Journal

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Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

It is with gratefulness to God that we are happy to report that Zac’s cranioplasty yesterday was successful.  Surgery started around 8:15 am or so and by around 10 a.m. the Doctor came out and gave Chris and Betsy the report that everything went good and that Zac was awake and smiling.   I can’t describe  to you the smiles of gratefulness  and relief on everyone’s faces.  It was a happy, wonderful feeling!

The pictures below are from before surgery.  Will post some more of during and after.

Thank you everyone for all your prayers and support!

Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

Hello to All,
It has been a while since we posted. We can tell you that Zac has been recovering well.   He finished Shepherd's Day Program and is currently in outpatient at Shepherd's two days per week. He is gaining weight and getting stronger everyday. The next step for Zac is to have cranioplasty surgery. Basically his skull flap has been housed in is abdomen (skull baby) since July 20 when he had the emergency craniotomy. The cranioplasty is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday Oct 23 at 7:00 am at Wellstar Kennestone. The surgeon that was with Zac throughout his hospital stay will be performing the surgery. He feels confident that Zac is ready medically and Zac is more than ready. We anticipate being in the hospital for 2-3 days. Please pray that all goes well and we are home quickly.  We give thanks to God that he has seen us through this journey and continues to be with us always.

We want to again thank everyone for their prayers and support throughout the last three months. Many of you prepared meals, stayed with us at the hospital, brought us supplies to the hospital, cut our grass, the list goes on and on. We have a couple more things for Zac's Rally Bananas ( All of you) to do:
 
1. Pray for continued recovery and especially tomorrow as Zac has surgery.
2. Come and GIVE BLOOD - we are having a Blood Drive at  St Benedicts Episcopal Church in Smyrna. The blood drive is Sunday November 11 from 8:30am - 2:30pm. The address to the church is 2160 Cooper Lake Road, Smyrna, GA 30080.  Zac was blessed to receive blood and plasma from complete strangers during his stay and we want to give that blood back. Hopefully many of you can make it and we can fill the blood bank so that next person in this situation has the blood they need. 

Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

As we informed you here on Wednesday, Zac was discharged from Shepherd Center and has been at home since then.  He will start five-day a week outpatient rehab on Monday, September 10 at Shepherd Pathways in Decatur, GA.   We are so thankful for all Zac’s progress and continue to pray for his full recovery.  We still have some hard work ahead of us and we are ready!  He will have his cranioplasty sometime this fall.  We’ll let you know when that gets scheduled.  

Here is a message from Betsy and Chris:

Dear family, friends and all our supporters! 

       Words cannot express our gratitude to all of you who have helped us walk through this incredibly difficult time.   Your unceasing prayers and support have been invaluable.   Prayers were being said from literally all over the world.  People we don’t even know got involved and lifted up their prayers to God for Zac and for us.   A relic from Blessed John Licci (patron of brain injuries) was laid upon Zac as we prayed for him.  Families gathered together and prayed; it was beautiful.
   
   The many letters, birthday cards for Zac, anniversary cards for us, texts and phone calls immersed us with your compassion and love.  There is so much  for us to be thankful for ...... for the physical presence of so many filled with hugs and I love you’s, for those of you who shared your medical gifts and helped translate to us procedures and surgeries,  and for Laurel and Michele who spent the night with Zac in the hospital to monitor and pray over him.   There were meals brought to our home and meals brought to the hospital.  Our car was serviced, and our grass was cut (multiple times).  

     Your love for us leaves us with NO words.  Each of you are a gift to us. Collectively you gave us the bandwidth to be present for Zac, the doctors and each other.  We truly believe that with time and rest, Zac will make a full recovery.  God is good.

With love,
     Betsy & Chris

Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

Zac made it home today!  He starts outpatient therapy at Shepherds Pathway on Monday.   Keep up the good work Zac and we know you are so glad to be sleeping in your own bed tonight! And you look comfy taking a nap on the couch.   Get you some good rest!  We are all here cheering you on and continuing to pray and to be ever so thankful.  
Philippeans 4:13:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

Hello everyone, Betsy and Chris shared an update on Zac today.
 
They met with the doctor at Shepherd Center on Friday. He went over everything ... all meds, scans, and progress with them.  They also talked about what life might look like for Zac after a TBI.
 
Zac has made great strides.  He has a discharge date of Wednesday, September 5.  
He will start Shepherd Pathways on September 10th. It is a five-day a week outpatient program. He will go for 4 to 5 hours at a time.  He is most excited about the driving simulator. 
 
Lord- we pray Zac does not miss this opportunity to improve his life or someone else’s.  We thank you for all the progress and blessings Zac has received to allow him to come this far.   

Thank you everyone for your continued prayers and support!
 

Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

Today was the day!   After six long weeks which included the longest roller coaster ride ever, Zac left WellStar Kennestone Hospital around 11 a.m. this morning and moved to Shepherd Center in Atlanta.   A crowd gathered to tell Zac, Chris and Betsy goodbye and to give them their full support!    As we have said many times, we owe such gratitude  to all the Doctors, Nurses, and staff there.  They have been beyond amazing!

Zac is now at Shepherd Center going through the necessary assessments as they create their course of action for him.  They are dedicated to personalized care and we trust they are making the best plan possible for Zac.     Tomorrow, he will be ready to get going on his rehab and he is very, very anxious to get started.  

When Chris and Betsy know more about how things will go, we will let you all know how and when we can visit Zac.   Thank you everyone for your continued prayers and support.  It is what has gotten Zac this far and is what will keep him going.

Let us pray a prayer of Thanksgiving!  Thank you God for all the blessings you have given us yesterday, today and for and for all the tomorrows.   Thank you for answering so many prayers during this difficult time. Please be with Zac and give him the attitude, the strength and the perseverance to help him with a full recovery.  Amen!

Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

Today, Moma Dear and I went to visit Zac.  It was a great visit as Zac has made great strides just since Monday.  Thanks to everyone’s many prayers, a wonderful medical team and maybe even some essential oils Betsy has been using, Zac is making progress every day.   He has been battling some sleepless nights this week, but did finally get a good night’s sleep last night.  

They took his chest tubes out (I believe that was Wednesday) which made him much more comfortable.   They also capped off the trach early today to see how he would do with just the oxygen going in his nose.    By late this afternoon, they decided he didn’t need the oxygen and he has been totally breathing on his own since then.   They will watch his numbers, but they think that he won’t need the oxygen anymore.  They will most likely take the trach tube all the way out on Friday.   He is able to eat some normal food now after passing all his swallow tests.  He has to take it slow and easy but understandably so since he’s been off solid food for so long.  We loved seeing all his wonderful progress and are so very grateful.    He even took a short walk down the ICU hall with some assistance.....he said, “well maybe it was a “shuffle” but it was great” and he is ready for more.  

Zac is looking forward to being at Shepherd Center.   He should be there by Monday of next week, if not even a little earlier.    They located  some You Tube videos of the center and found them very informative to watch and see where he will be doing his rehab.  Zac is anxious to start at Shepherd and has a very positive outlook on the way things are going.   He understands how fortunate he is to be able to do his rehab at Shepherd Center.   He understands most everything that has been going on and can tell you very much about all of it.   

Every doctor and nurse that walks through his door has said the same thing.....that this has been a miracle.  That Zac had so many things going against him and he made his way through them all.   Thank you dear Lord for your blessings and for answering prayers for Zac.  Please continue on this path with us and give Zac the strength and fortitude to continue in his recovery.   

The next post here should be from Shepherd Center!   Go Zac!  

Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

We are back with great news on Zac.   First of all we want to say a prayer of Thanksgiving!  Dear Lord, thank you for waking us up this morning and allowing us to see a brand new day.  Lord we thank you for all the progress that Zac is making and will continue to make.   We would not be making it without you.  We thank you for giving Chris, Betsy and Noah the strength they need.  We thank you for all the specialists, nurses, doctors, techs and total staff that have been doing amazing work with Zac.  Our prayer is that you continue to be with us on this journey.  In Christ’s name we pray!  AMEN!

From Betsy:

Sunday was a huge day for Zac.  We say farewell to ECMO, this time for good.  Chris and Betsy can’t say enough about this company Innovative ECMO Concepts, Inc.  Their team is outstanding at what they do.  This literally saved Zac’s life along with so many others at WellStar Kennestone.   Check out more information if you’d like.  It’s quite interesting. Innovativeecmo.com



When Zac was taken off the ECMO he was awake during the procedure and can tell you about it.  They did give him some pain meds but was able to be decannulated without the ventilator, which is another first at Kennestone.   His ECMO nurse made good on her promise to take him outside in a special chair once he was off ECMO (see picture below).  It took some doing, but he was grateful for the field trip.   Yesterday marked 36 days since he had been outside so I am sure he really enjoyed that fresh air.  

There is also a picture below of the Vital Go Total Lift bed in action.  Zac has been so fortunate to have all this cutting edge technology available.   So amazing.   

He has another swallowing test today so we are all praying he passes so he can have a chocolate milkshake.  By the way, he HATES applesauce and claims that is why he failed the swallowing test the first time around since that’s what they tried with him.  

We are looking forward to our next adventure at Shepherd.  He really wants friends and family to visit once he gets there.  He is counting down the days.  Hopefully, it will be by the end of this week.  He is doing remarkably well and is slowly realizing how sick he actually was.

Thank you all for all your prayers and support!

Journal entry by T DiGiorgio

Hello everyone,
     Having not posted in a few days, I am trying to figure out where to start.  Last Saturday Zac developed the additional pneumothorax.  While waiting for that to heal the week went along without much to report.
 
  Zac did become more aware and alert as the week went on.   He figured out how to talk over the Trach.  At first he was a little hard to understand but then he got better at it and you could understand him well.    They do plan on having some sort of speaking device put on the trach.  Zac has been communicating well and responding to the nurses and doctors and Chris, Betsy, Noah, Diana and visitors.  Sometimes he’s funny and sometimes he’s agitated and keeps asking when he is going home.  The nurses and doctors say it is good for him to get mad sometimes.....it will motivate him to do what he has to do to get better.  He doesn’t always like all the attention and people hovering and that is so understandable.   Physical Therapy has been coming and working with him.  

   Wednesday of this week,  things became more eventful.   On Wednesday, they decided that Zac was to get a new bed.  They brought in a Vital Go Total Lift Bed.  If you are interested you can check it out at vitalgosys.com.   
The CICU had never had one of these before and everyone was excited to get this and see it work. This bed will allow Zac to benefit from tilting, being upright, and weight bearing sooner.  Zac was excited about it and ready for the change.  It was quite a process to change beds, but Betsy said Zac’s team figured it all out and got him moved.  There is even a specialist for the bed who came and trained them on how it works. These people are truly gifted and amazing at what they do.  

     Then today, Thursday, Zac had lung surgery where they performed a procedure that will hopefully help his lungs heal sooner.  It is way to complicated for me to explain mostly because I’m not fully understanding it.     It was a laparoscopic procedure where the Thorasic surgeon was able to help Zac’s lungs open more fully and stay that way.    There were some lesions they thought they would patch up but ended up not being necessary because they were not leaking any air. They inserted a new tube that will stay in for a few days.  He did not have to resect any of his lung.     All I know is that the x-rays of his lungs already looked better after the surgery than they did early this a.m.   I am sorry I can’t explain this better.  But the surgeon said it is up to Zac’s lungs now as to how his lungs progress.  They are cautiously optimistic that this will help Zac turn that corner with his ongoing lung issues.    So please, please continue to pray that Zac’s lungs respond and heal quickly!   During this surgery, they also removed the feeding tube from Zac’s nose and inserted it directly into his stomach.  That in itself will make Zac much more comfortable.  When they told him they were going to do this he didn’t stop asking about it for hours.  The also changed his trach to a smaller one so he can start eating foods in the next day or so.  This will also help so much with Zac’s comfort level and give him the pleasure of eating somewhat more normal again.  He will still also need the feeding tube.   

     And also....early today the Physical Therapist came in and worked with Zac before all this surgery stuff started.  She had him on his feet.  He initiated the movement to stand up and was following her instructions on correcting his posture while standing.  It may not sound like much, but this is a great accomplishment.   He has been doing this a few times this week.   

     So for now, I’ll leave you with a couple of Zacisms.....
         
One of the nurses, was assessing Zac a bit and asked him what time it was.    (There is a clock
           on the all where Zac can see it.) Zac’s response:  It’s time to go home!

   Another nurse was asking Zac which sport he had played.  He responded, “Baseball”
         Then the nurse proceeded to ask, “What position did you play?”
         Zac’s response:   “If you stand me up, I will tell you.”  

I think he’s said a few curse words here and there too....but he’s so frustrated and really wants to get out of there. And I know we can all understand that!  

I think Zac is gonna be just fine!  He’s making deals already with his team, he’s a little snarky and he’s got so many prayers being said for him by so many people.  He has a great team taking care of him; we keep saying how amazing they are, but it is so true and we all need to be saying prayers of thanks for them and all they do and how much they personally care for Zac.  

Posts on here may just come once or twice a week as things progress.  Zac still has a hard road ahead of him and it may seem slow but he is up for the challenge.  If there is a significant event we will, of course, make a post as soon as we can.   When he is ready he will be moved to Shepherd Center for rehab.  That is going to be an awesome day.   All that being said, I think it’s time to pray!

Dear Lord,
We have racked up quite a list of prayers that we present to you for our Zac.  Our worry cannot change the outcome of any concern, but You can!  We pray that your healing and miraculous touch would be over Zac and heal his lungs so he can move forward in his recovery.  We pray that your presence in these circumstances would make all the difference.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  AMEN
Zac’s Story

Site created on July 17, 2018

We have created this Caringbridge site to keep the family and friends of Zac DiGiorgio updated  about his recent accident and his progress towards recovery.    Zac was being his always helpful self when he fell from the front porch roof of his family’s home in Smyrna, Georgia on Saturday, July 14.     Zac was taken to WellStar Kennestone hospital in Marietta, GA.   He suffered a brain injury and is being taken care of by wonderful doctors and nurses in the ICU.    Please visit here for the most current updates on Zac.      Chris, Betsy, and Noah  appreciate all the prayers, love and support they have received.     Please continue to pray for Zac and for his team of doctors and nurses.    Thank you!  

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