Bernie’s Story

Site created on November 24, 2018

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.

Bernie fell on October 20 and sustained several injuries. He was transported to Silver Cross Hospital where they discovered he had bleeding in his brain, broken ribs, broken collar bone, a few fractured vertebrae, hairline orbital and nose fracture. At Silver Cross, he was intubated, had CT scans, and received a chest tube in response to his lung collapsing. In order to receive more resources and specialized care, he was medevaced to Loyola Hospital in Maywood where he remained in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for 17 days. By the time he left, he had a tracheostomy and a feeding tube in place.

At Loyola, Bernie had time for his brain to begin the long healing process. He had a fantastic team of trauma doctors caring for him and they put together a plan for him to transfer to RML Specialty Hospital in Hinsdale on Tuesday, November 6th. The main objective at RML was to wean Bernie off the ventilator. He stayed at RML until November 28 when he was transferred to the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab for intensive inpatient rehab.

In mid December, a CT scan and MRI revealed a pocket of fluid remaining on Bernie’s brain. This fluid was adding pressure to his brain and severely infringing on his rehabilitation progress on his left side. On December 21, Bernie had brain surgery to reduce the fluid. The surgery was very successful and Bernie returned to Shirley Ryan Ability Lab better than before!

Newest Update

Journal entry by Amy Smith

02/10/19 Update:

Looking back at the last week or so, I was thinking the best description is routine. But in reality, I guess we are still working on what “routine” looks like for us now. Often, 7 pm feels like it’s 10 pm after a day of therapy and perhaps just one extra task thrown in. The weather doesn’t really help Bernie get the variety of outside activities back in play, so we are definitely looking for spring to get here early as Punxsutawney Phil predicted. Bernie’s therapies are all going well. PT and OT regularly leave him with tired and sometimes sore legs and arms.  They work him hard (although when it’s happening the intensity level seems reasonable). The therapists do a good job of making small tasks more difficult, for example, fine-motor tasks such as pinching and reaching with pegs are enhanced with simultaneous balance challenges. Also, within the hour they mix up the workload by utilizing the larger equipment to help with strength and endurance. They do put together a good combination of tasks. Speech is also going well and is focused on word retrieval, attention, and reasoning exercises. On Tuesday and Thursday, Bernie went through some reevaluations which are done on two week intervals. He has made progress in many areas; as goals are met, they adjust up to a new set of tasks and goals. In speech, the goal has to be met three times to advance, so he is continuing those activities as needed. Short distance walking speed and walking endurance (on the treadmill - both speed and duration) were the two biggest areas of improvement so far. 

This past week, Bernie had some doctor follow-up appointments (neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon, and primary care) that were delayed from the prior week due to weather. All visits went well. The doctors are very pleased (and some expressed amazement) with his progress. Bernie was fortunate to have the Loyola doctors that are so great at what they do and are so personable as well. His primary care doctor even said that in 19 years of practice, he has never seen a recovery as impressive as Bernie’s has been so far. A few more doctor visits are on the schedule for this week. After all the time Bernie spent in the hospital, he was fortunate to stay “well”; after three doctor visits this week he did catch a little bug that knocked him out of action on Friday and Saturday. He missed a full day of  therapy and Bernie’s nephew Dan’s swearing-in ceremony (he is a judge now for those of you who didn’t know). Fortunately, Bernie is feeling better now. 

We had our own OT session today with Bernie’s first trip to the grocery store (with a long list to buy, so it took almost an hour). He used the cart for stability which worked out great; he didn’t need to use the electric cart because his balance and endurance is good enough already. Then at home, he took the job of emptying all the bags and helping to put the groceries away. The entire task did make him a little tired and that’s why all the strength and endurance work in rehab is important. We are back to the regular rehab schedule for this week with a Valentine’s Day dinner planned for Wednesday (no need to fight the crowds on Thursday). Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

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