A Day of Rest, Mostly
This is Chuck, Carter's dad. It's my turn to take a crack at this.
The word that keeps repeating in my mind about how I have been feeling over the past 7 days is "elevated."
I imagine that everyone supporting us through their thoughts and prayers are lifting us up with their hands extended, and crowd surfing us through our unimaginable journey.
We so appreciate every thought and prayer, every well wish and tribute, every dollar donated to assist us, every coffee and other types of beverages supplied. Keep them all coming. We can't take every phone call or answer every text or comment on every post, but we do know they are there and cherish them more than you know.
Carter mostly rested on Thursday. He had surgery Wednesday night into Thursday morning on his left wrist and left leg. Dr A said that "someone must have been watching out for him" as the cut on his left wrist barely (think "millimeter") missed a central nerve. Both limbs were repaired and Dr A was extremely pleased and we are ever so hopeful that full functionality will be restored to his left extremities.
I pretty much sat with Carter in ICU all day being nosy about who was checking on him and what they were putting inside him via pills, injections and IV.
Carter has received a ton of cards addressed to him and to his family, so I started opening and reading them to him. His smile is working really well.
A major activity during the day was managing Carter's pain. He's mostly awake now, so he tells the nurses and docs when he needs meds based on his pain levels. He said the phantom pain of the missing right arm is by far the worst pain, which we were expecting.
The not so restful part - he had another PT session, and during that he began some nerve desensitization exercises to mitigate the phantom pain. He said PT was extremely painful, but he knows it's going to be that way for a while. PT, at this point, is very small movements, but oh so important.
The "fishkateers" came for a visit—Katie, Kate and Andy. All four of them were looking forward to it all day. Carter kept asking when they were going to be here, and I kept telling him, and he kept thinking he heard their voices in the hallway so he was keeping himself awake in anticipation of their visit. It was tense! Oh, was it good to see them come through that curtain. It makes my heart smile to see such strong friends hold together under exceptional circumstances.
His face is totally free of any tubes now. Yay! I had the privilege of feeding him his first meal in 7 days! Yummy chicken broth, orange jello, apple juice and cranberry juice. Then he moved on to meatloaf and fruit for lunch.
Other things I observed on Thursday:
I am becoming a Sudoku expert. [insert by Leila--he already was!]
Hospitals need more and better bathrooms.
ICU nurses are indeed saints.
A huge turtle given to him by the LMC (Loggerhead Marinelife Center) completely startled a nurse today and that was funny.
Flowers can't be in his room but they can be in the nurse's station to brighten the ICU and I can take them back to MY room!
Someone other than Chris will cut my hair for the first time in YEARS.
Carter likes the room being at a colder temperature than I do.
Patrick, an RN, is the best hugger around and I get my hug fix whenever I see him.
Fire alarms go off in hospitals.
Thanks again for all your love, prayers and support as we navigate this journey together. The tears are still flowing freely with us, but now it's shifting to more joyful tears than sorrowful ones. Something I didn't see happening so soon.
Make a donation to CaringBridge to keep Carter’s site up and running.
According to Carter, he was “teleported to his own bed for a good night of sleep.”
Although we got a kick out of Carter’s drug-induced hallucinations, they lingered a little too long for him. He was convinced the Loggerhead Marinelife Center had kicked him out. You could tell he was getting frustrated as he floated in and out of reality and ached to be lucid and in the present.
It became clear to Chuck and I that after five days of doctors, investigators, nurses, therapists, phone calls, friends, and well wishers that we needed to protect ourselves and most importantly, Carter, so that he could center himself. We are most grateful for all of these caring people but found ourselves falling into host mode because that’s what we do at home. Not to say that anyone expected that of us but, it’s hard to protect yourself when you’re vulnerable and haven’t been in this situation before.
I turned to Mandy, our ICU nurse and said,
“What would you advise? I’ve never done this before!”
We took her suggestion and have limited the number and length of visitations so Carter can chill.
For one who lives alone and refuels by being alone, these past couple of days have catapulted Carter into unprecedented overstimulation. The bells and beeps of monitors right next to his head drive ME nuts and I’m not trying to sleep. And, like all good nurses and docs, they come in and check on things and sometimes all at the same time just when sleep comes. ICU is for healing not for sleeping.
Mid morning, Carter had a speech pathologist checking on his swallowing and cognitive skills when the orthopedic surgeon stopped by and gave an in-depth description of what would be accomplished in the surgery scheduled later today. At the same time, the physicians assistant came and introduced himself. So, with the nurse, mom and dad and Carter, their were seven people in a small room with lots of machinery, bells and whistles.
Dr. A (sorry, can’t spell his last name) went step by step how he plans to repair Carter’s left wrist with plates. Next, he looked directly in Carter’s eyes and stated that the OR docs considered taking both legs during the Thanksgiving emergency surgery and he (Mr. A) said no, we are saving them. Chuck and I had to hold each other at this point—seeing someone protect the future of our son’s ability to walk….just no words.
Carter’s left leg is a puzzle to piece together and Dr. A was excited about the present condition of his leg tissue and eager to get the job done with rods and pins.
So, after that intense conversation, Carter continued with the speech pathologist and was asked to repeat what the surgeon had described about the surgery among other things. Still suffering from obvious loopiness, Carter did all right but was exhausted.
It was time to leave Carter in relative peace—not really possible in ICU—but semi peace and run some errands and head to Loggerhead Marinelife Center where he’d be working now if…
We were eager to see the expansion, the sea turtles swimming in the rehab pools and all our new friends we’ve made since ABA (After Boat Accident.) We were welcomed like family by the volunteers at the reception desk. We explored the gift shop, learned about the latest sea turtles being treated and saw Carter and Andy’s workshop.
Gotta say, I did not know that our son could fix brakes on a four-wheeler.
After our LMC turtle therapy, we headed back to St Mary’s to find a completely lucent, talkative Carter. The fog had cleared and he had questions.
His first question?
It was about his finances and how he would pay his bills. On the second day of this new journey, Caitlin, CFO of LMC had efficiently swept in and took care of his accounts—what’s due, when and how to pay it. That box was checked.
Next, we told him that so many LMC employees have offered their paid time off, that Carter will have at least three months worth of time off with pay. Another box checked.
Then we filled him in on anonymous donations that he’s received and of course, I couldn’t wait to show him the latest total of the GoFundMe account set up by his bros and sis-in-law.
Check out his GoFundMe account here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/1tsvg06e00?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR0CG6t_A8Yo0GhE7Vm7etstXg0cDgmm6Zf4O_oPIBpcz4eE9chzsb5fIMg
He was stunned. Just like us, he had to take it all in and absorb what it means to be part of a loving, worldwide community that wants to give so he can thrive again.
Of course, he had other questions about his friends, his condition, his future, how it happened, why it happened…
We discussed the timeline of events with remarkable calm. In addition, we discovered that he thought something bad happened on Friday with Andy and we had to assure him that nothing happened on Friday, he was in bed recuperating. It’s really strange how the brain handles trauma, drugs, anesthesia…He was relieved that whatever he thought happened on Friday wasn’t real.
As I post this, we received word that Carter is back in his room, post op. Although his surgery was to begin at 5:30, it began at 9:30pm.
I fly back to Denver early Thursday morning (when you’ll be reading this.) When we rushed to book flights to get here on Thanksgiving day, we booked one for me to fly home because of job commitments.
The eve of day two of this new journey it became clear to me that I couldn’t split my time between Denver and Palm Beach. I need to be fully engaged with Carter’s care. The time back home will be spent getting things in order so that I can return free of commitments for at least a while.
Dr. Borrego, Carter’s Thanksgiving ER doc, was ecstatic about his condition and said “90% of the battle has been won.”
Our entire family is stepping into unknown territory for the remaining 10% of the battle. We don’t know how it will look but we know that it’s in God’s hands.
Thank you for holding us in prayer and hanging in there with us.
PS Happy 23rd Birthday, Levi! (Carter’s younger bro)