Tim Ellis

First post: Oct 28, 2020 Latest post: Jun 18, 2021
On October 17, 2020 Tim and Debbie Ellis were riding their road bikes as usual for a Saturday morning.  Some small diameter tree branches from a Eucalyptus tree had fallen into the bike lane.  These branches were very small, like twigs, and dark colored like the road surface, so hard to see.  Debbie was in front and saw them at the last minute.  She pointed to the branches for Tim to avoid, and swerved herself to avoid hitting the branches.  She clipped the side of the branch pile and some of the branches were thrown into Tim's front wheel.  This stopped Tim's wheel and he was thrown over the handlebars.

There were several people nearby, as this was a residential street.  Tim was lying on his side.  He said he was having trouble breathing.  Debbie gave him rescue breaths.  In between she asked people to call 911, to block the road to oncoming traffic, and to go across the street to a fire station and get help there.  Help came within a few minutes and Tim was put on oxygen and a back board.  He said he could not feel his legs or arms.  He was taken by ambulance to Stanford Trauma Center in Palo Alto, in the intensive care ward.

Tim had severe injuries to his neck and spinal cord.  He had two surgeries at Stanford on his neck -- one from the front and another a few days later from the back.  These surgeries were to relieve pressure on his swollen spinal cord and stabilize his neck with metal rods.  The surgeries went well but Tim had to remain on a ventilator with some breathing assistance, and a feeding tube.  He was unable to move except wiggle his toes and shrub his shoulders.  He had full control of his face.  He was unable to talk due to the breathing tube in his mouth.  But at the scene of the accident he was talking and was of sound mind.  His brain was OK.

Tim was transferred to Kaiser Santa Clara Hospital after a week.  On October 27 the breathing tube was removed and he was able to talk.  He had a swallowing test and was able to start eating soft food and drinking liquids.  He started physical therapy a few days ago and his movement has improved so that he is able to move both his leg quad muscles up down and to the sides.  He can move the front of his leg and foot on both legs.  He can shrub his shoulders.  He can slightly move the  middle finger of his right hand.  Most of his sensory nerves are OK, it was motor nerves that were damaged, and his spinal cord in his neck.

The plan for Tim is to eventually transfer to a live-in rehabilitation facility that specializes in spinal cord injuries.  He will spend weeks to months there.  Where and when that will be is undecided as of 10/28.  Tim's prognosis is uncertain and we will not know how much functionality he will recover until a year after the accident.  I think the most important thing that people can do for Tim is to pray for his full recovery.