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November 5 through November 27, 2011


Barbara Hudgik · November 27 at 11:39 am

It was an amazingly beautiful day, yesterday. Very clear, blue skies, no clouds, a light breeze and 70 degrees. The air actually felt soft to me. We got outside for the afternoon and tried to take a walk up the street but Dave's back was bothering him too much to deal with the rough patches on the sidewalks. We spent a lot of time in the rec room of the building we live in which is on the bottom floor. It's a huge space with a big TV, fooze ball, an air hockey table that's low enough for a person in a wheelchair to play, (and he did play with his left hand), an organ, tables and chairs and just outside is a lovely garden with a grill and tables which gets lots of sun. We had lunch and dinner there.

Paul left for the airport a little after 10 this morning. That visit went by very quickly and I know it was tough for him to leave. The last thing he did was help get Dave out of bed and do some stretching on him.

Barbara Hudgik · November 25 at 7:43 pm

It took us awhile to get to it, but we finally had our Thanksgiving meal around 7pm after the day's move. Our first night in the apartment went well with Em and Dave in one bedroom and Paul and I in the other. Dave, Emily and I agreed that Em would learn to do some of the night nursing, as getting up at midnight, 4:30 and then 6am is going to be very hard for me to do every night but we'll make it work.

Today, we all went to the sixth floor lounge this afternoon to meet Diane and Kelly Goddu who are also from Keene. Diane' s daughter, Kelly, had a diving accident 5 years ago in Deerfield, MA. Her injury was deemed a complete C4 which she has totally defied by working very, very hard over the past 5 years. She and her mother are very knowledgeable about the best therapy programs and where to find financial help pay for them and equipment that isn't covered by insurance. Kelly's injury was much more severe than Dave's because the people she was with didn't keep her neck immobilized and the staff at the hospital she was brought to first also didn't know what was wrong. A couple of her aunts were nurses and told her mother to get her out of that hospital. They happened to find Dr. McGillicuddy at UMass so she and Dave had the same neurosurgeon! Unfortunately, Kelly had a delay of 48 hours between her injury and the surgery. Her C5 vertebra had been crushed and the C4 broken and she spent two weeks in a coma. They ended up at Shepherd as well, and have continued to come back here for therapy as well as going to Beyond Therapy in Canton, MA and therapy centers in CT and Fayetteville, GA. Kelly has no sensation like Dave but she has got back the use of both arms, can push a manual chair and transfer herself from her chair without using a lift. She also has a service dog named Betty that she got a few years ago from an organization here in Georgia.

Barbara Hudgik · November 24 at 11:49 am

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We're still moving out of room 429 and Dave is hanging in bed watching the Macy's parade.

We are so thankful for all the support we had received from family, friends and even strangers since Dave's accident. We absolutely couldn't manage without all of you.

Barbara Hudgik · November 22 at 8:14 am

Here's another interesting story which I forgot to relate: One of his respiratory therapists (and one of our favorites) has been a big guy with a head full of dark, curly hair named Fareez. His family is from the Middle East, Jordan I believe, although he doesn't have any relatives there now. Anyway, a few weeks ago he left to make his hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that every able-bodied Muslim that can afford to do so, must do at least once in their lifetime. This also must be done at a specific time each year, from the 8th day to the 12th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar year. This being a lunar calendar, the dates for the hajj rotate, and because it's only one time a year, and given that there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, there's quite a crowd in Mecca, Saudia Arabia during this time. Fareez friended Dave on FB so we could see the pictures he took. They look exactly like the ones you can see if you google 'hajj'. A sea of people, all in white in a huge square. The official number for this year's hajj is 2.93 million people and Fareez was one of them! He was gone for 20 days and came back without his curly hair because one of the final rituals for men is to shave their heads; women may cut their hair a couple of centimeters. There is an official hajj homepage, in English, that the Saudi government maintains if you want to read more about it and see some pictures: http://www.hajjinformation.com

Today we will have a Thanksgiving lunch which was prepared by the teams and their patients here on the fourth floor. Dave chopped the celery yesterday as part of his occupational therapy! Right now, his occ. therapist is doing a final evaluation of his upper body. She asks him to try and move this finger or bend the elbow or squeeze his shoulder blades together so she can test the strength of the muscles he's got.

Barbara Hudgik · November 21 at 1:37 pm

Two more days! Our case manager dropped off a box of supplies that we will need for Dave when we move to the apartment on Wednesday. It's scary to know that we will be completely on our own - no nurse around the corner, no tech to turn him at night or do his midnight and 6am IC's, we have to give him his med's four times a day - I hope we can manage to get enough sleep. And, if there's an emergency, we'll just have to call 911.

Barbara Hudgik · November 20 at 11:26 pm

Dad arrived last night a little before six. We were off on a little adventure in the tunnel that goes underneath Peachtree Rd. so Paul walked into an empty room. We all ran into each other on the first floor as we were on out way back to the room. Since it was so nice out we decided to get Dave out on the street to get some Subway for dinner - it was his first time going so far up the street!

Barbara Hudgik · November 19 at 11:47 pm

For the first time since we've been here, the phone in Dave's room rang. It was a neighbor of his Aunt Kristen's who told me that Kristen had given her a ride to Logan because she was coming to Georgia for her sister's birthday. She had heard all about David, and wanted to call us as soon as she got here to let us know that many people are thinking of David. She said her name is Eugenia and she comes to Georgia every year to visit her sister who lives about 2 hours from Atlanta. "Genie" and I agreed that Aunt Kristen is a very wonderful person! Thank you, Genie.

So much has been going on that I go blank when I start to post. I made a few notes so I could catch you up. This Thursday there was a Chili Cook-Off fundraiser. About 18 different teams were assembled from Shepherd Center employees and each team cooked some chili. Dave's physical and occupational therapists were on one of the teams, so on the previous Wednesday, everyone had to help prepare the chili. It just so happened that there was the tornado watch which turned into a warning when the food prep was underway. This forced everyone out of the rooms with windows and into the hallways for about an hour and a half. They were able to move the food prep into a conference room so they could keep working. The event itself was great fun. Dave stayed with his team and I went around getting samples for the both of us. These samples turned out to be our lunch for the day! The Atlanta Falcon cheerleaders were there again, so Cole's mom got a few pictures of Cole, Tyler and Dave with them, and she got a shot of just Dave and three of the girls. Btw, Dave's chili team came in second, although I, and many others, thought they had the best, most classic chili of all.

Two things happened yesterday: First we ran into Jay in the hall and Dave insisted they race. Jay won by a hair the first time and by a little more the second time, but Dave was at a disadvantage because there was a bag of laundry sticking out on his side of the hall! Their race made Cheryl recall the time they had a decathalon between a couple of patients that had been a lot of fun, so she told Dave and Jay to come up with ten challenges that they would go head to head on and that it would be promoted as a fundraiser for the boys! Second: Last weekend one of the respiratory therapists was hanging in the hall and the talk turned to running over things with your wheelchair. She said that she had a huge roll of it at home and would bring it in, well... she showed up last night with exactly that, and a couple of smaller rolls that she had her husband buy just in case she couldn't find the other one. She also brought a military issue glow stick from her husband who is in the marines. It was nine o'clock and Dave was in bed so we made a date for next Wednesday evening to go down to the third floor where she says there is a really long hall and Dave can pop as much bubble wrap as he wants!

Barbara Hudgik · November 18 at 3:07 pm

After yesterday's procedure, I didn't think Dave would make it to the mall outing but he pulled it off. The doctor had to have Dave on his stomach in order to do the injection. The flip to his stomach plus having to turn side head so much to one side really, REALLY hurt his neck. Dr. Musser was surprised at the amount of pain it caused him this far out from the surgery. He put Dave on a once a day dose of a time-release muscle relaxant (Amirix, I think) for seven days. It's major side effect is severe drowsiness so Dave will take it before bed. Last night's dose kept him asleep all night but also quite out of it through the morning. At least with the nerve block, his therapist was able to do some deep work on his shouldler blade and got it a little loosened up. He was still in pain but able to tolerate much more of the necessary therapy.

We had a good time at the mall which Dave found relaxing. It was a good space for him to cruise around. Our mission was to find some shirts and we did get one. When we got back his nurse, Artica, had brought lots of balloons for us to blow up and put in Cheryl's (his counselor's) office as a prank. Dave had been leaving a banana on her door handle every night. I think she knows it's Dave!

Barbara Hudgik · November 17 at 11:31 am

We're closing in on our discharge day! They removed the telemetry wires that have been stuck to Dave's chest since we arrived here and the box so he's free to go wherever he wants. I'm glad they're out of the way, period. A pain specialist visited this morning and decided to do a nerve block this afternoon. They will watch the site with xray so he can see the channel the needle has to go down. This should really take care of the shoulder and shoulder blade pain so the therapist can get in there and work out the adhesions, (where the muscles are stuck to the bone, which can happen when there has been trauma and immobilization). This doctor may also be able to convince the other doctor that performs EMG's, (a test to see where nerve damage may be), to go ahead and give Dave that test. Or, if not the EMG, at least an MRI could help them see what's going on. It's critical that this be taken care of or Dave won't be able to get that right arm back.

There's a knock on the door and it's Pam, our case manager, who says we are confirmed for day program - YEAH!

Barbara Hudgik · November 16 at 5:40 pm

The fire station was fantastic - the biggest one around in Roswell. They were able to ride up a hundred feet in the bucket on the giant ladder truck and they sat in the cab an sounded the alarm which David said was UNBELIEVABLY loud. They have tons of equipment, even hovercraft!

Today's big news was that Dr. Zadoff said if Dave passed the lung volume test they could take out the trach. Dave blew a 1700 which was way more than necessary so out the trach came. Dave insisted that Emily video the removal and I know that many of you have already watched it on his FB page. It's graphic and awesomely gross! (click here for video)

Barbara Hudgik · November 15 at 1:10 pm

David is off on an outing to a fire station today and won't be back til 3pm. I've been using the time to contact people that may have helpful information regarding our situation. So, for today's post, I'm going list some of the things that we need, just in case some of you out there may may know something or someone that can be of assistance in our efforts to prepare for the time when Dave comes back to NH.

Above all, we need to find another place to live as our current residence isn't going to work. Next is wheelchair accessible transportation - a van that's already modified or one that we can have modified. Beyond those major necessities are some things that medical insurance doesn't cover: a backup manual wheelchair, a Hoyer lift, a shower chair. Please contact me if you can offer any help with any of these things and thank you!

Oh - I have dependent passenger transportation class now - I'll try to make another entry after Dave gets back - Bye

Barbara Hudgik · November 14 at 7:59 am

Finally, a post! Let's start with Friday evening - just hanging in the hall with Tyler and Cole's family who came over to visit and have pizza. Someone got a box to play a little hall soccer with and Dave had his mp3 hooked up to a little speaker that we tucked into the bag on the back of his chair so we could have some tunes.

Saturday morning he had physical therapy in his room while he watched one of the skiing videos that his Aunt Kathy had given him. It was "The Grand Bizarre" for those of you who know your extreme skiing videos. We had it played on the channel for the fourth floor which meant anyone on this floor who happened to check out channel 47 would be able to see it. Someone who did enjoy skiing did catch it and was very impressed. He's in room 415 and I'd say around 50 years old. He and his wife stopped by to meet Dave and to tell us his story. He wiped out while mountain biking on a trail. Lucky for him, a group of bikers came by and one of them was an EMT. He sustained injury from cervical vertibrae C2 through C6 so he drives his wheelchair with a sip and puff straw.

Another fun activity was wheelchair train. Emily and David "borrowed" a stool from the gym that has four wheels on it. She would hang on to the back of the chair and get towed around. I joined in by hanging onto Em and we went around the block. It started a trend as we noticed others doing the same thing later on.

Sunday was such a gorgeous day - 70 degrees, sunny. We got outside for awhile in the afternoon, along with everyone else. Someone was having a child's birthday party in the parking lot of the apartments that are right across the street. It must have been a little girl's party because there were pink balloons and the two ponies they had for pony rides were wearing pink headwear as well.

Gotta go, it's 8am already!

Barbara Hudgik · November 11 at 8:38 am

Yes, the gastric tube is out, but I really had my doubts that it could simply be pulled out after the tie was snipped. Cathy was pulling on it really hard and the tube was s-t-r-e-t-c-h-ing! I thought for sure that something that shouldn't pop out would. It finally gave way and came flying out, leaving behind what looks like a second bellybutton.

Connie came bearing gifts of clothing for all of us and some homemade chicken noodle soup. That was Dave's before bed snack last night and I had some for dinner and it was delicious, thanks Connie. While she was here, Dave had outdoor sports therapy down in the gym. He was set up with a BB gun which he could aim with his head and left arm. With the side of his face his could push the gun to the right and with his left hand he could move it up and down. He was always great at aiming when he used the BB gun at home and he's still great at it. He killed the rat - one on paper -with some very accurate and consistent shooting! Next week he will try fishing.

Barbara Hudgik · November 10 at 7:48 am

Michael's photography auction was a great success and lots of fun! David enjoyed bidding and we did walk away with a sunset/twilight shot of the ocean in Florida. Dave also wanted the sunrise pic as well but he also needs new sneakers! The aucion raised $399 which Michael will use towards a better camera. There were some exciting bidding wars and the final picture of a pigeon went for $100 to Cheryl, the auctioneer and counselor. She spent twice her limit but the photo was well worth it, it was the favorite of many.

Today they will finally be able to remove his gastric tube. It took a phone call to the surgeon who 'installed' it to really be sure how to take it out. In the end, a snip of a plastic tie and a pull of the tube should do it. His physical therapist, Cathy, will do the honors! It's also design your own wheelchair day, we have a 9am appointment for that. And, last but not least, we will have a visit from cousin Fred's wife, Connie

Barbara Hudgik · November 9 at 9:35 am

Yesterday was a rather bittersweet day - Ben and Kelly both graduated from inpatient rehab. There are only two left, David and Tyler, of the group of about 8 young people who have shared this part of their recovery for up to the past four months. David was actually the newest member. As a special and kind of against-the-rules treat, Cheryl, counselor to all these kids, brought them all up to the deck on the seventh floor last evening. Emily took several pictures of the city lights and of the group. Most of the group pics were blurry but I'll have her post the best one. It you go to her FB page you can see one of the city lights. Em and I had purchased some glow sticks a few weeks back so she brought those up and made some glasses and necklaces for everyone to try on. They looked great out there in the dark!

Today, Michael, one of those young people and the one with the most dramatic recovery so far, (he's walking!), is having a fun little fundraiser. He's hoping to become a photographer and will be having an auction of 13 of his pictures. Counselor Cheryl will be the auctioneer. I'll have to make sure I don't miss that. He's already heading home by the end of this week. He's also the one with the connection to the service dogs so we probably won't be seeing the Cairn Terriers or the golden retriever again : (

Barbara Hudgik · November 8 at 9:53 am

David had his trach "plugged" yesterday. It now had a red button at the opening so he can't breathe through it anymore. They'll keep that in for 10 days or so to make sure he's ready to let it close up.

I think Dave was still feeling the effect of not enough sleep this weekend. He didn't feel very well in the morning but still went to physical therapy but after that his body was just telling him to get back in bed. While Emily and I were getting ready to move him from the chair to the bed he got nauseous and threw up a bit. He did feel better after that so he was able to eat some lunch and then he took a good nap.

A package from dad arrived and it had two marshmallow guns and a bag of mini-marshmallows so Em and Dave had some fun with and maybe even more fun running over the bubble wrap with the wheelchair! Michael and his mom showed up in the evening with another service dog that jumped right up on Dave's bed - almost right into his dinner! I think the dog was just as surprised as the rest of us.

Barbara Hudgik · November 7 at 10:35 am

Dave had a very rough night, Saturday. He was feeling very anxious and his blood pressure was up. I don't know how to put this delicately, but it was probably due to a slowed down digestive system. He was all better by the morning but was quite tired all day. We did get out to the Secret Garden with Aunt Kathy in the afternoon and, once again, there were dogs - two Cairn Terrier puppies, a brother and sister about 6 months old - much to my sister's and Dave's delight. Kathy is a true dog-lover and I think I mentioned that Dave really wants to get a dog now. Seeing animals always helps to take his mind off of the pain which was really aggravating him yesterday.

Later on, Dave went to Tyler's room to hang out and watch a movie with a few friends. Went it was time to get him in bed, we decided that the three of us could do it without the help of a tech, especially since Emily is so good with the lift. I'm very pleased to say that we had no problems at all from start to finish!

Aunt Kathy had to say goodbye to Em and Dave last night since she has a 10:30 flight this morning. It was so wonderful to see her - she is absolutely the very best sister ever, right up there with Emily! Thank you for the surprise visit, it made us all very happy.

Barbara Hudgik · November 6 at 10:08 am

Yesterday was a great day. Kathy went to physical therapy with Dave in the morning and played watergirl for the group of four guys that were working with the same therapist. During the afternoon I took her to Fresh Market which is a chain of grocery stores similar to Whole Foods. They were having their Thanksgiving food preview so the customers could sample the dinner that is available to order for the holiday. It was all delicious and I ended up ordering our Thanksgiving dinner with Fresh Market since Paul will be here. I don't know where we'll be eating it yet but at least I know we'll have the food!

Last night turned out to be a lot of fun. Three of the guys that went to the day program came over and everyone ended up in the gym to play a really neat game. I'll have to ask Michael's mom the name because it was a great game to play with a big group of people. One person would pick a card and read it aloud. There would be a sentence instructing everyone to think of something you wouldn't do on a first date or something you wouldn't name a children's book,etc. Everyone but the person who read the card writes their answer on a piece of paper which is then turned in to the reader. That person reads the responses out loud and then each other person has to guess who wrote which response. If you guess correctly, you may continue guessing until you're wrong, then the next player guesses. One point is given for a correct guess. It was pretty hilarious. In the end I think Jay and Kelly tied for first, Dave tied for second with Cole and Ben and Michael were in last place.

Barbara Hudgik · November 5 at 1:18 pm

We had a very big and very happy surprise walk in the door last night - my sister, Dave's and Emily's Aunt Kathy, popped into the room around 7. She had been looking at flights to Atlanta every night online so her husband said just book one and go, and happily, she did! This was very brave of her since she has never flown by herself before. She made it to Logan, (and is doubtful that she'll ever find her car again), survived a patdown at the airport because she left her credit card in her back pocket, got dropped off by the taxi at the hospital next door but managed to find her way to us in the end. We all went to the gym to watch the basketball tournament for a while. It's the annual Shepherd Shootout and it runs through Sunday. Basketball in wheelchairs is insane! We all were very amazed by the atheletes. We saw two crashes which resulted in players tipping over but they all know how to right themselves without any help. After the game, Kathy and I walked to Subway since Dave was hungry and she hadn't eaten all day. I drove her back to her hotel and spent the night there and we had a little adventure coming back to Shepherd - some roadwork forced me to go left when I needed to go right and we ended up on a highway. Luckily, I recognized a sign for Piedmont Rd. which I cross on my way to Ronald McD's house so we got on that, went to the McD house so my sister could see how beautiful it is and made it back to Shepherd by 9:30 am.

Kathy went with Dave to his PT from 10 to 11 and now we're going to make a Starbucks run. If it wasn't so cold out - 50 and breezy we'd take Dave out but he's feeling cold right now. We'll get to that tomorrow for sure.


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