Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's been two months

since I last wrote here. 

There was just nothing new the first couple of weeks of January and after Christmas you're just too busy to write and take pictures, so no posting.  After that.......

Brian fell while playing basketball and hit the wall behind the goal.  His legs were completely paralyzed as well as his hands.  They guys he was playing with immediately called an ambulance and they immediately called in the helicopter.  We were fortunate that the guys he was playing with kept him very still and kept him from moving his neck at all.  The EMT's immediately gave him steroids. It's not proven that steroids help a spinal cord injury (sci), but most doctors do believe.  According to most doctors the first 3-8 hours are the most important and he was given them in the first hour.  When we arrived at the hospital they started doing MRI's, CT's and xrays.  We were told he crushed his C5 and fractured his C6.  The first day after his accident he was able to start moving his left leg and toes some, but his right side and left hand were still completely paralyzed.  When things weren't progressing the 2nd day the neurosurgeon was going to go ahead with surgery.  After being put off for emergencies he made a little more progress the doctor decided to wait until Friday (accident was Monday) for surgery.  Waiting allowed the swelling and pressure from the trauma to go down on it's own.  The surgery would cause more and at that point he felt it would be better to wait.

Brian had tongs screwed to his head for traction of his cord.  The rest of Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday were spent flat on his back in a bed that tilts from side to side all day long.  The bed was to keep things moving with his lungs as sci victims are at more risk of pneumonia.  It was also to help keep him from getting skin ulcers.  Finally, Friday morning he had his surgery.  It started at 8:52 a.m. and they called a little after noon to say he was done.  The doctor said it had gone as well as could be expected.  He had a lamenectomy (replaced his C5 with a plastic vertebrae), 3 screws were put into his C6 and he fused C4-C6.  Slowly over the next couple of days they were able to adjust his bed up so he wasn't lying quite so flat.  About 3 days later a friend of ours who's a PT stopped in and got his nurse to move him so he could at least sit on the side of the bed and try to work on core strength.  You lose so much muscle strength and stamina when you have a hospital stay of this magnitude. 

Just under 1 week from his surgery he was moved to a rehab facility that specializes in sci.  The day of evaluation they put him up to a walker just to see how bad his legs were and he began to walk.  Normally, walking is the last thing a rehab facility works on.  They want you to work on getting the skills back (as many as you can) that allow for independence.  Because he was able to walk somewhat they focused on it all.  Within a couple of days he was dressing himself.  His fingers were still not moving, but his right leg had begun to move some.  His right knee hyperextended most of the time and his ankle was very weak so foot drag was a big problem.  They taught him how to use his wrists to open and close his hands since his wrists were working. 

Within a couple of weeks in rehab he was walking with only a gait belt with his therapist and was beginning to move his left fingers.  By the 3rd week and a half they were taking him for walks outside and he had just begun to move his right fingers a bit.  4 weeks after being admitted to rehab he came home.  That was two days ago.  He can walk pretty well, although very slow as his right side is lagging just a bit in strength.  His left side is doing extremely well.  His right fingers are still progressing though very slow.  This we expected as it's very typical of Brown Sequard Syndrome.  This means the injury impacted one side more than the other.  He no longer wears a brace on his ankle and can move his toes and ankle much better on that side.  His fingers move, but they're extemely weak.  He's doing very, very well with this sort of injury.  The amount of returns he's had in a very short amount of time post-injury is nothing short of a miracle.  He's doing at least as well as Kevin Everett. 

Now our lives are a day at a time, but all really is well.  We're all happy to have him home permanently.  Most times you have to go back to inpatient rehab after a rest at home, but he's doing too well for that.  Every muscle is working which is truly the miracle.  Even his right tricep has starting coming back.    Our lives have changed immensely with this.  We know how much we've taken things for granted and are very thankful for what we have.  We were always thankful to an extent, but everyone takes life for granted from time to time. 

So, take some time to hug your loved ones.  Time can be very short and we got a chance at life.  It could have been so much worse.  If you actually hurt your spinal cord just right you can actually affect your lung function, etc.  We got life.