Ryan suffered a spinal cord injury on Friday night 7/5 while enjoying time with his friends at the Jersey Shore. He was rushed to Jersey Shore University Medical Center and received emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his spinal cord and realign the C6 and C7 vertebrae.The medical diagnosis is a bilateral C6-7 facet dislocation of his cervical spine with an incomplete spinal cord injury.Since then, Ryan has had no movement in his legs, but has maintained sensation below his waist. As you can imagine, we are all beyond devastated. Our family just has not been able to catch a break lately. Though it pains me to put into words, I hope to use this site as a way to keep everyone updated at once because although all the texts and calls are incredible, it's really difficult to keep up with the communication. I truly believe he has the best team of doctors working on him. It's just a waiting game now. Please keep Ry in your thoughts and pray for his recovery. Michele
Update #2: Our spinal surgeon, Dr Jethwa just texted me this and Ryan has only been back in the room for 20 mins: I looked at the MRI, looks like what I expected. Alignment looks great and there is no longer any pressure on the spinal cord. There seems to be a cord contusion (like a bruise on the spinal cord) in the front part which is the part that controls movement. That bruising is causing some swelling. Over time that swelling will go down and let’s pray that his leg movement comes back as well when the swelling has gone down and the cord has healed.
Today’s update is small but positive: he passed the swallow test so he can FINALLY eat real food!! (We all know how Ry likes his food!) He’s had applesauce & tomato soup so far and is psyched to not be living on ice chips alone. All his buddies and their families are here with him and they've been laughing and keeping his spirits up. This is going to be a long long road. Not sure what tomorrow holds but we’ll keep praying!
Monday Update #2: Today's Positives: PT on his arms/legs has begun and Ry loves having John (son) as his personal physical therapist coach on the side. Megs has her personal mission too- she’s the official breathing helper, assisting Ry with his respiratory PT. Today’s Challenge: the chest tube went back in because his lung was collapsing again. They added other interventions to fix the issue, plus Ry is working relentlessly on it. We’re staying positive. We’re only 68 hrs in—spinal shock lasts for right around 72 hrs. It’s still really early.
1) He got a pull up bar installed over his bed to start lifting himself up (he can lift about an inch off his back now, but he’ll get there. He’s SO determined!) 2) His blood work remained clear so the frequent blood tests have stopped. 3) The nurse made a comment about me feeding him-- she said he should be doing it. Right after she said it he said, "Are you chirping me?", gave her a look, and grabbed his own cup of water. 4) He is doing a LOT of PT- well over the recommended amount. 5) He asked our doctor friend a bunch of questions about his situation-- he asked how long he’ll be in a neck brace (approx 3 mos) and how much will he be able to move his neck afterwards (probably 80%), Tough to hear, but realistic.
We are facing many, many hard choices right now and they all are being made in real-time. It sounds like Ry will move from ICU (probably Friday) to another floor here at New Jersey Medical Center, then soon after that (probably Monday) he'll relocate to to an acute rehab center. Our big decision was around which rehab facility to choose and we have decided to go with Kessler in West Orange, NJ. We know it’s in NJ and that means we won't be coming home, but it’s the best for spinal cord injuries (top 5 in the country), and we are not settling. Superman (Christopher Reeves) went to Kessler for treatment! Ry is our Superman so he gets the best too, right? That has some implications for home we need to work through, but we’ll figure that out soon. As long as all five of us are together here, we are "home". Ry's roommates took bags and bins back to his apartment to move him out. God, that was hard. He absolutely LOVED his time in New York and really enjoyed the friends he made and experiences he had at Credit Suisse.
We don’t know how long his road to recovery will be. Every person is different. He’ll get there, there’s no doubt in my mind of that- it’s just when. KEEP PRAYING FOR A MIRACLE!!
Thank you to all those that have been reaching out to Ryan. We gave him his phone today so he could read through his texts/listen to his messages and he was overwhelmed with emotion. He is definitely loved!! Today was a great day. He sat in a recliner for most of the afternoon and even had a chance to watch his cousin play in a lacrosse game on tv. Most of his tubes have come out now as we begin to prepare for the transfer. His appetite is coming back too. He sent us out for hot fudge sundaes and pasta carbonara. Many of you have been asking to come see him, but we are trying to hold out until he gets out of ICU. I hope you understand. Keep praying-- he'll keep fighting!!
I cannot believe I’m saying this but today was actually a pretty amazing day!! So, so many good things happened I don’t know where to begin!!
All of Ry's tubes have been removed! He only has an IV for some nerve pain he’s having but other than that he is all ready to leave ICU. He would have left the ICU floor today, but the floor he’s supposed to be going to to await transfer to Kessler is full. It's not a bad thing to be where we are— we're getting “ICU level treatment” by default.
The physical therapists are kicking his butt and he just keeps asking for more. Using the pull up bar installed over his bed he can totally lift himself up about 2 feet off his back. Yesterday it was barely an inch. He never stops PT-ing! He also started using a transfer board-once again using his very strong arms and core -to move from side to side on the bed.
To top the whole day all off, Ryan received two pieces of good news: one from Credit Suisse and one from Coach Milliman on behalf of Cornell. The whole Credit Suisse team has just been amazing. All of the interns Ryan worked with put together a video for him that he watched today. It was the first time I've seen him smile and laugh out loud since we've been here (thank you all!!). Later on in the day we received a call from Coach Milliman saying that he had been in contact with the Dyson School staff and they said that Ryan will walk for graduation next year no matter what!! He only needs 24 more credits to graduate and we may need to be creative with the format of some of his classes, but they will work with us to make it happen. What a relief! Thank you, Coach Milli!!
We are just so, so lucky!! (Yes, I said lucky!!) We have been so well taken care of by our friends it's unbelievable!! Telescos and Fletchers- we could no do this without you!! We’ve had meals delivered to us around the clock -and when I say meals I mean MEALS! Two days of lobster rolls and crab cakes, flank steaks, mid-day ice cream runs (Ry requesting hot fudge sundaes 😊), and tonight’s dinner was a catered meal that included salmon, shrimp, chicken, and cannolis (one of Ry's favorite desserts). He even got homemade Captain Crunch French toast delivered to him today!! Ry knows he is VERY LOVED!
He has read all of his texts, he’s seen and read his Gofundme, and he saw the Inside Lacrosse article. He actually sent his first text tonight- a text to Coach Stevens with a picture of him working out. 😉 I think he’s in a good place right now. This is absolutely not any road we wanted to take but we have no choice. It's time to put our big boy boots on and start fighting! I’m so proud of J and Megs- John too, but J and Megs are absolutely amazing. They have dropped everything to be with Ry and don't plan on leaving any time soon-- they too are in this for the long run.
More good news today! Ryan had a test called the ASIA test, a system of tests used to define the extent and severity of the patient's spinal cord injury and help determine future rehabilitation and recovery needs. To be honest, his physiatrist said he was so nervous leading up to the exam because he thought he was going to have to look Ryan in the eye and deliver grim news about his recovery. Thankfully that was NOT the case!! In layman's terms he found that all circuits are firing, meaning Ryan responded to the tests in ways that indicate that the nerves are in tact and able to talk to the muscles, even if it's ever so slightly right now. We still need the swelling to go down and the bruising to heal, but the rest of what happens from here on out is up to Ryan and how hard he wants to work!! We're keeping it simple-- setting a small goal and working toward it. Once it's met, we'll move on to another small goal. Day by day, one small accomplishment after another, he WILL get there!! Words cannot express how relieved this made all of us feel.
With 2019 (thankfully) behind us, we are beyond thrilled to share that Ryan is healthy, recovering remarkably well, and headed back to Cornell next week to finish out his senior year! The journey has not been an easy one, but we were very fortunate to have the support of many incredible people along the way. The texts, calls, meals, gifts, visits, cards, and other kind gestures meant more than you will ever know. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! Happy New Year!! Here’s hoping for a healthy 2020!!