Friday, June 30, 2006

At the Glenrose

It's our second day at the Glenrose and it's been an adjustment! It was hard to leave such a wonderful "“comfort zone" but I'’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we feel "secure" again. We have a few hurdles:

- Mike is still suffering from nausea and was unable to keep his breakfast down again (guess it's time for Fruit Loops!). He tried to get up in the chair again this afternoon but almost passed out so they put him back to bed. Hopefully this will ease up soon.
- They were unable to get a wheelchair with a good fit. Mike is used to having a chair with a lot of support so now having one that he cannot even {“feel"” (the only part of his body that he can feel is above the chair!) causes a lot of strain on his neck. Combine that with feeling sick and he dreads getting up in the chair. Because of the long weekend, we won't be able to try out any new chairs until sometime next week. Mike never complains but I know it is difficult for him.
- Mike'’s roommate, Matt, is the same age, outgoing, and you might even say out-spoken! Though his injury is similar to Mike's, it is an incomplete and Matt has full use of his hands and continues to regain feeling. Mike seems quite comfortable but I get those little pangs of sadness for him when Matt is bombing around the unit. Mike'’s doctor was quite clear on the fact that Mike should not expect more feeling or movement but he will definitely gain more strength.
- The staff here seem very nice but we miss our friends at the University Hospital.

But even with the "“hurdles", we know that we are one step closer to having Mike come home. Now if only we could find a house!!!


From Matt: Make sure you all sign the "map". It is a great idea from Steve and I too want to see where all this prayer and support is coming from (I'm sure Mike would find it interesting too). From talking to Mike today, it seems like he is a little worried about his schedule and he doesn't seem that confident that he will be able to handle it all right away, so pray for strength for him as he starts his full routine on tuesday. And also pray for wisdom for the doctors and nurses as they guide his rehabilitation.

Friends of Mike

I thought it might be cool to virtually be able to see where you all are from. There have been a number of comments that said that Mike has friends praying all over the world. Just click "add" and sign up to become a dot on the page.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tomorrow is Moving Day!

We got the word today! Looks like Mike will be moving to the Glenrose tomorrow morning. No more snoozing after physio - hard work, here we come. As much as we are looking forward to the next phase, we will be sad to leave the hospital.

We will miss the PT/OT team. No doubt, Mary and Kerstin will miss the daily drama of wondering whether Michael will be able to keep down his breakfast! And I’m sure Helena will miss being distracted in order for Mike to “cheat” on his finger exercises! I think Mike has considered kidnapping them and bringing them to the Glenrose – it’s hard to leave such great people.

We will miss the unit nurses and staff. Mike happened to mention that he’d heard rumors about the possibility of having ice cream as a snack. Not only did he get ice cream but today there was a box of popsicles just for him! I doubt whether he’ll be so spoiled at the Glenrose.

And last but not least, I highly doubt that I will be able to assist the nurses when doing Michael’s dressing changes. After all the joking and teasing about wearing gloves, I was presented with “sterile” gloves today! Now if only I could get a pair of scrubs….

It’s been 6 weeks since the accident. Much has changed but we have much to be thankful for. I thank God everyday for Michael. I still can’t quite believe how I ended up being the mom of such terrific boys. Neil and I feel truly blessed.


Picture Update

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Monday, June 26, 2006


Mike’s burns – The spots we were concerned about seen to be healing although Mike has developed a pressure sore on his heel. He has a gel pad under his foot and it is being elevated so we’re hopeful this will clear up quickly.

Mike’s appetite – Though he still feels nauseous during the day, he managed to eat yogurt, a bran muffin, chicken caesar salad, chips, some hospital food, pizza and ice cream today! (It’s obvious that we need to get out more when we start reporting food intake!)

Mike’s physio – Transferred to chair and then to mat, didn’t throw up, did range of motion on legs, didn’t throw up, transferred back to chair, didn’t throw up, worked on arms and hands, DID NOT THROW UP! I am beginning to wonder whether progress is Mike gaining strength and mobility or his ability to keep his food down.

Mike’s rehab – Still no word on the Glenrose. Hopefully this week! As much as Mike is anxious to go, he loves the laid back schedule at the hospital. He’ll miss that afternoon nap time for sure.

Mike’s hair – It keeps getting longer and longer and longer… (I wonder what Mike would look like with his head shaved???)


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Cream of the Crop

I think one of the reasons why Michael is doing so well is that he has the best physio and occupational therapists. Oh, I know there are many wonderful staff at the UofA hospital but somehow we seem to have the cream of the crop assigned to Mike. Mary (I promised I wouldn’t quote her again!), Kerstin and Helena work with Mike every week day helping him to transfer, balance and strengthen his muscles. Having seen Michael struggle to sit up 2 weeks after the accident, it is exciting to see him able to transfer himself to the wheelchair (still with help but it won’t be long before he will be able to do it alone). Certainly, his determination and hard work is paying off but it’s obvious that these ladies have a genuine fondness for Mike and want the best for him. They even put up with me every day and occasionally let me sit in the “rolling chair” if I’m not too annoying.

The same goes for Mike’s nurses. From those emotionally intense days in ICU to the now comfortable days on the ward, we have had incredible nurses. We have been encouraged, supported and tolerated (our family can be quite loopy at times) and we feel well cared for. They laugh at Mike’s jokes and put up with his teasing. The nurses generously allow me to help with Michael’s burn dressing changes knowing that it’s less about me being an assistant and much more about being able to wear the gloves! I’m sure they are all counting the days until we go to Glenrose…

Lest you think it’s all “fun and games”, there are many moments when the realities of dealing with SCI (spinal chord injury) hit hard. Imagine lying in bed, struggling to get comfortable and you can’t move your body. You feel claustrophobic and you can do nothing. Or imagine having something caught in your throat and you can’t cough more than a weak clearing of your throat. Imagine trying to sit up straight when you can’t feel your torso and your center of gravity is not where you think it should be. Try to imagine what it would be like to think about getting dressed by yourself, knowing that the task seems impossible. It’s not easy. It won’t be easy. But it’s not impossible. That much we can say with certainty!


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Highs and Lows

Today’s highs and lows:

The “high” was that Mike was actually hungry today! The idea of lasagne seemed to strike a chord and I agreed to go to the cafeteria to get him some. The “low” was that they were out and the “15–20 minute” wait turned into 50 minutes but it finally came and he ate every bit!

Another “high” was when Mike was able to take off his sock in physio. Sadly, the “low” was when he threw up! He continues to feel nauseous when moving around lots but he’s been able to keep things down (except for today) for the last number of days. We’ve tried a couple of different medications but we’ll keep trying to find something that works.

It’s a “high” to hear how much they love Michael on the unit but it was a “low” today when we found out that there will be no bed available at the Glenrose for at least a week or more. Mike is so anxious to get on with the next step of his rehab except that he does rather enjoy napping during the day, something he probably won’t get a chance to do when he moves!

It’s always a “high” when Mike finds another spot that he can “feel”. The last couple of days he’s been able to feel a spot below his ribs and also a spot behind his right knee. The “low” today was finding more spots on his grafts that are not healing. We will be so glad when his burns have completely healed.

It was a month on Saturday since the accident. The biggest “high” is knowing that Mike is still around and he’s still Mike. There are no “lows” about that!


Saturday, June 17, 2006


Mike has been doing better with physio (I think I'll try to spell it different every time) for the last couple of days. His therapist said she has felt bad working Mike so hard because he usually will go till he can't hold down his lunch. I'm actually impressed though. I'm glad he works as hard as he does because he so often talks his way out of pysio.

He has been eating more and actually ate sitting up for the first time ever. Chicken Cesar salad never tasted so good...right side up that is. Mike has also been dealing with nausea for the last number of weeks but we think we have found the solution! Yesterday he had a major craving for Fruit Loops. It took a while for Mom to find them but they did the trick. No more nausea! So if anyone knows Toucan Sam see if you can hook us up with a lifetime supply!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mike continues to entertain the nurses, impress the staff and still has not lost the ability to push Matthew’s buttons. By saying in a whiny voice that his legs don’t work, he needs water, sympathy, etc., he somehow manages to tug at Matt’s heart strings! This won’t last long but in true Michael fashion, he will stretch it to the limit!

On the flip side, Mike continues to struggle with feeling nauseous while transferring and when doing physio. Today the physio-therapist said that this is the first time in 20 years that she has felt guilty about how hard a patient was working. (Mike threw up again during his work out.) Of course that brought a smile to Michael’s face – perhaps another button he could push….

The grafts seem to be healing nicely except for a few areas on the foot and between the toes. He will still have to keep his foot elevated until Sunday but even that should not delay his moving to Glenrose once there is a bed available.

In spite of the struggle to do even the most basic of things, Mike somehow manages to turn it into “fun”. When he was young, before he would go to bed, Neil would pray with him. Michael would ask God to give him a fun, fun, fun, fun, fun (you get the idea) day the next day. Though I don’t doubt his sincerity, it was also a delay tactic! One day, Neil’s Dad said that God sure answers Michael’s prayer because he always seems to have a “fun” day! We may not be having fun days every day but there never ceases to be fun moments.

Even on the lowest days, Michael knows how to melt my heart. One day, when Mike was still in ICU in traction, I was rubbing his arm. He told me how much he loved me. I told him that I loved him, too. He said, “No, Mom. You don’t understand. The words ‘I love you’ don’t come close to capturing how I really feel. There are no words big enough. If I knew the words, I could make a scads of money at Hallmark.”

I think I do understand what you mean, Mike. Any Mom understands when they look at their kids. I don’t think there are words “big” enough to describe how much we love our kids, all of them!

Mike and his dog Max

Monday, June 12, 2006

One Happy Birthday (from Mom)


I can’t wait to read Mike all of his birthday messages! If he didn’t feel appreciated before, he most certainly will after hearing your good wishes. (At the moment, I am printing out the 18 pages of comments….)

Here are a few of the highlights from the last 2 days:
>> 95% of Mike’s grafts look good. From 90% yesterday to 95% today – his marks improved just by sleeping! (Apparently sleeping was a method he used frequently at school…so I’ve heard!)
>> They removed the 115 staples from his grafts yesterday (10 more today) which bring his grand total of staples to 167! Mike is very proud of this but then again, he was much more proud of showing off his neck scar when it had the “Frankenstein” staples!
>> Michael has had some sensations in his left foot and ankle. Though we understood that both motor and sensory nerves were damaged, he may still have some sensory nerves. If feeling in his right leg returns, we hope it is AFTER the burns heal!
>> Mike seems to be eating a bit better but still finds sitting in the chair hard on his stomach. Because he no longer feels his torso, he doesn’t seem to feel hungry. Rather, he often feels full, even when he hasn’t eaten for hours. (Thanks, Damien, for the treats you keep stocked in the fridge!)
>> Michael had a family birthday celebration on Sunday afternoon. (Thanks, Julene and Cal for all the food!). Today, the staff spoiled him with balloons and cookies. (Okay, one of the balloons was fairly deflated which Mike quickly made note of but it was the best they could do at 4:00 am! Later in the day, a new one was delivered!!)
>> I am so proud of Michael’s determination and desire to do things on his own. Mike said today how difficult it will be if he can’t type normally (his motor skills are so diminished) but then in his next breath, he simply said he’ll have to find a new way of doing things. We keep saying that it is all just a new “normal”. This year will be spent discovering all of those new things which will now be our “normal”! We have much to learn…

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Mom's Update

Today was a relaxing day (although the hockey game was tense!). Though we had assumed that the plastic surgeon had only grafted Michael’s heel, it turns out he grafted all the areas that were burned. They took a huge “slice” from Mike’s thigh and grafted his shin, 40% of his foot and even between some of his toes! Most of the grafts are healing nicely but they are watching the 10% that is still “ify”.

Mike continues to feel nauseous while sitting up in the chair but we’re hoping this is a temporary thing. Because Mike rarely feels hungry, it is often a chore to get him to eat and it doesn’t help when he feels sick while sitting in the chair. He has lost a fair bit of weight so as any good mother, I nag him often about eating! Sadly, I think I’m doing a lot of sympathy eating right now. Not sure if that will help him put on the pounds or not!

It’s hard to believe Mike will be 19 on Monday! In spite of the fact that he will have many challenges ahead this year, I know he will come out on top.

Matt: On a side note, I know many people might like to wish Mike a Happy Birthday, but it is difficult for Mike to have a lot of visitors. It takes a lot out of him, and there is also limits with people coming in Mike's room. A card or comment on this blog is a great way to say Hi to Mike, and thank you to everyone who has done this so far. The encouragement has been phenomonal and we will let you know when Mike will be more able to receive lots of vistors. Thank you all for your prayers and support. God is doing some amazing things through and in Mike's life.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Another One from Mom

Michael continues to show amazing courage and determination. Though he missed a few days of physio because of the skin grafts, he’s been back at it for the last couple of days. He continues to practise transferring from bed to wheel chair and he’s also been working on strengthening his arms. On Friday, “plastics” will look at his skin grafts and if all is well, as soon as there is a bed available at the Glenrose, he will be transferred. Not a day has gone by that the hospital staff hasn’t commented on Mike’s positive attitude and sense of humour. Not that he hasn’t had down times, even tears, but his ability to bounce back is inspiring. In spite of the fact that he hasn’t washed his hair in 5 days (we attempted the “no wash shower cap” today!), he still has the “coolness” factor!

It was wonderful to have Lori (Steve’s wife) and her Mom, BJ, with us for a few days. Lori was visiting her family in Oregon and made the 18 hour drive to come see Mike and spend a few days with us before flying back to Detroit.. It was a wonderful gift! Not only did Neil, Matt and I have a full breakfast served to us every morning, we took a hearty lunch each day and enjoyed a hot, home-cooked meal brought to us every night at the hospital. Magically, our laundry was done and the house stayed cleaned! Mike and Lori got to spend some time together although Mike did managed to doze off quit a few times just as Lori arrived. Truly we are blessed to have such a treasure as Lori and her family in our lives.

We can’t begin to thank all the people who have shown their love in such tangible ways. From mowing our lawn (thank you, neighbours!) to bringing us food, treats and gifts, we feel overwhelmed with gratitude. People have asked us what they can do to help and I don’t even know what to say! Does anyone else in the world have such a great family, wonderful friends and gracious neighbours? I doubt it!

I think the last few days have been the lowest emotionally for our family but Mike’s spirit is what keeps us going. Thank you for your prayers, your support and your kind words. We appreciate your encouraging comments on this blog – each one is precious! Earlier in this process when there were only 700 “hits,” Mike said, “I don’t even know 700 people.” Well, more than 700 people now know Mike and I hope are touched by his strong character and his love of life! On to the next day….

Monday, June 05, 2006

Last Surgery...

Mike completed, what we hope to be, his last surgery. Skin was taken from his thigh on his right leg and moved do to cover his burns in his heel. The doctors said everything looks good and it should be about a week to 10 days for the skin to take and to heal. He was up having lunch when I got the news so it sounds like he is doing pretty good.

PS. His voice is sounding a lot better as well!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

3rd Degree Burns

Just a quick note. Mike is doing well with his work outs. The nights are still pretty painful though. His skin grafting (for the 3rd degree burn on his heel) is scheduled for monday, so keep him in your prayers. Once the skin grafts are healed he will be on the waiting list for Glen Rose Hospital to start his rehab.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Day by Day

Another day, and a step closer to recovery. Mike is working very hard at his own recovery. He has been working to absolute exhaustion during his physio, but the therapist have been very impressed with his abilities and his strength. He has said that it is difficult to learn to use new muscles to do what the rest of his body used to be able to do (like balance him as he sits...he now has to learn to only use his arms to keep him from tipping over). So please pray for his strength. This is all very tiring for him and difficult some days to look forward to.

While I was on the phone with him last night (he has transferred to a different ward and now has a phone) his voice was pretty scratchy. This is for two reasons: one being that he had a tube shoved down his throat during surgery that has scratched him up inside; two is because during his surgery they entered through the front of his neck, meaning they had to move his throat aside to get in. It is taking longer than we expected for his voice to return to normal. So please pray that that would return.

Mike has also had some change in his hearing. He had a base skull fracture from the accident which had caused some bleeding in his head. Most of that blood drained out of his right hear and mixed with the wax caused some major blockage. Last night something popped! He said it was pretty weird, but he had his hearing back (which had been completely lost in the last two weeks).

So there are lots of items to be praying about...and we will continue to take this a day at a time.