My name is Robert Patrick Herman, proudly named after my mom and dad. I was brought into the world on Friday, August 13, literally in the middle of the Los Angeles riots of 1965. My mom always said it was a party for me that got out of hand! So it makes sense that if I had a crazy entrance, then the rest of my life might just be pretty crazy as well. So far, it has lived up to its billing, but you can be the judge of that over the next several weeks as I share with you a little about my incredible PKD life.
On October 2, 1974, we moved into our beautiful new home. Just ten days later, my mom was screaming in pain as my dad took her to the emergency room. She had a massive cerebral hemorrhage caused by her polycystic kidney disease (PKD). I had just turned 9 years old.
After flatlining twice on the operating table, my mom’s doctors gave their official clinical diagnosis: Patricia Ann Herman would be a “vegetable” for the rest of her life, with extremely limited motor skills, vocabulary, and memory. Oh, and for good measure, my mom didn’t even know who me and my three siblings were. My mom did not even know my name!
Welcome to an entirely different life; a life of defying the odds by trying to teach my mom how to be a functioning person all over again. The thought of putting her into some type of care facility never crossed my dad’s mind. In fact, it was his idea to put word signs on everything in the house: door, cup, refrigerator, plate, cupboard, window, sink, on and on. We worked diligently to try to teach her how to read, write, think, remember, communicate, everything. Day after day, month after month, for years this went on, as I also attempted to grow up.
I went to school late so I was home with my mom as my dad went to work. Before he left, my dad would warn me of the possibility of my mom having “mini seizures.” I will never forget watching my mom lying on her side on the floor of our living room, suffering through an uncontrollable seizure, as I tried to hold her so she wouldn’t hurt herself. It’s not something any child should ever have to see their parent go through. I was 12 years old, alone and so scared.
If you, or someone you know, has had an aneurysm – especially from PKD, please feel free to share your experiences, both physical and emotional, in the comments below. It can be very therapeutic.
Also, please get checked regularly for aneurysms if you have PKD. In an upcoming post, I will explain from my experience why this is so very important to prevent or stop these silent destroyers.