On 2:00am Sunday 9/24, Benjamin was walking downtown with two friends, laughing and relaxing, when he was hit in the stomach by a bullet. Ben and his friends didn't see who shot the bullet, and don't have any idea why someone did this. Random shooting? Stray bullet?
Once APD and the ambulance arrived (which took much longer than seemed necessary, but that's a whole other story), Ben was taken to the trauma center of a nearby hospital and immediately underwent a 3 1/2 hour surgery to stop the bleeding. A major artery (the IVC -- inferior vena cava) which had a bullet hole completely through it was repaired with a bovine patch, and a hole in the front of his stomach and another in his liver was sewn up.
After this surgery Ben was kept heavily sedated in the Intensive Care Unit, with the surgical wound on his stomach left open and a breathing tube down his throat.
The next day, Ben was taken in for a second surgery. Afterwards, the doctor reported that:
- They found and repaired the second hole in the stomach (the one they hadn’t been able to locate in the first surgery).
- On the pancreas, the ducts weren’t damaged. This was big, as they were really worried about damage here.
- The duodenum was not damaged.
- They found a hold through the front part of the pancreas that went all the way through. They decided not to stitch it, since this fails around 30% of the time, so instead put two drains in and covered the hold it fatty tissue to help it heal.
- They installed another drain near the hole that they repaired in the liver.
- They had placed a tube down one nostril that bypassed the stomach and went directly to the intestine, so they could start giving him nutrition.
- They’d also placed a tube coming out of the other nostril from his peritoneal cavity to drain fluid.
The surgeon said that it wasn’t as bad as they’d feared. (We’d overheard a less-than-sensitive doctor on rounds that morning saying, “why isn’t this guy dead?”) Apparently the damage to the IVC in particular was immediately dangerous, as most of the body’s blood moves through there in something like 60 seconds.
At this point his stomach was sewn back up, and Ben was still under heavy sedation because of the breathing tube. The surgeon said that the first surgery (on Sunday, to stop the bleeding) had been the first hurdle, and that this had been the second. He said that once we get through the recovery from this surgery Ben will begin the months-long process of healing, that the drains will need to stay in for a long time, etc. He said, “this is the first step of a thousand-mile journey.” We were just so happy to still be on the road!!!!!!!!
Altogether, Benjamin was kept sedated for about 48 hours.
On Monday, the sedation was titrated off. And once the doctors determined that Ben could breathe on his own, the (helpful, but awful) breathing tube was removed.
On Tuesday, Ben was moved from the ICU to the regular Trauma/Surgical Recovery Unit. Since then, he’s been improving rapidly. His pain, though still constant, is more well-managed. The number of tubes and monitors have been gradually decreased. He has a small feeding tube down his right nostril and 3 drainage tubes from his abdomen.
The doctors say that his recovery is going well, and attribute this to his youth and strength.
Visitors are welcome between 11am and about 6 or 7 pm , just please first text Ben or Sandra and myself so we can coordinate the visits.