Jeff DeMello

First post: 5/26/2017 Latest post: 9/18/2017
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement.   A chronology of "what happened" follows (click "Read More" in lower right).   Thank you for visiting.

On Tuesday night May 16, 2017 Jeff was driving from Concord to Stockton on Highway 4.   Around 10:45 PM on Hwy 4 near Bacon Island Road he was in an accident with another car.   The accident report from the CHP says that an oncoming car crossed the center line and veered into Jeff's car (near head-on high speed collision) on the 2-lane highway;  see the 6/5 journal entry for details.  

He was taken to San Joaquin General Hospital near Stockton.  Francesca was awakened by a phone call around 1:30 AM Wednesday 5/17.    Jeff was on a ventilator so could not talk, but he could communicate a little by writing.  On Wednesday Jeff had surgery to remove his spleen.   X-rays showed that he had a broken left femur, and that his spine was unstable and needed pins, and that he had broken ribs.   On Thursday it was suggested that Jeff be transferred to UC Davis, however after waiting for a bed (the trauma center at UC Davis was full) the decision was made to transfer Jeff to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto.  

Jeff arrived at Stanford at 2 AM Sunday morning 5/21 (ground transport).  He can sometimes respond to the nurses commands to open his eyes or wiggle his toes/fingers but is not able to communicate.   Sunday afternoon he had Diaphragm surgery.  Monday was a "rest" day for him to stabilize after the surgery.

Tuesday night 5/23 Jeff had an MRI (4-6 hours) and CT Scan (1 hour).   Wednesday was no procedures so that he could stabilize.  Thursday 5/25 the Ear/Nose/Throat doctor removed tinted glass from Jeff's right ear.   Friday 5/26 Jeff had surgery for a hole in his stomach and follow up on diaphragm surgery.   A second later operation was performed to put in a tube to remove fluid from his lungs.  Saturday the focus was on draining fluids.   On Monday 5/29 Jeff's eyes were open and he made brief eye contact with visitors.

Tuesday, May 30 Jeff had surgery to set the femur and tibia bones in his left leg -- no more traction!  Jeff rested on Wednesday & Thursday.  On Friday 6/2 Jeff was very awake and alert, turning his head when talked to with wide eyes.    He didn't sleep much Friday night, but he slept a lot on Saturday 6/3 and Sunday 6/4.   On Thursday night 6/8 Jeff wrote a scribble on paper -- he wanted to know why vertebrae surgery was postponed to 6/9 (the surgeon had a family emergency conflict).  On Friday 6/9 the neurosurgeon, anesthesiologist and other doctors said that they are postponing the vertebrae surgery at least a week.  Jeff needs to be prone (face down) for the surgery, and they'd like his chest/stomach incisions to heal a bit more.

Saturday afternoon 6/10 the ventilator tubes were removed (after 3-1/2 weeks) and Jeff could sort-of whisper!  He asked about what happened and requested another pillow and blanket.  Sunday morning 6/11 he was moved to a different room in the ICU (after 3 weeks at Stanford).

Thursday 6/15 Jeff had vertebrae surgery to stabilize the spine.   Sunday 6/18 Jeff was moved from the ICU to the C2 section, and visitors are now welcome! Wednesday 6/21 Jeff sat 1 hour in a wheelchair (wearing a back brace) and in the afternoon had cervical X-rays; Wednesday night the neck collar was removed.   Thursday morning 6/22 Jeff spend 2 hours sitting in a wheelchair, and Thursday afternoon he had a feeding tube inserted through his nose (a 5-hour endoscopy procedure). A leak was detected early Friday 6/23 so the food source was disconnected from the feeding tube.   On Friday 6/30 Jeff had a procedure to inject contrast into his lymph nodes to try to see where the leak might be.  Unfortunately the lymph nodes are not the cause of the leak, so the source of the leak is still a mystery that the residents and doctors are discussing.

Monday afternoon 7/3 Jeff was moved back to ICU; he is now wearing an oxygen mask and had a CT scan and X-rays to look for leaks.  He requested no visitors.   Wednesday late afternoon 7/5 Jeff was moved back to C2 and he has an smaller oxygen tube to his nose.  He is not a happy camper in his crowded double room, but his voice (hoarse-sounding) is coming back!   

Thursday late afternoon 7/6 Jeff was moved to an incredible large private room in C2. and he says he is ready for visitors -- short 10 minute visits is what he requested.  On Wednesday 7/12 Jeff had MRI and X-ray done on his feet.  On Friday 7/14 Jeff had a CT scan of his stomach, using a nose tube to inject contrast; results show that there is slow progress on the gastric leak. Doctors want to give it another few days to heal more on its own, meanwhile Jeff is still on IV for nutrition.

Saturday 7/15 Jeff was moved to a "regular" private room (no more penthouse suite, but it was sure nice while it lasted!).  He is back to whispering (evidently his speech therapy is on hold while they work on other things).   Sunday 7/16 marks 2 months since the accident on May 16th, and 8 weeks since Jeff arrived at Stanford on May 21st.  On Monday 7/17 Jeff, in a back brace and with a rehab therapist, was wheeled down the elevator and outside to the fountain area for 15 minutes -- his first foray outside!

Wednesday afternoon 7/19 Jeff was moved back to the E2 ICU for monitoring.  He still would like to have visitors, except there is a limit of only 1 or 2 visitors at a time.  Thursday 7/20 Jeff had a gallblader tube put in.  Friday late afternoon Francesca got a call from the case worker saying that they wanted her permission to transfer Jeff to an LTAC in San Leandro the next day; Francesca said no.    On Saturday morning Jeff had an oxygen mask on and also started treatment for yeast in his blood (the doctors kept looking at his eyes to make sure the infection didn't spread there; so far so good!).   We had a family meeting with the case worker, social worker and ICU doctor on Monday 7/24 and talked about LTAC's (Long Term Acute Care hospital).    They finished the meeting saying that Jeff can stay at Stanford 1 more week. 

Tuesday late afternoon 7/25 Jeff was moved to a double room in C2 (he got the window side!).   With help from the therapists he was able to stand for a minute (weight on right leg, "toe touch only" for left leg).   Thursday afternoon 7/27 Jeff was moved to a quiet private room in C2.  On Friday 7/28 the Occupational Therapists used a "slider board" to move him (from sitting on side of the bed) to the wheelchair to take him to the atrium concert.  They used the "sling" (raised by a portable crane hoist) to get him back into the bed.   On Sunday afternoon 7/30 Jeff was having his fingernails cleaned (soaking them in soapy warm water in a bedpan!) and had just started respiratory therapy in parallel (oxygen mask with nebulizer) when Todd phoned and the Minnesota Brass played "I Feel Good" over speaker phone -- a highlight of Jeff's week!  (and the 2 nurses really enjoyed the music too!).    On Tuesday 8/1 the last chest tube was removed; now the only tube that Jeff has is the gallbladder tube.  Also on Tuesday Francesca and Karen had a family meeting with the Case Manager, Doctor, and Trauma Nurse about Jeff's upcoming transfer.   On Thursday afternoon 8/3 Jeff posted on Facebook for the first time since May 16th.   Francesca included his thoughtful post in the August 3, 2017 Journal Entry.

On Friday 8/4 Jeff was discharged from Stanford.  The EMT's drove him to Vibra Hospital (LTAC) in Folsom.   He is in a large double room by the window and he currently has the room to himself (no roommate yet).  Sweet!   On Wednesday 8/9 Jeff went to the gym in a t-shirt & shorts to do "hand bicycle" for 10 minutes.  First time out of a hospital gown!!   He also got photos of friends wearing blue JEFFSTRONG bracelets at DCI Finals in Indianapolis.  WAY COOL!

Friday 8/11 Jeff had a CAT Scan at Mercy Hospital which provided positive indications that the stomach leak healed.  Wednesday 8/16 Jeff had a followup appointment at Mercy Hospital where he drank a contrast solution which confirmed the leak had healed.  Jeff started a clear liquid diet (apple juice, iced tea, jello) on Thursday 8/17.  On Tuesday 8/22 cream of wheat and pudding were added to his diet.  He is also still on the TPN IV until he starts solid food.  On Tuesday 8/22 Jeff and Francesca had lunch in the cafeteria at Vibra Hospital -- the first time they've eaten together since the accident in May!   Also on Tuesday 8/22 during Physical Therapy Jeff stood 3 times and for the first time put some weight on his left (formerly broken) leg.   On Friday 8/25 Jeff realized that his back brace was missing -- he'd last used it 8/23 for Physical Therapy.   He was confined to his bed until he got a replacement brace on Monday 8/28.  

On Monday 8/28 Jeff was cleared to eat real food, starting with soft food like scrambled eggs.  See photo in the gallery of his Tuesday 8/29 "real" breakfast with scrambled eggs, sausage and Cheerios,   Also on 8/29 he resumed Physical Therapy with 10 minutes of recumbent exercise bike and he was taken off of the TPN IV!

On Thursday 8/31 Jeff was transferred from the Vibra LTAC in Folsom to the Creekside Care Center SNF in Stockton. 

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