wrong in a way they couldn’t deny.
Danielle knew that if Scott tried to speak to her, he wouldn’t be able to do so because of his tracheotomy. Taking a leap of faith, she covered the surgically created airway in Scott’s neck — and he started talking to her. “The first words were, ‘I love you,'” Danielle recalled. “The second, ‘get me pain medication.'”
With this undeniable proof of his will to fight, doctors finally started to believe in Scott. He was transferred to Spectrum Health’s Rehab and Nursing Center, where he spent six days a week in rehab, and the medical miracles continued.
Finally, after 16 weeks, Scott was going home — and he was going to do it on his own two feet. “He went in on a stretcher only moving his right hand, and he left walking with a walker with one hand in the air saying, ‘Rock on,'” a thankful Danielle said.
Danielle credits the staff at Spectrum for Scott’s recovery after his therapists used his love of music to help him regain strength and coordination. “They started talking to Scott like he was there,” Danielle said, recounting how the rehab staff fueled the hope she had all along.
“I definitely believed he would recover,” she added. “Even when they told me to call the family that first night, I just never felt it,” she said. “I never believed he would die.”
“He’s playing guitar again. He plays the drums. It used to be he couldn’t swallow. He had a feeding tube for nine months, but now he can eat anything he wants,” Danielle said, describing Scott’s miraculous recovery. “He will still have to recover for a very long time,” Danielle added, admitting Scott has a long way to go.
“I’m just very grateful for him and the people that stood behind me when I made the decision I made,” she furthered, referring to her refusal to let her husband go when she was told to take him off life support. “I wonder how many people listen?” she said. “That’s what scares me the most.”
Indeed, we can only wonder how often prognoses become nothing more than self-fulfilling prophesies, brought to fruition by those who gave up hope. The biggest medical miracles happen when we believe that they can happen and give care with that in mind.
The greatest thing you can give someone is a chance. The rehabilitation staff did that, seeing Scott as the man, husband, and father he was instead of just another patient chart to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
But, if it weren’t for a devoted wife, they wouldn’t have had that chance. Thankfully, Danielle Hawkins made a vow to remain steadfast to her husband “in sickness and in health, through good times and bad,” and she meant those words, never giving up on him.
Too many people take marriage for granted, tossing aside such dedication when it’s no longer easy or convenient. But, this couple’s perseverance is proof that a strong bond can overcome even the biggest obstacles — and our intuition can be more accurate than any medical test.