To all our family, friends and community, welcome to our CaringBridge website for our dad, Terry Ishigo. We are using it to update family and friends, like yourself, in one place. We cannot stress how much we appreciate all your support, energy and words of hope and encouragement over these past months. Thank you for being in this journey with us as our dad heals.
On the afternoon of December 9th, 2017, our dad took his new bike out for the first time. He had it pre-checked at REI to ensure its safety, and brought with him a fanny pack filled with a small tire pump, patch kit, spare tube and everything you would need. He wore his helmet tightly, which marked his name, home address and phone number on a sticker in the lining. At 4:55 PM, our mom got a phone call that our dad had been in a serious bicycle accident. The first responders found him 20 feet away from his bike, still breathing, and he was rushed to the Northridge Hospital Trauma Center.
Terry Ishigo suffered from a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) - primarily in the right hemisphere of his brain, with shearing between the left and right hemispheres, or a diffused axonal injury (DAI). Somehow, our father had fallen so hard on the left side of his body, that his brain violently shifted over to the right side of the skull, causing the contusions on the right hemisphere. His body also sustained 5-6 broken ribs, a broken scapula, broken clavicle, fractured vertebras, and deep wounds on both his knees and all four knuckles of both hands.
Our dad was rushed to the Northridge Hospital Trauma Center for emergency surgery to relieve the intracranial pressure from the bleeding and swelling of his brain. After his blood pressure kept dropping during this initial trauma surgery, surgeons conducted an exploratory abdomen surgery to ensure he had no internal bleeding. Drain tubes were placed in his chest and head, and a ventilator aided his breathing. He was in a severe comatose and unresponsive state. Once his body stabilized after two weeks, he was moved to the Kaiser Sunset Intensive Care Unit. There, our dad received intensive treatment for his vitals, wounds, and daily fevers, likely due to the dysregulation of his hypothalamus in the brain. After two weeks of intensive care, Kaiser doctors decided that our father was ready for long-term sub-acute rehabilitation care that could meet his needs for respiratory care, stomach feeding, daily medication, and physical/occupational therapy. It was a stressful time for our family to move him from the 2-to-1 or 4-to-1 RNA/patient ratio, to now an 18-to-1 LVN/patient ratio at Topanga Terrace Subacute Rehabilitation Center. Within the first couple weeks , he developed a bed sore, which patient care should strive to prevent; with additional attention to prevention and treatment, his bed sore has recently healed.
Our dad had a CT brain scan on February 23rd, and our family consulted with the Kaiser Neurologist who shared with us results that his brain scan looked stable with no new bleeding, yet still too swollen to conduct surgery that would re-attach a skull flap on his head. In April, our dad underwent a one-month clinical trial treatment of Amandatine, which had clinical potential of helping coma & vegetative state patients become more alert; there was no change for him. In early May, he had another CT scan to assess the healing of his brain, and was scheduled to have a shunt surgery later that month due to the enlargement of his ventricular lobes. In May and early June, our dad was treated in the ER for multiple infections, and the surgery had to be postponed.
On June 20th, 2018, our dad will have neurosurgery to place a shunt in his brain, which will help release the additional fluid trapped in his ventricular lobes. We hope the reduction of fluid pressure will support his brain's healing in cognitive functioning.
Our dad continues to fight for his life each day. On January 19th, he opened his eyes for one hour with all of us by his side. We have to appreciate each improvement he makes - first opening his left eye, now opening both eyes, and while he prefers to look to the right, he has begun to occasionally look over to the left. His current state makes him vulnerable to a number of conditions, and his body has fought off MRSA, pneumonia, and other infections.
After the accident, his facial expressions communicated how much his body was in excruciating pain. Slowly through time, nearly all his bodily injuries have healed. We're thankful that we can now take him outside on the rehab's garden patio in a wheelchair for two hours a day. We appreciate the days when his vitals and health are stable. We stay attentive to his changing symptoms, including "sympathetic storm" episodes of having an elevated heart rate, body contractions and increased breaths per minute. We encourage him at the rehab, and during our trips to the ER, while still understanding that his cognitive capacities are unresponsive. He has been in a persistent vegetative state, but our family is deeply committed to every step of the way - with providing comfort, presence, and brain stimulation (with talking to him, massage, music, PT, and more) everyday.
Our mom has stayed strong, open and supported thanks to everyone in our community. She's our dad's full-time, daily nurse and source of encouragement. We take turns to relieve her on a daily basis, and we all do our part in supporting each other. Mommy meditates every morning, and stands in gassho by the butsudan to share gratitude and good energy for Daddy. Amy hustles as an optometrist 5-6 days a week, and Traci recently graduated with her Master's in Social Work, started a new position, and continues to organize with Vigilant Love.
The constant support from our Sangha at the San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, family, and friends from all parts of our lives have kept us going. We love you all, our community, greatly.
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