Friday, December 24, 2010

Fred's Christmas Eve Thoughts

December 24, 2010 Mina types Freds thoughts..

The day before Christmas. 5 weeks and a day since the accident.

While much progress has occurred these past 5 weeks, I still spend most of my time in the hospital bed that Mina arranged to be in the exact same spot as our regular bed. This small detail made it easier for me to adjust being home, in that as I lay here I see everything at the same angle as I did lying in bed before the accident.

I am grateful for little things. The weight loss has turned around, if you trust the scale 7 of the 30 lbs I lost is back. I have a slight sensation of an appetite, although smaller frequent meals seem most effective. One night I went without any pain medication. And week 5 marked the turn around in my progress. I can get around pretty good with my walker (bumbling a bit) as I am not supposed to put any weight on my right leg. IN week 5 I had my first real shower, on my nifty transfer bench from the hospital. My tailbone is cushioned by a towel folded over, I come into the shower w my walker and Mina turns on the preheated water. From the bench I am just able to reach the control valve and adjust it to a hot flow. I just close my eyes and let it beat down onto my head and back. It felt so good. Mina had taken my fresh clothes out from the dryer so the that once I was dried off I had the warm clothes to put on. I then walked out to the living room and sat in the recliner. Mina draped a long warm towel from the drier across me. I couldn’t help but smile. (It was the longest sustained smile I have seen since the accident!)

On last Wed we did a doctor visit. Fortunately the rain let up for each time we had to get in or out of the car. I was able to handle the motion without any problem and asked Mina to drive Whittier Bl. as opposed to the slow residential streets I had requested for the return from the hospital. And at home felt strong enough to walk from the car to the bedroom.

Yesterday morning since I wake up so early while Mina sleeps, I surprised her by getting up on my own(walker assisted) to “hop” into bed next to her. Laying next to my wife in bed is something I had not done in 5 weeks. As I laid there it was interesting to see our bedroom from a different view.

For now in home Physical therapy visits have stopped as I am able to do on my own what they want of me. Some exercise from the beginning were easy, some were difficult. But now I am finding they are all easy to do and I am pushing the limits on the number of repetitions. I still have occasional rough nights and some difficult times during the day. As much as I would like to be off the pain pills, my body isn’t there yet. Boredom is still a major challenge. And feeling a little depressed about how long this is taking can also be a challenge. Mina made a big calendar for me on the wall which starts the week of the accident and goes through the 2nd week of January, has been a big help. We X off each day and write out the days milestone and activities. It encourages me to see so may x-offed days. Tomorrow will be a big day. I have practicing lounging in the recliner in the living room. I think that with a little extra help from the pain meds I will be able to spend most of the day out with the family in celebration of Christmas. In preparation today I am taking my 3rd shower. I am looking forward to it.

Other things I am grateful for: the ability to use the commode room in our house on my own (sometimes), taking a hot shower, sitting up without getting very dizzy, my hospital table that allows me to do some things on my laptop, electronic shock collars for training our dog to stop barking in the middle of the night, for the most part seeing only one of my wife when I look at her (2 of me is a scary thought-double vision is subsiding), all the cards and letters and emails and visits that people have showered me with- (an amazing source of comfort and entertainment for Fred), strength to move my legs and get out of bed on my own, and strength to get back into bed on my own. This accident has alerted me to how many joints and muscles are used to get in AND out of the bed. My dear wife who has set aside many of her activities to care for me over this extended time. That even though my body was broken- my soul was well, kept by Christ. It made m ethink of the people whose bodies are well and yet they live with a broken soul and have not been willing to come to Christ for healing.

Next Tuesday, the big event is the visit to the orthopedic doctor’s office. This will be 2 days short of the 6 week mark; the minimum time given that the right side fractures would heal. Realistically I was told expect 8-10 weeks. I am hoping the healing process is such that I am given the ok to begin putting weight on the right side. When this occurs a whole new chapter will begin.

MerrY Christmas to us all -Looking forward to walking among you again.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fred's Thoughts on Coming Home

"I have been told that a major milestone after a serious injury is when you are released out of the care of the hospital. I assume this is because you have progressed beyond the immediate and constant care of the hosp staff is no longer necessary and you have healed to a point where whatever else needs to be done can be done at home. Well I reached that point, decided by the hosp care team that we should come home Wed Dec 8. I had weaned myself off of morphine even during the PT sessions which required me to get up and place weight only on my left leg and do a modified hop with the walker down the hall. I could sit at the edge of the bed by myself and transition from walker to wheel chair, wheel myself into the bathroom and take washcloths to wipe down my upper body and face. And with effort get myself over to the portable commode near my bed. These were a few of the points you must reach before they ship you home. So the afternoon arrived. Mina showed up with the mini van and the only point of apprehension was the actual loading me in the an. We felt up to the challenge and after a long wheel chair ride to the front of the Hospital, I managed to get up with the walker and maneuver without too much difficulty into the front seat of the van. Mina had already loaded up some of the hosp paraphernalia and the wheel chair and hosp bed was already at home awaiting me.

As we started the ride home I was amazed at how fast everything outside was passing me. The 3 weeks in the hosp had dulled my senses to motion and I found our speed and the sensation it left me with almost dizzying. (Mina’s note: I had people tailing me and making sour faces because I was so slow!) When we arrived home, our painter’s car blocked our entry. Mina parked at the curb and went up to ask the car be moved. I was starting to reach the threshold of sitting, pain and dizziness began to overtake me. It didn’t take too long and up the driveway we went. Without too much trouble we got me out and wheeled towards the backdoor where there were no steps and Papi had built a small ramp for entrance. Soon I was backing into my bedroom’s own hospital bed, my new base for the next weeks.

It is amazing how some of the simplest actions can wipe out the strength that you have. I was somewhat exhausted as I lay back on my hosp bed as Mina unloaded the car. Looking around I had a visual overload, so many shapes and colors to look at in our bedroom; I had become accustomed to the plain ceiling at the hospital with its fluorescent light and the hoist for bedridden patients. It had become my home and I had grown accustomed to it. Now my real home had become foreign. But with Mina’s good cheer and encouragement we discussed that this was all part of the healing and this could be a chapter of adventure as I learned to function and increase in strength here in my own home. (Fred used to say that, ‘The difference between an adventure and an ordeal was your attitude.’ He told me the other day that he would now modify that to say, 'The difference between an adventure and an ordeal was your attitudeAND your pain level.' )

Our bedroom is rearranged, so I sleep in the same spot as our regular bed, but the regular bed is pushed to the west. I am grateful for all of Mina’s care and patience, she has been a real trooper and now this next chapter will be probably even tougher on her. I don’t always take change easily and even though this coming home should be one that brings familiarity, it still presented some psychological and physical challenges. Fortunately the Presbyterian Hosp stay helped us identify medication so I am no longer plagued by nausea. It keeps the pain in check so that unless I do something foolish I am able to function without pain. Lack of appetite continues. For the most part I force myself to eat. But a few things have SOUNDED attractive as I think of them. Mina is making some protein vitamin conncotions in the blender that as long as they are ice cold actually taste good. ( Not all smoothie recipes are successful, I had one gel up on me the other night. Poor guinea pig Fred.. I do sneak in calories by making his cream of wheat with half and half) Trying to pack the calories on anyway we can, to put back some of the 22 lbs I lost. It is obvious to me now that this is going to be a long road. It seems to me that the progress is so slow its immeasurable. Mina has been a great encouragement telling me how I have improved from one day to the next, but it is not in my nature to be such a wimp.

The day I left the hosp I tried getting back into the bed by myself. Problem is that I don’t have the strength to lift my legs. Once in the bed seated I can’t get my legs up, I lost all my stomach and pelvic muscles. Its not a pretty picture but by grabbing my thighs or shorts with my hands I can pull my legs up. At the hosp. the right side had to be jacked up by inserting it into the wheelchair spokes and then with much effort I was able to pull it into bed with me. At home, Mina and I devised a stair-stepping system with a cushion and a big dictionary to enable the same action. One of my goals is to someday lift those legs into bed without stair-stepping or without using my hands to lift. (The day after he dictated this he was able to get the right leg up with NO help from me!)

Mina’s note: Yesterday, Bob Boatright the in home therapist visited us. He gave us regular exercises and Fred tries to do them faithfully. The getting up and walking is so taxing, but Fred does it well if he puts his mind to it even though the pain and weariness can be daunting.

Today Jason Bonilla brought over a gift from his off-road buddies. Hoorah!! At last an off-road vehicle that guarantees his safety while operating it. Thanks so much guys for thinking of the wife with this gift!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Trauma Ward

Approaching the trauma ward, a woman walking with her IV companion passes me. She walks at the normal rate, but what distinguishes her are the rods surrounding her head like a carousel. Further in, a man with a walker hobbles along and a group of 5 adults unaware of their volume. Fred is in here, fourth floor.
I come upon him lying there, 5 fractures running through his hips and tailbone giving him the sensation that the pieces move within him like Jello squares.
These hours are difficult. Sending Fred into emotions and feelings he is not very familiar with. Emotions range from despair to wanting to run a church service in his room. Jonalyn and Dale have been supportive and superb patient advocates. I stand back in awe at how they can slide into the hospital staff’s hearts and get them to be on board with upping the care we are getting. Fred said he was moved to tears when he heard Jonalyn on the phone call out to him, “Daddy..” As Jon Delling said, “ Know that moment well. Nothing more humbling and tender. A father's heart touched by a his daughter's grace.”
So, no surgery is scheduled. The doctors say that the pelvis is so well connected by tissue and tendons and all -that unless the fractures are mis-aligned they prefer to let the body heal on its own. Surgery only complicates things and Fred’s breaks look like they are perfectly aligned.

Pain management is tricky. Fred said that while in Denver he believed that he woke up in a different room every day; the nurses and doctors were only a ruse. Everything around him was a deceptive guise and he was really all right. At one point he asked my if I was “Mina.” For the most part he knew us and so this didn’t worry me. I slept in his room 2 nights to ensure he got the care and meds when he needed it, because I was there when he had a migraine and 5 hours later the nurse still hadn’t come in with the meds.

Just as he started to round the bend of being a little more pain free the trauma hospital social worker came to suggest that we needed to transfer him to a rehabilitation facility. It felt like I had been swimming under water holding my breath for a very long time and as I came to the surface and could see the light of day, wham I got a bucketful of water in the face. Terri my sister in law did the research to find transportation. If we were having to move him, then lets get him back to our community. A Lear Jet seemed to be the best option. Thank you Angel Medflight.
Freedom from worry and logistics in such a move is priceless. Thankfully Fred has been blessed to manage his money well and so it was not a problem to say: “This is something that is important to us, just pay for it.”
The nurses were great on the flight. Fred went his first 6 hours since the accident without meds. He wanted to make sure he was clear headed and wasn’t nauseated. Landing at Presbyterian our flight nurses advocated for him beautifully to get us into a room immediately so he could have some privacy to relieve himself. We were whisked into the decontamination room. At least it was private!

Since the start I have been generally peaceful about the accident. I fought an intestinal bug the day after it happened and had some residual unpleasantries, but I have felt upheld by God and peaceful that things are in his hands. Fred said that in his Denver visions he saw 3 dark green and black demon faces peering at him. But that didn’t make me fearful. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Fred didn’t put a lot of weight into the vision either knowing that he was on painkillers.

Someone mentioned that although the accident happened on Hell’s revenge, that Fred’s survival and recoop will be Heavens revenge. I like that. God’s will cannot be thwarted. And as Dale whispered to Fred as they carried him to his airlift: Jesus is with us.

Presbyterian’s care compared to Denver is like a McDonalds burger compared to a Lowry’s Ribeye steak. Their food could also echo such comparison.

We are blessed to be in our community for this step of rehabilitation. We take a deep breath and lean into the routine knowing that the progress though slow seems steady.

I was watching the video of the accident, and noticed that the place where Fred was thrown had a trenchlike crevice. This hollowed out area cradled his body and protected it as the ATV slammed backwards on top of him.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock..

I think God protected him from any internal injures (CTScan showed that) and preserved his life. (There he is across the room giving the nurse a bad time!)

God is merciful and Jesus is with us.