March 27, 2013 – Day 3

The day began with some success; I got 6 hours of sleep, which was a miracle and restorative to me.  When I got to the hospital at 6:30 am, I found a Starbucks and got mocha lattes for Pete and I (a little victory-bad coffee is a disappointment!)  When I arrived, Peter and I checked in about the night.  Jess had slept well and Peter was able to get some sleep during his long shift, too.  Jess has been sleeping a lot since they got his pain medication right on Day 2, and it is maybe good and bad, because we are getting less conversation.

Jess ate apple sauce (a childhood favorite) and a little oatmeal, a little soup and more apple sauce later in the day. OK, note to self: apple sauce is a winner.  I called his sweetie, Tori, again and put her on speaker phone; Jess is so sleepy he isn’t asking to call her like he did yesterday.  Tori is coming to Tallahassee to take care of our kitty and prepare our house a bit for our eventual arrival…she is such a special young woman, and we have been keeping her updated as a member of the family.

On day 2, the nurse changed Jess bandages on Jess’ head, and I got to see the incision.  (Queasy folks should skip the next couple of paragraphs).  My first thought was “Frankenstein head”, because the incision is being held together by staples.  I didn’t count them, but there are a LOT.  The incision is extraordinary; it starts over his right ear and winds toward the back of his head, then circles back up and towards the front, like a big “C”.  This was required to open his skull so they could remove the large blood clot as well as to patch the fracture.  My second thought was wondering if Jess’ hair will cover that giant scar at some point. My third thought was how oddly beautiful it was.

Today, we got to see the CT scans and the trauma site from when Jess first arrived at the hospital; we saw the fracture in Jess’ skull as well as the blood clot.  Then we saw the CT scans from Day 2 and got to see the skull incision (it mirrors the big “C”) and the 3 small plates that are arranged to hold Jess’ skull together until it heals.  I asked if the plates are in there forever, and the nurse practitioner said “They can be.”  Hmmm…ok, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

One of the big victories of the day was the removal of the drain.  When the surgery was completed, a tube was placed under the skin in Jess’ head to drain the accumulation of fluids at the trauma site.  Jess has been doing well enough that the drain could come out, which meant he could begin his physical therapy and start walking around.  Peter kicked me out for the actual removal, which was probably a good idea; I will spare you the details.

Another victory for the day was that Jess could start physical therapy in earnest; despite his sleepiness, he was cooperative with the therapists and learned to use a walker and did some exercises in a chair.  You can imagine this is alternately joyous and heartbreaking to watch; Jess is a mile-a-minute kind of kid, so to see him moving slowly and deliberately like a 90 year-old man is hard to swallow.  He used to take a lot of pride in his speed and strength; he was an amazing athlete and drummer (I think you can still find video on YouTube).  I think he will be able to be amazing at these things again.  But it is hard…I felt the tears come to the surface again, and I reminded myself that he is alive and moving.

The occupational therapist also came and had him retrieve his toothbrush and toothpaste from the far corner of the room and take it into the bathroom to brush his teeth.  There Jess got to see himself in the mirror for the first time; everything about Jess is softened right now, including any emotional reactions.  He stopped and said “whoa” and that he “ didn’t like his face” (the right side of his head is swollen, which is normal.)  My heart ached some more.

As the day wears on, I notice that I am feeling different.  The adrenaline is wearing off; I am worn down despite my 6 hours of sleep earlier in the night.  I don’t feel entirely in my body.

A doctor strolls in with his entourage of interns and tells us that Jess will need inpatient rehab for possibly 2 weeks, then outpatient rehab for an undetermined amount of time.  It could be here in Orlando or in Gainesville at Shands; they are both very good.  But this was new information to us; naively, we thought we’d be taking him home after the hospital and doing outpatient therapy with him.  It hit home at another level when I asked if I would be taking him to rehab in my car and they told me that he would be taken by ambulance.

It is starting to dawn on us the work there is to do, and the loss Jess has (and we all have) sustained.  It makes me scared, sad and tired.  Peter and Aidan will have to go back to Tallahassee because they have places they must be; Peter has to work, and Aidan has to go to school.  I work from home as a writer, so I am blessed with the flexibility to be where Jess is.  I am here for the duration until I can bring my boy home with me; his health and wholeness have become my personal full time job.

Over these 3 days, I’ve been getting glimpses of the things I have learned to do in my life, the passion for healing and for turning challenges into something useful (interestingly enough, the topic of my latest book, SOUL COMPOST).  I have been studying the brain and becoming certified in various techniques for whole-brain communication in the last few years, too…I even posted something about the brain on Facebook on Sunday, the day before Jess’ accident.  I am beginning to realize that I’ve been preparing for this my whole life.

So, Peter, Aidan and I are starting to see that we have a journey ahead of us to help Jess to that 100% recovery that we all know he will have.  The reality that Jess will lose the credit for his hard work at college this semester is sad (and costly), but we hope he’ll be able to go back to school next year sometime.  His prognosis is good, and we are hanging on to that.  The evidence in front of us now is daunting in that we can see we have a long way to go to get him to that 100% mark.  As a friend reminded me, it could be short or long…we are hoping for short.  🙂

The amount of love we are being shown is extraordinary…as the circle of prayer continues to expand, we are receiving emails and messages from people who have known us over the years through our family odyssey, from Jess’ elementary, middle and high schools, from before we even had children….the caring bridge is being built brick by brick, and I am telling you right now, we couldn’t do this without you all.  The fund to help us pay for Jess’ medical expenses is growing…thank you so much.  Remember, we want you to see Jess HEALED and WHOLE.

Please share our story with others so they can learn through us.  We wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone; since it is happening to us, we are determined to make use of the experience toward the betterment of everyone.

Much love and in gratitude,


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