Mike’s Story

Site created on June 26, 2020

- In November, my dad, Mike went into the hospital with stomach pain which turned out to be an inflamed colon. After being treated with antibiotics, he was sent home 3 days later. Still in pain 2 days after being sent home, he went back and found out that his colon had not gotten better. After several days with steroids, the doctors thought he was making progress and were ready to send him home after one last scan. While prepping for this scan on December 4th, he started to feel immense pain and when he got out of bed, he passed out and coded. He was rushed into emergency surgery because his colon had ruptured. After his surgery, he was on dialysis for his kidneys, had liver problems, and couldn’t breathe on his own. Because of all the strain on his body, he had a stroke and the doctors were unsure if he was going to make it. For more than 7 months, he has been in several medical facilities: ICU, a long term acute care hospital to wean him off his tracheotomy, and 2 rehab facilities (Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, NE and now QLI Rehabilitation Center in Omaha, NE).

Today, his therapists and nurses are helping him learn to feed himself, care for his basic needs, and learn to walk. Even with the progress he has made, he hasn’t reached those goals yet, and insurance is ready to send him home because his rehab is too expensive. His rehabilitation team believes that he can walk again and his earlier CAT scan showed no reason why he shouldn't.  However, he still needs more intensive therapy before being sent home to outpatient care, or they fear this may not be the case. We are asking for your help! We need about $45,000 to keep him at his current facility. This will greatly improve his chances of walking again. If you feel called to donate, no amount is too small and we would greatly appreciate it. If you are unable to contribute financially, we understand! We hope that you will share this and keep him, my mom (Marsha), myself (Mataya) and my brothers (Austin and Blake) in your prayers. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Marsha Thomas

Hi, I hope this finds everyone doing well!  Today is the one year anniversary since Mike arrived back home.  He had been gone for almost 9 months and in 5 different medical facilities during that time.  I thought today would be the perfect day to do an update. 

Shortly after arriving home, a parade of a lot of vehicles (well over 30), came down our street.    There was a lot of horn honking, yelling, and posters welcoming him home.  He (and our family) loved it!  I wish that we could have built on that to get him back living life and being part of society.  Covid kind of messed that up.  Most people were being cautious.  With Mike and his compromised health, we had to be even more cautious.  He was doing the day hospital therapy program at Ability KC.   If he had been exposed to someone with Covid, he  would have had to stay away from there and quarantine for 2 weeks.  He would have had to miss out on their experienced therapists and equipment.  That would not have been good.  It would have put him behind in his recovery process.  Even worse, if he had become sick with Covid or anything that would have made him bedridden,  that could have added 2-3 months onto his recovery.  For every day of being bedridden, it could take 7 days to recover.  

You have heard of Covid babies?  They were born during Covid and haven't been around many people.  Because of that, they usually only feel comfortable with their parents and the few other people that  have been a part of their life.  I hate to compare my husband to a Covid baby, but his situation is very similar.  Because he hasn't been around very many people during his recovery, he's hesitant to be around the people he hasn't seen.  It takes some convincing on my part.  He gets anxious, but generally has a good time.   However, sometimes, I can't get him to take that first step.

He started back to therapy at Ability KC, the middle of April.  He went for 40 sessions and July 13th, began what they call a therapeutic break.  He's to go back the middle of October.  For now, he's back to a home therapy program.  Beginning this Tuesday, he will also start the American Stroke Foundation's Next Steps program. He will go two days a week.

I want to share his progress in the last year (where he was and where he is now).  About a week or so before he left QLI, he was learning to walk by using a platform walker .  He had a gait belt on and a person walking beside him and one behind him.  He wasn't able to practice walking everyday because we didn't always have an extra person to help.  He not only has graduated from the platform walker to the regular walker, he now walks a mile everyday with his regular walker, trying to strengthen his legs.  While doing so, someone follows behind him in his wheelchair.  That is so, if and when he needs a break, he can sit down.  Depending on where he is walking and how long it is taking him, he may or may not sit down.  He might just lean against the railing (if at the church indoor track).   His places to  walk are the church indoor track, church parking lot, our neighborhood, or a nearby park.  The different walking surfaces and how his legs are feeling that day, determine how long it takes him.  Oh, and sometimes, he will walk with weights around his ankles.  Last time was 4 pounds.  The indoor track usually takes an hour and a half.  Our neighborhood can take up to 3 hours.  I think the park is around 2 hours.  He always takes sit down breaks with the outside places, especially since he doesn't have anywhere to lean.

When he first came home, I used a sit to stand lift to get him in and out of bed.  Plus, the lift was needed to get him in and out of his wheelchair and on and off his bathchair.    He hasn't needed the lift for the bed in several months.  As for at bath time, it's been about a month or so that he stopped using the lift and is now using his walker.  For several months, he has been standing from his wheelchair and bed (it's an adjustable hospital bed) by using his walker.  Now, he is working on standing up from his wheelchair and bed to the walker without using the walker for assistance.  Almost every time that he achieves that with the bed, he has me crank it down a notch.  Because my parents have a bar stool with arms at their kitchen island, he sits there when at their house for dinner instead of in his wheel chair.  He loves when we can get him in and out of chairs so that he doesn't have to always sit in his wheelchair.  He practices strengthening his legs with an adjustable armed, wheeled office chair.  When he first arrived home, he was using a pulley pole attached to his wheelchair to help him eat.  Eventually, he quit using the pulley pole and can bring his hands to his mouth to feed himself.  It's still a work in progress.  Some foods are harder than others. He struggles with fine motor  skills.   He also needs the table for some support.  He wants to start using the pulley pole again to work on different techniques.  He still struggles with hands and arms for several things.  They are taking longer to get use back. 

I start back to work on August 20th.  Poor guy, he's been stuck with me all summer.  We had to find a new caregiver agency because the one that we last used, didn't have anyone for us.  The new agency and caregiver start a few days before I go back.

I still have faith that one day, Mike will be recovered.  As I have said in the past and have to remind him, his body has been through a lot (colon perforating, coding, emergency surgery, stroke, aspiration - twice, 3+ months of being bedridden, and so much more).  We have never been through this before with family or friends.  We didn't have any idea that it would seriously take so long or so much hard work.   We were fortunate that Mike had enough sick and vacation leave built up that he received a paycheck for 12 1/2 months.  Someone, remaining anonymous,  donated a week of vacation pay.  To that person, if they are reading this, THANK YOU!  Also, THANK YOU, to everyone else that has been there in different ways! THANK YOU to our friend, Terry, who has spent countless hours helping Mike walk.  Our kids have been a big help, and so have our parents!  THANK YOU to each of them! 

On April 3, 2021, Mike became eligible for his regular retirement.  He officially retired on April 30th.  It was bittersweet.  He was hoping to return to work.  However, we have no idea when or if that could ever happen.  He feels a little robbed.  He didn't get to go out on his own terms or say goodbye to his customers.  Even though this wasn't part of his plan, I'm sure that it was part of God's.  I feel that God is preparing him for something very meaningful in the next phase of his life.  Unfortunately, he has not learned patience.  I haven't gotten that down 100%, but I feel that I am better.

I'm sure that I have forgotten some things, however, I have said quite a bit.  Before closing, I do want to say that Mike is a very determined and hard worker.  If that was the only thing needed for his recovery, it would have happened months ago.

 I will close with some prayer requests:

1)Our walk with God - my faith in God is still here, however, I get so overwhelmed with everything and tired that I struggle with time.  As for Mike, because of all that he has been through, he is struggling a lot with his relationship with God.

2)Mike's struggle with anxiety, depression, and anger because of his situation

3)Complete recovery

4)That Mike will not overdo it during the recovery/therapy process.  He gets so determined even though his therapists have told him that taking a break is important for his body.

5)Skin and ostomy that are still causing issues 

6)New caregiver will be a great fit and help for Mike and his recovery

7)A good school year for me and my coworkers

8)That we will learn what God wants us to from this experience and how to be there for others and actually to be there

9)Strength & energy for us and all our helpers during this journey.  Mike’s care and recovery  keeps us busy every day.

10)Anything that I may have left off the list.  God knows all our needs, spoken and unspoken.



1)For God, who loves us and is always there for us

2)Mike's improvement

3)Wonderful people who have been there for us and taught us so much

4)A caregiver


Thank you for your continued prayers!  We would love to hear your praises and prayers so that we can pray for you!




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