Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place about our son, Gregory’s, progress.
Gregory is John’s son from his first marriage to Veronica, and Nancy’s stepson; though we don’t usually use that term or make that delineation because all of our children are precious and loved equally by each of us. Greg is currently 32 years old and was only a year and a half old when John and Nancy married in the summer of 1989. When he was very young he split his time between mom and dad’s house, but since he was in second grade, Greg lived with his dad & stepmom and attended school in Milwaukee until he moved to Minnesota for college. We have been a family for a very long time.
Greg had been living back home with John and Nancy for the last 6 months during the COVID-19 pandemic and was working from home. Veronica had been able to come for weekly visits 2-3 times per week during those months. We have all worked to build up friendly and supportive family relationships and are still working together on Greg’s plan of care and medical decisions. Because of the virus, local hospitals are allowing only one visitor per patient for the entirety of a person’s hospital stay. We have decided that this should be Veronica, his mother, for now; as we hope and pray the voice of mom will help to bring Greg back to us through that special primal connection a child has with a biological mother. It is difficult to be the person in the room but it’s also a different kind of difficult to be on the outside longing to touch and hold your child’s hand. For now, we rely on FaceTime video calls with medical staff and mom. We have been able to see some slight improvements in Greg’s condition since he had his initial surgeries. It is touch and go and there have been many ups and downs.
Here is the series of miracles that have brought us this far.
On Monday, August 31st, John was dropping Nancy & Sophia at Nancy’s dad’s house for their daily time with him. John was hoping to use Nancy’s computer and they discussed his coming in to Elwyn’s to work on that, but John had a funny feeling that he needed to head back home “to check on Greg”. He had not come down for breakfast that day or set up his work station in the office as usual on a weekday morning.
When John got home, he found Greg on the floor of his room completely incapacitated. He was unable to walk, get up, or even to talk. He was conscious and struggling. John got paramedics on the scene in 3-5 minutes. No one knew what was happening, but Greg was transported to the Racine hospital near where we live.
A little while later, we received a call from a surgeon explaining that Greg had suffered a severe stroke and that with the size of the area that was affected, they didn’t usually do surgical procedures since there was not a good prognosis in such a case. Initially, he gave us no hope. We looked at each other in shock and disbelief not understanding how this could have happened.
But the surgeon was not done. He told us that while the previous statements were true, Greg qualified for a clinical trial and would be randomized into one of two groups. Group one would receive a surgical intervention and group two would receive only standard care measures. We had about 10 seconds to decide but ultimately said “Yes! Put him in the trial!!” This would give Greg some chance of survival even if it was low, but not a significant chance of what the doctor termed “meaningful recovery.”
Miracle #3 -
Greg was randomized into group 1; the group that would receive the surgery. Only 24 people in Milwaukee would be allowed to enter this trial, and only half of those would be chosen at random to receive the surgery.
A Thrombectomy was performed on the clot in his brain that evening. After that, clots were also removed from his lungs in a separate procedure. The surgeon called us afterwards telling us again that his chances of survival were very low, as the area affected by the stroke had tripled in size between the hospital in Racine and his flight for life transport to Milwaukee where surgery was performed. He suggested that we would need to make decisions soon about removing Greg from life support. Broken hearted, we began to share the news with our families.
The next day, while speaking with his Neuro-ICU nurse, we were learning that he was wiggling fingers and toes and could open his eyes briefly. During the discussion, it seemed that in addition to survival, some level of recovery was also expected. We called the surgeon and he revised his earlier prediction saying that “the computer models we were relying on were wrong!” Greg suffered a moderate stroke and some level of conscious awareness was beginning to surface in him. All great news!
Over the last week, we have a experienced several ups and downs. We understand that stroke recovery is not linear, it is a process. Greg is still in critical condition as we write this. There are many dangers for his brain, lungs and heart to overcome. He is on a ventilator and while our goal is for him to breathe on his own, he is not yet able to do so. Over the last couple of nights, Greg has suffered respiratory distress and so he must for now remain on the ventilator and the associated sedation medication. This medicine makes it difficult for the staff to properly and fully assess the level of stroke Greg has suffered, leaving us with very little information about functional potential on the other end of this situation.
We appreciate your prayers and support and your words of hope and encouragement. We will update progress here as we can. You might see posts from Nancy, John, or Veronica, as we are trying to work together on all aspects of Greg’s care and hopeful recovery.
Check back for news and info. Hoping for some encouragement from medical staff today!