Imagine watching the love of your life and parent of your children disappearing before your eyes, believing that you have lost them forever. That’s what happened to Danielle Hawkins, whose husband, Scott, nearly died several years ago.
Danielle was away that day, and Scott was at home taking care of the kids. “He called me and he was slurring his words,” Danielle told Health Beat. “He said he had an intense headache and that something was wrong.”
They both called 911 and got an ambulance to come get Scott, but by the time the ambulance got there, he had fluid in his lungs and was starving for oxygen. “It was just very, very bad,” Danielle remembers. It became clear that Scott had suffered from a stroke.
As the day went on, doctors diagnosed Scott with AVM (arteriovenous malformation), a birth defect that can go unnoticed for decades until it manifests itself through terrible migraines and even aneurysms. Scott’s AVM had ruptured and led to bleeding in the brain. Surgeons attempted to stop the bleeding, but during the procedure, Scott suffered from a heart attack. “They lost him for a few minutes,” Danielle told Health Beat.
It looked as though her high school sweetheart was gone. “They told me to let him go.” But there was something in Danielle that knew Scott wasn’t gone just yet. What really made her believe he could come back was the simplest expression of their love. “Every time I kissed him, he kissed me back,” Danielle explained in a YouTube video.
Even after being stabilized, Scott’s stroke left him in terrible condition. “He couldn’t sit up, he couldn’t swallow, he couldn’t speak, of course, he couldn’t eat,” Danielle remembers. What could she do to try to bring back her husband? The doctors couldn’t offer any hope.
The couple were originally brought together by music, and so it was natural that Danielle sought relief in their shared passion. “We were in band together in high school and he was a rowdy redhead,” she jokes in the video. Bringing a thumb guitar in, she had Scott touch the strings and play some notes. When doctors claimed it was just an automatic reflex, she asked Scott to change notes, which he was able to do.
After this, the Hawkins’s found Spectrum Health, a holistic rehab center where Scott could get the attention to recovery that had been lacking in the hospital. Once again, music was the key. Music therapist Alika Seu told Health Beat that she understood this crucial element after talking with Danielle. “Scott was a very talented musician prior to his injury so during his recovery he was very motivated to get back to doing what he loved.”
Seu and the other therapists devised an amazing recovery program around music. “When he was finally strong enough to try to start walking again, we used live rhythmic music to help provide a steady pulse to assist with cadence, stride length, gait quality and endurance.”
After several months, Scott was finally able to go home with a walker and start playing more music. Though he still struggles with many ordinary tasks and suffers paralysis in his left ankle, his recovery has been extraordinary. As Danielle told Health Beat, “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 and Scott continue to work on maintaining and regaining Scott’s functionalities. It’s a big work in progress, but Danielle feels good about the fact that she never gave up on her husband no matter what the doctors said. “I never believed he would die […] he is still the smartest man I know and has the same personality and humor he has always had.”