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May
9
2021

May 8, 2021 Detour Over

Good Evening,

Brian is back at it on the rehab unit as of yesterday. He moved back with a nasal cannula, but as the night progressed, he breathing got better and now he's doing well without. He will continue to receive antibiotics for a few more days so the IV remains in place. They are doing daily labs to track his liver enzymes (improving), kidney functions (low Bun/Creat), CBC (low HGB) , electrolytes (low potassium and CO2), procalcitonin (improving). Regular Glucose checks around meals. He is back on food again, but only pureed/thins. He doesn't enjoy it (still don't blame him there) and I still can't seem to convince him to eat and drink very easily to help keep him strong and heal faster. When I'm not there, I know he barely eats/drinks. He seems to understand the concept and the importance of nutrition when it's explained to him, but then he forgets soon after. He doesn't like it, he doesn't want to have to go to the bathroom, he doesn't want to eat in the living room, he'll eat in the next room or when he gets home, have been some of his excuses. I was hoping he'd turn a page and want to finally eat now that the gallbladder wasn't making him so sick. 

Man, was he mad yesterday when they moved him to back to rehab only to sit there most of the day and only have an hour of OT. He is ready to go! By the time 7-8 PM rolled around, he was back to wanting to just go home. This is a theme that he is steadfast on. He made quite the case for himself to just do therapy at home. He'll "prove" himself, he doesn't think we/they have his best interests in mind, he doesn't think this is the best pathway for him, asked me how long I want to be married and if I loved him. At one point when I was talking about all the reasons he needs to stay for a bit longer (for the 3rd time), he texted his mom and told her that I was holding him hostage. While I admire his creativity and sound arguments, it's also devastating to see him so confused and not understanding why he can't go home with us yet. Today was a much better day for his cognition, though did text me after I left to ask if I was picking him up on my way home. 

Right now, he gets OT, PT and speech once in the morning and once in the afternoon before dinner. The going home theme hits him around 7 PM, I vote for one more round of PT just before bedtime, please!

Happy Mother's Day to all the marvelous moms out there! Hugs to you all.

Love,

Becky

#hammarstrong

 

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May
7
2021

May 6, 2021 Update

 Good Evening,

Brian did manage to get extubated at about 9:45 AM this morning. He remains in ICU to monitor how he's doing for another day/night. Breathing is just okay so he's been off and on again with a couple of liters of O2 from a nasal cannula. He has a bit of chest congestion, but was not doing a great job of coughing to clear it up due to his tender abdomen. He did better when he finally accepted some pain medicine this evening. At that point, Fred, his nurse became his best friend.

Overall, he's feeling much better now that he got that gallbladder out. Chatty at times today. Speech pathologist didn't make it up to see him today so he remains only on IV fluids until they can determine how his swallow is and make sure he's not silently aspirating. 

Tonight - keep comfortable, get some rest, lung and breathing exercises on idle time. 

Tomorrow - Hoping for a successful speech assessment. The goal for us is to move and resume his rehab. 

Thanks to all of you team #hammarstrong for your love, support, prayers and messages. 

Love,

Becky

May
6
2021

May 5, 2021 Gallbladder Surgery

Good Evening,

Brian had his gallbladder surgery this morning/afternoon. When I arrived at Regions today, I was told that he was taken down to surgery at about 1030 and I got a call from the surgeon about it being complete at about 1:50PM. "I have some good news and some bad news" are not necessarily the first thing you want to hear out of your spouse's surgeon's mouth.

Good News:

  • They were able to remove the gallbladder laparoscopically. He was able to stay clear away from the main bile duct.

Bad News:

  • Brian's gallbladder was far more necrotic than was apparent from the images taken over the past couple of days. This puts him a higher risk of bile leaking near where the clips were placed at removal. I was told this situation seems to be more common in men, for some reason. His evening trauma doctor, Dr. Berndt, mentioned tonight that he would display similar symptoms with pain in his abdomen as he displayed the last few days, if there were any leaks. 
  • Anesthesia noticed that Brian had some aspirations in his chest cavity today. I'm not sure if this happened during his emesis events yesterday or when he was  eagerly drinking massive amounts of ice water all day yesterday. Rather than waking Brian up right away after the surgery, they tried to gradually wake him up in recovery. Unfortunately, he proved too sleepy and they were unable to extubate. For this reason, he was admitted tonight to the ICU rather than going back to his rehab unit. I'm praying that it's just a brief stay so they can let him rest tonight and gradually wake up to be able to extubate tomorrow morning/afternoon. 😢🙏

Speech pathologist will assess  Hammar tomorrow to find out if his diet needs to be adjusted to avoid aspirations. I haven't seen any issues to eating and swallowing the past couple of weeks. He's had so much reflux and vomiting that past couple of days. 

He's on fentanyl for pain, ceftrioxone & flagyl to combat infection, respiratory was set at 40% O2/7.0 PEEP when I left tonight. He was responsive and had periods of looking around and silently responding to questions. He's definitely not happy about being in the ICU, but the silver lining is that this is being taken as a precaution and he'll have the immediate attention of the wonderful staff on this unit to care for his needs. 

Thanks for your prayers.

With love,

Becky

May
5
2021

May 4, 2021 Hold the Bone

Well Team Hammarstrong,

Hammar's left arm repair and bone grafting was ditched today. The focus changed over the course of yesterday and today as Hammar developed pretty severe pain in his chest and abdominal cavities. His care team ran several tests and ruled out any heart related issues yesterday, thank goodness. Overnight, they were able to perform an ultrasound of his abdomen, but due to his severe pain, he wasn't able to sit still so the US was inconclusive. They were not able to capture scans of his gallbladder and some of the pancreas. 

When I arrived this morning, Brian had been taken down to the Nuclear Medicine area for further tests. Again, due to his positioning, they could not capture the gallbladder area. They brought him back up about 11 AM and let me know they would try again at about 1:30, this time without his brace and collar on. 

It was very difficult to see him this morning, as I'm sure it was for Barb yesterday. He was in tremendous pain, very lethargic, confused and agitated. He wouldn't really respond verbally at first, nor look anyone in the eyes. Eventually, he came around some and answered questions asked of him. Heartbreaking, in a word, because he is always the sweetest. He would tell his nurse that he was okay, but in even uttering those words you could tell how labored it was. How NOT okay he was today.   When got settled back in bed from his wheel chair, he did indicate he was really thirsty. This was the trend all day long. He finally did drink plenty of water. His discomfort level increased from 11-1:30. Nausea and really bad heartburn and vomiting, clear labored breathing. He was put on the monitor and had some lower oxygen levels so Allyse, his nurse, started him on 2 Liters of O2. Fluids resumed that he had been getting in preparation for the humerus surgery to help reduce his elevated heart rate. Seeing this all unfold brought me back to some darker days in his recovery from weeks past. How much can a person take. I just feel for Brian and the pain...

The 1:30 PM nuc med test was able to capture what was needed from the scans. When he got back, Allyse gave him some Zofran for nausea through his IV. He had a chest X-ray, as well. Lungs and heart all looked okay. Finally, about 3:30 or so, a general surgeon came in to let us know about the findings. Brian's gallbladder scan did show cholecystitis with residual sludge present and a blockage in the cystic duct. He will be trading in that arm repair for a gallbladder removal tomorrow afternoon. Arm postponed for now until tentatively 5/14. 

To leave on a positive note, with the help of that Zofran, some of Brian's energy seemed to return. He had been mostly quiet all day long,  at about 4PM, he suddenly looked at me and said "I think I would like to get up now. Get dressed and in a chair." Ugh, that made me feel so happy! It was a small thing on such a crummy day, but it filled my dwindling cup a bit too. When I left him tonight, he was back in his bed resting better after chilling in his wheel chair, drinking water and watching some fishing shows on TV for a couple of hours. 

Thanks for your support and prayers. 

Love, 

Becky

#hammarstrong

May
4
2021

May 4, 2021 -8 Weeks

Good Evening,

Just a brief updated tonight. Brian worked hard over the weekend with his rehab. Working on various things for self care, dressing using different support tools, playing memory games, regiments of improving balance, going up/down stairs with help, etc. 

This morning he texted me early complaining of terrible heartburn. He's been on an acid reducer medication, but it doesn't seem to be fully relieving his symptoms. I asked him if he'd let his nurse know about his pain and he said he had, but they don't have anything else. It's hard to tell if this was the case or not. I ended up calling his nurse, but got the charge nurse to request looking at switching his mediation to an acid controller. He has this at home which he would take occasionally and it's helped. The charge nurse said he's pass along the message for his doctor.

A short while later, I received a call from this same charge nurse. She wanted to inform me that sometime after being brought back to his room from OT, that he fell. He was alone and left in his room in his wheel chair and was found on his knees next to his bed. The nurse wasn't sure if the chair's seatbelt was on and he somehow undid it or if he was given his nurse call button when returned. I see very frequently that this isn't something they always remember to give him, which is frustrating. There is a nurse call button on his bed and she said this alarm had been going off for less than a minute before he was found. He said he was uncomfortable and just wanted to go back to bed. He denied any pain from the fall and vitals were fine. No reports that he had any X-rays or anything. The only complaint he had was his terrible heartburn and pain in his sternum. This was really really bothering him today. To the point he refused doing most of his further therapy.  His doctor did prescribe him the acid controller twice a day. By about 4 PM, he was still not feeling well. 

Hammar's visitor today was his step-mom, Barb. She hasn't seen him since before his accident. Sounds like their visit was pretty low key since Brian wasn't in a place to do anything, but try and get comfortable. I was lucky enough to obtain some Twins tickets from work and brought the boys to watch the game tonight. They were really so excited  to attend and be there. Wesley in his quiet way and Keegan in his spirited and overtly joyful way. He was dancing and running up to the front of the section begging for a ball from the right fielder. We had a great time. Thanks for the tickets!

On our way home this evening, I got a call from Region's on-call Internal Medicine doctor. Brian was complaining about abdominal pain this evening. They took labs and found he has an elevated WBC and liver enzymes, also some acidosis. She ordered a CT scan of his abdomen. They just called me to let me know what they found. Along with severe constipation in the right side of his colon, they also noted dilation of his gall bladder.  Along with some measures to help him evacuate his colon, they will be ordering an ultrasound to be done overnight to see if he does indeed have an infection on his gall bladder. They have started an antibiotic for any possible infection. 

Sounds like I will be called later this morning with the details. Brian was supposed to have surgery on his left arm today. Not sure if this will still occur, given this recent finding and infection. Could perhaps have the gall bladder out instead or just wait until the infection subsides. I'll update later.

Thanks for your prayers.

Love,

Becky

May
1
2021

April 30, 2021 - 16 Years Strong

Good Evening,

Hammar got settled into his nice rehab room at Regions yesterday. His official rehab started this morning, but they still had him up and walking around the unit last evening. Some of the team he had while previously a patient remembers him and are impressed with how far he has come since they last saw him. I wasn't present in the sessions today, but he recalled they had him walking and practicing getting in and out of "Jeep" down in the gym. His OT helped him manage his personal duties in the bathroom today, such as brushing and a little bit of shaving. I saw the evidence that he must of shaved... but judging my his appearance, he did not shave much! Side note, the hair and beard are getting massive. He wants to keep his beard on a growing until he's home. The Legend lives on in these parts! It was so special to see him dressed for the first time since the accident. I loved his stylish choices. #hammarstrong.  Regions selects a tentative date of discharge for their rehab patients. Knowing this is a date depending on how Hammar is fairing (ahem... kicking a$$), this date may change, as needed. Right now, the date they set was May 19th. 

Some news we were hoping for today from the neurosurgery phone call was not to be. We were told that he'll need to keep the collar and brace for another month. The CT showed signs of healing, but still had some further mending yet. So, the brace stays in place when out of bed. As a consolation, Regions got a prosthetic specialist in to fit his brace and collar so that it fits him better and downs cause pain. When put on him correctly, he tolerates it. When he's reached him limit, he needs it off immediately. This is a hard line and he doesn't have patience. Yesterday, the staff didn't round up quick enough for his liking, so he had me wheel him in his wheel chair to the doorway of his room so he could stare people down. Then, that wasn't good enough so he demanded to be wheeled out further into the circular unit. I couldn't help but hide (and laugh hysterically) because of the way this looked and the reactions of staff members while he sat there quietly, adorned in his wheel chair, cervical spine collar and TLSO brace, staring at people.  Each inch further I pushed him, he'd give me a wink and a nod, as if to tell me "see, I'll get their attention". 😍

Seeing the outcome of Brian's nerve studies and plastic surgery appointment, his Ortho surgeons, Dr. Cole and Dr. Wojahn stopped into see him today. Dr. Wojahn wants to do the final surgical fix and bone grafting. He plans to operate on Hammar next Tuesday May 4th. For the bone graft, he'll take a piece of bone from his upper femur, along with some cadaver bone and fill the space on the lower part of the humerus where is suffered bone loss during the accident. He'll spend a night on the Ortho unit and back to his rehab regiment the following day, barring no complications. I didn't get word from Dr. Cole yet on any repair plans for Hammar's AC joint. 

Today marks our 16th year wedding anniversary. 16 years ago today, Hammar and I exchanged our vows and celebrated an incredible evening with all of our family and friends. While we both agreed today that we would never have dreamt we'd be celebrating under these circumstances, but this is likely the most memorable of our anniversaries. The sweet attending doctor and Brian's nurse today arranged a couple of cupcakes as a surprise gesture to brighten our time there together. When I got home, I was confronted with a couple of additional surprises in the form of flowers! Wesley and Keegan (with the help of their aunt Kari) gave us some beautiful flowers. I will bring these into Hammar's room. Additionally, somehow "Brian" managed to send me a beautiful arrangement, as well. I'm sure instead of buying that '02 Chevy Silverado, he planned this surprise. He even managed to pick out and sign a card! Thanks to the kind soul(s) of any assist on this. 😘 As I sit here writing, I'm enjoying their beauty and fragrance. 

Thank you for continued love, prayers and support. Piece by precious piece, he is healing and worker harder. 

Love,

Becky

April
29
2021

April 28, 2021- Rehab Bound

Good Evening,

Brian is moving tomorrow to Regions Acute Inpatient Rehab unit tomorrow! We received word from Barbara, Regency's case manager, on Tuesday that Regions accepted Brian and had a bed available for him. He wasn't able to move today due to his busy day at his appointment at Plastic Surgery today. 

Yesterday, Brian went over to the HP Neuroscience clinic to have the EMG test of his left shoulder and arm. I was able to join him in the procedure room. I'm not familiar with this type of procedure, but there are two parts. One part where the nurse or specialized tech does a study using a some sort of instrument that resembles a taser wand. She gave him various impulses along his entire left upper extremity, which fed into a computer system and graphed the level of response. Then Dr. Helm came into doe more localized testing using the computer, a transducer with a needled end to capture sounds and vibration along his arm/shoulder when he moved it after the needle was inserted in certain areas. Brian is not able to move his arm, which the exception downward pressure of his fingers, not slight movement of his wrist, and some small shrugs of his shoulder. The rest of the arm is immobile right now. I did see small vibrations of him really trying to move at certain levels Dr. Helm placed the needle, but no sounds amplified in many places like it did in the more active locations, I mentioned. Once Dr. Helm concluded his part of the test, he mentioned he'd have the results ready to send over to Dr. Mahajan, the plastic surgeon we saw today. The only clue we were left with yesterday was from Dr. Helm's words "This is abnormal finding. I'm sure you're thinking 'Yeah, no sh!t, Sherlock'". Then laughed and wished us a good day. I'm sure he was trying to cut the tension, but it didn't help. I'm not complaining, he was a super friendly guy and seemed to be coming from a good place. He was great and encouraging of Brian during the procedure. These tests have been nerve racking... no pun intended. 

As I mentioned, the long awaited appointment with Dr. Mahajan, with HP Plastic Surgery. Apparently, plastics is the team that deals with potential treatment and determination of the findings for nerve damage. at Health Partners. When I arrived at the clinic, I didn't see the ambulance outside as I had expected to. Sometimes the North Memorial ambulances get busy and emergencies take priority over non-emergent visits like Brian's today. I thought, today of all days! I didn't not; I couldn't not mentally wait for another future date for an answer. After waiting until 1:05 (appointment time 1 PM), I called Regency, but didn't get answers. I called Barbara, she thought he left at 12:02 PM. Hmm. Anyways, the clinical assistant at the front spoke with the care team and assured me that they would see him once he arrived. After all, Brian has no control over his delivery to his appointments. He finally arrived at about 1:30PM. I was happy to see two of his regular EMT's bringing him today; Rob and Jim. Jim retires on Friday! He said after the day he's had, he knows he's ready. Both Rob and Jim are former fire chiefs who pride themselves on doing things by the book. They are so sweet and I appreciate all they do for our community. They are so kind and take great care of their patients and evening helped me now during three separate transports for Brian. Okay, I'm rambling... So,  Dr. Mahajan came in and examined Brian. Had him do a number tasks with his arm/shoulder. He explained to us the reason he was asked to consult with Brian today, which was at the request of his Orthopedic surgeons based on the immobility of the left upper extremity post-accident. He then let us know that Brian's EMG results were not necessarily conclusive, but DID rule out  nerve root damage at the spine of his brachial plexus. This is the news that we needed to hear. This rules out the "worse case scenario" that was presented as a possibility for Hammar a couple of weeks ago. That said, Dr. Mahajan isn't able to pinpoint the area of nerve(s) that is affecting Hammar's arm impairment. Dr. Helm requested a repeat EMG in about 3 months. Dr. Mahajan explained a bit more about the functions of the upper, middle and lower brachial plexus branches, and who this relates to the arm's function. He also said there might be damage to the radial nerve which runs on the backside of the upper arm. Nerves take time to heal and right now, Brian's prognosis is pending. Brian is scheduled to return in 2 months to see Dr. Mahajan for assessment and then the follow-up on the EMG will be ordered. Dr, Mahajan says that he is recommending to Brian's two ortho doctors that they move forward with the necessary surgeries on his arm and AC joint.

This news is definitely a load off all of our minds. It's been weighing heavy on our hearts. Brian was so relieved. He said his mind has been going a millions miles and hour. Thinking of this in between things like stocks/stock market and Keegan's wrestling, of all things. I know he texted several people with the good news, but again randomly and in conjunction (from what I can tell) with the other things he was thinking of. I want to emphasize what Brian spoke to me about today - that his mind is always going a million miles and hour. I notice this daily. Now that he is alert and communicating again, he doesn't seem to focus on anything for more than a couple of minutes. He doesn't really watch TV. He knows where the TV guide channel is and flips to that, where is stays most of the time. He says he's looking for something to watch, but it just keeps cycling through over and over. He didn't want to listen to music for awhile and now does again, but only a song or two before he turns if all to look for other things to do (which isn't much confined to a bed). Long before this ordeal,  He and I jokingly have diagnosed him with ADHD, which both of our sons have been evaluated for and diagnosed with. Hammar has always had such similarities and we always laughed about it. His wheels continue to spin. I can almost picture his brain rewiring. As it does, I/we see moments of complete clarity mixed with confusion. I know we will continue to see this improve.

Though it's only Wednesday, I'm finding myself kicking up a lot of emotions this week. Glimpses of how I felt even way back in the early days of the accident. I am sure it is the build up and now relief of the answers we needed to know, but know there is more there too. I believe it's the uncertainties of how life will be for my family; for Brian in the future.  I feel strong and determined in one moment and then like I'm as strong as a piece of tissue paper the next. Tissue paper mainly when I'm in my car alone driving to/from appointments/Regency other times in the middle of the night. This dichotomy  isn't unique to me. It's what a lot of people feel in everyday life; in life's natural struggles and journey. Getting back to my center again requires me to acknowledge these hard emotions and give a minute to express them. Then probably turning off that sad song from my playlist while I'm driving and focusing on some classics I can't sound good singing aloud!

Goals yet for this week: Hammar transitions to Region's acute rehab. Friday, he has a phone visit from neurosurgery planned. He had some X-rays of his spine earlier this week. Fingers crossed he doesn't need his collar/spine brace any longer. Side note: The spine brace was custom made for Hammar right after his accident in Wausau, WI, more than 7 weeks ago. At this point in time, he's lost a lot of weight. The spine brace doesn't fit him properly. The company that made it for him does not service the Twin Cities. Locally contracted companies won't touch it to trim because then it voids the warranty. 🤔 Originally, we were told he'd need it about 6-8 weeks. Friday will be well over 7 weeks. 🤞

Thank you for all of the love, support, words of encouragement, offers of help, and prayers. 

Becky

#hammarstrong

April
27
2021

April 26, 2021 Waiting Game

Hello,



I have very little to update about since last Friday. Weekends are mind numbing for Hammar, which in itself is super frustrating for Hammar and our entire family. Days just drag by, and just when we see some potential for really accelerating, the constraints of his current facility hold him back for another weekend. Hammar is a patient man, much more patient than I am, but everyone has their limits. We realize that maybe the weekends are designed for rest, but he's not getting much rest being in his hospital bed for the better part of 7 weeks now. 



Today he had speech, PT and OT, which helped him pass the time and lift his spirits and proceed in building his strength. Practiced walking up some stairs and stepping up sideways. We still await news of his transition to an acute inpatient rehab location. Barbara sent some further documentation to North and Regions today. As of last Friday they didn't have an available bed. We were hoping for some movement today, so fingers crossed for tomorrow. 



I left him in a bit of a haste tonight so I could make it back home to pick-up Wesley for his Wrestling Award Ceremony. I was part way down the hall when I did an about-face and marched back to his room. I bring him his cell phone each day, but take it back with me when I leave for the night. He's got too much as his fingertips with his phone, plus very little ability to realize where things are located for long. So, I fear for a number of reasons by leaving it with him. He had it firmly in his mitts when I asked him if I could take it back with me to charge up. Just as firmly, he declined my offer to take it. Not having the time to "wrestle" this away from him, I let his nurse know he had it. She was going to lock it up for the night at in this medicine cabinet, but she left at 7PM and he was still texting even moments ago here. Some of you may receive some bonus birthday messages, texts, emails, or even offers to buy your vehicles. Please don't sell him anything! 😁Join me in saying a little prayer tonight that Hammar doesn't end up buying the well used 2002 Chevy Silverado he sent me the link to while I was at the high school with the wrestling team. He seemed to think it was a really sweet deal and he had been shopping hard for a NEW vehicle. We are not in the market for a 20 year old “new” truck. 😌😂 For that matter, no purchase of any other impulse buy he may feel inclined to jump on this evening. In hopes of distracting him from afar, I re-shared the You Tube link so he got to watch the wrestling ceremony. All was quiet with him during that event and he said he was watching it. Thanks for broadcasting that, Jeff! One nice thing about him with his phone is that the three of us can easily do a good night FaceTime with him and have him answer instead of going through the nursing station.



More updates to come likely on Wednesday. Hoping to report some positive news on test results from the Myelogram he had on Friday and the EMG he will be undergoing tomorrow. 



Thank you all for your prayers and support. Blessings to you all.



Love,



Becky



#hammarstrong