Monday, April 27, 2009

Impeccable timing

Edit: I just read this update on the Princess Cruise homepage. Six Princess ships are currently scheduled for calls in Mexican ports through May, as they reposition to Alaska for the summer season. In total, eight itineraries and 22 calls in Mexico are affected, and passengers who are booked on these cruises will either visit alternative ports or spend an additional day at sea. Affected passengers will be advised of the itinerary changes once the new berthing arrangements have been confirmed.
We haven't been notified just yet what the end result will be for our particular cruise that starts this Saturday, but they are working hard to keep us safe. I've gotten several phone calls from family members worried about us. We're being optimistic and are still very excited about our upcoming vacation and celebration of our 10 years of marriage together.

So, I spent the ENTIRE day getting some of the finer details arranged for the boys while we're gone next week for our cruise to MEXICO. The only place in the world that the government is recommending restricting any "unnecessary" travel. All I can say at this point, is that our vacation plans and this swine flu have some impeccable timing.

So far, the trip hasn't been cancelled, and I'm not worried in the slightest about contracting this virus (I went through hospital training seminars... I'm good at washing my hands). As long as the boat is sailing, we're going to be on it; even if we have to STAY on it!

I'll bring an extra book...

just in case!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A wonderful Wednesday

Today was just a fantastic day. Here's why: (note, if you just want to read about Spencer's progress, skip to #6!)

1. I got up early and went running with my Sister-in-law, Melanie. She's getting ready for a 5K run in early June, and I'm working on getting my 5K time faster. We ran 3 miles. The first mile we did in 9:30. I ran the second mile around the track at the high school and finished it in 9:06 (phew!). Then we jogged home at a slower pace. It felt good to get closer to that 9 minute time (well, not while I was running, but when I got home to tell Paul about it, it felt good!) and I'm hoping to be able to the point where I can maintain that pace. Losing another 5-10 lbs should help with that!
2. Got the kids off to school without yelling at them! Then a gal came over to do our medical exams for some new life insurance we just applied for. I'm grateful for good health... it's a tremendous blessing that I intend not to take for granted. When she was done, I did a quick yoga video that wasn't too tough.
3. Went to get some Fro-Yo with Emily and her kids this afternoon. You never know what flavors they're going to have, so I ended up with a strawberry/mango twist. It was very delicious. I intend not to take frozen yogurt for granted either! Only hiccup with that event was Sammy having "an accident" all over the floor. I'm hoping next time we go in there, he's got a tip jar sitting out! He was very cool about not making us mop the floor, even though we offered! To say the least, I'm glad Charlie's not even close to wanting to potty train!
4. Our friends that we're going on the cruise with were in town for a nephew's wedding, so they stopped by to say hello this afternoon. We talked about the upcoming vacation and the excitement is just bubbling away inside me! I can't believe that we'll be leaving in just over a week! Hooray!
5. After making a less than glorious dinner, Paul and I loaded the kids in the car to go do some shopping for the trip. Since I didn't start losing weight until August last year, I have ZERO summer clothes that fit me. I barely have ANY clothes that fit me! So we went to Costco first to check out some sandals that Paul saw last week. We ended up getting Paul some sandals, a new swim suit, and 2 pair of shorts. Since they had some decent deals, I snagged 2 pair of capris, a pair of shorts, and a dual pack of my favorite t-shirts for myself. It's always scary buying clothes at Costco, not being able to try things on and all... so I grabbed size 10 in everything and was happy that everything fit. It looks like for now, any size 8 is a vanity-sizing fluke for me, but HEY... not complainin' bout being able to grab any random pair of size 10's and have them work! Other shopping endeavors included buying a new pair of swim bottoms that will make 2 current disfunctional swimsuits "doable," and we also both got a pair of cheap sunglasses. Mine are fancy!!! Check me out!
6. After getting the boys off to bed, I called my dad to check up on my Spencey. He had nothing but good news... which just about makes this day perfect! I haven't updated on Spencer in a few days and for those of you coming here for the sole purpose of getting news about him, I apologize. In a nutshell, Spencer is making some incredible progress. He has been getting some really good sleep this past 4 nights (averaging 8 hours per night), which is essential for his cognitive recovery. All the therapists have been working him really hard. In physical therapy, he is now working on walking with a cane. It's much more difficult than with a walker, but he's able to do it. He can also walk up and down a short flight of stairs. The speech therapists are working on some of the cognitive rehab, getting him to read and write a bunch. Spencer took an eye exam today and will be getting a current prescription for his glasses (this last one was 4 years old and apparently, it can fluctuate quite a bit over the years). This new lens will help him a TON with all his therapies. His speech is becoming less slurred, and he's improving on his ability to maintain a topic of conversation. Previously, he's been jumping from subject to subject, but this is getting better. His short-term memory is a little patchy, but everyday, this is also getting better. The occupational therapists are working on a variety of daily living tasks. Spencer got to play with some tools today and assembled truck from a kit they'd put together.

Tomorrow we're going to hear more about his eye and his wrist. He's taken all of his casts off and during moments of confusion/frustration, he's trying to break the one he's in now (a full arm cast up to his armpit) so he can take this one off too. We're hoping they don't need to do another surgery right now. I'd hate to see something slow down the progress he's making.

So, Spencer is doing well. He received another priesthood blessing on Sunday promising a full recovery and I believe with all my heart that a full recovery is exactly what he will achieve. We have been SO BLESSED!

Well, that sums up my happy Wednesday! The only thing that would have made it better is if my house would have magically cleaned itself. Maybe next Wednesday we'll figure out a way for that to happen!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I did it!

If you follow this blog at all, or have talked to me in the last 6 months or so, you already know that my first triathlon race was this weekend! It's not like I've kept that a secret or anything! In fact, I should wear my number all week, just in case someone somehow didn't get the memo and then will have to ask me about it! HA! Anyway... I DID IT!!!! And it felt GREAT!

Here are all the dirty details... and I mean ALL of them. You'll get a medal if you read the whole thing! Leave a comment to claim your prize! (Hey, I'm an Anderson... we tell stories!)

On Friday night, I met Paul up in Orem so I could pick up my race packet. Unfortunately, this packet didn't have anything super cool in it. Just a T-shirt that I intentionally ordered too small so the boys could use it as a night shirt. We already have SOOOOOOOOOOOO many t-shirts at our house because of Paul's many, many races. Anyway, turns out that it fit me (or at least I could put it on) and I wore it the rest of the night. Here's me wearing it. Probably the last time I'll do so. It's a little tight!
We went to dinner at Chuck-a-Rama and I ate a few things I usually skip (ie mashed potatoes and a scrumptious roll - they didn't have any pasta options for appropriate carb loading!) On the way home, Paul decided to pick up a movie from Redbox. Given the choices, we went with Twilight, which wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be... but because of that, we did get to bed a bit later than was wise. Before turning in, Paul helped me figure out everything that I needed to pack up in order to be ready to go in the morning. He really took care of everything, giving me no reason to stress! He was so awesome with this WHOLE THING! I did end up sleeping OKAY, but not great!

We woke up at 6:00, got out of bed at 6:20, and I got myself all dressed up in my gear while Paul packed up the car. I ate one good sized pancake with peanut butter on it and got some stuff ready for the boys. We got to the race site at about 7:30. The only scare I had was when Paul was pumping up my tires, the valve stem disassembled, completely deflating the tire. Not knowing if Paul was going to be able to fix it, he sent me to go find a spot at the transition area. By this point, the nerves were starting to kick in a bit! Thankfully, he was able to fix the tube and soon he joined me with my bike. Here's a pic of me getting stuff ready in the transition area.
I was excited to see how many of my family and friends were able (and willing) to come support my race! Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture, but I was able to give most of them a hug before we got started! Just to bore you (and to completely document the event for my own benefit), my "fans" included: Paul, Andy, Canon, Charlie, Emily Hollingshead, Steven & Rhyll, Luke McCausland and his parents, Bill and Arlette McC, Spencer & Melanie Croshaw, and Monica & Chris Arnold & Nina Sanchez. It was also nice to see the Shurians, and they cheered for me, but they were really there to support Chris! So a special thanks to those who were there in the cool weather, and another thanks to those of you who were there in spirit! I felt SO LOVED! Here's a pic of Chris, myself and Julie right before the run got started. I was wearing my Garmin GPS watch so I could keep track of how fast I was running, as well as a stop watch so I could track my total time. The Garmin wasn't in the right mode, so it wasn't telling me how far I'd already run, but it did tell me how fast I was moving. Once the race got started, I was keeping with the main crowd, but was freaking out about the pace they had set. I typically run right at about a 10 minute mile pace, but we were going between 8:00 and 8:30. Figuring there would be NO WAY I could maintain that kind of pace, I slowed myself down out of fear I'd completely wear myself out. The first 2 miles were really flat and then quite downhill. Starting the 3rd mile, we hit a pretty good uphill climb that you couldn't quite tell where the top was. I was able to keep running, but I slowed down quite a bit. Thankfully, it flattens out again before you head back toward transition. That's where this picture was taken of me with still about a half mile to finish the run. I realized, you just have no idea what to do as you pass a bunch of loved ones screaming for you! I gave them a thumbs up before blowing them a kiss! I finished the 5K in 27 min 32 sec. My fastest 5K time by 3.5 minutes! I was pretty stoked about that!
My transition to the bike, unfortunately, was stinkin slow. I decided to eat my "GU" during transition, just because I'd never practiced eating one while actually riding. This stuff is SUPER thick and difficult to swallow with a dry mouth. I took my water bottle off of my bike to help me wash it down, and then like an IDIOT... forgot to put it back. I realized my mistake pretty quick, since I was still thirsty, once I'd finally taken off on the bike portion. I got pretty worried at that point, but couldn't do anything about it. Occasionally I'd pass someone on the bike and just want to ask, "could I have a sip of your water?!" But I didn't. The first hill was tough (as I knew it would be) but I didn't get off and walk it (as I knew I wouldn't), but I did pull off on a side road just to reset for 5 seconds before finishing it off. I got to hear some more supportive screams when this picture was taken.
Lesson learned, don't try to communicate anything as you pass your camera! You end up making ugly faces! I was about to say, "meet me at the top of the hill with my water" but they didn't hear me! Oh well! At least I got a dorky looking picture... and there are more to come!

The second loop of the bike felt really good and I pushed it a little harder. I passed this one girl, then she passed me on a downhill section, and then I caught her again as we were climbing the hill. She asked how to best get up it and we talked a little as we pushed ourselves up the big booger. It was cool, though, because she said, "I'll just do what you do," which meant I couldn't chicken out at all. I ended up beating her to the top, but she passed me again once we flattened out. I was glad she pushed me, though. My bike time was a little slower than I wanted it to be, but it would have been worse. Dismounting the bike before running into transition was difficult though! My legs felt like Jell-O! My bike took me 38 min 31 sec to go just under 10 miles.

As promised... another ugly face picture! What was I saying?!My second transition was much faster, but my time chip didn't trigger the difference between my transition and my swim, so it put them together. I got to my stuff and basically just stripped down! Took off my biking shoes, my helmet, my number belt, my shirt, pants, and socks, grabbed my swim cap and goggles and ran to the pool. Paul was excited and was yelling "you've got 20 minutes to beat your goal!" which made me feel GREAT! It meant I didn't need to KILL myself on the swim. I didn't take it "easy" but I also didn't channel all the technique I'd been practicing either. Someone kept hitting my feet as we were swimming along and I kept hitting the rope with my left arm. I was tired and sloppy, but just kept swimming! I'm sure my stroke looked terrible, but Paul said it wasn't too bad. Those 7 laps went by pretty quick and one of the hardest parts of the swim was pulling myself out of the water. My friend, Julie, was there at the finish line! I jumped over the timing trigger with my arms in the air and screamed before giving her a hug! I felt so AWESOME for actually finishing it! What an amazing feeling accompanied by a total adrenaline rush! Technically, my time on the swim was 13 min 28 sec, but that included the transition time. I'm hoping the actual swim was closer to 10 minutes. We left the pool area and went to dry off before talking to everyone. The cool air was pretty wicked after swimming in warm water after all that previous work!
In this picture, I'm telling Paul to crop the photo to just be from the waist up! He didn't. I had to crop this one myself! Yet ANOTHER ugly picture! I have HUGE teeth!
This one is a little better than the other!

So, my total time was 1:21:49. 8 minutes faster than I was hoping to finish it! I finished in the top 50% of my age group, which isn't too shabby for me on my first race! Accomplishing this was (and still is) an incredible feeling! Talking to my family and friends afterwards was great and I had a huge smile on my face! I have a few pictures, but need to get a few emailed to me from Emily. I was really surprised how good I felt! It made me think, "Dang, I shoulda pushed it a little harder!" But I couldn't have known that with my first race. I don't regret playing it safe. I really didn't want to be dragged out of the water! But, we stood around for a while talking and waiting for all the times to be posted. Julie, Paul, the boys, and I stuck around to cheer on the winners and see if we could win anything cool in the raffle. I ended up getting a pair of Yankz (elastic shoelaces for super fast transitioning!).

The rest of the day included a hot dog roast at the Croshaws, a big (and frequently interrupted) nap while Paul went on a long bikeride with his brother, Spencer, a trip to Costco, and then we finished it off with visiting our friends, the Reynolds, to watch the UFC fights. I wasn't too into it, though, and fell asleep on the couch!

Overall, it was a fantastic and JOYFUL day! One I intend to remember for a long time... especially now that every minute detail has been documented!! ;) Thanks for sticking with me! And thank you again, everyone, for all the support. Especially to Paul. I dedicate this race to him, because it couldn't have happened without him! I love you, Baby! Can't wait to cheer you on for your first race this season next Saturday! You are the BEST!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Spencer update

I talked to my dad last night about how the big family meeting with all of Spencer's therapists went yesterday. My dad said Spencer was having a really good day and that I would be stunned by how much more he is doing now than a week ago when I saw him last. Back then, I was thrilled that he remembered I was his sister! Yesterday, the therapy supervisor introduced herself to the family, and then Spencer introduced every single family member, including names, to her. The only name he missed was Marcus, Alisha's baby. But apparently, he did remember it when Alisha prompted him that his name started with 'm'. (I just realized, someone who was actually there should be posting this blog update, since I'm one of the few who wasn't there! I'm summarizing just a bit of the info I got from Dad. I'll encourage the others to correct me if I'm wrong in the comments section!)

Anyway, the physical therapists were able to show the family how Spencer is able to get up and transfer to a wheelchair, as well as walk down a hallway and back with a walker. He is talking so much more and was less confused yesterday than on some recent days. Apparently, Spencer has work on his mind. When he is asked open-ended questions, he has been throwing in some VERY technical information into his answers. For example, "Spencer how are you feeling today?" His response might be something like, "better, I'm feeling like I'm 25,000 feet higher in elevation..." followed by a bunch of information about angles and room for maneuvering. He definitely has the brain of a scientist... an aerospace engineer at that.

A conversation with the neuropsychiatrist was a bit tougher to take. It's his responsibility to inform the family of all possible scenarios, including the best as well as the worst case ones. Some of his words were less than rosy, but then followed by the fact that he has seen patients with more severe brain damage than Spencer make a full recovery. It really is different with each patient, and only time will tell. I'm choosing to pray and have faith that though I'm sure there will be difficulties ahead, Spencer, Jen, and their girls will be able to live a full and happy life together. And whether things are ever EXACTLY the same as they were before, I'm sure they won't be. Something this traumatic will always leave it's mark on those most closely involved. I'm ultimately hoping that the changes are minimal and that it only just binds the family closer.

The main challenge at this point is getting Spencer's awake and sleep cycle appropriate. The part of his brain that manages the automatic systems (including pain reception and levels of fatigue) has been tweaked, thus making it difficult to manage his sleep. Everyone is anxious to move him off the isolation status as quickly as possible, but until he's able to stay more awake during the day and sleep better at night, they'll need to keep the stimulation minimal. The family expressed very strongly yesterday that Spencer's girls need to be approved to come in and see him. This will help the girls and I'm sure will help motivate Spencer to work his butt off in order to get home to them faster.

So, this ends my news on Spencer. Please keep the prayers coming for him. There have been many tender mercies already, but many more needed. He'll be getting another priesthood blessing on Sunday. The first one he got was to save his life, and this second one will help him recover it. I'm so thankful for the priesthood and for faith. These two things have helped our family immensely.

I've actually posted a bunch of posts today, so scroll down for some more.

A workout update

The hours are counting down to the big moment I become an official triathlete! This week, I went swimming on Tuesday evening to see what it was like to swim in my tri outfit. It was a bit different to swim wearing "jammers", but I didn't feel like it was getting in the way. I did several "ladders" where you swim 25 yards, short break, 50 yards, short break, 75 yards, short break, 100 yards. Just so you know, one length of the pool is 25 yards. I've gotten somewhat faster at doing these, especially since I'm swimming just a little faster and because I am recovering quicker and able to start up again after 30 seconds or so. I still have so much improvement to make on my swim, though! I'm amazed at how effortless some people make swimming look, and yet they are WICKED FAST!

I didn't workout at all on Wednesday... thanks to the snow. Thursday, Paul and I went to the gym to try doing all 3 exercises in one session. I ran for 13 minutes on the treadmill, switched to a stationary bike for a 20 minute ride, then ran to the pool, threw on my swimcap and goggles, and jumped right in. It felt so good! I'm glad I did all three of these to give me an idea of what my body will feel like doing one exercise after the other. I also now know that I need to get my face and goggles wet before I put them on. I didn't get a good seal and had to stop midway to clear some water out of them. This is something I wouldn't have known for the race tomorrow.

Today, I just did a little diddy to try transitioning. I ran around my block, ran up to my bike, put on my helmet, switched my shoes, and walked the bike to the road before jumping on it for a quick spin around the neighborhood. I actually ended up doing this twice, adding gloves the second time! It's still pretty cold out there! Paul's hoping I can have some really fast transition times, because that will ultimately help me accomplish the goal I have set for finishing the race in under 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Tune in tomorrow for pictures on how it all went! I'm sure the whole event will be well documented by Paul. He's just as excited about all of this as I am! I'm also excited to be doing this race with a couple of friends as well. Julie Ahlborn is our carpool savior and the YW president in our ward, and Chris Shurian is my in-law's next door neighbor and a family friend. I'm glad they're doing the race too! It will be nice to hear some extra cheering along!

Til tomorrow!

A weight watchers update.

I admitted last week that I didn't want to go weigh in at weight watchers because I didn't want to face the reality of gaining 2.8 lbs the week I was gone to Grand Junction. Not wanting to be a total chicken, I determined I would definitely weigh-in this week and face the music.

Two weeks ago, I weighed 148.

Last week, I would have weighed 150.8.

This week, I weighed 149.

So, I'm heading back in the right direction and I'm determined to do my best to lose this last 4 lbs before the end of the month. If I can get to my goal weight before going on the cruise, I'm hoping this will be the motivating factor to keep me from stuffing myself silly! We're planning on taking a bunch of our workout clothes (and actually using them in the gym and in the pool) so that we feel justified to splurge a bit on all that yumminess!

I wanted to share a tip for a healthy meal. At Costco, you can get a bag of individually wrapped, frozen tilapia loins (that's fish for those of you like me who had never heard of tilapia until last month - I know, pathetic). As far as fish goes, this is a VERY mild flavored fish. They are so easy to cook... just spray on a little bit of that fake butter stuff and sprinkle with some lemon pepper, pop it in the oven for 20ish minutes and, voila! YUMMY! I like to eat it with a bunch of steamed vegetables with some season salt on there. I made this last night (ended up eating the fillet I cooked for Paul - he went and got a burrito) and then went for it again for lunch today! I'm always excited to find really HEALTHY food that tastes really yummy and is beyond easy to make. Eating a whole meal of guilt-free food is so satisfying!

Our spring storm

Imagine my intense displeasure at seeing a whole crapload of snow dump on us this Wednesday! It wasn't just a little bit of rain, turned snow... it was a really big snowstorm for the middle of April! Considering that my race was just 3 days away from all this snow, I was really bummed.

Well, I had to work on Thursday, and after clearing off my car with a TON of this perfect snow for a snowball fight or a snowman, I went back in to encourage Paul to get the boys outside to make a snowman. So they did... and had a GREAT time!

Once there was a snowman... tall, tall, TALL! In the sun he melted... and this is what he looked like by the time I got home that evening at 5:00.

I'm not sure if this little guy got some help in falling over or not, but considering that all the rest of the snow from that day was also gone or liquifying fast... he just wasn't meant for a long life. I'm just glad Paul got the kiddos outside for something fun to do on their first day of Spring Break! And to be even more honest, I won't miss him at all! Bring on the SUNSHINE!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A bunch of recent pictures

I wanted to put a couple pictures of Spencer up on the blog, as well as some other random shots from this past week. Mostly just to get them off my camera and in a place where I'll get to look at them more. This first picture is a close up of Spencer's eyelid after they took the stitches out. It looks SO MUCH BETTER than it originally did. Amazing what taking out some black strings and some scabby-looking stuff does for one's image!

This is what Spencer looked like the day I left him. He has since gotten the feeding tube and oxygen taken out (as mentioned in an earlier post).
This is me with my darling little nephew, Marcus! He belongs to Alisha and Will, but I would gladly take him home with me! Oh, he is SO CUTE and an amazingly good baby! He made me want another one SO BAD! Ah well, I'm just so glad I got the chance to meet him and will miss being able to go over to Colorado for his blessing day.

He fell asleep with his hat over his eyes. We thought it was so precious, we had to take a pic!

Here's a picture of my sisters and me. Alisha is on the left and Shelyce is on the right. I'm grateful I also got to see them and spend some time with them. They are wonderful women.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

mental toughness vs. a big ugly hill

So, in the last post I did about myself, I mentioned that I still needed to figure out what I was going to do for a workout on Saturday evening. Right after I published that post, Paul got home from doing a brick (a bike ride on his trainer followed by a 2 mile run). He said, "you better get out there if you're going to do a workout today." I agreed and put on my new "tri outfit" to run in it for the first time, with a layer of warmer clothing on top. When I realized it was raining, I asked Paul if it was bad, and he said, "it's just a drizzle."

Just a drizzle, MY ARSE!! This is what I looked like when i got home.

Yeah, my pants, hat, and shirt were SOAKED! I jumped on the scale just to see how much my clothing weighed and it was only 4 lbs, but it felt like a LOT more! I ended up going 5 miles... the longest run I'd ever done and it was in the full-on rain. I won't say "down pour" because that may be a slight exaggeration, but to say the least, I was jumping a TON of puddles! Paul felt bad enough that he sent me out there in the rain that he actually came to pick me up. But at that point, I had already gone 4.25 miles and was determined to get the full 5 miles in. I was proud of myself though, because I hit the 5 mile mark at 49 minutes 39 seconds! I'm excited that I can maintain a 10 minute mile pace for longer than just the 5K distance.

When I got home, Paul congratulated me on accomplishing a solid "mental toughness" workout. But to be honest, for some reason, it wasn't that bad. By the time I hit 2 full miles, everything from my head to feet was drenched, so all I could do was embrace the insanity of what I was doing! On my way back home I passed two girls running the opposite direction and one of them shouted, "we're crazy!" I whole-heartedly agreed! It's so interesting finding yourself in a place you'd never "want" to be, and yet laughing inside that you're doing it and feeling good about that!

I was hoping that mental toughness would help me through this evening as I attempted the bike route for the triathlon for the first time. It's a short 5 mile loop with a buttkicker hill that you have to ride twice. I'm so glad I did a trial run today just so I know how afraid I need to be of this thing. I didn't want to climb it a second time, but after struggling on it the first go round (I didn't start in my easier gears), I needed to give it one more try. On the second climb, I plugged through the last part of that hill not knowing how I was going to finish it. I even started to get scared that I'd completely fatigue and fall over while clipped in the pedals! Once I reached the top again, I was literally gasping for air whilst my legs and lungs burned from the inside out! But I did it, which means I know I can do it on Saturday as well. Now I know just HOW MUCH it's gonna suck! Awesome!
For the rest of the week, I'm going to get a good swim in tomorrow and work on my transitions on Wednesday. I want to know I can handle every aspect of this triathlon this week! I can't believe it's already here! I'm excited that we've got Spring Break this week, even if it means I only get one extra day off than an usual week, but hey, I'll take it! Hope you are all having a great week so far!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spencer is now tube free!

I just talked with my parents and after we talked extensively about our respective Easter programs that we were in charge of at church, my mom and dad had mostly positive things to report on Spencer.

It sounds like his levels of alertness are increasing each day. A week ago when the Speech Pathologist did his bedside feeding evaluation, she determined that once he was awake enough, it would be safe for him to eat on his own. So, the feeding tube has now come out and Spencer was apparently ravenous! It sounds like he enjoyed his chicken, plenty of juice, as well as every last little bit of that pudding (I always wish I could lick out those last little smudges of pudding myself!). So the fact that he's now able to eat real food is great and is another milestone that will speed up his recovery. Another good bit of news is that they have also taken out the catheter. I'm sure Spencer appreciates this tremendously.

The therapists have had Spencer sitting up and transferring into a wheelchair. He also took several steps today, though they were slow and I'm sure very painful. My mom reported that Spencer is in a LOT of pain. They have cut back on the narcotic medication significantly and are giving him Tylenol and something one step above that. Yikes. I'm sorry, but Tylenol doesn't do diddly-squat for serious pain. I understand, however, the importance of not keeping him doped up all the time. But I feel very bad for the guy. He shifts around in bed a lot, changing up the pressure on his hips and pelvis. He also rubs his head frequently.

Jen asked Spencer today if he could see her through his bad eye. He said he couldn't see her, but when asked what he could see, he said, "light." I'm amazed at this. The eye surgeon said the most we could hope for in his left eye was that he could distinguish between light and dark, and maybe color. The fact that he CAN see light is good. Another eye surgeon will be coming in tomorrow to check things out for Spence.

A different orthopedic surgeon will also be coming in tomorrow. Spencer will NOT leave his cast alone. In fact, he often pulls it completely off. My mom said that she had him repeat after her, "the cast must stay on" and he said, "cast must stay on" as he continued to pull it off. So, clearly, he's still a bit confused and agitated. He just can't be trusted. I guess once he pulled the pin out last Thursday, he's been more calm. Hopefully the orthopedic guy will figure out something for that wrist. But rather than restraining him, a nurse will likely sit by his side all night and hold his hand.

For those wanting to know what to pray for, we're hoping that Spencer will be able to manage the pain and get some much needed sleep. Once his sleeping cycles are appropriate for awake in the day and sleeping at night, they can move him up a level. This is important so that he can see his girls. In his current "quiet isolation" visitors are very restricted and Spencer's three daughters have not yet been able to visit him. I'm sure they and he will benefit from seeing each other. So add your prayers and healing thoughts to mine and hopefully he'll cruise on to that next phase.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

In my dad's words

This post is cut and pasted from my dad's most recent email to my siblings and I. It was written on Friday (the transfer was a day later than I was originally told). His email was actually very informative... Thanks Dad!

I just got back from visiting Spencer in his new accommodations at Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital in Aurora. The address is 900 Potomac which is just north of 6th Avenue and west of 225. Spencer is in what they classify as "Quiet Isolation". This means that for the next few days and perhaps as much as a week, there is very limited visiting, normally restricted to spouse and parents, and those who can visit are limited to 20 minutes and a maximum of 2 visitors at a time. After leaving for a period of time, the visitor can go back in for another 20 minutes. The allowed visitors will increase as the hospital evaluates how he handles various levels of stimuli. After he is out of isolation, the visiting hours are from 8AM to 8PM. Same restrictions as to length of visit and number of visitors, until he is upgraded two levels in rehab.

According to the nurse, it is not uncommon for these type of patients to become violent and angry when there is too much stimulation. I think we all know that if that happens with our Spencer, it will be very unusual, and a total change from his reactions in Grand Junction. The room has no television, phone, or any medical equipment that could sound an alarm. There is a nurse sitting quietly outside his door, and for at least the next few days, he will be under constant observation.

I know that all of us want to visit him, and let him know that he is loved and that we are praying for his full recovery. As hard as it is on us to not be able to freely spend time with him, we need to remember that the staff at the hospital has seen literally hundreds of these cases and know what is best for the patient. This is our first and hopefully last experience with it. We need to trust their judgment, in fact, we have no other viable choice.

Spencer tolerated the move here as well as could be expected. The staff in Grand Junction did give him some percocet to help him with the move. He was very sleepy when we were there. They did do some x-rays of him to make sure the feeding tube was still in place. It wasn't. They then pulled the feeding tube out and put another one in. To make sure it was properly placed, they took another x-ray.

The goals for the next few days are to get him on a regular waking and sleeping pattern, with the sleep coming at night. I think they will try and keep him awake during the day. They will also manage his pain. I believe for the last 24 hours in Grand Junction, he only had Tylenol, except for the paid killer to help him with the move. He will start therapy tomorrow so they can get the feeding tube out as early as possible. After that they will work on his being able to control his bladder so they can get the catheter out. I'm sure he will not mind having it removed!

One of Megan's co-workers told her that we may think they are being a little rough on Spence as far as what they expect him to do. We need to remember, they are the experts.

So there you have it. Hopefully this quiet isolation will do the trick to help him calm down. If quiet was what he needed, then it would make sense why he was so agitated in Grand Junction. Having a room by the nurses station with alarms ringing CONSTANTLY, and 3 sisters in the room with him + a baby nephew (not that he was noisy) was definitely more stimulation than he needed.

(Note: there is a post below this one about me... so if you come here looking for this kind of information, keep reading!)

More interjections

I'm going throw in another couple of blog posts about me and mine before I update on Spencer.

Being in Grand Junction this week was not so great for me on the scale. I feel like I was making pretty good food choices as far as meals go, but I indulged a bit on some snacking throughout the week. I also didn't get/take the chance to do the type of workouts that my "zero to hero" training schedule recommended for this last week, so that was a factor as well (guess I'll just have to settle for finishing 2nd place or something mediocre for this first race of mine. HA!!!) For example, on Tuesday, I was supposed to bike 15 miles, but all I managed was to make it to the gym and spin for about 40 minutes. Then on Wednesday, I was supposed to swim 12 laps as well as do an easy run for 45 minutes, and neither of those actually happened. I did get to go on a great bike ride with Paul when I got back to Utah on Thursday, but slacked off on Friday (well, except for that KILLER ab and butt workout I did with Emily... OUCH!) and still need to figure out something for this afternoon. The crappy weather again today is making me feel blue. I also feel like I've been dumping on Paul too much, so figuring out a way to workout has been tricky this week.

So with this, I opted not to go weigh in this Thursday, because I didn't want to admit that I'd gained 2.8 lbs in one week. I was thinking, "I'll just be really good this week, try to make up for it and hopefully have a zero loss next week." But the Easter candy, the cookies at the egg hunt this morning and the delicious strawberry shortcake Pam brought to stamp club today have been a powerful distraction to that commitment. I'm going to try to turn around my thought processes and start thinking things like, "it's easy to ignore chocolate" and "these last 5 lbs will be just as easy to lose as the first 5," and see if it'll work!

My race is in one week. I'm very excited. It's going to be hard and physically demanding to say the least (and maybe even downright miserable if the weather stinks!). But I'm looking forward to the feeling of joy I'll have when I finish something that I would have never thought I could do. I had a lightbulb moment discovery about myself this week when I realized that one of the ways I find joy is when I recognize progress in life. I think that's why one of the first things that pops into my head when someone comments on my weight loss is how FUN this whole process has been. Not that ordering boring chicken when your companions order yummy nachos is "FUN", or feeling like you're going to pass out or puke after running at a faster speed than before is "FUN," but the feeling of accomplishment when you see that you did something today that you couldn't do before (like fitting into a smaller size or completing a triathlon) is, in fact, a really joyous feeling. I'm grateful to know this about myself now. Maybe it will encourage me to go clean my bathroom. Even seeing counter space in that room will count as "progress."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

passing the baton

Another day gone. I am so grateful I got to spend the last 3 days by Spencer's bedside. Not knowing what it would be like, I brought along 2 books and a huge binder all about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to read while I was there. Unfortunately, it wasn't ANYTHING like a relaxing little mini vacation with my sisters! Taking care of Spencer in his current state is exhausting. I pray for Jen and Mom and the rest of the family as they take turns with this task in the near future. Spencer is a STRONG man and requires a lot of attention when he's not sleeping. By the end of each night, all three of us (Shelyce, Alisha, and I) were pretty tuckered.

To help everyone understand Spencer's current status, he's a level 4 on the Rancho los amigos coma/brain injury scale. Of course since every brain injury is different, and each patient reacts differently, not all of these things apply to Spencer. He is agitated, but not so much angry or violent. He's not swearing at us or hitting, but when he's more alert (and consequently in more pain), he is constantly moving, fiddling with stuff, and thrashing about. We see bouts of "appropriateness," and plenty of confusion. This is evidenced by how much better he reacts when we explain things to him. For instance, this afternoon, they changed his cast from a less secure one that he was pulling apart (but once he helped me rewrap it!) to a rigid one. I got to see the pin sticking out of his wrist and considering this, the PA left the cast pretty loose. Well, once Spencer woke up a little, he managed to hook his fingers in there and nearly pulled the new cast a good 2 inches up his hand. Needless to say, the same PA had to come back and redo the whole thing... much tighter the second time. I kept explaining to him that he had to leave this one alone, because changing the cast is a big pain and makes a big mess! He was much more gentle with it and didn't fight me as much when I'd pull his good hand away from exploring it.

Occasionally, he tries to speak in long sentences, but it's all completely mumbled. And then the next minute, he's looking at a picture of him and his girls and he's able to identify each one when we ask, "which one is Katie, where's Greta, who is Mikayla?" I was SO happy this morning when I had Spencer open his eyes to look at me and when I asked him, "do you know who I am?" he said, "sister." Yesterday, he just looked at me and said, "no," so I just kept reminding him! When Shelyce asked him the same thing today, he mumbled a little and then said, "love all of you." The verbal output increased a TON once Jen got back there. He knew her immediately and had much more to say to her, including, "I love you" and "glad you're back." Don't worry, I wasn't offended!

He spent about an hour upright in a therapy chair this morning, which is twice as long as nurse thought he would be able to tolerate it. It pooped him out, though, and made pain management much more difficult once we got him back on the bed. After the rehab doctor saw Spencer this morning, he became determined to get Spencer started on rehab by Thursday.

Turns out, Kaiser (the omnipotent insurance entity) finally made a decision to transfer Spencer on Thursday (April 9th) and given the choice between Spaulding and Mapleton hospitals, Jen chose Spaulding in Aurora. He'll be taking an ambulance ride over the mountains tomorrow and starting rehab in the Denver area! It will take lots of time; much longer than we want it to take (especially since we'd all love to see him all better next week!). But everything is looking very good. He will need to pass through each stage of recovery, some taking longer than others. It will be taxing on everyone and will require insane amounts of patience, but the prognosis is excellent. If you're looking for something more specific to pray for on his behalf, he could use some blessings as they begin to wean him off of the narcotic pain meds. It's hard to watch him be so agitated, but since that is part of the injury, they need to allow it to happen :( .

I hope the ambulance ride goes smoothly for Spencer tomorrow. My information from now on will be second hand, unless I get some guest bloggers from the family on occasion! Welcome to all the newcomers (and just a warning... this isn't so much an "Anderson family" blog, but still my personal blog, so just be aware that on occasion, my narcissism will interject stuff about me. Feel free to skip those posts, or not!) And by the way... I love receiving comments letting me know who's reading this stuff! No need to be shy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

walking a fine line

Yesterday was a bit annoying because throughout the whole day, Spencer was either sleeping (due to overmedication) or highly agitated and confused (needing more medication... and quick!) The nurse was saying that she was going to give him a smaller dose early this morning so he'd be more alert for the physicians and therapists, however, there was a different nurse this morning, who didn't get that memo, and had given him a double dose right before 7:00. So as the parade of professionals came through, Spencer slept soundly and was unwakable.

We were able to communicate better with the nurses that our main goal for today was to help him be more alert without so much pain. This is a fine line to walk. Even with that as a goal, we didn't do so well through noon, but things have gotten better. Now instead of the morphine based drugs (which make him itchy and add to the agitation), we're now just working with vicodin and some anti-anxiety stuff. Much better! This is what we've gotten from him today:

Physical Therapy came in this morning to help him sit up. As mentioned before, he was pretty zombie-like and wasn't too keen with sitting on his cracked pelvis. He kept his eyes closed through the whole thing and kept shifting himself to find a more comfortable position. Unfortunately, that was tough to come by. The PT's had to work hard to keep him upright. What was cool, though, was that during the hullabaloo, Marcus had woken up and was squawking a little and Spencer located to him and wanted to see him. I brought the baby into his view and Spencer opened his eye and held the gaze to look at little Marcus. After we laid Spencer back down, I was holding Marcus across Spencer's chest and he was holding on to him and touching his arm, shoulders and back very lovingly. It was after this that we were able to get the medication balanced better.

Respiratory therapy has come in several times. Laying down so much makes it difficult to take deep breaths, so they do these positive pressure treatments. He didn't do as well on the first one, but the second was better.

Speech therapy came in again to try more feeding. He was sleeping when she got here, but we were willing to bug him enough to wake him up. He handled the ice, nectar juice, and pudding adequately, and even held the cup for some self feeding (with much assistance so he wouldn't need a second sponge bath for the day). To sum up her assessment, he is safe to feed as long as he is alert. But since that's been iffy all day, we're not going to push that. We keep trying to tell him that Diet Coke is worth waking up for. But he's not listening... he's too busy taking apart his cast.

We're currently trying to figure out WHERE and WHEN Spencer may be transferring hospitals. It's tricky when everyone is saying something different, but ultimately, before anything happens, we just need to know what the insurance is FOR SURE going to pay for.

One thing I wanted to add to this blog post (per Jen's request) is a request for prayers on behalf of Spencer's friends who witnessed the accident itself. Matt, Josh, and Rod were all there to save Spencer's life, and for that, our family is eternally grateful. We hope that they are finding peace in the progress Spencer is making (even if it's slow) and that they can get past the awful images and emotions of Spencer's worst moments.

Thanks for checking up on Spencer, everyone!

Monday, April 6, 2009

News from the battle front

So, now I'm here in Grand Junction with Shelyce and Alisha (2 of my 5 sisters) to help keep Spencer company. I got here at about noon today (Monday) and Spencer was pretty agitated needing the pain medication to kick in a bit. They'd just given him half a dose because the Speech Therapist was about to come in to do a bedside swallow exam, to see if it's safe to feed Spencer orally. When Spencer's medication wears off a bit, he gets really agitated. He'll feel around his face, examine the tubes and cords, scratch at his arm in the cast. He's more alert than before, but that doesn't mean he's very alert!

He's vocalizing and verbalizing a bunch more today than yesterday. Up to this point, he's only really answered yes/no questions and said very little. But today, he's been speaking much more. When Shelyce asked him if he knew where he was, he thought about it for a second and finally said, "I don't know." About 30 minutes later, she asked him again and he answered, "camping." So, it's important right now that we're explaining over and over what happened to him, why he's here, what all the cords and tubes are for, and why he needs to leave them alone. This morning, with the mitt and arm restraints on his good hand, he managed to pull out his feeding tube... TWICE. Shelyce was talking to Spencer and telling him she'll take off the mitt as long as he promised not to pull anything out. When she asked, "do you promise?" he replied, "I promise." He's also more verbally responsive, by answering "okay" and "yeah, alright" when we boss him around.

I was glad to be here during the feeding study. She started with ice chips, and he managed the second attempt a bit better by even chewing on it right away. He was also able to take a sip of nectar thick apple juice from a cup and a good size bite of pudding. He didn't want a second sip or bite of either. I could go into more detail about his oral transition time and sufficient laryngeal elevation, but I'll spare you! He's being fed plenty through the feeding tube in his nose so he's not hungry. His only limitation for oral feeding right now is his limited level of alertness... basically, he's zonked out. But once he's more alert, he'll be able to start receiving his nutrition by eating the deliciousness that is pureed hospital food! Lucky guy!

Dr. Gebhard came by while we were here and based on the info we were giving him, he was able to give us some perspective on the progress he's making daily. He was saying that the next step is for him to transfer into sitting up on the side of the bed and in a chair. It's hard to imagine that at this point because he's been so out of it so far today, but the occupational therapist will be trying it in the morning. He encouraged us to keep talking to him and asking him more questions. It's tempting to just let him stay more sedated and peaceful, but in order for him to progress faster, we'll have to keep on bugging him a bunch.

Since the therapists are gone for the day at this point, there likely won't be much more to report until tomorrow. It's good to be here with him and to witness the progress he's made since last week when he first got here. Stay tuned for more later!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

More Progress Every Day

This morning when Jen and my parents got to the hospital, they had already extubated him! I'm glad they did it early because Jen didn't want to be anywhere nearby when they did it! He is now just wearing an oxygen mask, which he'll fiddle around with, but he knows he needs to keep it on. My dad was asking him questions and a heavily drugged up Spencer was trying to talk, but was really only moving his lips. No sound is coming out, but his throat is very sore. Being intubated 8 days does a number on your vocal folds. I'm sure they are swollen and very dry. :(

They keep talking to Spencer, helping him understand what has happened, where he is, and what is going on. This morning, Jen said that when she told him this information again, he had a look of shock in his eye. I can't imagine just what he is going through right now and how scary it must be for him as he begins to wake up more and more and understand the reality of his situation. I'm praying that the Lord will bless his spirits as much as he has blessed his body.

They've taken him off the sedatives and now the trick is managing his pain levels. From what Jen can tell (since she knows his body language better than anyone), he is hurting. He was rubbing his head really hard... I'm sure he has a killer headache that won't be going away anytime too soon. Dad was touching the fingers on Spencer's broken hand and he was wincing and furrowing his eyebrows. But he is still pretty responsive when he can see through the fog of the pain medication. He has a hard time focusing and holding an eye gaze, but was able to track Jen's finger side to side. He doesn't have his contact in, so I'm guessing what he can see is fuzzy. He was also able to lift, stretch, and move his legs well this morning. After a short while though, he gets fatigued and irritable. So far, they've given him intravenous pain killers which wear off pretty fast (45 min). Yesterday they were able to crush up some vicadin and send it down the feeding tube. I didn't realize this will keep the pain at bay for much longer (4 hours or so) since it will absorb over time through the digestive track. My biggest hope for today is that the doctors and nurses will be able to help Spencer manage his pain. If all he's focusing on is how bad he hurts, it will be more difficult to work on other things.

I didn't get much of an update from yesterday. Apparently, the surgery went well, but he was sedated throughout the day. Having so little alert time, those visiting didn't have much of a chance to talk to him or get much from him all day. But thankfully, there was much more to report this morning. Because Spencer has been awake more and she's been able to communicate with him more, Jen will likely be going home tomorrow with my parents so she can see her girls and help them through their fears for their dad. We're feeling pretty optimistic that he'll be stable enough to be transferred to a Denver area hospital by the end of the week. I'm sure it will be good for the girls to see Spencer, especially now that he is not hooked up to so many cords and tubes. Hopefully his ability to speak will improve soon so they can talk to him. For as difficult this has been for all of us close to Spencer, I'm sure it doesn't hold a candle to what Jen and those little girls are feeling. Please continue to pray for some comfort for them.

That's all I got for now. Thanks for tuning in!

a post about me

So, I know a lot of newcomers are reading my blog for now, looking for more updates on Spencer. I welcome you all! Hope you don't mind that I interject some of our regularly scheduled programming... blog posts where I go on and on talking about myself. I'll throw on a Spencer update in a minute, but I've been wanting to blog about me and what's been going on in my life this last couple weeks. So, I'm going to.

Since Spencer's accident, I've had a really hard time maintaining any sort of routine. My diet hasn't been bad, but I haven't been as structured as before. That being said, I was still VERY relieved and mostly surprised that I still lost one pound last week. I am now at 148, with a total weight loss of 38.6 lbs. Just to sound more like the biggest loser, I've got a weight loss percentage of 20.6%. Not too shabby.

I've also had a hard time being diligent with my workouts. Instead of 8+ workouts this week, I only got in 4. I've been staying up late most nights talking to my dad, and then jumping online to sum it up for an email to my family and my blog. This has been the difficulty behind getting up early in the morning. THAT, and the incredibly awful weather that's about to make me SCREAM!!!!! I am starting to feel desperate for some sunshine and temperatures above 50*. I was all ready to ride my bike and run to my weight watchers meeting on Thursday (had my helmet and biking shoes on and everything, but by the time I went back outside, it had started raining then snowing). I've run in the rain before, but that was September rain, not April rain. I did double up on my workout yesterday (Friday) doing a 2 mile run on the treadmill before jumping in the pool. Then today, my friend, Julie (who is doing the same race as me - oh she's gonna kick my butt!) and I ran to the track (1 mile), did a mile around the track, swam 8 laps in the Springville pool, then ran home with wet clothes. Julie had to go somewhere for her daughter, so I ran home from her house and decided, "I'll just jump on my bike and see how it goes." I got one word for that bike ride... MISERABLE!!! I was slow, tired, and freezing. I only went about 7 miles, but it felt much further. The whole way home I was just pleading with the Lord, "PLEASE let it be warmer on race day!" Since I was wearing cotton pants over my swimsuit, my entire abdominal, pelvic, and upper thigh areas were wet as I was riding along, dealing with the wind and creating my own wind at 14 mph. My skin was SO red and cold when I got home. My muscles are pretty tired, even sitting here typing I can feel the fatigue. But on the positive side, I now know for sure that I CAN finish this upcoming race and do a decent job with it. It's in 2 weeks already! Crazy.

I'm going to be spending a few days in Grand Junction this next week to take a turn being with Spencer. Everyone so far has said that it's most helpful when there are 3 people there. Since Alisha and Shelyce are going to be there Monday through Wednesday, I'm going to join their little team, especially since Alisha will be bringing her newborn, Marcus, with her. I'm so glad I'll get to spend some time with both of my sisters, and can meet my newest little nephew, while being there with Spencer. Before I leave, I'm going to dig around my old textbooks and class notes and brush up on the speech and cognitive therapy used for TBI. This will be mostly for my own benefit, and hopefully Spencer's, though he may not need it. We'll just have to see. I'm especially thankful to Paul for being willing to let me leave him with the boys for a few days. It's important for me to feel like I'm being of some use. I know it will be harder for him this week, yet he understands and has been supportive. I'm so blessed to have him. I'm also grateful for a somewhat flexible work schedule and for the understanding my schools have shown me in letting me duck out and miss therapy this week. Thanks, guys!

Well, enough about me. Now I'll get started on a post about Spencer's progress today.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

getting the word out!

The following text is the email I just sent to my family, summarizing the conversation I had with my dad tonight. I've been put in charge of gathering information from Dad and passing it on. Here's what I learned tonight.

Spencer's status just keeps getting better. He'll open his eye now when they come in to see him and he is recognizing his visitors. It sounds like they're cutting back a bit on the sedatives and he's able to nod or shake his head when asked yes/no questions. This morning, Jen said something to the effect of, "If you still love me, squeeze my hand 3 times," and Spencer gave her three strong, deliberate squeezes. As they were about to leave tonight, even being exhausted, Jen could tell Spencer wanted to say goodnight. He held her hand and squeezed three times again for "I love you." I'm so happy to hear that the Spencer we know is still in there. Telling Jen he loves her has always been high on his priority list.

I learned today that Spencer's blood count was down on tuesday, requiring 4 units of blood to be given. They did a neck to pelvis CT scan (after the MRI) to see if any of the internal organs were injured, but everything came back normal (YAY!). The team finally figured out that his blood was too thinned out due to the sheer amount of fluid they've been pumping into him. Once he was given a diuretic medication, they were able to ascertain that his kidneys are working VERY well, and his blood count is normal again. Evidently, the nurse was emptying his "output" all night long. Nurses have fun jobs! And their job is going to be even MORE fun now that they've got him on a feeding tube and he's exhibiting "good bowel sounds!" Apparently, the feeding tube exploded ALL OVER the nurse and Spencer today (for the record, most nurses get totally grossed out by anything that comes out of the mouth!). The story made me throw up a little in my mouth, so I'll refrain from sharing it here! I'm sure Dad will be happy to repeat it for anyone who asks, though!

Spencer's hand surgery is tomorrow (Friday) morning at 9:45. His is the 2nd surgery of the day and should get started right on time. They've talked to the respiratory therapist a lot today and she's saying that depending on how he does post-op (how quickly he wakes up and recovers, how he responds to them weaning him off the oxygen), they may consider taking out the intubation tomorrow evening or at the latest Saturday morning. Again, can't wait!

The rehab specialist said that Spencer was able to execute every command given to him as far as movement goes. Megan and Jen were able to hunt down some very promising information about where he'll be going from here. Once Spencer is transferrable, he'll take a ride (either via ambulance or helicopter) to Swedish Hospital in Denver. Kaiser has thankfully approved that if he requires rehab services, he will receive them from Craig Hospital, the number 1 place we would want him to be. What a relief.

Dad wanted me to be sure to express our thanks to Spencer's coworkers at Ball Aerospace. We're happy that they are reading this blog and wanting to be connected with what is happening with Spencer. We appreciate the help that they are offering and are relieved to know of the army of friends anxious to be of service to Spencer, Jen, and their girls.

I also want to mention how wonderful the Gebhard family has been. Even with more of their kids coming back into town this weekend, they (especially the kids) have insisted that our family continue to stay with them. It turns out that Dad is going to join their family Academic Olympiad team on Saturday afternoon, strengthening their team with his extensive knowledge on American history and political science. It sounds like it will be a pretty formiddable team and I hope they kick some butt!

That's about it for today's updates. Thanks again (and again and again) for everyone's prayers and support.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

some more Spencer news

I talked to my dad for quite a while tonight. We were able to talk about tons of stuff, and since many of you have told me that it's helping you know how he's doing, I'll go ahead and share the details from my dad. Here goes... just a warning, it's kind of long.

Jen and Dad were able to witness something pretty special this morning when they arrived at Spencer's bedside. Apparently, Jen leaned over to whisper that she was there and Spencer opened his eye and looked right at her with what Dad described as a happy and relieved look of recognition. Dad was on the left side and they both were prompting Spencer to squeeze their hands and wiggle his toes. He's getting better at following commands to move all his extremities and is starting to get REALLY annoyed with all the crap he's hooked up to. When Dad and Jen loosened the restraints on his hands, he was trying to take that stinking mitt off with his left hand. He hates that thing! Just let the guy scratch himself!

They're still keeping Spencer heavily sedated. I have to admit, it took me a minute to understand the difference between "unconscious" and "sedated". He's not unconscious or in any sort of coma (drug induced or natural). When they lower the sedation levels, he is responsive. He can recognize Jen's voice as well as my dad's. I was glad to hear that he's not on any narcotic pain killers at the moment (I say save those for when he's conscious enough to appreciate them!). But they're keeping him out of it to help him sleep as much as possible as well as to keep him from pulling out all the tubing.

Speaking of tubing, the respiratory therapist said they were planning on keeping him intubated until after the second surgery on his wrist this Friday. He is no longer on the ventilator, but every time he breathes in, he gets an extra puff of oxygen. The resp. therapist is confident that within a half hour after that surgery, he'll be ready to get the tubes out. I know I'm pretty anxious to get that intubation out of the picture and get him talking to us again as soon as possible.

They were able to speak to the hand specialist today. In an ideal situation (relatively speaking of course), they originally would have waited for the swelling to go down before attempting to operate on the broken wrist. But since it was a compound fracture of both bones, and they were puncturing the skin, he needed to be operated on immediately to prevent infection. Left alone, his hand will be fully functional, but he'll likely develop some arthritis within a couple years. The specialist is going to redo the surgery, tweak some ligament connections and likely delay the onset of arthritis by about 10-12 years. That is great news. This surgery is scheduled for first thing on Friday morning.

They also talked to the neurosurgeon again today. As has already been mentioned, we know of the hematoma (bruising) over the left temple. His body will reabsorb this, hopefully leaving little damage. Just to reassure everyone again, even with the bruising on the top right side of his brain stem, he's 99% sure it will heal itself. In the meantime, this brain stem bruise will likely cause temporary weakness on the left side.

Before they left tonight, the eye surgeon talked to Dad and Jen about Spencer's eye. He said the eye is more firm, indicating that it's building up fluid again! He mentioned that the left eye will slightly track light, but not as well as the right can. The doctor thinks the eye "looks good" but Dad said it looks really bad right now. Thankfully, doctors see things as they'll become, and he assured them that once healed, the eye won't look gross. Hey, I'll take that!

They were also able to talk to the Sheriff that the search and rescue teams report to. He reported that some officers were able to return to the accident site. They confirmed an initial vertical drop of about 30 feet, but according to measurements of the rope they used to pull him up the mountain, the total distance of his fall was about 65 feet. So, I guess we can already start embellishing the story. Soon it'll be a hundred feet!

Well, that's the gist of what I got from my Dad. He reported that Jen is doing pretty well under the circumstances. It's been very therapeutic to write everything down, so he said she's spending a lot of time documenting this process and Spencer's progress. I'm sure her notes are WAY better than the grapevine news I'm getting, but for now, this will have to do. Thanks again for all the prayers on Spencer's and our family's behalf. Please keep them coming because they are helping and he continues to make progress every day.