Jill and Ryan Finley were a regular couple living in Oklahoma City when their worlds were turned upside down.
Being married only 4 years, the Finleys’ were very much in love, and they spent their weekends relaxing and sleeping in. But what started out as a normal Saturday morning, turned into a nightmare when Ryan went to wake Jill up from her nap only to find that she was completely unresponsive. Something was very wrong…
Jill and Ryan spent their weekends like most couples do- by relaxing. Ryan let Jill sleep in while he sat on their porch reading the newspaper. But one Saturday in May, Ryan had a weird feeling that he should wake his wife up early.
Not Your Average Saturday Morning
On that Saturday morning May 26, 2007, Ryan tried to wake up Jill and found that no matter how hard he tried or how loud he yelled, she remained unresponsive. When he realized she wasn’t breathing, he recalled a CPR course he had taken 10 years ago and dragged Jill out of bed and onto the floor…
Ryan called 911 and administered CPR while he waited for paramedics to arrive. When they got to the house, they shocked Jill’s heart back to life and then rushed her to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital. There, doctors put her on a respirator and Ryan sat there and prayed.
At the hospital, Ryan watched doctors put his wife in a special suit meant to lower her body temperature. This was done in an attempt to minimize any damage to Jill’s brain caused by her lack of oxygen. The good news was, Jill was alive and breathing, with a beating heart, but she would remain in a deep coma for an undetermined amount of time…
Ryan watched his entire life flash before his eyes. His loving wife was comatose and might never wake up. He decided that from that moment forward, he would stay by Jill’s side. He slept on an empty hospital bed next to her nightly and read the bible to her.
A few days passed and despite his attention and efforts, Jill remained in her comatose state. Doctors were not directly telling him that his wife’s situation was hopeless, but they did tell him that there was a one percent chance that Jill would survive…
With those odds, even if Jill did survive, she would not live the rest of her life as a functioning person. Yet, despite hearing his wife’s fate, Ryan was unwilling to accept it and he kept praying.
In additional to praying, Ryan found the only thing that comforted him was writing in his journal. “She’s my soulmate and my wife, my everything in this whole world. I would be lost without her. I will not give up hope. I will never give up on her.”
“Just A Bad Dream”
“Every morning that I woke up, I’d realize this wasn’t a dream.” Doctors told Ryan that there were never any signs that Jill was coming back, so with the help of Jill’s parents, he was forced to make a difficult decision. “Today could be the worst day of my life. I essentially have to decide whether or not Jill will live or die…”
With the help of family, Ryan concluded that his wife wouldn’t want to spend her life in a hospital bed, so he requested a court order to disconnect Jill from life support. On the morning of June 9, 2007, doctors began to prepare Ryan for what to expect when his wife was unhooked.
“The Last Rally”
They didn’t want him to be surprised, so doctors explained that Jill will exhibit slight movements and restlessness when she was unhooked: these moments were known as the “last rally.” Ryan and Jill’s family began to say their goodbyes…
“The Beginning Of The End”
At about 6 p.m., doctors disconnected Jill from the machines that had been keeping her alive. She didn’t die immediately, and at about 11:45 p.m., Jill began getting restless. Ryan watched her whole upper torso shift a bit and then the mumbling started. “When that began, I left the room. I got physically sick.” Ryan thought this was the beginning of the end, but about five hours later, something happened…
One Last Request
One of the nurses called Ryan into the room and said that Jill was talking. Ryan figured this behavior was normal and attributed it to the “last rally” mumble, but, still, he returned to the room. There, Jill said: “Get me out of here.” Then, she made the most shocking request…
“Take Me To Ted’s”
Jill said: “Take me to Ted’s and take me to the Melting Pot.” Both were two of her favorite restaurants, and Ryan was in disbelief. He proceeds to ask Jill questions like what their phone number was, and the names of their dog and cat. After answered all three questions correctly, Ryan knew “this was far from the last rally.”
Out Of Her Coma
Jill had come out of her coma and was breathing on her own. By a miracle of God, she underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker for her heart condition and then went into a rehabilitation center. But, Jill doesn’t remember anything and doctors are still not sure what happened or how she woke up.
Jill says her explanation is “God.” She believes he is the reason she is here today, and also thanks to her husband Ryan. As far as Ryan’s decision to pull the plug on his wife, he says that if he had a second chance, he would never change his actions. Jill thinks he made the right decision as well saying, “I would not have wanted to live like that.” She did not want to live like a vegetable…
After waking up from her coma, Jill spent the next few months relearning simple tasks like brushing her teeth, tying her shoelaces and learning how to cook. But like many people in a coma, Jill could not remember anything that happened in the hospital, but she did remember one thing…
What Jill Did Remember
The only thing that Jill remembered from her time in the hospital was the big shower they wheeled her into every day. She also remembered going into inpatient therapy and the names of all the occupational therapists and speech pathologists that helped her. Besides that, Jill has speech that she’s working on and her short-term memory is off, but other than that, she is pretty normal. One of her friends even told Jill she’s jealous of her because Jill and her husband act like newlyweds.
Not that they didn’t cherish each other before, but now, Jill and Ryan spend every waking minute together. They go everywhere together, even the grocery store. “To this day, there’s not a night that goes by that I don’t wake up. I’ll usually kick Jill in her sleep.”
“If she kicks me back, I know we’re OK,” Ryan says. Now, Jill spends everyday cherishing her life with her husband, who was nominated for an Oklahoma Heart Hero award for his CPR work. The couple also has gone to Ted’s and the Melting Pot, to honor Jill’s special requests.