Before the accident: On Tuesday, August 22nd, Dave left Bozeman, Montana headed east back towards Vermont. He had a lovely ride through Yellowstone National Park, seeing thousands of Bison and a few mountain goats. He was headed south towards Cody, Wyoming on the Chief Joseph Highway when he fell asleep. We surmise that the elevated smoke levels in the air in Montana contributed to his lethargy over the previous few days. He woke up when he drifted over loose gravel on the right side of the road, on a sharp left hand turn.
How he survived: Dave survived because he is unequivocally the luckiest man alive. At about 55 miles per hour, Dave had bounced off the guard-rail three times before eventually losing the battle against momentum and crashing. He woke up "floating", with two good samaritans holding his head and neck stable, while others controlled traffic and alerted emergency responders. He wants to convey a SUPER thank you to everyone involved that saved his life and preserved what appears to be a chance to return to a life with full motor function! Dave was air-lifted, by helicopter, to St. Vincent's Hospital Emergency Room in Billings, MT.
In the hospital: In the ER he was stabilized and a number of lacerations were stapled and otherwise addressed. He was moved to the ICU where his son Peter finally caught up with him. In the ICU, various imaging tests discovered the extent of his injuries. Dave broke his neck, back, lower-back and multiple ribs on his left side. His broken neck caused a condition called "central cord syndrome". He had a lacerated spleen, a seven inch gash on his right shin, and his left elbow was "chewed up pretty bad". Miraculously, the only damage to his head was some road rash on the top of his head. He was beyond fortunate that he did not even get a concussion, let alone something much worse.
Surgery: In order to stabilize his neck, the team at St. Vincents determined that he would need to have his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae fused together with a a metal plate. This surgery was successfully performed on Thursday. On Friday morning, Dave was moved from the ICU up to the fifth floor of St. Vincents.
On the floor: While he was at the hospital over the weekend, Dave worked hard to swallow correctly, cough, and get adequate breaths. By Sunday, he was laboring excessively to breathe through aspirated lungs and his chest cavity had been filling up with extra fluid from the trauma to his ribs and lungs from the crash. These factors were exacerbated by pneumonia and bronchitus that he had contracted while at the hospital. By early Monday morning he was not able to cough anything up and he was not able to breathe well enough to fall asleep. At 8:30 in the morning, his left lung collapsed and he was rushed back to the ICU.
ICU: The doctors in the ICU flushed his lungs out and intubated him, in a rapid, life saving procedure. A very long, arduous weekend for Dave was finally over and he was resting comfortably, with the aid of a ventilator and valium. Jenna, Robbie, Lyla, and Nanette flew out immediately following this ordeal. Dave was intubated for three days and has no memories of his time, however he was smiling and interacting with his family. His eyes never left Lyla when she came to visit and he was able to wave as the family left the room. The nurses and doctors worked around the clock to clear his lungs, control his blood pressure, and find answers to why he was in such a dire position. Dave was extubated on Thursday morning, thanks to heroic efforts by everyone in the ICU. After a very excellent stay at the ICU, Dave was released to another facility to oversee the rest of his recovery and start his rehabilitation.
LTAC: (Long Term Acute Care) Dave is currently at the Advanced Care Hospital of Montana in Billings. He was just moved from the High Observation wing into a very bright, comfortable room where he expects to stay for the duration of his time here. The crew at LTAC has been monitoring the last of his health issues closely, while pushing him forward into his new adventure in rehabilitation.
Moving Forward: Dave is very weak right now, however he will be working everyday to get strong enough to be accepted into a specialized neuro rehab facility. This will happen once he can handle at least three hours of rehabilitation exercises. Dave has sensation and motor function to various degrees in all areas of his body. The Central Cord Syndrome he is experiencing causes him to have limited mobility in his fingers, while his arms and legs are showing a lot of improvement already. The core muscles in his trunk have yet to be challenged. He has a long way to go and he is extremely driven to make the fullest recovery that he can, as soon as possible!