Finally, the risk of vasospasm subsided and I was allowed to wake up and be removed from the ventilator and feeding tubes. I needed to learn how to breathe and eat on my own again, with assistance from the respiratory therapists, occupational therapists and nurses. Although my life had been saved, there were many consequences of the aneurysm. The intensive treatment that had protected my brain from damage also caused severe heterotopic ossification, or excess bone growth, in my hips, a kinked or twisted intestine which resulted in the rupture of my intestine that was surgically repaired, and a critical polyneuropathy in both feet.
It was sometimes difficult for Sherri to communicate with the German nurses and other health care providers because of the language barrier. In particular, following the intestinal surgery she found Rick with a huge bandage around his abdomen, but no one could explain to her what had happened or if my condition had deteriorated.
Upon waking from the coma, I was unable to speak, sit up or walk. I did not comprehend that Sherri had given birth to our daughter, nor did I realize that I was living in Germany. At this point, I was transferred to a comprehensive neurologic rehabilitation hospital in Bad Aibling, Germany, approximately 40 miles southeast of Munich. This is where I received all of my inpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as neuropsychological and attention training.