Mar 15, 2020 Latest post:
Mar 23, 2020
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. Thank you for visiting.
Rick and Nicole began their wonderful family life together in 2003. In October 2018, Rick, Nicole, Rosie and Sammy moved from to their dream farm in South Carolina. In SC, they enjoyed continuing working with horses, fishing in the pond, and taking care of the barnyard animals. A favorite spot on the property is a rise that overlooks the pond that Rick named "Schwartz Hill". Nicole homeschools Rosie and Sammy, together enjoying the creative adventure of learning. Interaction with other homeschooling families has made the experience all the more wonderful.
Along with this idyllic life, came serious challenges. Rick has been paralyzed from the chest down since a horse-riding accident in 1988, when he was 24 years old. In spite of the best family and professional medical efforts, over the years dangerous pressure sores complicated his care. Rick was able to receive care from the finest doctors and world-class institutions, but the complexity of his case and difficulty with maintaining a regimen that might provide relief became insurmountable. In the past couple of years no treatment was effective, ultimately putting life at risk. Nicole coordinated care from doctors in CA, SC, GA and throughout the country to treat his osteomyelitis and related symptoms and disease. As Rick's condition worsened, Nicole sought fervently for help. Doctors in major institutions across the United States reported the prognosis that they would not be able to heal Rick, and that he should consider hospice care. JHH was the only place Nicole could find that offered hope. Doctors at Hopkins believed they would be able to treat the wound and underlying infection, allowing it to heal. In the process of treatment, Rick was forced to undergo amputation of his left leg and reconstruction of the wound area. Doctors could not anticipate the extent of his bone infection and the damage to bone structures that had already occurred. Rick spent 7 months in Hopkins, with Nicole typically at his bedside 24/7. They leased a small apartment in Baltimore to allow the family to be together. In November 2019, Nicole took the kids to California, where her Mom could care for them. Within 2 days she went from Baltimore, MD to Los Angeles, CA, and back in time to help Rick prepare for major surgery. Rick's Mom and sisters were able to come for brief visits. As Rick appeared to be progressing, Nicole traveled back to spend holidays with the kids. She was trying hard to provide the children with as much stability and parental presence as possible. Her stay ended up being prolonged by her own medical procedure, and the children contracting demanding acute pneumonia and bronchitis.
On March 6 at 1230 a.m. Nicole, Rosie, and Sammie made it back to Maryland, with the invaluable assistance of her brother Austin accompanying them. Later in the morning, Nicole and family friend Teri visited Rick at the rehabilitation center. After about an hour, Rick went into Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD) a life-threatening spike in pain and consequently in blood pressure that affects those with higher level spinal cord injuries (SCI). The medical staff was slow to respond, and did not provide sufficient pain medication, and Rick suffered a tonic-clonic (also called grand mal) seizure. The staff tried to stabilize his condition themselves, but after an hour called an ambulance. Rick was admitted to George Washington University Hospital. During his time in GWU Hospital, Rick's condition has continually worsened, including delirium, additional seizures, and possibly a stroke. A newly diagnosed blood infection seems to be wreaking havoc on his constellation of other serious symptoms. Rick is near the end of this life, and the family's goal is to love him and keep him as comfortable as possible through this time.
The family appreciates the thoughts, prayers and support of those who are near them, even if separated by miles. Arranging for management of their animals and farm, staying in transient quarters in different cities, and family separation, as well as the costs that all of these things and medical care entail, has been so taxing on the family. Your help has been invaluable. Their family is united by love, and will continue together through this journey. Thank you for supporting the Schwartz family in community and in prayer.