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January
1
2021

January 01, 2021

Home in time for Christmas 

Christy has successfully returned to her home where she has been able to share Liam’s 3rd birthday (12/13) and preparations for the holiday season.  Our family received many gifts from generous friends and family for which we are truly grateful.  There hasn’t been much time this year for shopping but the children had plenty under the tree this year.  The holiday season was a bit different, as it likely was for most without big gatherings, but Christy has had plenty of time together with her children and we did our best to make good memories with some old and new traditions.

Christy continues to make great progress walking with a cane.  We haven’t used her wheelchair since Thanksgiving 😊.  She is working hard to master her self care and starting to take on household tasks such as making a meal, loading the dishwasher and folding clothes.  She has been findings ways to help with the kids and they are thrilled to have their Mom back home.  We’ve taken advantage of the mild temperatures and enjoyed an outing to a local park and even some light shopping.  

Next week Christy will have tissue expanders implanted under her scalp to stretch that skin so they can eventually remove her skin graft.  It will likely take 3-4 months then there will be another surgery to remove the skin graft and hopefully perform the cranioplasty around the same time.  By summer she should have “her head back together” and can start letting her hair grow back.  This is a major goal.

In the meantime she will be having follow up Botox to treat the spasticity in her left arm and hand with hopes to get more control and function back.  Christy is undergoing assessments in January and hopefully will be able to return to work in some capacity sometime in February.  

Rodger and I continue to live with the family and will do so until we aren’t needed as much.  We starting to contemplate selling our DE home in order to be permanently close by.  We were fortunate to be able to share our recent marriage ceremony with Christy serving as our witness and photographer and the kids running around  in the background.  

It’s been 5 months since life as we all knew it changed for us all.  We are so incredibly proud of the hard work and positive attitude Christy has been able to maintain throughout this ordeal.  We continue to be bless by so many supportive friends, neighbors and extended family who lift us up with their kindness and generosity.  

As we start 2021, I am hoping for continued progress and tranquility in our lives.  Thank you for continuing to follow Christy’s story and for caring.

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November
19
2020

November 18, 2020

November brings us Thanksgiving and this year we have a lot to be thankful for.  Since my last entry, a lot has been happening.

She said she would be walking by the time her wheelchair was delivered and she is.  Christy has made a lot of progress in terms of her ability to walk.  She started off with a platform walker (picture a tall walker with a place for each arm to rest), then a hemi-walker (a triangle shaped cane with 4  legs) to a quad cane (straight cane with 4 feet for stability).  Since last week she has been working on her endurance.  Her custom wheelchair was delivered today and she walked 200 feet with the quad cane before it arrived.  She still needs someone standing at her side in case if she were to lose her balance but she is walking.

About a month ago, Christy had Botox injections for the spasticity (tight muscles) in her left hand, wrist and arm.  It has allowed her to gain more mobility.  She now has a special brace that she applies 3 times a day to stretch her wrist and fingers to combat the spasticity.  Botox last about 3 months, so on the next application, the doctor will likely administer a higher dose to get more relaxation of the muscles.  

A plan to return home - we are starting visits to Christy's house this Friday with hopes to have her moved back home the first weekend in December.  She has a ramp into the house (built by her grandfather and installed with the help of Uncle Donny) if she arrives by wheelchair but I know she hopes to walk over the threshold.  Her grandfather and I also installed a railing for the stepdown into the living room.  Her temporary bedroom next to the more accessible bathroom, has had a makeover and is ready for her arrival. 

The kids will be over the moon to have their Mom back home after 4 months, but we haven't told them any specifics just in case if there are any delays.  While it may mean more work for Rodger and I, getting them all back under one roof will be a huge accomplishment.  

Last week we had a follow-up appointment with the Plastic surgeon from Shock Trauma.  Since there is an area unlikely to heal on the skin graft, she has proposed that we go forward with the procedure to expand the scalp tissue (this was going to be done after the cranioplasty originally).  Once the scalp tissue has stretched enough the skin graft can be removed.  We are hopeful that the neurosurgeon will replace the skull prosthetic (cranioplasty) at the same time.  Since many elective surgeries will likely be delayed with the uptake in COVID cases and the tissue expansion will likely take 3 months, hopefully before spring Christy can have the skull and skin repairs done.  

The kids are doing well.  Most evenings they have a video visit with Mom and love to play with the filters.  The two little ones started daycare in late September and look forward to going each day to play with friends.  Sanibel was so proud that she learned how to write her name and Liam of course is a favorite with the daycare providers.  They all had a good Halloween and are still enjoying their treats every day.  (Thank you Dana, Michael and Elise for letting us tag along).  The first quarter of 8th grade was a struggle for Kira but I think she's getting back into the groove.  She's said she was interested to get back into Girl Scouts, so she just joined a local troop - she is a Cadette.   I bought a kid hauler - its an used GMC Acadia.  Despite my original plan to "downsize" my vehicle this year, we need that 3rd row and the extra space for all of our things.

I am two weeks into orientation for my new job with the University of Maryland Neurocritical Care group.  There have been delays in opening the neuro ICU beds at the Midtown Campus but that will allow me more time to acclimate to my new setting.  The delay also means I will be off for each of the holidays!  Since COVID cases are going up in the Baltimore area, the likelihood is I will spend the winter season caring for COVID patients in the medical ICU at Midtown along with other critically ill adults.  It has been a while since I have practiced in a medical ICU environment (2001-2009) but I am sure I haven't forgotten how (thank you Dr. Selinger).  As is the case with most of my medical colleagues, we go where we are needed. 

We continue to feel the support of family, friends, coworkers present and past, and our neighbors.  When we feel like we cannot go on, you lift us up and we are so grateful.  Keep us in your prayers.

 

And I almost forgot November brings us Christy's birthday - 34 this year - on November 28th.

October
29
2020

October 28, 2020

I’ve been holding off updating until today since Today was to be the beginning of the next chapter on the road to recovery for Christy - the cranioplasty.  The skull that was removed the day of the brain injury allowed Christy’s brain to swell without causing damage to other parts that were not directly injured by the shooting.  It was a life saving surgery.  Now that the brain is no longer swollen, it was time to replace the skull bone damaged in the shooting to be replaced with a man made skull. The skulls primary purpose is to protect the brain.  Not only would this surgery make it safer for Christy to increase her activity level, it would improve the appearance of her head which has been left misshapen by her injury.

Major disappointment- after reporting to the hospital at 0600, having an IV placed and hair shaved in preparation for surgery - the neurosurgeon said today wasn’t the day - he was concerned that the skin graft that hasn’t healed completely would increase the risk of infection.   The scalp (skin with hair on the head) was severely damaged by the shooting.  It required a complex plastic surgery to create a skin graft to cover the skull.  Because the skin graft doesn’t have the same blood supply as the scalp, it has been difficult to heal.  The plastic surgeon doesn’t expect it to completely heal due to the blood supply issue.  🤨 I’m no brain surgeon but I had to ask them, if the you won’t do the cranioplasty until the skin graft is completely healed and the plastic surgeon doesn’t expect the skin graft to ever completely heal, where do we go from here?  Answer - back to the plastic surgeon for further input.  🥺

On a positive note and there have been plenty, Christy continues to make good progress with her Therapies.  In physical therapy she has started to walk with the therapist using a cane.  She’s been fitted for a new ankle-foot brace to help with foot placement which should help making walking more stable.  Last week Christy had Botox injections to her left hand and wrist to reduce some of the muscle spasticity and improve the movement of her hands.  She is seeing more and more movement with the electrical stimulation.  The speech therapist feels she is doing very well and continues to give her challenging tasks that may take a little longer than usual, but she’s able to complete.  She’s even doing some Excel spreadsheets. 😳

I am so amazed by Christy’s determination and resilience.  No doubt most of us would spend many days under the covers in a dark room brooding but that is not Christy.  She’s set a goal to be back in her home with the kids by Christmas.  Every evening she talks to the kids to hear about their days and be sure they know she is thinking about them.  They love playing with the features on their video chats.  Christy works hard each day d
doing all of her home exercises and asks at every therapy session what more she can do to progress.  Her optimism and hard work have kept all of us going when we feel overwhelmed.  

The kids are doing well.  The little ones, Sanibel 4 and Liam 2 started daycare a little over a month ago and they look forward to “going to school” each day, playing with their new friends and learning new things.  Rodger and I have added a discussion about the things we are grateful for each day.  they’ve started memory boxes to preserve their memories of their Dad.  

This weekend I will work my last shift at Christiana Care and next week will begin orientation for my new position with U of MD in neurocritical care.  Life continues to move forward and we are blessed to have each day.  Thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement.  





Description

Cranioplasty is a surgical operation on the repairing of cranial defects caused by previous injuries or operations, such as decompressive craniectomy. It is performed by filling the defective area with a range of materials, usually a bone piece from the patient or a synthetic material.Wikipedia


October
8
2020

October 7, 2020

Week 2 and we are on a roll.  Outpatient therapies (OT, PT and speech) have started and Christy continues to demonstrate improvements in her arm and leg.  Her strength is steadily improving and she is requiring less and less support for transfers. 

During today's PT session, she was able to walk using a cane and very little support for her knee.  Since the strength has improved, she is now focusing on controlling the movements.  The physical therapist feels confident that she will be able to walk independently using a cane soon.  This provides so much encouragement for Christy to keep working hard.   

The arm is finally starting to move more and we have an ESTIM (electrical stimulation device) to use at home as well as during OT to encourage the hand to open.  The rehab physician plans to administer Botox to some of her arm/hand/wrist muscles as soon as we get insurance approval.  This will help relieve the spasticity and allow her to get better movement.

For cognitive rehab she is starting to take on making her own appointments, keeping the calendar, and paying some bills as well as speech therapy once a week.  

We have an appointment Thursday at UMMS with the plastic surgeon to ensure the skin graft is healing well and  get the OK to proceed with the cranioplasty (replacing the missing skull) on October 28th.  

I took a day off to visit with some Christiana Care colleagues and clean out my office.  There are so many wonderful people there, I will miss them but know they are still there for me if I need them.  Since I've run out of PTO, I am going to try to work a shift a week until I start my new position with University of Maryland in November.  

Christy had a great visit with Mercy High best friends Shannon, Liz and Lindsay on Friday.  I could kick myself for not getting some pictures.  It was great to hear them laughing and having a good time.  

Looking forward to our family crab feast this weekend (a couple of months late).  Her grandfather, uncle, aunt and cousin are so looking forward to seeing her.  

We are blessed in so many ways.  

October
1
2020

September 30, 2020

One week under our belt at home.  It’s amazing how much progress we’ve made in one week.  We are in a grove with our morning routine followed by exercises for the uppers and lowers.  The home PT Glascow had Christy up and walking a few steps with a cane and working on foot placement.  Shannon the home OT has shown her how much active movement she has gained since discharge.  Both have been excellent.  We’ve connected with a lovely outpatient physical medicine / rehab doctor to oversee this next stage and a psychologist to help work through the emotional end.  The BP is back in the normal range.  Things are looking up all around.  

Tonight we had the kids over for dinner and some family time.  It is heartwarming to see them together with their mother.  She said after they left that her face hurt from smiling so much. 🥰  It is awesome to see her smiling again.  

The time came this week to tell my Neurosciences work family at Christiana Care that I would not be returning to my position.  The 7 years I’ve spent there have been rewarding in so many ways and it is hard to say goodbye.  But my priorities are here in Maryland caring for my family and I am fortunate there was a position at University of MD in Neurocritical Care for me to start sometime in November.

Next week outpatient PT, OT and speech (cognitive) therapy begin.  

We are so bless - Life is good again.


September
27
2020

September 26, 2020

Christy and I are doing  dry well in our temporary home that is setup for Christy to get from room to room and in and out of bed with ease.  She’s been sleeping soundly and eating well.  We’ve gotten quite good at transfers and even showering.  We’ve been working each day on strengthening and stretching exercises and she’s definitely getting stronger.  We’ve seen more movement in her leg over the last few days.  

Tonight Kira came to stay with Christy and I to spend some time with use and last night Jeremy came over with pizzas and games we’ve enjoyed playing.  Hoping the littles recover from their colds quickly so we can have a day out with their 

The Home health services however have been very disappointing.  While PT did start Friday (3 days post discharge) it’s obvious from the start that home PT can offer very little in Christy’s progress towards walking independently.  We were informed that OT and Speech  therapies would not be scheduled until the PT did his initial assessment.   This is despite an order from acute rehab to continue services until the PT did his initial evaluation.  I hate to complain but I’ve shared my feedback since it is unacceptable for a week to go by without therapies.  Needless to say I provided this feedback to the VP of patient experience for MedStar’s visiting nurse association.  Makes no sense to invest 6 weeks in acute rehab then allow function to deteriorate due to a process intended to limit services.  

Fortunately we are set up to see the rehab doctor at Good Sam on Tuesday and we can request that she start outpatient therapies instead.  
I’m hoping for some sunshine tomorrow so we can get her out of the house and spend sometime as a family.


Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and... poster


September
24
2020

September 23, 2020

A great nights sleep in a comfortable bed, feeling safe and secure - priceless.

Today was quiet and calm - just what was needed on our first full day on the outside.  No clanking noises in the hall outside of the door to startle you, no well-intended staff knocking on your door to see how you are, and no more hospital food.  We transferred without difficulty, did stretches and exercises, played Wii bowling and sword duel, made appointments and met the visiting nurse.  This afternoon we ventured outside for a stroll around the neighborhood of Silver Lake and were greeted by several kind and caring neighbors.  This development is built on a steep hill so I got my workout.

Tonight we enjoyed carry out Chinese food courtesy of GrubHub and watched the tube before we both tuckered out around 9:30.  It was nice to slow down and finally catch my breath. 






September
23
2020

September 22, 2020

Discharge Day at last - it’s been 46 days.  It almost didn’t happen since the blood pressure wasn’t cooperating but finally it’s under good control.  This morning Christy was up early and ready to go and we were out of the door around 10:30 am.  We were greeted by some of Christy’s Harbor Hospital work family who made the trip to cheer her on to the next stage in her recovery.   Thank you Jess, Cindy, Billy, Katie and Rosina - what a tribute to our girl.

It was so great to just come home and hang out for a few hours until the kids came to visit.  There were plenty of tears of joy to finally be together after 6 weeks.  Of course the littles had lots of questions - it’s difficult for them to understand why Mom is in a wheelchair and wearing a helmet.    Thank you Chris, Mike and Teagan for bringing us dinner and sharing in the reunion.  Christy said it was nice to have conversation about something other than her blood pressure or her last bowel movement.  

We are blessed by so many kind and caring people in our lives.  I cannot forget to mention that Shannon and Bill did an amazing job this weekend with the virtual bingo.  It was heartwarming to see so many participants and all of the kind donations of prizes. All of these efforts have raised funds that will help Christy to return to her home when she is ready.  

Tomorrow starts the next stage in Christy’s amazing recovery.  She is so happy to be home and is looking forward to catching up with friends and family.