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Don Larson is my prayer warrior, protector, and dad. 2020 has been a difficult year. In February dad was hospitalized after a fall at home. We found out he had Influenza A. He was in the hospital for many days then moved to a rehabilitation unit in a New Brighton Nursing Home where he stayed for several weeks. He had broken three bones in his ankle when he fell and was still in a wheelchair when he came home. Our friend from church, handyman, Todd T. installed a ramp in the garage and widened the bathroom door so he could be home. We were able to spend 10 days at the cabin in June but after a fall we decided to purchase a lift chair for the cabin.
In July dad became confused and was having trouble with everyday tasks. Mom brought him to Mercy Hospital where they diagnosed a series of mini-strokes. He was able to get into United Hospital's Courage Kenney inpatient rehab center. He was there for 10 days and returned home Friday, August 14.
He was walking but slowly and still tired from all the therapies they did. Michelle and Kevin were at the house on Sunday to put a new charcoal grill together and were able to see dad for the first time since COVID -19. On Sunday night, August 16 at 3 AM, I got a call from mom saying dad had fallen down a full flight of stairs into the basement. He got disoriented going to the bathroom. When I arrived there were four emergency responders there. Dad was conscious and moving a little. They carried him up the stairs. He did a standing transfer to the gurney and was transported to Mercy Hospital. The assessment at the Mercy ER revealed a very small bleed in his brain (a subdural hematoma) and a break in his neck at c1. The doctors at Mercy referred him to the level 1 trauma center at North Memorial Hospital. He was moved early Monday morning. After additional assessments in the ER, they transferred him to the trauma ICU on the fifth floor (room 576). The neurosurgeon evaluated his tests and told us that the hematoma was very small and needed no additional treatment. However, they detected fractures in two of his neck vertebrae (c1 and c2). Thankfully, surgery was not needed but they put a hard cervical collar on him which he will need to wear for the next three months. Once X-rays confirmed that the collar was correctly placed, he was allowed to sit up in bed. Yesterday (Tuesday) he was able to dangle his feet off the side of the bed once.
Tuesday was a difficult day. Despite being heavily medicated, dad was having pain in his head. The surgeon said he had a concussion which was the likely cause of the pain. He was not able to get out of bed and was not moving much at all. His care plan requires the staff to reposition him every two hours to avoid developing pressure sores. The cervical collar is interfering with swallowing so he is now on thickened liquids and a pureed diet. He ate a little pudding but nothing else yesterday. He is getting IV nutrition. He had additional assessments from OT, PT, and Speech on Tuesday but we have not yet gotten the results.
We are very thankful that North Memorial allows two designated visitors. Mom and I are headed there shortly and will provide updates as we get them.
Update October 6, 2020
Dad is being discharged from the trauma unit and North Memorial hospital tomorrow. He will continue his rehabilitation at St. Therese at Oxbow about 10 minutes away from home. He will likely be there until at least mid-November when we hope his neck fractured will have healed enough to remove the cervical collar.
The facility is currently locked down and in quarantine because one of the staff members tested positive for Covid. Dad will be quarantined for 14 days per the facility policy. We don’t know when we will be able to visit in person and are praying that mom will be designated as his essential caregiver and be allowed to visit every day as soon as possible.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a national policy letter two weeks ago acknowledging the harmful effects of isolation and loneliness for people in skilled nursing facilities. They are requiring Medicare facilitators to allow essential caregivers in with some provisions around the local level of covid infections. How that policy is implemented at St Therese will determine when where and if dad will ever have visitors. Their previous policy allows only outdoor visits. As you might imagine this could make for some very cold family members once winter weather sets in.
Update November 2, 2020
Dad died in his sleep on Saturday, October 31, 2020, at the age of 82 years. We rejoice that he is in heaven worshipping and praising God with his beautiful bass voice and look forward to joining him there soon.
Dad's Celebration of Life was on November 6. The service was live-streamed and can be viewed at https://youtu.be/kuqSppopWuE.
We were amazed and humbled by the number of people who joined us either in person or viewed the service (more than 250). God's provision was amazing. Just weeks before the service Grace EFC obtained the necessary equipment and personnel to live-stream their services. Though we missed seeing some of our friends and family in person, given the co-vid situation, we had just the right number of people present at church. Thank you to everyone who prayed, worshipped with us for dad's service, sent memorials, and supported us in so many other ways. God provided the strength we as a family needed to move through the events of this last year. We were continually encouraged by those who shared their thoughts and prayers.
Dad is in heaven, worshipping Jesus. He is healed healthy, and whole. He is not in pain anymore and is no longer subject to this fallen world. Do you know what will happen to you when your days on earth are done? Will you invite Jesus to take charge of your life, ask him to forgive you for the wrongs you have done, and accept his offer of eternal life in heaven if you have not already done so? The choice is yours. I pray that you will choose to join dad and the rest of our family in heaven.
Sherri for the Larson family