Harvey Windels

First post: Mar 21, 2019 Latest post: Mar 29, 2019
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Harvey finally opened his eyes briefly, 4 days after a stroke and a craniotomy to relieve pressure on his brain. He apparently fell outside the garage  late afternoon of March 13th as he was clearing slushy snow that had melted and run into the garage.    Jeannine talked to him outside around 4:30 and he was OK at that time.  But when he came into the house about 5:15 Jeannine noticed he had a little blood on the side of his face and that his jeans were wet, indicating to her he had  fallen.   When Harvey said he didn't know what happened and couldn't remember the last 15 minutes Jeannine quickly decided to take him to the ER at Riverview in Crookston.  The ER doctor ordered a scan, which indicated slight bleeding on both sides of the brain.  They then arranged for him to be transferred by ambulance to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks. 

He was still responding  well to orientation questions when admitted to the Surgical Critical Care unit at Altru late Wednesday night.   However, around midnight the bleeding encroached on the brain enough to cause the stroke. The neurosurgeon called Jeannine and explained the surgery's purpose of draining the blood, and gaining Harvey some time, but she also named the long odds of his recovering much of his previous function. With the blizzard beginning, Jeannine was stranded in Crookston. She updated her 6 sons, and then everybody just had to wait until morning to learn that Harvey had survived the 4-hour surgery. The boys began planning their trips home, knowing that Highway 2 to Grand Forks was closed to all travel until the blizzard subsided.  

By Friday afternoon, when the roads re-opened, Jeannine and most of the boys gathered with the neurosurgeon and learned that cranial pressure was down, but Harvey was not fully conscious, He was responding to some directions from the doctor, by lightly squeezing her hand or giving a "thumbs up" upon request to acknowledge that he was hearing and comprehending, He can also move his toes on his right foot, but he is most likely paralyzed on the left side.  He continues to be intubated, so while his speech function could be recovered, he hasn't tried to communicate orally with the tube down his throat. His pacemaker-assisted heart is beating normally, with occasional bouts of A-fib.

Through the weekend , family members took turns holding his right hand and talking to him, eagerly watching for signs of awareness or other recovered function. Everybody got joy from feeling his firm right hand grip occasionally as we told him we loved him, but there was no other  change until Monday morning, when staff began attaching leads to do an EEG. In response to Jeannine telling him what was happening, he opened his eyes for the first time. He managed this again later in the day.

While we hoped that other improvements would soon follow, there were really no other encouraging developments since then.  Doctors will carefully assess when it's time to test Harvey's ability to breathe on his own, and we continue to pray for courage and patience and strength for the days of waiting ahead of us, and comfort and full consciousness for Harvey.

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