Nancy Harvey

First post: Jun 26, 2021 Latest post: Oct 2, 2021
Welcome to Nancy's CaringBridge website. Lisa and Michelle (her daughters) are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place.  Here’s her story so far:

One June 24, the morning after our Mom (Nancy) & Dad’s (Denny) 42nd wedding anniversary, Nancy had an accidental fall. We’re not sure what happened because hasn’t been able to clearly remember, but dad discovered her on the floor,  in tremendous pain and unable to move her legs. She was rushed to Saint Anthony’s hospital in Gig Harbor via ambulance. At the time, Denny thought she had suffered a stroke, but after being evaluated by the hospital team they discovered that she had a severe acute injury to her spine. It was quickly determined that Nancy's needs required a higher level of trauma care and she was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle  for emergency neurosurgery.

After a quick 10 minute helicopter ride, Nancy arrived at Harborview and the Emergency team immediately got to work.  We learned that as a result of mom's fall,  she had fractured her C7 vertebra and had a severe spinal cord impingement at the C6 vertebra, right at the base of her neck. You can think of this kind of like a garden hose with a kink; signals from her brain couldn't travel past C6 to the rest of her spine, leaving her unable to consistency move or feel anything below that point in her body.  After the Neurology team reviewed her CT scans, they formulated a plan to fuse her spine from C4 to T1. She was immediately scheduled for surgery as soon as an operating table was available.

Around 1:45 pm Nancy started to struggle with breathing, so she was intubated and put on a ventilator; this was a result of both her injury and her anxiety at the time. The surgery, which started around 5:30 pm that night, lasted about 2.5 hours and went without complication. During the surgery, the team ended up fusing only C5 through T1 (good news! shorter fusion = better range of motion down the road).  Afterwards, Nancy was admitted to the ICU, where she remains as of this writing (June 26). She is still in recovery and the team has been hard at work keeping her comfortable and calm while also trying to conduct the assessments needed to move forward. We are trying to ensure that she regularly has visitors to keep her company, but as many of you are aware COVID has severely restricted visitation. As long as Nancy remains at Harborview, she is only allowed one visitor per day.

The bad news: We still don't know what Nancy's long term prognosis will be. As of writing, she was still intubated, which is currently our biggest concern. (It's hard to communicate with a tube in your throat!) We're hopeful that she can overcome this and breathe independently, and that she will regain some movement and sensation below her injury site, but we're also trying to prepare for the possibility that she may have long term respiratory limitations and permanent mobility deficits. We have a long road yet to travel.

The good news (at this time):  Nancy has regained movement and sensation in her arms! This is a HUGE deal, as you can imagine that down the road, maintaining mobility in your arms creates a lot more opportunity for autonomy. She has also (at different times) had movement and sensation in her feet. Things may get worse before they get better, but this is a promising sign that at least the connections are there. That gives us something to work with!

We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.