Well, here we are. A little late to the CaringBridge family, but we are here nonetheless. As many of you know, Dave has had severe back pain for quite some time. He finally decided it was time to have his back fixed, so he could have a chance at living relatively pain free. He could hardly wait to have it done. He was nervous, but knew he needed to go through with it. And so the story begins...
On Friday, September 21, 2018, Nancy brought Dave to Fairview Ridges Hospital, bright and early for his surgery. The plan was to place a rod from near his shoulder blades to his low back. The surgeon said it would be a long surgery...maybe 7 or 8 hours. Nancy kissed Dave goodbye as they carted him off to the OR.
Someone checked in with Nancy once or twice to tell her that everything was going as planned, though it was taking much longer than they originally anticipated. We would come to find out that his bones were as hard as ivory, and were far too strong for the surgical drill to handle. And instead of one rod, there were two placed from T-3 to his sacrum. The surgery took 11 hours to complete. The surgeon told Nancy that Dave would be very "out of it" in recovery, and that she should go home to get some rest and see him in the morning.
Near dawn the next morning, Nancy received a call from the hospital telling her that Dave had been taken to the ICU because he was unable to breathe on his own, and that he was not waking up. Nancy and Jeff (oldest child) went straight to the hospital and Dave was still intubated (breathing tube placed down throat) and unconscious. Nancy immediately notified Jessica and Julie (daughters) of what was happening. The next few days were the same. Unconscious and intubated, only sometimes squeezing hands when prompted. The doctors kept telling Nancy and Jeff that Dave was just having a hard time coming out of the anesthesia.
Jessica flew up from Texas on Tuesday, and went straight to the hospital from the airport. When she and Nancy arrived, they found that Dave was extubated (breathing tube removed), and awake. He was able to speak, and answer some questions, but most of the time his words made no sense. His eyes looked blank and empty.
Each day we visited him, he was like that. He could answer some questions we asked him, such as his name, and birth date, but couldn't really answer anything else. Most of the things he would say made no sense. When we asked him how he was feeling, he said, "The blue box is in Alaska, over there."
The doctors eventually told us that Dave suffered a stroke in several areas of his brain. That moment changed everything. They don't know his prognosis. Some people recover fully, some partially, and some don't recover much at all. He still has strength in all his extremities; the stroke seemed to affect mainly his cognition and speech.
To this day, Dave has a hard time with his swallowing, and is still on a pureed diet. They told us that he has decreased sensation in his mouth on the left side and can't really tell when he still has food inside his mouth. His appetite has increased a bit, and he is feeding himself now with some pretty neat silverware with big handles.
Since he has been bedridden for such a long time, he is unable to get out of bed on his own. They use a lift to get him out of bed and into his wheelchair. He has just started to take a few steps with the assistance of a walker and nurses. He gets completely exhausted after a short time of therapy, so it will take quite some time to get him back to where he can walk on his own.
We are going to keep updating the journal frequently, and will use this as our main way of communicating updates. We are so thankful to everyone who has sent us messages, thoughts, prayers, well wishes, etc. Without your love and continued prayers, this would be even harder to cope with than it already is.
We've added some info in the "Ways To Help" section. Please take a second to look. Thank you so much.