There's nothing more beautiful than sharing your life with someone but unfortunately, things didn't go the right way for Ryan and Jill Finley. The two got married in Oklahoma and lived a peaceful life until an unexpected medical condition got in the way of their happiness.
Ryan soon found himself in front of a new challenge but the decision he had to make was nowhere near the kinds of decisions newlyweds are usually occupied with. When his wife fell into a sudden coma, Ryan had the toughest decision to make.
Not an Ordinary Weekend
Ryan and Jill loved spending as much time together as possible. They spent time relaxing at home every chance they got, including weekends, which were their happiest days. But one particular weekend, it all went wrong.
Ryan usually let his wife sleep a bit as he read his morning papers but on this particular Sunday morning, Ryan noticed something strange when he went to wake up his wife.
A Strange Urge
It was a morning in 2007 that changed Ryan's and Jill's lives forever. THe two were married for four years at this point and they were well aware of one another's routines and habits. There was nothing strange about Jill wanting to sleep in so Ryan didn't make any efforts to wake her up early in the morning.
All of a sudden, Ryan felt a strange urge to wake Jill up from her sleep. Even to this day he is not sure what prompted him to get up at that very moment to wake up his wife. However, he is thankful that he did so because no one knows what could've happened if he hadn't got off the porch back then.
Something Was Off
When he was later asked about why he got up to look for Jill, Ryan said: "I can't tell you why, but I just felt that I wanted to wake her up that day." It was May 26, 2007, and Ryan casually walked to his bedroom to wake up his wife Jill. However, he was shocked to find out that she wasn't responding at all.
At this point, he had tried everything, from yelling very loudly to even shaking his wife to wake up. Unfortunately, none of it made any difference because Jill was not waking up. It was then that Ryan noticed that his wife was not even breathing.
Quick to React
Ryan was in a state of shock when he realized that his wife was not conscious at all. However, he tried to keep his mind calm as he knew he had to take action. He jumped to the phone and dialed 911 as quickly as he could. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Ryan lifted his wife out of bed and placed her on the floor to perform CPR.
Luckily, Ryan went to a CPR course about a decade before the tragic event. He remembered his training and tried to help Jill breathe again. Even though he never even performed CPR after the training, he tried everything he could to help his wife who was still not responding.
It Felt Like Hours
Ryan later described that "it felt like forever, it felt like hours," while he was waiting for the ambulance to arrive. It took about 15 minutes for the meds to arrive and take over. The team quickly took matters into their hands as Ryan stood by the side, hoping that his wife would be okay.
The paramedics tried everything that was in their power to revive Jill, including using a defibrillator in hopes that electric shocks would bring her heart back to life. "I could actually hear the machine going. A thump and then the second thump. I heard Jill coming back down and hitting the wooden floor," commented Ryan.
The Trip to the Hospital
At this point, it was obvious that Jill needed some serious medical care. The team quickly picked her up and put her in the vehicle to rush to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital. Ryan wasn't allowed to go with them so he rushed after them in his own car.
As soon as they arrived to the hospital, Jill was put on a respirator in hopes to start breathing again. However, Jill was not responding to the treatment immediately and the doctors were ready to take the next step to fight for her life.
What Was Going On
According to Ryan's memory of the event, it took around 25 minutes for the medical team to stabilize Jill enough so that the doctors could further come up with solutions. As if it wasn't enough to watch his wife go through something like this, Ryan didn't even know what caused the issue in the first place.
The medical staff was moving quick, doing everything they could during these critical moments. Luckily, Jill started breathing again and her heart stabilized. If it weren't for Ryan's quick reaction, who knows how things would've turned out. Ryan was so relieved when he saw his wife breathing again but he wasn't aware that another turn was yet about to take place.
Giving Their Best Efforts
The doctors took Jill's case very seriously from the moment she placed in the hospital bed. It was now clear that she had gone into cardiac arrest during her sleep and that she spent nearly five minutes without oxygen whatsoever. The doctors moved fast to start the chill suit treatment, which meant inducing clinical hypothermia in order to reduce the possibility of brain damage.
During this chilling treatment, Jill's body was treated with cool water and wrapped into large cooling pads for 24 hours, which lowered her body temperature to 90 degrees. All Ryan could do while this was happening was sit and wait. Dr. Michael Schoeffler who was in charge of treating Jill said that "there are studies that have shown that it helps protect the brain in hopes that she will have a recovery."
She Fell in a Coma
After the chilling 24 hours, doctors started to warm up Jill's body. They hoped that she would awake during this process because that's when many patients wake up. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case with Jill. She was still not responding and the doctors said she had little brain activity. However, Ryan was not ready to give up yet.
It was clear that Jill had fallen into a coma, which meant that the situation was far more serious than it appeared. After finding out about her condition, Ryan stayed next to Jill and refused to leave her side despite doctors telling him that he must go home.
Sticking by Her Side
Despite all the odds, Ryan was convinced that Jill would overcome the difficult condition she was in. He decided to keep her company even though all he could do was sit and watch her sleep. However, he didn't want to leave her side in hopes that she would wake up. He laid on the bed next to her and spent time reading verses from the Bible out loud.
He wasn't ready to give up hope. Instead, Ryan tried everything he could, including praying for his wife's well-being. Unfortunately, days passed and doctors started to realize that the situation was hopeless. The had to be direct and straightforward about it.
The Devastating News
When Ryan was asked to describe the moment he received the news from the doctor, he said: "It was grim, I'll put it that way. Everything they told me was grim." What he was being told was that there was only a one percent chance that his wife would recover. Even though the odds were against the situation, Ryan still refused to give up on hope. It wasn't over yet.
He continued to pray for his wife and he even started to keep a diary. What he wrote inside that notebook was truly heartbreaking but one could see that he was really determined to fight for his wife's life. Ryan was not ready to accept the end yet.
"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," said Ryan. He was trying to keep his faith as days went by but his wife still wasn't waking up. He became aware that he was living a nightmare.
Despite all the hope that Ryan had, he was aware that even if Jill survives, odds are she would remain in a vegetative state and be unable to recover fully. Either way, he was definitely not expecting the outcome that took place afterward.
Two Weeks Went By
Despite all doctors' attempts to bring her back to life, Jill spent a total of 14 days in a coma. Her friends and loved ones slowly started to realize that there might not be a happy ending in this story. As time went by, her condition was not improving at all.
It was laready difficult enough to live knowing that his wife is in a coma. However, the decision Ryan was about to face proved to be the hardest one he will ever make in his entire life. Despite all the hope they had, Ryan and Jill's parents knew they had to think about the final outcome.
The Worst Day of Life
Ryan found himself hopelessly standing in front of the woman he loved. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to look back at him. Even though he couldn't imagine living his life without her, Ryan knew that Jill wouldn't want to live her life tied to the bed.
He was then placed in a very difficult situation. As her husband, Jill had to decide whether to take her off life support, which would mean ending her life. "Today could be the worst day of life. I essentially have to decide whether or not Jill will live or not. My soulmate. My everything," Ryan wrote in his diary.
Ryan knew that him and Jill had never discussed what to do in situations like these. They never clearly agreed on what they should decide in case one of them was in this situation. After all, you don't ever think that something like this could happen to you or your loved one.
Luckily, Ryan remembered what happened when his aunt was hospitalized on life support. A few years ago his family had to decide what would happen with her life. He remembered that Jill commented on the situation and said: "I would never want to live that way." The clock was ticking and Ryan was facing the pressure of having to make the decision soon.
Time for a Difficult Decision
Ryan took time to consult with Jill's family and they all agreed on the final decision. They believed that Jill wouldn't want to live that way. The moment came and Ryan made the decision to remove his wife from life support and thus say his final goodbye.
Jill's family agreed with the decision and they requested a court order to initiate the process. When he looked back on the situation, Ryan said that he faced the hardest decision of his life. He also added: "You don't think when you're 31 years olf that you will have to be doing this with your wife that's 32."
The time came for the doctors to explain Ryan and Jill's family what was going to happen after they take her off of life support. Even though no one can truly prepare you for that moment, the doctors explained that death would not come right away. In some cases patients demonstrate reflexive movements or even make sounds. This period is referred to as the "last rally."
Ryan and people who were closest to Jill came to say their goodbyes. Once they did, the doctors turned off the machines and took ill off of life support. Ryan prepared himself for the worst as he watched his wife being taken off the machines that were keeping her alive. However, he was not expecting what happened next!
A Call From the Nurse
It was June 9th, 2007, when Jill was officially removed from life support. "Her whole upper torso would just kind of shift a little bit. And then the mumbling would start. When that started, I left the room. I physically got sick," said Ryan, admitting that it was all too much for him.
The doctors tried to keep Ryan calm but he couldn't stand the situation he was in. After all, watching someone you love taking their last breath is the last thing you want to happen in your life. Ryan was unable to go back in the room until a nurse rushed and called for him. He was not expecting these news!
An Unexpected Event
Ryan returned to Jill's room around 11 p.m., which was about five hours after life support was turned off. He sat by her side and watched her mumble and move around. Judging by what the doctors had told him, Ryan believed he was watching his wife's "last rally."
"I thought that was it, that was the last rally," said Ryan when he looked back on that terrible moment. However, he tried to understand what Jill was saying and it quickly became clear that what was happening was not the expected outcome.
"Get Me Out of Here"
All of a sudden, Jill started to move and speak more coherently. What Ryan heard her say sounded like "Get me out of here." However, that's not everything she wanted. She continued talking and said "Take me to Red's and take me to the Melting Pot," which were her two favorite Mexican restaurants.
Ryan remembered that the doctors told him not to get his hopes up if she starts mumbling. However, he still tried to engage in a conversation with her. He wanted to find out whether what she was saying was more than a reflex. Then he realized something extraordinary was happening in front of him.
When Ryan started asking questions, Jill responded to each of them. "She knew our dog's name, our cat's name, our phone number. She knew our address immediately," said Ryan. He was quick to capture the entire scene on video in hopes that something remarkable was taking place.
Only a few minutes after Ryan was trying to accept the fact that his wife is gone forever, she started coming back to life. Nothing was certain yet but Ryan was sure that what he was seeing was not the last rally. In fact, Jill's behavior was so extraordinary that even doctors were in shock.
A New Feeling
At this point, it became clear that Jill was waking up from her coma hours after being removed from life support. She was able to breathe on her own and even talk to her loved ones who sat around her. Her husband Ryan described the moment as truly euphoric. "It was, I can't imagine a feeling better than what I felt right then," said Ryan excitedly.
"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,'" said Ryan.
Six Days Went By
As days started to go by, Jill seemed to recover successfuly. Doctors and the entire medical staff were amazed by her progress. It seemed as if she had gone back to normal, as if nothing had ever happened. "All the doctors say I'm not textbook marerial," Jill explained in an interview.
Just like most people who wake up from a coma, Jill didn't remember any of the events that took place. "I do remember the big shower they wheeled me into every day. Other than that, I don't remember anything." When she found out about the decision her husband had made, Jill made an unexpected remark.
"He Did the Right Thing"
You might be shocked or disappointed to find out that your loved ones decided to pul the plug on you but this was not the case for Jill. After she learned that her husband had made this decision after her two weeks in a coma, she concluded that he made the right choice.
"I would not have wanted to live like that. And so he did the right thing, he did. Because they basically told him 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," said Jill.
How Did It All Start
The doctors had no idea what lead to Jill's astonishing and sudden recovery. However, they did know that she had a congenital condition that caused her heart to stop and this happened during her sleep back on that tragic Sunday morning. Even though the doctors couldn't figure out what prompted her recovery, Jill seemed to know the answer.
Jill claimed that her husband and God had saved her. "I honestly do believe that God answered the prayers. We had so many people praying for me, just tons of different churches and family and friends," added Jill. Ryan wasn't alone in his prayers and all his effort ended up paying off big time!
A New Journey
Jill's family could not have been more grateful for the blessing they experienced. However, despite the miraculous recovery on the hospital bed after six hours without life support, Jill still had a long way to go to the full recovery. She had to re-learn simple tasks such as brushing her teeth or tying her shoes, let alone cooking or something more complex.
Her medical recovery included a routine surgery through which doctors implanted a pacemaker for hear heart. She then had to go to rehab and work with speech therapists. However, she was thankful for the chance she got and she was willing to put effort into getting better.
A New Chance at Life
Ryan could not believe that he got his wife back. The two were by each other's side again and they were happier than ever. After this shocking experience, they realized that they have no time to waste and that they have to make every second count.
"It's brought life to a whole new perspective, we look at each day so differently now. We just spend every minute that we can together - going to the grocery store now, we go together, we go everywhere together," explained Jill.
Feeling Like Newlyweds
Nesides having to work on her speech and fight short-term memory loss, Jill still thanked God for being so "normal" after such a miraculous recovery. "Pretty much, I am normal," she said during an interview where she recalled on the entire life-changing experience.
During an interview with TODAY Jill said: "One of our friends said 'I'm so jealous, you guys are like newlyweds,'" which made her and Ryan laugh. The whole incident brough them even closer together than they were before. Both of them now have a more positive outlook on life and they look forward to each new day!
"I Wouldn't Change Anything"
Both Ryan and Jill had a lot of time to reflect on everything that happened in their lives. Surprisingly, Ryan said that he would do everything the same if he had to go through this horrible experience again. "I think that's only human nature," he said, "But honestly, I wouldn't change anything."
Ryan was later nominated for an Oklahoma Heart Hero Award given by the Oklahoma Heart Hospital to a local citizen who performed a CPR or an AED to save someone's life. After everything that has happened, Ryan never stopped looking after Jill. In fact, he is now paying more attention to her than he ever did before.
After Jill's astonishing recovery, Ryan was so happy to have her back again that he decided to fulfill her wishes. He took her to the restaurants she mentioned during the first minutes of her miraculous recovery when she was waking up from a coma at the hospital.
"There's still not a night that goes by that I don't wake up. I'll usually kick her and if she kicks me back, I know we're OK," said Ryan when he was describing how he still worries about his wife at night. After everything that had happened, you cannot blame him for being so concerned.
It Was a Miracle
Believe it or not, Jill was not the only one who miraculously recovered and came back to life. These cases occur more often than you would assume. There is one story even more intense than Jill's and it truly shows that the human body and spirit can overcome great obstacles.
This is the case of Martin Pistorius, a 12-year-old who grew up in South Africa. He was just an ordinary happy boy who had no clue that his life was going to take a massive turn when one day things began to change.
How the Story Began
It was 1998 when Martin fell ill at school. He came back home with a sore throat, which didn't seem like it was something serious. However, doctors quickly found out that the situation was far more complex and that Martin was dealing with an illness that would turn his entire life around, including the lives of everyone around him.
Martin's symptoms seemed to be getting worse as time went by. Everything started with a simple sore throat but it quickly evolved into a terrible illness that made him weaker and weaker each day. It wasn't long until Martin became unable to eat or sleep. Soon after, he began losing the ability to move.
As time went by, Martin felt worse and he was not able to move his hands or legs at all. Then his memory started to fade and he slowly started to forget the names and faces of people around him. It didn't take long for him to fall into a vegetative state, which left his parents and family devastated.
However, what was odd was the fact that doctors were not very sure what was wrong with little Martine. They had assumptions and believed it was a case of cryptococcal meningitis combined with tuberculosis of the brain. But what they did know was that Martin was not going to recover and return back to normal. Even if he did survive, chances of ful recovery were very slim.
Refusing to Give Up
The family was quickly informed that things weren't looking so good for Martin as he now had the intelligence of a three-month-old baby. However, his loving family refused to give up and his father started to take care of him every day, thus becoming his main caregiver. He was so dedicated that he even woke up every two hours at night to turn Martin so he doesn't wake up with bed sores.
He drove him to a care home every day and night and spent every moment by his side. However, his mother started to feel depserate as she believed that things couldn't get any better. She wanted to send Martin away to a full-time residential care but his father would never allow such a thing.
"I Hope You Die"
After seeing her son in this condition, Martin's mother Joan started to lose hope. She felt depressed and unable to deal with the entire situation. One day she looked at her son, who couldn't move or look back at her, and said "I hope you die." All she wanted was some relief, as she later explained.
She didn't think that there was a posibility that her son heard her terrible words. She later found out that Martin was indeed able to hear her.
Getting Back on Track
"My mind began to awaken at about the age of 16." said Martin after his recovery. He slowly began to regain his consciousness and he became aware of his surroundings and the fact that he lived for months trapped inside his body. His consciousness was fully regained at the age of 19 when he was able to comprehend things normally. However, he was still unable to move.
Without being able to communicate with others, Martin was not looking forward to a life of this kind. Even though he was always surrounded by his family, he felt alone and unhappy. However, things started to get better for him very soon.
"I Hated Barney"
Martin's caretakers often left the TV on in front of him and let him watch reruns of the cartoon called Barney. Since he didn't have much of a choice, Martin was forced to watch Barney for hours. Later on, he recalled: "I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney."
Luckily, Martin started to show signs of recovery. His caretaker Virna van der Walt noticed that Martin was positively responding to her questions and he even nodded his head and moved his eyes. This was enough for his parents to take action and send Martin to the Center For Augumentative and Alternative Communication located at the University of Pretoria. That's when something astonishing took place!
Another New Beginning
It was at this center where Martin's parents found out that Martin was not in fact in a vegetative state. They put him through a rehabilitation process where he got a computer with a special communication software. Martin was now able to communicate with others and express his thoughts for the first time. It felt like a miracle!
It was at the age of 25 that Martin finally regained some control of his upper body. Even though he still had to live in a wheelchair, he was making astonishing progress and he even learned how to drive. He finally started to feel like a normal boy again.
Life Is Worth Living
While doctors confined him to a life as a vegetable, Martin made amazing progress and managed to recover. With a bit of help from his loving sister, Martin even found the love of his life, Joanna, whom he married in 2009. He continued making progress and started working as a freelance web designer and developer.
Even though he is still using the wheelchair, Martin feels satisfied with his life. He even wrote a book in 2011 titled Ghost Boy, which focuses on his journey through life. The book soon became a best seller and Martin got plenty of amazing feedback from the public.
Learning to Forgive
However, the question was whether he was ever able to forgive his mothers for the words she had said. "I hope you die." It's not something you want to hear from anyone, let alone your own mother. However, Martin explained that he learned to understand why his mother was so desperate. Besides, she didn't know that he was listening and that he had a chance at recovery.
After everything he had been through, Martin decided to forgive his mother for the terrible and heartbreaking words she told him. It is this forgiveness that makes Martin's story of recovery even more exceptional!