progress report from rehab at pitt

Monday, March 26, 2007 10:30AM
What a great weekend!  We finally got dad out of the hospital for a few hours, and it felt so good to be out and to be seen with him!  Of course we had a few challenges learning how to do some things that we used to take for granted (getting in and out of a car), but overall it was an awesome day.  The weather was perfect and most of the family was able to make it (some of them had to work unfortunately).  Of course dad was his normal, charming self; he talked to strangers like he had known them forever, he inevitably ran into folks that he knew from somewhere.  It's no wonder he has so many great friends and that the entire hospital staff loves him so much.

We're not sure what time he will be released from the hospital on Wednesday, but probably sometime in the early afternoon.  They still have some paperwork to complete, some assessments from the trauma unit, some rehab to work on...

Once we get him home and moved back in on Wednesday, we plan to have a family dinner and cook him whatever he wants to eat, and begin to learn how to do some of the things that the nurses have been doing for him over the past month.  I know a lot of people are going to want to see him when he gets out, and we will certainly let everyone know when he is up for having visitors again.  Everyone that has been able to come and see him has certainly aided and accelerated his recovery, and we are all grateful for that.

Friday, March 23, 2007 10:00PM
Well, tomorrow is one big day of many more to come.  We get to take dad out of the hospital after his rehab tomorrow, to do whatever he wants.  Probably a trip to Sam's Club to read a few books on the shelf, pick up a HUGE box of Good 'n Plenty's, maybe eat free samples of frozen food.  Then it's possibly on to Target to look at some more books, maybe some clothes, probably whatever music has come out in the past 3 months.  Finally lunch at Red Lobster - anything but hospital food.  Actually dad says that the food has not been very bad; he gets a menu every day for the next days meals, and has a choice of several main dishes and sides.  I suppose "good" is relative though, we have tried just about everything the hospital has to offer, and most of it is pretty rough.

Dad's rehab has been going pretty well.  The have had him up walking every day.  He has walked up to about 40-45 feet at one time.  He still has trouble standing up on his own, but hopefully that will get better by the time he gets home.  If not, then he'll just have to figure it out on his own.  He is stubborn enough to do that.  He has shown incredible will and determination over the past month.  He has gone from being completely immobile at Life Care in Rocky Mount, to being able to stand and walk a little over a month later.

Again, dad is going to be released this coming Wednesday, March 28th.  He will be going to outpatient therapy for several months.  I'm not sure exactly where the therapy is going to be, but probably someplace in Goldsboro.  That will make things so much easier for everyone, mom included.  I'm not sure how much longer the website is going to be up, but we will try to keep everyone informed one way or another.

Monday, March 19, 2007 6:30PM
Dad got a confirmation that he is going home on March 28th.  He refuses to stay any longer than that, and he's so ready to go home.  He knows that it's for the best though and will get everything out of it that he can.  They may also give him a pass out this weekend so that his family can take him out shopping and take him to eat somewhere.  I know that we are all looking forward to that; it's not completely back to normal, but it will be the closest we've been in over 3 months.

Dad walked several more times yesterday and today, walking at least 25 feet.  They mostly worked on him standing today.  They make him play games (Connect 4, ring toss, etc) while he's standing so that he has to concentrate on other things.  That way his standing becomes second nature and it helps him remember how it's done.  It's so unbelievable how far he's come in the last month alone.  He amazes all of us every day, whether he realizes it or not, and we're so extremely proud of his determination and his positive attitude!

Saturday, March 17, 2007 9:30PM
Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Dad walked for the first time in 3 months today!  During his therapy sessions they had him standing with a walker for several minutes at a time, putting no more than 20% of his weight on his right leg, and his left arm in a brace extended from the walker.  He walked 10 feet first thing this morning, and then another 20 feel later in the afternoon!  He was pretty worn out after all that exercise, and certainly got his heart rate up higher than it has been in a while.  I don't think anyone, including dad, thought that he'd be walking only 1 day after having the ex-fixes removed from his leg.  Being able to use the walker to move around a little bit will significantly help him when he's ready to go home.

Friday, March 16, 2007 9:00AM
Dad is out of surgery already.  They took him down about 6:00AM and were scheduled to start about 7:30.  They removed the pins from his right leg and gave him a cast.  We haven't seen the cast yet, but it's supposed to be only on the bottom 1/2 of his leg so that he is able to bend it.  The breaks have not healed completely.  The doctor said that he should be able to begin putting a little bit of weight on it, but we still don't know the extent of the nerve damage and how much he'll actually be able to do with it.  The doctor also told us that he is able to put as much weight on his left arm and elbow that he wants to.

Thursday, March 15, 2007 9:30PM
Dad's surgery is scheduled for tomorrow sometime.  They are going to remove the last ex-fix, that anchor that he's been carrying around on his right leg for the past 2 months.  They will replace it with a cast.

The surgery is scheduled for VERY EARLY tomorrow morning.  They have already come in and started an IV on him.  Hopefully he'll get a good night sleep tonight, and then kick butt in the operating room tomorrow!  I think he's pretty nervous about the surgery tomorrow; although he seems to be a pro at this surgery thing, this is the first one that he realizes what is going on. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:40AM
He stood up yesterday!  Dad was able to stand up for about 10 seconds on his left leg, almost locking it out.  The only help he needed was a hand on his back to keep his balance, but other than that it was entirely on his own!  He is still having trouble doing the squat-pivot which will help him move from a bed to a chair, but he's well on his way!

After taking another x-ray yesterday, they said that the ex-fixes on his right leg should come off at some point this week, which is earlier than we thought.  They will replace that with a cast.  They are also going to keep him in the hospital a little longer (the most recent release date was March 21, but that will be pushed back a little while) and try to get some more of the rehab done while he is there.  Although he is extremely ready to go home, he wants to stay as long as it takes to get him up and going again.

Friday, March 9, 2007 8:40PM
The driver of the car that hit dad had his court date today in Greene County.  Instead of showing up for his appointed time, he went to the Clerk of Courts on Monday and paid the fine.  $25 for the ticket and $110 for court costs.  Now that he's back out on the roads driving after this small infraction, let's hope that he pays more attention next time and no other family has to go through this because of his negligence.

Dad is still struggling to stand and pivot on his left leg.  He feels that he should be able to support more weight on that leg than it is allowing him, and his physical therapists agree.  They began looking at his left leg further today, and they are planning on checking to see if there may be some nerve damage in that leg as well.  A doctor informed dad that he did have a fracture in his fibula at one point, something that none of us were ever aware of.  Add one to the list of broken bones...from the numerous broken ribs to the fractured pelvis, the shattered leg behind the kneecap, and many many more.

He continues to have pretty good days in rehab.  When the therapists ask if he's done with a workout, he reminds them that he is indefatigable, and that he'll do 5 more.  All of the therapists enjoy their daily workouts with him, and who wouldn't (there are probably a lot of cyclists out there that miss their daily rides struggling off the back of the Diesel Train.  They work on range of motion, getting him in and out of a car, going up and down the ramps.  They even took him to a movie the other night; trying to get him somewhat back to normalcy.

They have moved his release date back to March 21.  Dad has a lot to accomplish before then, so I'm sure he's going to have a few tough weeks working up to the release.  He currently has an infection in his right leg (the same leg with the blood clot that they are treating) in one of his pins.  Some days it seems like it's one thing after another...what a tough old man he is.  They test his blood several times a day, drawing blood from his right arm constantly.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 8:45AM
The word of the day is indefatigable(in-dih-FAT-ih-guh-bul).  It describes Diesel Dave's strength and determination to get better.  It explains his desire to carry on and to not let anyone know that he is hurting.  One trick that he learned through cycling (and he ultimately taught it to me) was to never show the other guy how much pain you were in.  It improves your mental state, and you begin to believe that you really are not hurting.  It eventually makes the other guy back off, believing that he will never break you.

Monday, March 5, 2007 10:00PM
They did an EMG test on dad today, where they stick needles in his arm and send electrical shocks through them in order to see the nerve activity.  Previously they had told him that his radial nerve (the main nerve in the arm that controls movement from the shoulder to the fingers) had been severed and would probably not repair itself.  However, they found today that the nerve was attached.  Barely attached, but attached.  They said he had severe damage to it, but that it would more than begin to repair itself.  It may take several years to get a lot of the movement back, and it will not completely heal, but it is a far cry from what we thought a few weeks ago.

They moved his left wrist today, and it was pretty painful for him.  They didn't do the range of motion on his elbow, although he did move it a little bit.  It has calcified around the joint, but until he begins moving it and using that arm we don't know the extent of that.  They are going to try moving it some this week.  He may end up having to go back for more surgery on his elbow to remove any buildup.

Dad refers to the metal cage on his leg as his "anchor".  That is what is keeping him down, preventing him from doing some of the things that he may be able to do otherwise.  When we were helping him get in and out of his wheelchair the other day, and we were holding that leg and putting it into his bed, we could have sworn that the "anchor" weighed at least 20 pounds.  It's no wonder why he can't move that leg.  Like I said before, it must be made out of that cheap, heavy, Lightspeed titanium stuff.

Sunday, March 4, 2007 9:30PM
Dad was able to go up to the 4th floor ICU on Saturday (the same one he spent a very long 30 days in) with Kay, Missy, Nick, and Becky.  Although most of the nurses and other staff there did not recognize him, they recognized his family and were so amazed at the progress that he has made in the past 11 weeks.  It was a very emotional visit for all of us, especially for dad.  He was wheeling himself around, and it seems to get easier for him every day.  He saw his old room that he has no memory of (which is probably a very good thing).  He saw the waiting room where we slept and waited so many hours and days and where so many of his friends provided support for all of us. 

We were able to hang out with him during his rehab sessions.  He really does work hard during the sessions, and always insists that he do more reps than they ask him to do.  He has such a way with everyone, and the rehab therapists are no exception.  They all seem to look forward to their time with him, as we all do.  The biggest thing they're working on right now is getting him to be able to support most of his weight on one leg.  When he is able to do that, it will make it much easier to move from a bed to a chair when he can pivot on his good leg.  He is having some success and is able to get a few inches off the bed, but he'll get it completely soon! 

His leg is still swollen from the blood clot, and they are giving him blood thinners to help out with it.  He hasn't been able to move his left elbow yet; there was a little mix-up as to whether they were supposed to do range-of-motion on it or not.  Supposedly they will begin working on that tomorrow.

The hospital has his release date set for March 15th.  He will be sent home at that time, and will have to go for outpatient rehab at some facility, possibly even in Goldsboro.  He will probably still have the ex-fixes on his right leg when he gets out, so he'll have to go back to have those removed.  There is a small possibility that they will re-admit him at that time to help him learn to walk again, but it's all going to depend on doctors orders and what the insurance company is going to allow.

Friday, March 2, 2007 10:30PM
Dad had a "good but hard" day today.  They worked the snot out of him, taking him up and down wheelchair ramps and making him go "upstairs" across the board that he slides on, from the chair to a bed in order to work his left leg.  He went up and down the ramp at least 5 times today, and when they said he was done, he begged to go just once more even though he was really tired.  They said they thought he had been through enough already and took him back to the room.

They found a blood clot in his right leg, which may be the cause of some of the swelling in that leg.  They are giving him shots in his stomach 2x a day and taking blood samples at least 1x a day to check on the clot and see if it's breaking down.  One of the shots they gave him in the stomach was still oozing and bleeding this evening, so the nurse was going to take a look at it.

They removed his 1/2 cast on his left arm today, based on the x-rays that were taken Wednesday night.  His hand was still limp and useless, and he didn't dare move his elbow purposefully until tomorrow when they take him in to do range of motion on all of his limbs.  They did see some calcification around the joint, but we don't know how much that will affect his movement later.  There is still no word on the use of his hand, and he only has very slight movement in a few of his fingers right now.

Tuesday, February 27,  2007 9:30PM
Because of the recent outbreak of flu and viruses at many of the local hospitals, they are saying that visits are limited to immediate family.  However, the Rehab staff has been pretty lax about visitation and they haven't limited anyone from seeing dad thus far.  Just in case, you should probably call before you come to visit.

Dad has been having great days lately.  He got to go outside today and enjoy this wonderful winter weather we've been having.  He played horseshoes with Mike Haney and his dad, and I hear that he really kicked everyones' butts!  He's been able to get in and out of the wheelchair several times a day, entirely by himself.  He still needs a little bit of help holding his right leg, but that doesn't count.
Sunday, February 25, 2007 11:15PM
3 times by himself!  That's how many times dad moved from the bed to the wheelchair (or vise versa), and it was all by himself!  He's finally figured out some of the tricks to positioning himself just right in order to move.  He did need a little bit of help moving his right leg, but he definitely gets the benefit of the doubt!  He tries to move that leg, but he has absolutely no overall leg strength.  He can flex his quad, but it's just not enough to move his entire leg with that huge cage on it.  He was so proud of himself for his accomplishments, as he should be, and kept saying what a wonderful day that he was having.  And like always, he still says that "Life is good!"

Dad got to go down to the cafeteria and eat a few times this weekend, and for some reason he actually thought the food was good!  I guess "good" is a relative term, considering what he's been eating for the past 10 weeks.  I know it felt great for him to eat sitting up for a change, instead of having to eat in bed!

Of course all of the Rehab staff at PCMH think Dad is so great; that his attitude is bar none and surely that his determination is beyond anything they have seen or will ever see!  He has been very happy with everyone that he has worked with there, and has very positive words to say about every one of them.  We were all a little worried when he left the wonderful folks at Life Care, but the PCMH rehab staff have certainly stepped up to the plate.

They were supposed to do some x-rays on his left elbow/wrist last week and then determine how much he is able to use that arm.  This is the arm that has the broken wrist, the elbow that refused to stay in socket, and the nerve damage.  He is going to remind them tomorrow that they are supposed to take a look at it.  Once he is able to begin using it some, we may begin to understand how extensive the damage and the pain is going to be.

Thursday, February 22, 2007 10:00PM
Dad had another great day today.  Almost all of his rehab is squeezed into the morning hours, so it really wears him out.  When he gets tired and the nurses offer to push his chair for him, he said "no thanks, I can do it myself."  They said they can tell he's an athlete by his determination.  I hope that they are able to get him outside at some point to enjoy this great weather that we've been having!

Dad still has trouble doing things on his own, and he's not as far along as he thought he would be at this point.  He knows that he'll just have to set new goals when he doesn't reach his original ones.  He's slowly learning to be more self-sufficient but still has quite a ways to go. 

He says every day that he has had a great day, and he always sounds so excited to tell people about it.  Every day is better than the last, and we know things will continually get even better than they are now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 10:00PM
Dad had a wonderful first day at Rehab today.  He said the staff there has been really great; they are friendly and helpful.  He looks forward to each day because he knows they are all going to be challenging.

He said his therapist today was a very small woman, maybe about 100 pounds, but she helped him in and out of the wheelchair all by herself.  The wheelchair that he has at Pitt is much lower to the ground than the one he had at Life Care, and the difference was "like night and day!"  At Life Care, he had trouble because he had to push one side with his good hand and scoot the other with his good foot, but it was really hard to roll from his heel and to get the chair rolling straight because the chair was too high.  With the lower chair at Pitt, he can more easily slide his foot and really get the wheelchair rolling!  He made his way to the gym and back today, and knowing the size of Pitt Memorial that has got to be an accomplishment. 

The rest of the day was mostly a question and answer session, getting a little bit of background from dad.  I'm sure they either thought he was lying or that he was completely insane when he told them that he likes to ride 100 miles on a bicycle just for fun!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 11:00PM
Once again, dad's gotten moved and is getting settled in.  He's now back at Pitt Memorial Hospital in the Rehab Center.  He begins therapy 1st thing in the morning tomorrow, about 7:30AM.  He will be doing some sort of rehab all day every day, from occupational therapy to physical therapy.  He will practice using the wheelchair as well as getting the strength back in his left leg in order to help him stand on his own. 

He's trying to get comfortable in yet another new bed, and he was in a little bit of pain from his leg being pressed up against the footboard for a little while.  We got him moved in the bed and got his leg propped up somewhat.  The tough old man hasn't had any pain meds in a few weeks now; I can't fathom how he does it.

The doctor that came in to see dad today said they're going to work to get dad out of PCHM as soon as possible.  We're hoping that Dr. Hasty will be able to come by to see dad in his room and to keep an eye on his progress.  His leg is expected to have the ex-fixes in for at least another month.  Once everything is out, they may be able to address any nerve damage that he may have.

Dad is continually amazed at the awesome support that everyone has offered, and especially for their prayers.  He continues to stand strong and has asked that people continue to pray for him.  There is no doubt that prayers is what has brought him this far.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 12:30PM
Dad just got a room at Pitt Memorial in Greenville.  He will be moving at 1:30 this afternoon.