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October
22
2020

October 22, 2020

From Leila in Florida

It seems a little self-serving that our latest news of Carter's recovery is that it garnered a major spread in the Palm Beach Post. Yet, it seems appropriate to share as it covers the story behind why this Caring Bridge started in the first place.

Reporter Joe Carpozzi authored an in depth, 19-chapter-(they're short!)-with-epilogue article spread over seven pages sprinkled with numerous photos in the Accent portion of the October 18th Sunday edition. Most of the story our family knew from early on but some of the details were new to us. It was and still is not an easy read.

Since the accident, many of you have asked how? What? Why? Who? We can't blame you yet, we were told not to share certain details as long as the investigation remained open.  Also, this Caring Bridge site has always been a space to share news about Carter's recovery and not about the specifics of the accident.

The answers are now yours due to the release of the FWC's investigation report and Joe's detailed and carefully crafted article.

Before you click the link below for the online edition of Joe's article, here's a brief update since the last post.

Chuck has been back and forth between Florida and Colorado to check in on Carter. It seems Carter requires little help which gives Chuck time to attend to his ongoing dental work (his NEW permanent crown fell off!) and continue therapy sessions. Longterm care giving has taken its toll.

I took a week off from teaching and am spending the week in Florida. Since my last visit in July, Carter has

  • Gained muscle and body mass
  • Works 3 days a week at Loggerhead Marine Center
  • Swims a half mile at least once a week
  • Was fitted for a myoelectric prosthetic
  • Fishes with friends as much as he can
  • Got a new, bigger fish tank since the other one was leaking
  • Enjoys collecting Pokemon cards (YES they are valuable!) with brother Levi
  • Tends to his healthy and--I must admit--quite cute, skink named Ennio.

Chuck's three sisters (Aunt Judy, Aunt Jan and Aunt Karen) made the trek from California and Idaho to West Palm Beach for a short weekend. They treated us to delicious evening meals from our favorite local restaurants. The weather treated all of us with perfect afternoon windows of time at the beach.

Andy and Carter continue to build their social media accounts at Instagram and YouTube to boost their cause as you'll read about in the article.

Here's the link to post titled: Hit by a boat in the ocean, he watched his arm fall off. Now Carter Viss tells his tale of survival.

Thank you as you continue this trek with us.

All the best to you and yours during this ongoing pandemic season,

Take care and take courage,

Leila, Chuck and family

September
13
2020

September 13, 2020

From Chuck in Florida

After 2 ½ weeks in Colorado, I’m back in Florida, sitting here watching tennis while the outer bands of a tropical storm blows through our region sending winds and rains that Colorado would love to see.   Oh, when I left Colorado it was snowing.  Our plane had to be de-iced prior to departure.

After my flight to Fort Lauderdale, I rented a car and drove back to Jupiter.  When I walked into the condo, it looked exactly the same as when I left.  Everything was clean and organized and Carter was sitting on the couch.  It was pretty cool for me to see that Carter is able to do everything necessary to live independently while I was gone.  I don’t know if I was more proud or more happy to know Carter is independent again.

I told Carter that I came back to Florida mostly for me, but while I’m here I’ll help him out as much as he wants.  I have dental work to finalize, I want to maximize my Florida gym membership, and I have 2 more appointments with my Florida therapist.  I will be here for just under two weeks, then have plans to come back in October with Leila, and my sisters are planning a visit during that time.

Carter said it was good to be alone again, and he was able to do everything on his own.  Everything.  Shopping.  Cleaning.  Cooking.  Laundry.  Driving.  Appointments.  Work.  Pet care.  Garden maintenance.  Working out.  He spends a lot of time at his desk drawing.  And he’s been practicing piano as well. 

This week he had a crucial appointment with his team of doctors at The Paley Institute.  I offered to go along with him, but he said he preferred to go alone.  When he came back from the appointment, he reported that the x-rays on both legs looked great and there are no more operations planned at this time.  His wounds are looking good and they even said he could get back in the water, as long as the water wasn’t some stagnant pond.  He doesn’t know if he will be going back in the ocean soon, but it’s nice to know he can when he’s ready.

Carter met remotely with his Infectious Disease doc last month, and doc reported that the recent blood work looked great.  No signs of infection!  The doc looked at his leg via camera and extended his prescription for antibiotics to be safe.

Last report I mentioned I’ve been starting to care for myself again. So I’ve been getting help, not only physically, but also emotionally.  I started seeing a psychologist in order to process some of the things I’ve been experiencing, along with some thoughts I’ve been thinking.  I’ve noticed some huge improvements personally, and I credit my therapist for a lot of the healing that has been happening in me.  Not that the sessions are easy by any means, but sometimes things have to get tough in order for things to get better.

A book I’ve been reading, The Body Keeps The Score (https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748), explains a lot of what I’ve been going through.  I find it a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to learn more about the human brain. 

From Leila in Colorado

I ditto Chuck's recommendation for the book. I'm listening to it on Scribd. I also regularly watch the videos posted below. It transports me back to the early hospital days when I felt nothing but despair and became angry when anyone said anything about hope. I just couldn't dare to hope. As much as I'd like to admit it, my courage that I strived to hold on to, didn't allow me to hope through many dark days. Courage only got me through. The video below has given me and all of us a reason to believe there is such thing as hope.

Thank you for hanging with us and now thank you in advance for sticking with Carter's story. It's not over. Both Chuck and I have agreed that we prefer not to accept this tragedy and yet, we both agree that finding meaning in it  is crucial and a path towards healing for all of us--for you and our family. 

So, we look forward to sharing what comes next and know that it's not in our hands.

Here's a video of Carter playing the Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite: https://youtu.be/6iiKVCul-64

Below is a link to Carter and Andy at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. They would appreciate you watching AND subscribing to the LMC channel. 
 
And, our hearts are heavy for those who are dealing with and rocked by fires, hurricanes and the anniversary of September ll.
 
Take care and take courage,
 
Chuck and Leila

August
17
2020

August 17, 2020

From Chuck in Florida

I have been meaning to send out another update, but in reality there continues to be less and less to report.  Or more and more, depending on how you look at it.  I think more and more is a better way of looking at things.

More movement for Carter.  Carter is doing great. He hardly uses his AFO on his right foot anymore, which means his drop foot is going away.  He even goes for walks on the beach wearing his sandals, often with a bucket collecting trash that has accumulated on the sand and in the sea weed.  From Day 1 we didn't even know if he'd be walking again, then we didn't know if he'd be walking without a brace again.  Who knows, he could be running again this time next year.  

More work for Carter.  Carter is working 3 days a week now for 5 hours each day, building up his endurance.  Some days he even drives himself to work when I don't need the car during his working hours.  Work gives him a strong purpose as well.  I still remember some of those early days when Carter was freaking out in the ICU about not being able to report to work.  LMC is an amazing place filled with an amazing staff and board of directors.  I don’t know how we could have gotten through this situation without LMC.  I get emotional just thinking about everyone there who have supported us beyond anything I could have imagined. 

More independence for Carter.  He is pretty much independent now, as he no longer has a PICC line for IV antibiotics.  I'm still in Florida, but planning on leaving soon to give him an extended period of time to live alone, which will give him a sense of what he needs assistance with.  I'm thinking that he will want someone to clean thoroughly (as thorough as a 26 year old man needs his place to be; not the same standards as I have, maybe…) and someone to bring or cook some meals.  Other than that, he does it all.  He has cooked some meals already, so it will be interesting to see what happens when he's alone.  I've already been stocking his freezer.

More health improvements for Carter.  Carter takes no pain killers.  This is a person who lost an arm and broke his remaining limbs as a result of acute trauma.  He has plates and screws and pins in his limbs and scars to show the amount of surgery that was required to repair the damage that occurred.  I often think of the 14 meds we came home with from the hospital, of which he takes only 1 now.  Less medications, and more health!  He still is on oral antibiotics.  The infection in the right leg just lingers on.  Carter thinks things have improved since switching from IV to oral meds.  I definitely have noticed a reduction in the swelling in his leg.  We've grown to really like our Infectious Disease doc, and our next appointment will be virtual to review the latest blood work results and for the doc to look at his leg via a phone camera on a Zoom conference.  Don’t you just love technology! 

More accolades for Carter.  I can’t repeat this enough - Carter is a strong man.  He is determined like no one else I’ve seen.  There is nothing that he won’t attempt to do, and he’s not afraid to ask for help when he needs it.  He continues to impress Leila and me and we couldn't be more proud of him.  If he wasn’t as strong as he is, we would not be as strong as we are.

More attention to myself.  I am looking forward to transitioning back to a Colorado lifestyle.  I miss home.  I have had to find a new barber in Florida and a new dentist too, and I finally went in for a toothache that's been bothering me since December.  Two root canals later, I can finally drink a cold beer without grimacing in pain.  I guess that means I have started taking care of myself again.

From Leila in Colorado

As much as I enjoyed myself for the month of July while I hung out in Florida, I really don't think my presence was required. Chuck has things under control. If there was ever someone who could take on the duties of caregiver, it would be Chuck. Unfortunately, the tour of duty has gotten the best of his teeth or, more accurately, it pushed the toothaches to the back burner for too long and it's time to address them.

Carter and I did take time to locate all the stuff I packed and we moved from his old second-floor condo to the new first-floor condo. I oohed and ahhed over his sketches of fish and gave him a few tips as he practiced Bach's prelude for Cello. His right knee bends enough now for him to pedal with his right foot so he's able to sit at the piano with much more ease. And, his right foot can flex to manage the pedal thanks to the nerve decompression surgery back in April. 

Although Carter handled and manipulated the prosthetic with determination and success back when he first got it in May, it often found it's home in his closet until his recent fishing trips. It's a feat to put on because it requires the appropriate amount of suction so the prosthetic remains secure around his right arm and the straps around his chest must be tightly fastened for the lever system to work.  This means Carter can tolearate wearing it for about two hours. He found that having it on at work as an "assist" does not benefit him as much as he'd like because he does not have enough mobility to do everything he wants to do with the LMC fish tanks. He impressed his occupational therapists with his ability to manage this "entry level" prosthetic and is now waiting for insurance approval for a myoelectric prosthetic.

It appears that the prosthetic is most helpful when Carter goes fishing. It holds the rod while his dominant left arm reels in the fish. This past weekend, Carter and Andy stopped at Makeb's for a breakfast bagel and then went fishing for the day. It's a similar plan to the one they had back on Thanksgiving but...they went snorkeling that day instead.

I remember when Carter's friend Stephen who volunteers at LMC stopped by to see Carter at the hospital just days after the accident. Stephen, along with his wife, handed us a stack of photos of Carter holding his best catch of the day with a huge smile while standing in Stephen's boat. Glancing at each photo let us see the sweetness of Stephen's affection for Carter as a young, enthusiastic angler and the bitterness of the journey ahead for Carter to get back on the boat.  There were plenty of tears in the ICU waiting room that day. I know I had my doubts but everytime Stephen stopped by--he made frequent visits to the hospital--he always said "Oh, Carter will fish again, I just know it."

Posting these pics below celebrates what they represent--the "more." They also zoom in on those dark days of the past and cast a bright light on something that I thought I may have lost--hope.

Carter and Andy have started an Instagram page that highlights Florida’s wide variety of native and non-native fish species. One of their hashtags is: #adaptiveangler. They'd appreciate a follow. https://www.instagram.com/floridafishboyz/

And, the indellible beauty of Florida's coastline lives with me every day. Here's a recent post and an arrangement of "For the Beauty of the Earth." https://www.leilaviss.com/blog/finding-beauty-in-the-bad

Take care, stay safe and thank you for sticking with us,

Leila

July
20
2020

July 20, 2020

From Leila in Florida

Hey, I’ve been here in Florida since early July. It's been good to be with Chuck and Carter for more than just a week or two.

Here’s a couple of significant milestones to share:

The infection markers in Carter’s blood are low. Low enough—down from 60 to 2-–that his PICC Line (a thin, soft, long tube inserted into Carter’s left bicep positioned in a vein that carries blood to the heart.) This means that Chuck no longer needs to administer antibiotics via the port two times each day. It was something that Carter could not do himself. And, before every shower, the port had to be wrapped in plastic wrap to keep it dry and again this is something Carter could not do on his own.

Despite the removal of the PICC line and the end of intravenous antibiotics, Carter continues an oral antibiotic treatment because his right leg has not healed completely. The status of the knee continues to irk all of us as the many other wounds (besides his right arm back in January) have healed with little issue. The knee looks better each day and yet still holds Carter back from the active lifestyle he prefers.

Carter has gotten permission from the landlord to get a pet skink—a lizard that looks like a snake. He ordered a cage online and with just a little assistance from me, he assembled the sizable cage. It stands next to his fish tank that continues to welcome new residents. Carter and I made a trip to Home Depot to grab a few things for the cage and he drove his Nissan X-terra home—his first new used car he had bought months before the accident. He can control his right “drop foot” more than ever before thanks to the nerve decompression surgery he had in late April. He even walks without shoes around the condo, uses his right foot to pedal the piano but still wears a brace most of the time when out for long periods of time.

The ultimate goal is to see Carter live independently and Chuck and Leila live back in Colorado together. Since graduating from PBA Carter has lived on his own. Since the accident on Thanksgiving day, Carter has never been back to his second floor one-bedroom condo he was hoping to buy, has been forced to be served and cared for by others and to live with a parent... 

This past weekend, Chuck and I celebrated our 33rd anniversary. We had some Hilton points to use and so we booked two nights in Key West. We were apprehensive about the trip with Covid numbers going up here in Florida. Just minutes after we left the condo in Jupiter and on our way, our rental car tire pressure went low on the Florida Turnpike and it felt unsafe to drive at 70 mph. We stopped by the side of the road for about an hour waiting for roadside assistance. Since the tire had not blown and since help was a two-hour wait, we decided to drive slowly on the shoulder to the nearest exit. Once we parked in an empty parking lot and discussed our options, we almost gave in and turned back home to Jupiter. 
We fought back the temptation to call it all off, rented a new vehicle and drove through several heavy storms to get to the Keys with only minutes to order dinner from the hotel restaurant before it closed. It wasn’t the first night away that we anticipated. As I write this, we are kicking back in the hotel room after two long bike rides around the island. The forecasted rain held off.

...Back to Carter. This is the first time since the accident that Carter has stayed in his place alone without a caregiver.

It appears that he did fine without us. While we were away, Carter purchased his latest new pet--the skink, still to be named—while attending a repticon (reptile convention) with friend, Andy. The tenacity that Carter demonstrates through every single task and project put before him indicates his desire to get back to living—not the way he may have anticipated before November 2019–but back to living on his own with a determination that continues to inspire and uplift his parents. 

Thanks for checking in on us. We appreciate your continued love, support and prayers.

Take care and stay safe.

Leila, Chuck and Carter

June
23
2020

June 22, 2020

From Chuck in Colorado

Yes, I am back in Colorado for a few weeks.  I’ve been wanting to go back for several months now, but with the pandemic and Carter’s complications after surgery, it had to wait.  Finally everything worked out and Chase and Brittany are staying in the condo, doing things I normally do.  A welcome break for me for sure.

Let’s just start out with some great news.  Carter’s blood work continues to improve.  Every week the nurse comes to take his blood and change the PICC line dressing, so every week we get new results from the blood work.  The latest draw shows the antibiotics are working.  There’s a certain test that the infectious disease doc always orders which measure the amount of infection/inflammation in Carter’s blood.  The normal range is below 8.  In May, Carter measured over 60.  We’ve been watching it every week, and the trend has been going down down down and this week, it came in at 4!  That is some great news.

There are other signs of infection that the doctor also reviews. Carter's resting heart rate was over 100 and now sits around 60 beats per minute. And the doctor checks the swelling of the right leg and the condition of his wounds.  I asked Carter how the wounds were doing and he said that every day they get a little better.  I’ll take that as good news.

I’m not there to witness firsts anymore, but I heard second-hand that Carter got behind the wheel of his XTerra and drove around the condo parking lot.  When I asked him about it he said the hardest part was getting in the driver’s seat.  I also found out that Carter went back to Loggerhead with a staff shirt on.  He’s going to put in a few hours a week and build up his endurance.  I also heard that more corals were purchased and strategically placed in the salt water tank.

It’s strange hearing these things second-hand.  But being in Colorado is a welcome change for me since I’ve been immersed in the Florida events for nearly 7 months, nonstop.  Chase and Brittany were there a few days before I left so I was able to go over the drug infusions and the other things Carter needs help with – not that much actually. 

So I hopped on a plane and landed in Denver and quickly realized that making the adjustment from FL to CO was not a walk in the park.  Being back at home brought a flood of memories back from Thanksgiving Day on, and I had some pretty tough emotionally-packed few days.  But I’ve adjusted fine with the help of friends and family.  I’ve been able to go fly fishing, play tennis, go on bike rides, and get in nearly every medical appointment that I’ve delayed because of the accident.  I feel like the Colorado Chuck again, for now at least!

From Leila in Colorado

My world has shifted having my husband back home. My services are appreciated but not required in the kitchen and the king-sized bed that held all the pillows on one side while I slept on the other is now occupied with a warm body. Kinda nice.

Observing Chuck re-enter our Colorado world brought back many memories for me, too. Trauma brain--what we like to call hospital brain--is real. And like Chuck said, it wasn't a walk in the park for him but I'm surprised with what he's been able to execute since he's been home and the adjustments he's made within a few short day.

Being human is tough and especially tough, now, for all humans on earth this side of heaven. We just passed up Chuck's dad's birthday and Father's Day. We lost his dad, Charlie, last July. 

Thanks for caring enough to stick with us as we continue to watch Carter gain strength and mend from devastating injuries. His fortitude continues to keep us on track to charge on and take courage.

PS. I spent some time curating podcast episodes as I've been binging on them while I walk during this pandemic. Here's my list and some thoughts on each one.

June
9
2020

June 9, 2020

From Chuck in Florida

It’s been a few weeks since Leila’s last update.  And as usual, there’s good things and not so good things to report.

I’ll start with the not so good.

After surgery, Carter was placed on “preventative” antibiotics to cover possible broad spectrum bacteria present in the wound.  After three weeks, the lab reported another bout of micro bacteria growing from the samples taken during surgery.  This is a similar situation that happened after surgery on his right arm.

What does this mean?  

A med change to target the micro bacteria.  Even though the species isn’t known, the doctors decide what drug to throw at it based on what is known.  So, two new antibiotics were introduced into Carter’s system.  We now know Carter is allergic to one of them.  He got violently ill and, even so, the doc wanted him to stick it out for three days.  Carter did, then stopped.  Those were miserable days.  Not pretty.

All stitches on the leg wounds were removed a few weeks ago.  Which left some space for fluid to start draining from the knee again.  AGAIN.

The low tire pressure indicator ignited yesterday on Carter’s XTerra.  He now has a new tire thanks to a very large nail finding its way into our path.

And now the good.

After being sick from the past antibiotics, Carter was prescribed another drug, and seems to be tolerating it very well.  He feels better and eating well.  The swelling on the leg seems to be going down maybe a little.  He’s able to bend his knee more and is in very little pain.  Let’s hope and pray this new drug kills the infection once and for all.

This morning, I heard Carter’s dresser drawer opening in his room and I realized that he got up and was getting ready on his own, including putting on his socks and shoes.  I always help him with that.  Not today, and probably not again.  He can walk more on bare feet as his right leg becomes stronger and as his right foot gains more movement, which allows him to get out of bed independently and start the day without Dad. 

The prosthetic is getting more practice time.  Therapy has helped out a ton and Carter is getting better and better at figuring out how to get the prosthetic on and how to use it effectively.

After Leila was here, Levi and Erin arrived to help us out.  I had forgotten how necessary it is to have others physically around you to journey life’s paths, at both smooth and bumpy times.  On one extremely difficult day I walked into the place and looked at Erin and completely lost it, and she just hugged me.  Necessary. 

And, Chase and Brittany just arrived this week to further assist.  I am thankful for my family.  Our family.

We are getting lots of cards in the mail, many thoughtful gifts, meals, all sorts of love from so many people, all of which picks us up and gives us reminders that there are so many people pulling for Carter and praying for us.  We are VERY thankful for all of you!

Finally, on a personal note, as a Christian I have been struggling for six months with the God I’ve thought I’ve known for several years.  When you tell friends that your capacity for sorrow has been met, there seems little room for praising anything, let alone God.  When every day you break down in tears of sorrow and grief, you wonder what it means.  When your joy seems to have left on an open-ended vacation, it gets you thinking. 

I have no answers, I know that.  But I find comfort in words I read from many publications and right now in particular, these words from Nicholas Woltersdorff in “Lament for a Son.” 

These resonate:

“God is not only the God of the sufferers but the God who suffers.  The pain and fallenness of humanity have entered into his heart.  Through the prism of my tears I have seen a suffering God.”

I do know that God is with us.  Even in the suffering.  Even in the pandemic.  Even in the protests.

From Leila

As I continue to "man" let's call it "woman" the home front here in Colorado, my mood depends greatly on the status of things in Florida and of course, the world. For Chuck's latest report above I am grateful and lifted. 

My days are full. Thanks to dedicated students, I continue to teach piano lessons on Zoom, I record music for church services, and can now cook quite satisfactorily. 

My biggest triumph since Levi and Erin left me alone to visit Chuck and Carter in Florida? 

Getting the lawn mower to start. 

Despite the fact that we had to purchase a new one just two weeks ago, the mower wouldn't start. A sticker on top of the lawn mower says "guaranteed to start the first time." If there's anything that could give one a complex it's when one cannot start something that is "guaranteed to start." After considerable frustration and a number of choice words, I studied the machine, noticed something hanging that looked like it should have been connected and so I connected it. I think it was the spark plug. Once this was plugged in, the lawn mower started, as guaranteed.

Speaking of the lawn, here's my recent blog post about dandelions and how they are similar to grace. Like Chuck, it's hard to make sense of sorrow when it's beyond capacity. Writing words and music seem to offer me the therapy to get me through and both are cheaper than a therapist. If the lawn mower acts up again, I will need a therapist. 

Here's my latest post: Is There Any Grace When Life is Less Than Amazing?  It includes an arrangement of "Amazing Grace" that I dedicated to the congregation of South Suburban Christian Church and the Chancel choir members.

PS HUGE thanks to Judie for the lovely turtle quilt and for Drew who stopped by to bless it. Look for it coming your way soon, Carter. 

May
24
2020

May 23, 2020

From Leila in Florida

It’s Saturday evening and Chuck and Carter are in the kitchen cooking Carter’s favorite Mediterranean meal that includes baked marinated chicken, jasmine rice, greens and homemade hummus whipped up in his Ninja blender. 

I arrived here on Tuesday evening thanks to Southwest Airlines. Every passenger wore a mask, I strategically sat in an aisle seat so no one asked to sit in the window seat in the same row and no one was allowed to sit in the middle seat. I purchased a water bottle in the airport and snacked on a granola bar during the four-hour flight.

For part of the trip, Chuck drove at 30 miles-an-hour through a major thunderstorm to pick me up from Fort Lauderdale. 

After waiting for three-and-a half months, it was quite something to reunite with Chuck and Carter. It was something to treasure and somewhat of a painful throwback to what life was before I left Florida. I’m not sure if there are words to describe the visit and my emotions. The best I can do: good, glad and sad.

Chuck brought me back to the first-floor, two-bedroom first-condo that we scrambled to find back in January. It’s well kept thanks to Chuck’s outstanding cleaning regime. It seems to accommodate Carter’s lifestyle of recovery. That’s good. 

Three weeks after his right-knee surgery at the Paley Center, Carter seems more energetic than when first released and the knee continues to bend just a little more at every physical therapy appointment. Chuck is on his third of six weeks of administering antibiotics at 4pm every afternoon through a PICC line in Carter’s right arm. Carter usually dozes off for a while after the procedure. The last time I saw Carter he was in a hospital bed and confined to a wheel chair. Now I watch him stand and walk tall on his left foot while hobbling on his right foot. Things have improved dramatically. That’s good. 

On Friday, we went to the Hanger Clinic so that Carter could be fitted with his new prosthetic. We learned that connecting an arm to a prosthetic requires suction and tight straps around his upper torso.  If both are not just right, the prosthetic won’t stay on or work. After two hours, Carter left wearing the prosthetic and we headed to the fish store. Carter selected some new sea life for his fish tank. He adds certain fish and coral with intention to his pristine tank. That’s good.

The same evening, Andy and Christine came over for a dinner of make-your-own tacos. Andy works with Carter at Loggerhead Marinelife Center and kept Carter above water after the accident and brought him to the boat which eventually brought Carter to shore. Christine saw Carter get hit by the boat and swam over to Andy and Carter and wrapped a tourniquet around Carter’s arm with a bungee cord that she had on her paddle board. Andy and Carter were friends before the accident and were snorkeling together. Christine did not know Carter but witnessed the entire event as she was just 25-feet from the boat herself. She didn’t think twice about coming to help. That’s good and we are glad that both Andy and Christine were there and took swift, selfless action to bring Carter to shore. We are also glad that we know Andy and Christine. Andy volunteered for LMC before he became a full-time employee along with Carter. He and Carter both enjoy fishing and fish tanks. His powerful story about how he landed in Florida is one I look forward to sharing in my book—yep, it’s coming along. Christine brought homemade Angel Food cake and fresh strawberries for dessert even though we didn’t ask her to bring anything. She strapped a Rubbermaid cake holder on the back of her motorcycle. As she washed her hands when she arrived, she apologized for her dirty fingernails. She’s been fixing the axle on her Subaru.

In the morning, Carter requires help with getting his compression socks, shoes and his AFO (ankle foot orthotic) on before he gets out of bed. He sits for a good part of the day listening to podcasts, texting, watching fish videos, reading fish-related books, playing piano, drawing at his desk and caring for his fish tank.  At night he needs help with taking shoes off, getting in the shower, wrapping the ice pack around his knee...

As Carter recovers, he’s becoming more independent but there are crucial tasks that he cannot do alone....yet. It’s assumed that the prosthetic will help with some of these. It will take some time to adapt to the robotic body part. And so, we wait for healing. When I let reality sink in a little further and realize the road ahead, that’s what makes me sad. For now, we settle in and wait to see Carter return to life the way it was before and Chuck to return to Colorado for good.

At this point, the good must and will outweigh the sad. 

Hugs and blessings to you all as we wait for Covid-19 to be flattened for good. It’s been a long road for all of us with more waiting ahead.

Take care and take courage,
Leila







May
9
2020

May 9, 2020

From Chuck in Florida

A week ago we learned Carter would have to endure another hospital stay at St Mary’s after his outpatient surgery turned into a pretty big ordeal.  It wasn’t pretty at all, but he made it through 4 nights and was able to be discharged Monday afternoon.  I think he slept over 12 hours Monday night.

He’s doing ok.  The wheelchair has come out of retirement, meaning he uses that to get around – including at the off-site appointments.  He is able to bear weight on the right leg as tolerated and increases his walking distance every day – today was couch to kitchen and back.  His pain levels are pretty good for what they did in surgery, and he manages his pain with Tylenol.  His appetite is back too.

Paley and team wanted him back in PT right away, so we’ve started those visits again.  He did not lose any degree of bend in his right knee. 

The wound vac was removed.  The wound vac was kind of a pain because it was attached to tubes taped onto Carter, and he had to haul the vac everywhere he went.  The incisions were quite large, one on each side of his leg.  And another one around the back of the knee which they used for the nerve decompression.  His wounds are now covered with antibiotic tape, a dressing, and adhesive tape.  They will start removing the stitches in a week and a half.

I’ve been coordinating home health care and answering home health and insurance calls.  Not sure why our insurance company needs their case manager calling me to tell me Carter was hospitalized?  I have to administer antibiotics through the PICC line once daily and schedule follow-up appointments.

The best thing about this week is having Chase and Brittany around.  The windows are clean, as is the storage room.  The kitchen is well-used and sometimes the dishwasher runs twice daily.  Carter and I have someone to visit with besides each other.  Family is family and the bonds we are creating now will forever strengthen us.  We had fun together getting the eel out from hiding, and I think we figured out how to ensure the eel stays in the main tank.  I heard Kirby’s Air Ride being played on the Game Cube.  We found an excellent catering place that sells family style meals.  And I realized Chase likes to go the grocery store as much as I do – we overbought and Brittany spent a long time reorganizing everything in the fridge. 

Life is good!

From Leila in Colorado

It's always interesting to read what Chuck writes for these posts because I usually learn something new--didn't know Carter had an incision behind his knee although I knew they did take a look at the nerve. I just didn't put two and two together. It's also good to hear that Chase and Brittany landed just at the right time and shipped in fresh energy--just what the doctor ordered.

I also have to say that Chuck's last sentence comes somewhat as a pleasant surprise. I know for a fact that he wasn't saying that two weeks ago when anticipating the upcoming hospital stay. Both Chuck and Carter suffered intense anxiety in anticipation of going back to the hospital. I also know that Chuck digs deep and powers up the fortitude to take charge despite setbacks, hangups, and annoying events that would drive me over the edge. And that is why he is there and I am here. The garden has been left fallow this year since the master gardener is not around but Levi and I are managing the yard work and the koi in the pond. Erin, Levi and I are also cooking together. Yes: I'm cooking thanks to Home Chef.

All that being said, I truly wish I was in Florida to see Carter again and to give Chuck a big, long hug--not just an elbow bump. It will happen in due time.

For the time being, I'll take "Life is good" as the best mother's day gift one can get during a pandemic.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms and for those celebrating their moms and to our moms: Gert Viss and Joanne Alberda.