Bob fell from his roof on Thursday, July 14, 2016. He was transferred via ambulance to Northern Montana Hospital where a CT (Cat Scan) was performed. Fractures of his C-Spine were found and it was then obvious that he would need to take MercyFlight to Great Falls. The first thing he asked Mike was which color of helicopter would he be riding in. Is it the blue one or black one? (He knows from his history at the Fire Department and sitting on his front porch and watching them take off daily....the snoop he is!!!!). As many times Bob has taken patients to the hospital for MercyFlights, he never thought the position would be reversed and he would be that passenger. And as true Bob style, he had the whole Fire Department and two trucks present to send him off. (He has since asked if we got a picture of it!!!!)
Once arriving in Great Falls, an MRI was issued. That revealed the most devastating news. There were fractures of the C4, C5, C6, C7, & Ti. Along with these injuries, the spinal cord at C5 showed that it was sheared. As we prepared for surgery, Mike and myself (Ericka) had finally arrived and waited for the team to say it was time to go. During this time Steve was travelling from North Dakota and the Dr. Brandvold, the Neurosurgeon informed us of the seriousness of dad's condition. The doctor told us on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the worse) that dad was a 10 and it was one of the worst cervical and spinal cord injuries he has seen. (He's been in practice for 30 years). Of all the doctors for dad to get, he is a perfect fit. He's bold, direct, honest, and definitely does not sugar-coat the situation and injury. He is more of a pessimistic than an optimist....which is exactly what dad needs.
When it was finally time to go to the OR, we just kept saying Steve was almost here, he's almost here....he's only 5 minutes away. They were so wonderful to wait and be patient with us. The moment dad saw Steve, we all felt the relief release from him, knowing all of his kids were there. We all gave him our love and then he says "Alright, let's go girls!"
Dad was in surgery for a couples hours. Dr. Brandvold performed a discetomy at C4 & C5, and at C6 & C7. He also tried to do a fusion into T1. Dad's vertebraes are so compressed and fractured, that the Dr feared it would be not as successful as he would hope. When Dr. Brandvold came to speak with us, his initial fears of being unable to attach to any bone were confirmed. He had to put a supplemental anchor in, but is worried that it may not be sufficient for his injury and hold. There is a possibility that he may want to do another surgery from the posterior side of the neck but at the moment he needs to remain stable and the likelihood of it being of any success is slim. As for the spinal cord injury, our worst nightmare came true. It was a severed completely.
Right now, dad has all the typical responses of a C5 spinal cord injury (SCI). Dad has feeling from his biceps up and pectoral area up. He has no feeling in his lower body, forearms, and hands. He is able to shrug his shoulders and do some movements with his lower arms, but not able to grip or bend his fingers. We are hopeful after some of his swelling and inflammation go down, that he will gain a bit more sensation. We are fortunate that his respiratory system is not currently compromised. We are still not out of the woods of having set backs to where a breathing tube may be needed. The biggest concern is to prevent aspiration or pneumonia.
Dad has since had another CT and a great medical team. We have spoke with many doctors and medical personal in regards to his current and future care. So far it seems that he will be in the ICU for at least a week and then to an inpatient room. From there he will go to a rehabilitation center for at least a month to 6 weeks. We will keep you all posted as we are taking it day by day towards his progression.
Bob is currently in the ICU at Benefits East in Room 5116. We are welcoming anyone who would like to come visit. The more people that my dad knows who loves him, the easier it will be to keep his spirit lit and his fight strong. He is a stubborn man who has a big bark, but we all know he has one of the softest hearts. Our dad, the strongest person I know, will need help from all of his loved ones as he adapts to his new lifestyle. His acceptance to his new immobilities and his pride will be the biggest hurdles for us all. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.