progress report from the 4th week in icu

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 8:30 PM
DAD IS OFF THE RESPIRATOR!!  They took him completely off of it today, after slowly working up to it.  That dude has got some healthy lungs!  We dont know when they'll take the trache out, but when they do he should be able to begin talking.  He will probably need some therapy to help him use those muscles again (for talking and swallowing) but hopefully that won't take too long.

There has been some talk of moving dad out of ICU into a step-down room, possibly as soon as tomorrow.  At this point we would be able to visit him much more often than 15 minutes at a time, and the grandkids would probably be allowed to see him as well.  Gabe, Caleb, and Abby all miss their Pap-Pap so much, and they're all too young to understand exactly what is going on.  I imagine that makes it even harder on them, but they'll see him soon enough.  It will be hard to keep dad in bed while they're in the room; he will want to be putting them on his shoulders, letting them do flips off his legs, jumping on the bed with them...He may be able to begin receiving other visitors then too, but we'll have to check with the nurses and find out when dad will be up to it.

He pretty much slept all day today, the surgery yesterday took a lot out of him.  He's also on pain medication, so that knocks him out anytime they give it to him.  They took him down to do an MRI on his elbow today, but he wouldn't fit in the machine because of all of the bars that are in him. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 10:00 PM
So I still have very few details on dad's surgery, but I'll share what I know.

They ended up putting external fixaters on each side of his pelvis and pulled the pelvis together.  They took x-rays to see how he matched up, and it wasn't exactly right.  So they had to cut him open and actually put plates and screws on his pelvis to get it back together.  Dr. Hasty said that it was perfect.  The fixaters should be removed in 2-3 weeks, depending on how dad does.  Mom saw him shortly after his surgery and said he seemed to be in pretty good spirits, although he said he was in a considerable amount of pain.  They gave him the good stuff and felt much better shortly after.

They also x-rayed the fingers on his left hand that they thought were broken.  The fingers are still very swollen.  They were surprised when they did not see any broken bones.  They assume that he has some ligament damage instead, and this will likely take reconstructive surgery to repair. 

His is still having problems keeping his elbow in place.  Originally his elbow was out of socket and they had to operate to repair this, and they put a cast on it a few days ago.  They are going to do an MRI on it tomorrow to see exactly what the problem is and if there is anything else that can be done right now.

Although dad seems to be doing very well and improving very quickly, we still fear the unforeseen complications.  Please continue to pray for dad's complete recovery and rehabilitation; that he has the will to continue getting stronger and strength to carry on when he gets weak.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 11:30 AM

Dad is out of surgery.  It went well and they fixed him up with plates and screws.  He is doing well.  More detail to come...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 9:30 AM

Well dad is in surgery.  FINALLY.  I hope it doesn't take too long.

Dad wanted out of bed so bad last night.  It was really hard to read his lips, but we finally realized that he wanted to get up and walk around.  We told him that he couldn't, and he just asked "why?"  We said he had a broken pelvis, so then he said "well push me."  When we wouldn't help him, he tried to pull himself up, but luckily he's not strong enough yet.  It's really hard to tell him that he can't get up right now, as I'm sure it's really hard for him to hear.

I wasn't sure if I should tell him good luck with the surgery or not, so I decided to tell him to "break a leg" instead.  I'm glad he's got a sense of humor.

I shook his hand last night, and although he was still very weak, his handshake was as gentlemanly as ever, and the look in his eyes was just as honest and sincere.  Anyone that has ever shaken his hand knows the exact handshake that I'm talking about.  I also arm wrestled him a few times, and he barely beat me the 2nd time.  I swear I was trying my best.  I think he cheated and used the bed for leverage.

Monday, January 8, 2007 4:30 PM
Surgery is cancelled again.  They needed a special bed that has an x-ray machine.  The plan is to put external fixaters on each side and try to pull the pelvis together.  Once the fixaters are in place, they will x-ray to see if the pelvis came together.  If not, they will have to open him up and put plates and screws in him to put the pelvis together.  They had the bed available first thing this morning, but they lost it to a more urgent surgery.  The Urologist that was needed for the surgery was also called away.

We found out that it was postponed yesterday because they needed a Urologist to be present for the surgery.  They say that he has laid in the bed for so long that there is a possibility that his bladder is stuck to his pelvis.  If they have to open him up, the urologist will need to be there to move the bladder out of the way.

Supposedly they will take him down first thing in the morning tomorrow.  It's so frustrating that they keep scheduling and cancelling, but we know that they want the perfect situation, and we're fortunate that they're not cancelling because he's not ready.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 4:00 PM

I just wanted to let everyone know that dad's surgery has been postponed.  Again.  They have had a pretty busy day at the hospital and weren't able to get him in.  They plan on trying again tomorrow.  My mom asked the nurse if it was because of dad, and he said that dad was doing great.  He even gave my mom the "I love you" sign and is insisting on using the mouth swabs (a small sponge on a stick, it looks like a lollipop) on his own.  A few days ago he couldn't even squeeze his hands, now he's able to grab a small stick and put it in and out of his mouth.  Good job dad!!

Dad was off the respirator for several hours again today, and Becky said that his oxygen level was up at 100%, right where it should be.  One of the reasons for the respirator is to provide him with enough oxygen to get his level up to 100%, and now he's able to do that on his own for a few hours at a time.  It won't be long...

I read a quote today from ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes:"run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; never give up."  Dad, you're well on your way to running already.  When you feel like you can't run anymore, all of us will be here to walk with you, to cheer you on.

Saturday, January 6, 2007 8:00 PM
Dad breathed on his own for 4 hours straight today.  The nurses said he never once struggled and seemed to be very comfortable.  That just goes to show what cycling can do for 55 year old lungs (or it could be the many bicycle rides to the top of Grandfather Mountain, down 6 hills road, or sprints up Looka Hill).  They said that they would try even longer tomorrow, but I'm not sure if they remembered that he was supposed to go into surgery in the morning.

The plan as we know it is to operate sometime before/around noon.  He is 3rd in line for surgery, although we're not sure exactly what they'll be doing.  We assume they will repair his pelvis and left wrist, but I guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what they're able to do.

Dad seems to be in pretty high spirits considering the fact that he has pins in his wrist and a large "halo" system on his leg that would be mistaken as a jungle gym by the grandkids...just another example of how dad seems to make the best of any situation.  I'm sure that he is or will be very frustrated and upset as he continues to comprehend his current state and assess his injuries.  We just pray that he continues to stay as strong through the rest of this ordeal now that he is aware of what's going on.

Saturday, January 6, 2007 2:00 PM
We saw dad this morning and he seemed to be in pretty high spirits.  His brother Mike was leaving town, so they let us sneak in for an extra visit this morning.  He was smiling and trying to laugh while we were quoting National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, "Grace.  She passed away 30 years ago."

This next part will be a source of relief and excitement for all of our fellow cyclists.  During one of our visits, we showed him the bicycle helmet that Stacie had bought him for Christmas (we've left it in his room since Christmas day).  I was standing next to his bed with it, he lifted his hand and took it from me, then clutched it against his chest.  We thought about putting it on him and leaving it on for the nurses to see, but didn't want to get in trouble.  We have also gotten our "thumbs up" the past 3 days!

We don't know yet about his surgery tomorrow.  We are waiting to talk to the doctors to find out his progress since yesterdays surgery, which seems to be going pretty well.  Once we find out what is scheduled and when it should be, I'll update the site again.  The respiratory therapist was in his room this morning and the way we understand it, they are taking him completely off the respirator for a few minutes at a time, allowing him to strengthen his lungs.  After his next surgery, when his lungs are strong enough, they'll be work to take him completely off the respirator so that he can possibly talk to us soon.  It will be so great to hear his voice again!

Friday, January 5, 2007 11:30 AM
Dad is out of surgery!!!  They were able to pin his leg, but it was so badly broken that the surgeon had to consult with 3 other surgeons to decide how to repair it.  They put a pin in through his knee so that he can bend it, and he has external pins and rings on his leg right now to hold everything in place.  They also put a cast on his elbow.  They did not touch his wrist or his pelvis.  They said that they would operate on his pelvis on Sunday because Dr. Hasty will be in, and he is much better at that. Dr. Hasty will decide on what to do with his wrist.

Mom saw him after the surgery and he seems to be doing pretty well.  He was still groggy, but was able to wink at her.

Thursday, January 4, 2007 9:00 PM

First things first…DAD GAVE US A THUMBS UP!  It was a little sideways, but it was a valiant effort.  For those of you that have ever met my dad, you’ve probably seen him give the thumbs up at some point, so it’s great to see him acting more like himself every day!  The nurses are amazed at how responsive he has been; one nurse stopped us in the hall and said when she walked by his room and waved, he lifted his arm (in slow motion) to wave back.  He is being very cooperative, listening to everything the nurses tell him and us, not pulling at any tubes, following them with his eyes around the room…


They are planning to take dad into surgery tomorrow, possibly at 7:30 AM.  Dr. Sagraves (the trauma surgeon) says that they’ll only repair his arm and leg, but Dr. Hasty (the orthopedic surgeon) had originally said they would try to do everything at once.  His potassium levels came back down from 5.7 to 4.1 (should be 3.5 to 5.0), so they’re no longer concerned about this.  Regardless of what all gets done tomorrow, this is likely to be very difficult on him and is going to zap all of his energy.  It will be so tough for us to watch him go from being so responsive, smiling and winking at us, back to where we were last week; but seeing him awake this past week has given all of us the boost in spirits that we desperately needed. 


Dad’s BUN and Creatinine levels are still very high, but his kidney function seems to remain normal.  It is possible that they will have to do dialysis on him while he is in the ICU, but this would more than likely be temporary.  His hemoglobin level is still very low, so they gave him 2 units of blood today.  We have had several offers for blood donations, and we thank everyone very much.  We are attempting to find out what needs they have for blood and will let everyone know as soon as we find out.


Dad does have pneumonia.  The culture samples came back, and they were able to identify the exact bacteria that are causing the pneumonia, and they have been able to tailor the medicine for these bacteria.  Hopefully this will be very effective.

It's hard to believe that it has already been more than 3 weeks since the accident.  We've come such a long way, driven lots of miles, met lots of people, told lots of stories, learned how to edit web pages, and eaten lots of hospital food (thankfully they serve pizza almost every night).  Thank you to everyone for your prayers and all of your support.  It is such a blessing to see this miracle first hand!