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May 20, 2018 Latest post:
Jul 15, 2018
Hello and welcome to our CaringBridge website. When we originally set this up (thanks do my daughter, Kathleen, who knew what to do and managed it all while I was in a state of shock), it was with the hope that we might document Francie's daily progress through what we knew was going to be a very long process of recovery at best -- as much for our own accurate record as it was to keep her many friends up to date on what was happening. Your response was overwhelming, and my reading of the prior day's post each morning buoyed Francie's spirits and reminded her that she had a loving support system outside the confines of the intensive care unit at the University of Virginia Medical Center and the tubes, wires and monitors that would be her constant companions for forty-two days..
Though our initial version did not include details of her injury, we've been reminded that this is an important part of the account and decided to include it.
After we moved full-time to Oklahoma in 2015 Francie and I had made a commitment to return to our beloved Washington Balalaika Society orchestra in Virginia twice each year to play with them in their major Spring and Fall concerts. We were on our way to do just that in mid-May and decided to accept the invitation of a friend from Francie's early law days to spend our final night of travel at her home in southern Virginia, about four hours from our destination. After a nice dinner out, we returned and were turning in for the night in the Murphy bed she had installed to make her parlor into a guest room, pulled down and ready for us. We read for a while, and I got up to turn the lights out. I had taken no more than four steps to the wall switch when the entire bed housing separated from the wall and collapsed onto Francie . A 911 call was answered quickly and it took two EMTs and myself to raise the several-hundred-pound housing high enough to allow the other EMTs to put her on a rigid back board and slide her out.
An initial CT scan and Xrays at the regional hospital twenty minutes away showed severe damage to the cervical vertebrae and a helicopter arrived quickly to take her to the neurosurgery unit at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, about 40 minutes away, where she underwent a five-hour procedure to stabilize the vertebrae with titanium support and screws. Another surgery followed three nights later to enter from the front and stabilize an adjacent cervical area.
Two or three days later, she was sufficiently stable to come off of breathing support and start the process of investigation and recovery which would determine how much damage had been done and what the long-term prognosis would be with an eye toward rehabilitation at a major spinal injury treatment center.