Journal entry by Abigail Caress

Caleb continues to improve after his successful heart procedure at the end of March, and he and Shannon have stayed cozied in at home to reduce risks during the pandemic. To stay entertained, they’ve been gardening at the ranch and teaching little Jax how to play T-ball.

Oh, and Caleb has a new, fancy mobility accessory to show you. He’s going to look like the eccentric professor he is! Check out the photos! 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support! Stay safe & well!

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Journal entry by Abigail Caress

Heart Surgery UPDATE: Thank you for your prayers! All went well in heart surgery today!

He’s patched up and should go home tomorrow after a night in observation to be sure he’s set to go. He had minimal blood loss—less than a unit, despite the surgery going a bit slower than expected! His surgeon discovered that Caleb had some pretty tough scar tissue from his old intravenous port spot near his clavicle (used for dialysis in October), and since he had to slide the placement catheter through there on its way to the heart, it took some time getting through. We’re all relieved they took their time & got it right!

Caleb now has a shiny new nitinol alloy stent holding open the spot near the tear, supporting the pseudo aneurysm (a fail-safe in case it ever bursts; this is to prevent him bleeding out). He’ll have a shiny new scar by his clavicle as his only visible memento from this surgery!

Shannon said his team is allowing her to stay the night to reduce her coming & going during the pandemic. Caleb has awakened drowsy but calm, but will be dozing & sleeping & recovering most of this evening. Pending how his recovery continues, he should be able to walk out of there tomorrow! Keep praying for his recovery and protection from COVID-19!

Journal entry by Abigail Caress

Sorry for the long gap between updates! Physically, Caleb is doing very well! If you haven’t seen him in a long while and aren’t on Facebook, you’ll be happy to hear that he:

-Is now walking, without using a cane, for longer and longer distances, and many days not needing it at all! He has a bit of a loping gait, and sometimes gets swelling in that right ankle, but otherwise gets out and about well!

- He’s been tackling some work projects, and writing and making presentations!

-He still struggles with some memory issues and needs to write things down, set reminders, etc. This has been a frustrating adjustment in work and even just social relationships. He’s hoping to see a neurologist in the summer to see what therapies he can try to rebuild & rewire some neural pathways to help. He didn’t have any brain “trauma” that docs could see in his accident, but loss of blood (anoxia) can cause it’s own issues. Over time, most patients see some improvement in symptoms as the brain adapts, so his brain just needs time to learn new work-arounds.

TODAY, he faces what we hope is his last reparative surgery to fix the tear in his aortal wall. He’s having this done by catheter-guides imaging to avoid open heart surgery. Please pray it goes well, and that he is not exposed to the Coronavirus while he stays in the hospital! His immune system is not what it was (especially with no spleen providing support), and his lungs have been through a lot this past year!

We’ll update again soon! Meantime, some pictures of how he’s doing!

Journal entry by Abigail Caress

Christmas has brought a nice break for Caleb & Shannon between procedures and PT! Caleb came through wrist surgery nicely last week, and even got out to the movies on a date with Shannon. So many good gifts from God this Christmas! Thank you for your continued prayers. Here’s to more progress in 2020!

Journal entry by Shannon Fulton

Caleb had his outpatient Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy evaluations yesterday at Norman Regional Physical Performance Center. The therapists were really happy with how well Caleb was doing. They recommended 2 days a week, 45 minute sessions for each therapy per day. These also showed us some at-home exercises that Caleb can do on his days off. 

Yesterday was our first time to leave the house since our arrival 8 days earlier. Let's just say it is quite a bit more work to get out of the house these days! We have an efficient routine now for getting in and out of the car. However,  traveling around town with a wheelchair and searching for the accommodations you need to get in and out of buildings and parking lots really opens your eyes to the lack of such accommodations.

Anywho- Caleb had 3 follow up doctor's appointments today with Dr. Kelly and Lansinger (orthopedic surgeons) and Dr. Harvey (bowel obstruction surgeon). Easy part first: abdominal staples were removed and Caleb was advised not to lift more than 10 lbs for the next 6 weeks. That's the last visit with Dr. Harvey :) Caleb's left arm/wrist is healing nicely,  just slowly,  and he can now use it freely as he wishes (within reason) per Dr. Lansinger.

Now for the more complicated part: Caleb complained of right wrist pain, so Dr. Lansinger looked at his original x-rays from 10/4 in which she discovered a scaphoid bone fracture. She expressed concern because this is a bone that doesn't heal well on it's own. Extra x-rays were taken,  and then Dr. Lansinger recommended a CT scan to observe the 3D bone. It may need surgery once Caleb is stronger and healthier. We'll know more information after the CT scan. 

Our appointment with Dr. Kelly went well.  He said Caleb could go without his leg brace now,  but he still cannot bear weight for 4 more weeks. The only problem is the skin at the middle of the kneecap that was busted open during the accident. The skin isn't growing together and about a dime size area of the bone is fully exposed on the surface.  Caleb will undergo a fairly quick surgery to cut the healed skin away from the bone, stretch it, pull it together and stitch it closed with high hopes it will close up nicely.  The surgery is scheduled for 8:15am tomorrow.  We have to be at the surgery center at 6 am (😫). 

Journal entry by Abigail Caress

Sincere apologies for neglecting our Caring Bridge readers! Since the last post, so much has happened so quickly that Facebook updates have been our best touch-base solution until now!

Long story short: Caleb got released to go home on 12/3!!! Yes—HOME! After being hospitalized since his accident on 10/3!

This is an enormous gift—especially considering that, after his latest abdominal surgery (on 11/27), his struggle with pain and his need for rest has been so intense. His days-long gut pain finally got some relief on Thanksgiving Day after some fast-talking with the head charge nurse to make some big medication swaps to find relief. After that, Caleb improved fairly rapidly, regained his ability to eat, and was assessed for home release. Shannon persuasively demonstrated her ability to continue his recovery care (meds, etc) while safely modifying his home environment so that he can navigate, first in a wheelchair, then in crutches (currently for short spurts). He is not allowed to bear any weight on his right leg still for several more weeks. He will continue outpatient physical rehab until his surgery in February to stent-patch the tear in his aorta. He’ll also still have multiple doctor appointments and checkups in the coming weeks. But HE is HOME!

The homecoming itself was quiet at first—with wife, lap cats, stepson and close family coming around him like a warm blanket.  

But today was very boisterous and fun, as many of his wider circle of friends came by during a potluck “open house” to welcome him home. Caleb has been SO delighted to be sprung from the hospital at last! In his own words, “I’m so happy to be home with my amazing wife. It felt so good to be free with friends doing whatever we wanted!”

Please continue to pray for Caleb’s strength to keep rebuilding, for no more setbacks (especially for no return of those abdominal adhesions that caused so much pain!), for freedom from wound/bone healing pain, and for protection from seasonal illnesses. Pray also for rest for Shannon, who has been his health advocate for so long, and who is now his unofficial home-nurse that is coordinating his roadmap to recovery from the ranch.

We wait in this season of Advent leading to Christmas to see yet more gifts and miracles to come from our God who has been SO generous— with open hands.

Journal entry by Shannon Fulton

11/27/2019, 07:40: Caleb is scheduled for an exploratory laparotomy of his abdomen at 8:30 a.m. today (in less than an hour). We are waiting in the pre-OP room, and he is in immense pain, requiring even one last morphine dose before heading back to the operating room. Please pray for all those involved in Caleb's care today. I get so nervous when he goes into surgery :/

Thanksgiving day is tomorrow, which will also mark 8 weeks since Caleb's accident. I beg you, please be thankful to have your family at home with you and able to enjoy the festivities and food. Revel in it. 

I will keep updating this CaringBridge post with time stamps as things develop throughout the surgery and today.

11/27/2019, 10:30: Caleb is out of surgery and in the recovery room doing well. He had adhesions covering the entire outside of his small intestine, and one part of the adhesions caused a twist and a kink in the bowel leading to the blockage. The surgeon, Dr. Shani Harvery, was able to run the entire bowel and cut all the adhesions. In a couple spots, the clipping caused some small tears, so Dr. Harvey sutured the small tears to prevent any perforations later on. Adhesion formation occurs after abdominal surgery (accounting for 90% of all adhesion cases), and the only way to resolve them is to have another abdominal surgery. You can start to draw conclusions about this awful cycle. Dr. Harvey said based on the severity of Caleb's adhesions, he is likely to develop them again. There is not preventative treatment for adhesion formation. However, Dr. Harvey added a HA-CMC slurry to "try" to prevent future adhesion formation, but this is not a guarantee. We are still waiting on a post-op room assignment for Caleb. 

Journal entry by Abigail Caress

Caleb has enjoyed nearly two weeks of good progress (and good food) during his transition to rehab activities at Jim Thorpe SW. His days have been full and active with speech therapy and lots of physical therapy, and then afternoon wind downs with his own form of therapy—building LEGOS and hanging out with his wife.

Then, on Monday in the wee hours of the morning, he awoke with terrible stomach pain that led to vomiting. Doctors ordered a CT scan on his belly and lab work to rule out any abscess or infection in his gut (which had been opened right after his accident On 10/3 as doctors searched for internal bleeding). Suspecting that adhesions from scar tissue might be creating an intestinal blockage, the medical team started a Gastrogaffin test with barium dye to see where any blockage might be. This kind of test takes over eight hours, during which time Caleb’s stomach must be completely empty—they even used an NG tube to suction it out when his vomiting was not enough! In the meantime, Caleb’s gut pain grew so out-of-control that they had to start morphine drips. He has been very anxious and exhausted by constant stabbing pain. Please pray for his comfort and peace of mind! Shannon is exhausted, too. She can only do her best to comfort him during this ordeal.
Tonight, Shannon learned from his nurse that the doctor called and said Caleb will be having an exploratory laparotomy surgery tomorrow. They do not have a time scheduled yet, but Caleb will be transferred to an acute care room (regular hospital room at Integris SW Med Center) either tonight or in the morning. This kind of surgery is very time consuming and involves re-opening the belly, so please pray for healing and answers—and relief!

As you might imagine, this has been very demoralizing for Caleb, who was looking forward to eating some good Thanksgiving leftovers in his room with friends as he made more progress in physical therapy. To face yet another invasive surgery seems so daunting. Please pray for his courage, and for strength for both him and Shannon! We keep hoping that God has something important that they need to find in exploratory tomorrow so that this “setback” can become yet another step towards a complete recovery for a Caleb.

Journal entry by Shannon Fulton

Trach gone! Tube feeding completely stopped! Taking all medications orally! Eating and drinking anything!

Caleb has successfully progressed to Inpatient rehab status! We don’t have to go to LTAC (long term acute care)! The screener for Integris Jim Thorpe Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital is visiting Caleb and I today to do a final assessment. Once Caleb is accepted by Jim Thorpe, an authorization for services will be submitted to Cigna. Once Cigna approves the services, Caleb will be securely transferred from OU Medical Center to Integris Jim Thorpe Rehab Hospital. The doctors are hopeful that will be this weekend! :0 Caleb has been cleared to use crutches! He just needs to build up his strength again during his stay at Jim Thorpe.

Caleb and I had a surprise visit this morning from the EMTs that stabilized Caleb at the scene of the accident and transported him to OU Medical Center. What an incredible group of individuals that helped save Caleb’s life! HUGE thank you to Travis, Megan, and Jacob! They were very happy to see Caleb doing so well. They spoke to us about the “golden hour” of a trauma and how integral it is to saving a trauma victim's life. Their visit helped fill in a few puzzle pieces about the timing of the accident on October 3rd. The first 911 call was made at 8:19 a.m., and Norman PD was the first to arrive on scene. As soon as the EMSSTAT Norman Regional Hospital team got the dispatch, an extra medic jumped in the ambulance and arrived at the scene in 4 minutes. It took them 12 minutes to intubate and stabilize Caleb, and 20 minutes to get from the scene to OU Medical Center- talk about efficient! Thank you, God! We look forward to visiting with them in the future.

We also received a phone call today from the Norman PD Sergeant who completed the collision report. He was very excited to hear Caleb’s voice. Of course, he wanted to know what Caleb could remember around the accident. Caleb said he “vaguely” remembers leaving the house for work that morning, and then he said he remembers waking up in a hospital with Shannon talking to him.  We will have an official collision report tomorrow. Caleb was wearing his helmet, a leather jacket, work clothes, and black boots and was on his way to work, like normal, riding his motorcycle. The sergeant told me that the truck was a semi-truck pulling a gooseneck flatbed trailer that was empty. This really helps fill in a few more puzzle pieces in my mind. Caleb had the right-of-way on the way to work that morning, and this very large truck pulled out in front of him. Caleb collided with the first half of the trailer on his front and then right side. The motorcycle was completely totaled and is completely out of our lives at this point! Whew!

I’m so happy to still have my Husbunny Dr.agon. Kiss and hug your loved ones a little extra, and always say “I love you” before you part. You never know what can happen!

Journal entry by Abigail Caress

Caleb has come so far in 37 days! We have been praising God and celebrating all the little “baby steps” he’s made in the past few days as he awaits transfer to his LTAC facility (AMG Specialty Hospital). As each day passes, he gets more & more lucid—holding conversations about work, study, and family, and with that clarity comes a desire to return to independence. He still struggles some with short-term memory and needs reminders (and has loopy moments right after pain meds kick in!), but he is otherwise much the same Caleb! That is a HUGE gift.
In the past five days, lots of good things have happened:
- Caleb finally passed his swallowing test and has been eating soft solids, Boost shakes, and drinking some of his favorite juices and Diet Dr. Pepper! His osteopathic surgeons say that nutrition for him is super important right now as he builds back up his bones, heals skin wounds, and restores muscle tone. He is still being tube fed at night for extra nutrition, since his stomach has shrunk a bit and gets full quickly. More time eating larger meals will fix that!
- Dr. Kelly and Dr. Panas, his bone tag-team, have been back to reassess his right leg. We have X-Ray pictures here of the amazing work Dr. Kelly did with an assortment of rods & screws (all permanent) to put the bones back together. It’s looking really good and solid, but Dr. Panas restitched some of the fascia In the lower leg where part of his surgical site is struggling to close and heal. Dr. Panas will also check again to see if any more “clean outs” of the skin layers will be necessary there to help this happen. In rehab, that leg will have several rules and goals to follow:
- 12 weeks of no weight bearing
- At 4 weeks (this week!) Caleb can start to bend knee from 0 to 30 degrees. 4 weeks later, 0 to 60 degrees, then 4 weeks later, 0 to 80 degrees.
The bone team did warn us that Achilles tendon lengthening and knee manipulation around late January may have to happen if it’s really stiff.
- The trauma doctors have taken Caleb off all blood pressure meds and have also stopped giving fentanyl. He is now just on his antifungals (for the lung infection), a nerve block, a muscle relaxant, and OxyContin. 
- Heart surgery to fix the aortic tear (with a stent, which hopefully can be done endoscopically) will take place with Dr. Harville in two months, after Caleb’s antifungals are finished.
- Sunday, Caleb was given a trach capping trial and passed! They can remove his trach and close up in the next 48 hours! (*happy dance*)
So much great stuff is happening to set him up for recovery! It has almost an addictive effect—it makes us all eager for more, and it’s hard to be patient. Shannon (and the rest of us!) just want Caleb home again!
Please keep praying, especially for these specific needs:
- Pray that Caleb continues to gain appetite and meet nutritional needs on his own so he can have his PEG tube removed (the last tube!).
- Pray for the pain and stiffness in his right leg to abate. It has a long road to healing still ahead.
- Pray for a smooth transition to LTAC (hopefully this week), and from there, a speedy recovery in his rehabilitation facility!
- Pray for Shannon’s endurance; her days are long and capped off with drives to OKC from Norman to be with Caleb. She is also still carrying a lot of her class load for grad school (and doing well, even submitting her class project proposal and taking exams remotely), as well as simply being a mom to a little guy. It’s a lot to balance!
- Pray that all of us on Caleb’s care team stay HEALTHY despite the seasonal “yuck” going around. We don’t want to introduce any surprises to upset his recovery!
For those asking what they can *do* to help (prayer is important, so let’s not dismiss that!) one tangible thing that can lighten Shannon’s load is joining the meal train for her (and eventually, Caleb, since he’ll soon be eating regular-consistency stuff again): 
Caleb also really enjoys reading your cards and getting video messages from friends! Feel free to send videos to Shannon Fulton on Facebook Messenger! Mail cards to: Attn: Dr. Caleb Fulton (Get Well Soon!), Advanced Radar Research Center, 3190 Monitor Ave, Norman, OK 73019
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your continued support! It has been amazing to have witnessed and testified to this miracle with you!

Journal entry by Redmond Kelley

As most of you have probably heard by now, Caleb was in a pretty serious accident on his motorcycle this morning.  It has been a very long day and we have mostly just been waiting to hear something as they have been working on him constantly since the accident.  I am not going to get into the details of his injuries here, but they are very serious and extensive.  I know that everyone is very eager to do something to help and the lack of information (and mixed information) is probably very frustrating.  He is not completely stabilized yet, has never regained consciousness, and has a long way to go before he is ready for visitors.  If he continues to progress, my best guess is that we are still looking at a few days.  As soon as he (and his wife) is ready for visitors, I promise to let everyone know.  Please keep Caleb in your thoughts as he is currently fighting for his life.  He is going to need support from all of us in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  I will try to respond to this email periodically as things change.

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Caleb’s Story

Site created on October 7, 2019

IMPORTANT: Please check this page for the latest updates on Caleb.  PLEASE refrain from contacting the family (especially Shannon) directly for updates.  Their focus needs to be 100% on Caleb's recovery right now and the purpose of this website is to remove that burden.  We will try to keep things as up to date as possible.

On the morning of October 3rd, Caleb Fulton was in a serious motorcycle accident.  He is currently at the OU Medical Center trauma unit.  Caleb means a lot of different things to all of us, but he has always left a unique impression on everyone he has ever met.  As Caleb progresses through the recovery process, he will need support from all us during the next few months.  Please join us in support of Caleb, his wife Shannon, and both of their families!