Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oh The Places You Will Go

So, until I know I won't ever be liable for HIPAA stuff, I don't want to mention my patient's name on my blog...even though it has been referenced on their Caring Bridge website. But I know many of you are wondering how he's doing these days...he is now 70 days out from the crash. I also know many of you know all the details of his days with his mom at his side. She is a great writer herself.

He was transferred from the skilled nursing facility to the rehab facility right before I went on vacation. Since that time he has made DRASTIC improvements.

1. He no longer has a wound VAC on his abdominal wound.
2. His cervical collar for his neck fractures is OFF.
3. His tracheostomy tube is out and the hole it left behind is healing well.
4. He spends a vast amount of his time in a wheelchair, not the bed.
5. He is working on the treadmill with physical therapy.
6. He has to have his achilles tendon released on the left side so that he can start walking a bit better. This will happen tomorrow or early next week.
7. He can feed himself and will likely have his diet advanced from pureed to ground/chopped foods in the next couple of days!
8. He is talking more and more clearly every day.
9. He says "thank you" all the time. If you listen to him intently enough you can catch him say things like "thank you" (which he has already said to this person a number of times) followed by "thank you for everything".
10. He's reading as well. His mom finally had the chance to introduce us earlier this week, and she introduced us again today. As I was standing there talking to him, at one point we heard him say "Brittney" and asked what he said and he repeated it. He was reading my name tag!
11. I'm not quite sure how many shirts he has now, but the surrounding fire departments have been amazing in getting him shirts from each of the departments in his county (and beyond). Yes, he's training to  be an EMT and finished fire school in May. That's why his bracelets say "Keep Fighting".

I can go on and on about how cool it is to watch him. I always try to go say hi and plan on a quick 30 minute visit or so. I used to stick around to talk to his family for hours, now I stick around to watch him progress. We rarely get to see this side of it. The recovery, the therapy, the going home. I've been given a great opportunity to see what it's like once they are discharged from the hospital and what the long road to recovery really means.

Besides the outstanding amount of support that's showered upon him and his family, I think I'm most impressed by his family's strength. I know they have their weak moments, sometimes I'm there to witness them and sometimes I'm not. It makes my heart hurt to see them worry (especially his granddad), but I can always feel the love between all of them. His mom has dedicated so much time and effort to his recovery and making sure he's always on schedule, keeping nurses on their toes, and helping him to understand the process of what he's going through. I know everyone around him is doing the same, but his mom is the person I see the most. (And somehow she's still managing to get some work accomplished during all this too.) I constantly compare this to watching grass grow. If you stand there and try to watch your grass grow, you'll never notice any difference. Even if you check on it every day, it doesn't seem to make much progress from one day to the next. But if you leave for four days and come back, it's grown like a weed! I used to be the one checking on him every day, then he was transferred to the SNF. Now I check on him once or twice a week depending on my own work load. I imagine if I was still seeing him every day it would be hard to really notice the big improvements, but it is so amazing to see how much he progresses in the span of only 3 to 4 days. His words are clearer, his motions more controlled, his thoughts more coherent, his memory improving, his weight gain, all of it. I admire that his family can see him every day and still notice the progress he's making.

I can only imagine what it feels like for them 70 days out. He's come so far. He obviously still has a long ways to go, but some of the biggest hurdles have already been jumped. Soon enough, he'll be doing too well for rehab and he'll be off the next place which I'm fairly certain isn't a place that's going to be easy for me to keep checking least not in person. But the pictures and texts from his mom, his Caring Bridge, and his spirit will keep me updated I'm certain.

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