Posted 07-25-2003 at 10:13:46
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Now, if you want to see a long post, just read on:
http://community.webshots.com/user/dannmill (album called Rehab and Therapy at Baylor)
I wanted to share this with ya'll, since the subject of parents came up. About 3 years ago, my mom and dad were in a horrible car wreck. Mom was injured, but not bad enough to be hospitalized. Dad, was almost killed. He was 75 at the time. He was airlifted to Parkland, where they basically gave him pain meds and sent him home. After arriving home, he got worse and started becoming paralyzed. He had a spinal cord injury that was apparently overlooked by Parkland. We took him by ambulance, back to a local hospital on Christmas Day, 2000. While at that hospital, he almost died because he couldn't breath. They rushed him into their ICU and put him on life support to breathe. He progressively got more paralyzed after that, until he was paralyzed from the neck down. This hospital did not have the facilities to tend to him like he needed, so eventually he was accepted at Baylor. This wasn't an easy task, but a friend of our family pulled a few strings. No one wanted to treat him, because of his age and the extent of his injuries and the risk of doing any surgery, and him being on life support.
He was transported to Baylor, after much prayer and the help of the friend. They immediately put him in the Trauma Unit ICU and started doing tests and MRI's. They told us that he might not survive at all. Prayers went out all across the country (thanks to God for the Internet!) At this point, he was almost coma-like. He was almost never conscious when we saw him, and was totally still and paralyzed. They hooked him up to all kinds of things, and life support. He was there, in that condition for about a month and a half. At one point, he started bleeding internally, and they had to give him 9 or more pints of blood and do an emergency surgery on his stomach. His heart rate went dangerously high, and his blood pressure was dangerously low. This was extremely risky because of his overall condition, and the life support, but if they didn't do it, he'd bleed to death. It went well, and they found an artery that was the culprit, and fixed it.
Almost every time we visited, we were told how, because of his age, his condition, etc., that he might not make it out of ICU. (This was one of the hardest places to visit, that I've ever been to. There were people, literally, in beds next to him, dying, and grieving families). At this point, we weren't concerned whether he'd walk again or not, but about whether he'd live. One evening, while we were there, he awoke out of his coma-like sleep. Not totally alert, but woke up a little. He couldn't talk, because of the trach, but he looked up and smiled, and then dozed back off. From that point on, I think God must've comforted me, because I knew in my heart that he'd be all right, in spite of what the doctors were saying.
While in the Trauma ICU, they found out, from the tests they did, that not only was his neck fractured in 2 places, but that he had a growth that, because of the spinal cord injury, was causing a lot of problems. They said that it would require surgery to remove it, to even have a slim chance of ever being able to walk. But, that surgery wasn't possible until he got stronger, and that if they did do the surgery, even when he was better, that there was a very good chance he wouldn't survive it. He had other multiple injuries, but they were more concerned with his spinal cord.
Finally, they started trying to wean him off the ventilator, because he was trying to breathe on his own!! I don't know how this happened, (well, actually I do know!) since he was still paralyzed from the neck down, but he was. They were able to get him off of it, finally, and he was put into a hospital room, out of ICU. The trach was still there, in case he needed it, and because they were planning on doing surgery later and would use it then. He couldn't talk to us, and his ears were stopped up so he couldn't hear very good either. (He has since gotten hearing aids). I did a lot of note writing during that time! I couldn't read his lips good, but would get answers by having him blink. He could not move to write. He did start being able to barely move a finger or two, during this, but not good enough to do anything.
He then got an infection, from his stomach surgery, which required some work to get under control. While still in this hospital room, he also got a blood clot in one of his legs, because of being paralyzed. They put a screen in, or something, to take care of it. Eventually, the main spinal cord doctor wanted to have a meeting with the family, in dad's room, to talk about possibilities. We were all there, and she came in, by his bedside, and told us that he would never be able to come home, because of all the care he required, and that it would be 24-hour care needed. He'd never be able to walk or take care of himself. My mom and brother broke up (they were so grieved and stressed at this time, that they were literally beside themselves). I mentioned to the doctor, how he could move a couple of fingers, and she wasn't impressed at all. She said, even if they did surgery, that chances are, if he survived it, that he might be able to get some slight movement, but would never, positively never, be able to walk, or to live at home.
Okay. I guess I'm stubborn or something, and I KNOW my dad is, lol. But, God had already gave me a comforting that dad was going to be all right, back when he was still in the Trauma ICU, and I couldn't forget that. If dad couldn't live at home, I knew that he would NOT be all right. Everyone left his room, but I was going to stay the night with him, like I did from time to time. When it was just dad and me, I wrote him a note and told him what the doctor was saying, since he couldn't hear very good and missed almost all of it. He just looked at me, and moved one of his shoulders, like a shrug, and mouthed something about "moving better". I just wanted to cry, I was so happy, and I told him "Yes, you ARE moving better!" And, that the doctors weren't always right. But, he already knew that.
After he was stabilized and over the infection, they decided it was time to put him in some kind of rehab, to learn how to live the rest of his life in bed and in a wheelchair. He was moved to one "rehab" that was basically a nursing home. While still at that place, the director called me into his office, and wanted to know about "arrangements" for dad, when he was dismissed from there. In other words, he wanted to know where we would like to "send" him for the rest of his life. I just told him that dad would be coming home, no matter what, and that ended that talk. After a couple of days, a doctor that I never saw before, and never saw afterwards, came in, saw how dad could move his fingers, and stated, "You don't belong here. I'm going to recommend that you be put in ----- Rehab." That was like music to dad's and my ears!
After about a week of that place, he was put into a real rehab unit at Baylor in Dallas. They gave him exercises, taught him how to use an electric wheelchair, and all that would be needed to live as a quadraplegic. They wanted to know where he was going home to, when he left there. At that point, like I mentioned, my mother and brother, were so stressed and grieved, that neither one was capable of taking care of dad. (Mom had told dad earlier that he might have to go to a nursing home, because she couldn't take care of him.) She wasn't being mean, she just was trying to face that fact, and at that point, she really couldn't have taken care of him. Anyway, knowing this, and knowing that I wasn't going to let him be put away somewhere, I told them that he'd probably be coming home with me and my husband. So, after that, they began teaching me how to care for him. I learned, among other things, how to physically lift and move him in and out of the bed and wheelchair. (I'm a very small person, and this just amazed my dad, lol!).
Before long, the doctors were wanting him to decide about that surgery on his neck. Now that dad was at himself, and awake and coherent, it was his decision to make. He decided to not have it. He said that he felt he was going to be all right, and could move a little bit better (fingers and maybe a few toes at this point), and would rather not risk surgery, and see if he improved without it. So, with that decided, they removed his trach so it could heal up. They had changed it previously, into one that could be capped so he could talk a little bit, but now they removed it completely. In a short time, he was talking a lot better!
About two weeks or so, before they were going to dismiss him, mom went to her doctor and got some anti-depressants, and started trying to learn how to tend to dad. They told us he was going to be dismissed on a certain date, and mom's meds hadn't kicked in yet, and she was really scared about it. (Bless her heart!) And, dad was THRILLED about it! As it turned out, mom did an excellent, and I do mean EXCELLENT job of taking care of dad when he went home. To THEIR home, not mine. They both knew that I was going to take him home, if mom wasn't up to it, but dad really wanted to go to his home, with his wife - of course. And, that's how it went.
At home, he had a wheelchair and a Hoyer Lift that was sent home with him. We decided to get him a few other things, on our own. We bought him a walker, that had the tall arm rests with velcro, since he couldn't hold on to one the way most people do. His home therapist helped us stand him up to it, just to get him in a standing position for circulation, etc. He really liked this. We'd hold onto him so he wouldn't fall, and did this as many times a day as he was up to it. He exercised faithfully - we bought him small weights to exercise with. He could move his arms, hands, fingers, and now his legs just a little. He wasn't able to stand or get up, or feed himself, or do anything, but he was starting to get movement back - slowly.
Pretty soon, after standing up to the walker, he was getting stronger, and decided to try to take a step, with us supporting him so he wouldn't fall. Well, he took a tiny step. Then, another tiny step. It exhausted him, and we helped him back to the bed. The rest is history. He continued to improve, doctor took out his catheter, finally, he was able to raise up from the waist, out of bed, then he was able to swing around and sit up by himself, then he was able to stand up to the walker by himself, then, he was able to take steps with no one holding on to him to support him, then he was able to go to the bathroom by himself, then, he was able to use his hands and arms to feed himself, then, he was able to dress himself, and on and on and on! Praise God!
Now, dad works on their car, (fixed the brakes, changed a tire, etc.), takes walks, works in his little workshop on all sorts of projects, does things in the house, fixed my front gate, and basically does almost everything he used to do before the accident. He does not use a walker, cane or anything. He's now 78 years young, and is probably more active than I am, LOL and Praise the Lord!
Now, I'm teary-eyed, but it's happy tears! I just wanted to share this with you guys, and the pictures at Webshots pretty much tell the story.
A year after the wreck, when he was walking good, we went back to the rehab and had a visit. The therapists and doctors were absolutely stunned. I don't know how else to say it. It was great! I still have his first round of X-rays after he was paralyzed, that show his injuries, and why he wasn't supposed to ever recover. I think I'll have them framed, lol!
Dad doesn't remember us visiting him in the ICU, or any of what happened there. He said he was having strange dreams - probably morphine induced, but the main thing he remembers was that the 23rd Psalms kept coming to him, and that he felt that it was just for him. Because of this, he said he wasn't scared. Sorry this is so long, but it was a very long ordeal that God turned around and used to His Glory!
I will ALWAYS have this great memory - even after they're both gone. Have a great day everyone!!