(NewsChannel5 videographer Joe McGee has worked in the Akron Bureau for nearly 30 years and is a big part of the community. He wanted to take the time to share his experience and to provide updates after an accident involving his son.)
My son Joe, was in a car accident on Interstate 71 in Boone County, Ky. on Friday Jan. 7. He is in the ICU at University Hospital of Cincinnati. He has severe brain trauma and some fractured and broken bones.
Joe is back in Akron at a local hospital.
Below are updates on his progress:
Joe's band Taxidermy Special released a CD over the weekend. The Akron Beacon Journal wrote a great article about the release.
One year ago today, Joe almost died in the accident. I am happy to say that he has made an amazing recovery. He may never get back to 100% of where he was, but if you ran into him on the street, except for his limp, you would never know what he has been through.
There are things he doesn't remember and most likely will never remember. He can not remember coming home for last Christmas just weeks before the accident. He watches the video of him surprising us and says he wishes he could remember it on his own, but the video makes him happy. Thankfully he can not remember anything about the accident and most of the next several weeks. He looks at the pictures of himself in the hospital bed and is glad he can not remember.
The other day his doctor told him how lucky he is. With the severity of his brain injury he could have easily been much worse, unable to walk,talk or communicate with us. He has really been through a lot of ups and downs through the year but he has truly been blessed, we all have.
Once again my family and I thank everyone for all of the support and prayers we have received, it really helped and I don't know how we and he would have survived with out it.
It is hard to believe it was ten months ago today, that we got that call about Joe's accident. There are so many memories from that day and the weeks to come. That four hour drive to Cincinnati in a snow storm, the same snow storm that caused the accident, seemed to take forever.
We had no idea what we were going to find when we got there. All we knew he was in a bad accident and we had to get there ASAP. We drove without turning on the radio, afraid of what we might hear on the news. It was when we were about an hour away, when we were told he was going to be admitted. That was the first time we knew he was still alive.
To see where he is today is hard to believe. He is driving, playing drums in his band and working. The Akron Zoo has been wonderful working with Joe and his doctor to slowly get him working, only as much as he could handle along the way.
Joe is still recovering but if you ran into him on the street for a few minutes, you would not know what he has been through. Other then his limp, from the plate in his leg and heel injury you wouldn't guess how close to death he was.
I have never wrote this before, but he was not breathing when he was pulled from the car. I still believe if it were not for his buddy Ben, who held his coat on the big gash on the back of his head and talked to Joe until the paramedics arrived, he may not have made it.
Our family will never be the same after this experience, but we do know how many wonderful people there are out there that care. From close family and friends to people we don't even know, we have recieved so much strength and support that we will never forget.
It's been a while since I have updated Joe's progress. This weekend we took Joe back to Cincinnati. He is part of a research study where he may have been given Progesterone for the first four days. They believe it may help with brain swelling, which in Joe's case, with his injury, that was a big concern. He had to go back for a follow up visit so they could check on his progress.
He doesn't remember anything from Cincinnati and I think it was good for him to see where he was and meet some of the doctors and nurses that took such great care of him. They were so excited to see him up, walking and talking.
They told him how thankful they were that he came to visit. They said it really helps them to see someone that has come so far. It let's them know that what they do really makes a difference.
Joe told us it helps him understand what he and we went through.
We are so thankful for the staff at the University of Cincinnati, everyone way so nice and without them, I believe Joe wouldn't be with us today.
I added a couple of pictures of Joe. One of him with some with doctors and a nurse and also Joe outside the hospital.
I am posting a video of the last two songs from the show the other night. Joe did really great! It is amazing to think just a few months ago he was fighting for his life and now he is up on stage. You could see and feel how much Joe, Will and Ben really needed to get back to where they were as far as the band goes. They had a different energy about them.
I had to help carry, setup and break down his drum kit, it was too much for him, but when he sat down and the music started playing that part of his memory is fine. He still struggles with some short term memory issues, but I really feel that playing again will help him physically, mentally and emotionally. You could tell he was running out of gas and he said it takes more concentration to play, but what a big step for him.
You can also go to http://www.davidsboray.com/taxidermyspecial to see some great pictures from the show. David did a great job capturing the show.
Joe's band 'The Taxidermy Special' has a show this Friday, May 27th, at Musica in Akron. Joe plans to be the drummer for the show. Playing again has really helped him start to feel more normal and more like the old Joe. I think it is good therapy for him.
Joe and his sisters, Katelyn and Lauryn, turn twenty-one tomorrow. This morning, he told me that turning twenty-one has a different meaning to him now. Before he couldn't wait for this birthday, now he is just so thankful to be alive to see twenty-one. In fact, every big day will have more meaning to him, because he realizes how lucky he to be here. I think our whole family feels the same way. As Joe told me when he was still in the hospital, "I think I am an adult now, because I realize what is really important in life."
Joe played his first show since the accident last night in Kent. It was kind of a last minute decision. He had been practicing with the band and decided to give it a try. He did great! He said he missed a few things at times, but was really happy with his first attempt. He said he was a little disoriented or dizzy once in a while, but just kept telling himself to keep going.
I think it is great for him to get back to a part of his normal life. You could see it in his face and in his voice, how proud and happy it made him. After the show he said he even forgot about the accident at points during the show. That may be the most important part of the whole night.
This week Joe's doctor found that his left leg is now just a little bit longer then his right. They had told him with the injuries it may end up a little shorter, but he was surprised to find out it is the other way around. They are going to work on getting a lift for his shoe. As the doctor said, he looked like he was walking in a hole.
He still has work to do but to have come this far this soon is fantastic. Joe says the band still wants to have an official "We're Back" show, last night was more of a trial run to see if he could handle it. I'll keep you posted.
Joe continues to go to out patient therapy. He is walking alot more without a cane.
He was really happy to see our story with Officer Dodez yesterday. He has been following the story and is always asking if I have heard any new information. He was so impressed with the positive outlook that Officer Dodez has. He has said several times he hopes that Mark and his family don't loose hope, well yesterday he was so excited to see how upbeat they are.
Last week Joe's band, Taxidermy Special, had a show at Musica. Ben's brother Logan filled in as the drummer and did a great job. We took Joe to the show, it really was good to see him with the guys having a good time. He said it is the first time he has been able to sit and watch the band from the audience and said, " We really do sound Awesome!"
Check oout the NEW PICTURE of Joe at the drums. He decided to set them up in his room today. He sat down and played for a little bit and said how good it felt. It will be good therapy for him to play. He can work his body and his memory doing something he loves.
We have so much to be thankful for this Easter. Having our family together has so much more meaning. It is an emotional day, I have been thinking back about what Joe and all of us have been through. Also knowing that we could have lost him. We are so blessed, but I also thought about the families that have lost someone and how hard it must be for them.
Again we want to thank everyone for all of their prayers and support. It really does make a difference.
Joe has been walking with one crutch or a cane around the house and getting up and down the stairs everyday. His leg is getting stronger and he is putting on a lot of the weight he had lost.
At therapy they have started to have him walk completely on his own. He says he is not quite ready to do that except a few times at home to show us he can.
Jen came up this week. She transferred up so she can be here with Joe. It has really improved his attitude. I think she will give him even more motivation to work hard in rehab.
His doctor seems to think that he is not far from switching to a cane. He still needs to get his leg stronger and gain confidence in it. His memory is still progressing and his doctor is happy with where he is right now, but he still has more work to go.
The doctor told him that seeing how he is progressing is an example of why he loves his job.
Joe is still working on walking. He has mastered steps without someone helping him. His crutches are more for balance and a little support for his left leg, but very little. The therapist have given him exercises, to do at home, to strengthen his leg and heel. That is what he needs most, to build muscle.
He says he can't wait until he can work again. We've told him he is really not that far away considering where he was just acouple of months ago. He loves to get out of the house and can't wait until he doesn't need the wheelchair for those longer outings.
Again we are so blessed to have him with us.
A group of friends put together fundraiser for Joe yesterday at St. Sebastian's Church. It was overwhelming, hundreds of people showed up. Joe kept saying he couldn't believe that all of these people came for him. We talked about how you hear of so much bad in the world but, times like this, give you a glimps of just how many good people there are.
Joe is still going to therapy, three times a week. He is to the point that, here at home he is using his crutches, mostly for balance. He is putting most of his weight on his left leg when he walks around. When we go out he still uses his wheelchair, he sill needs to build up strength to be able to use crutches for longer period of time.
His memory is still showing signs of improvement. for a long time he couldn't remember from just before Christmas to a couple of weeks ago. Lately things have been popping up in his memory of some of that time. He doesn't remember the accident or any of his time in Cincinnati and I assume he may never, which is a good thing.
Even his day-to-day memory is doing pretty good. He usually can remember eighty to ninety percent of his day. As the doctors have told him, one of his biggest advantages is his age.
We feel so blessed to have so much support for so many. All of the prayers have given Joe and us the strength we need to get through this. We can't put into words just how thankful we are.
Joe has gotten comfortable enough with using his left leg with crutches that he gets out of bed and walks around the house without a spotter. The other night at about three in the morning Diana and I heard the clunk, clunk of crutches. Our instinct was to jump up and check on him, but we waited and let him get to the bathroom and back on his own. He couldn't wait to tell us about it in the morning.
It has been a few days since I updated. Joe's day-to-day progress is still going well, but not things like opening his eyes for the first time or talking for the first time and things like that. Much of his progress is in more everyday life things.
He is working on strengthing his left leg and walking on it with the help of crutches. He talks about how each day it is starting to look more like his right leg. Of course you can't look past the 12 inch or so scar. He can feel some of the screws that hold the plate in place. At first it kind of gave him chills to feel it, but now he is kind proud of the scar and the screws and likes to show them off.
He and we really appreciate the little things in everyday life. A trip to Acme or Walmart is a good thing. We visited friends the other night and we got Joe downstairs to the "man-cave". He really appreciates just hanging out with friends. One day this week he sent me a picture of him sitting in his wheelchair in the backyard. His buddy Paul got him out there and he told me, "I could have never seen this again. I am so happy to be alive!"
Joe is really enjoying being at home. He gets a little frustrated because he wants to be able to do things for himself. We remind him it's only a matter of time and he will be able to walk around and be independent.
He had his first out patient appointment today. They had him walking around with crutches, using both legs, for about six minutes. They also did some stretching of his muscles. The more he gets comfortable putting weight on his left leg while he walks, there won't be any stopping him.
We have spent so much time taking things one day at a time, it is nice to be able to start to look ahead just a little bit. Who knows where he will end up, but to see where he is right now is really amazing.
What a great weekend. We were looking back at some of the pictures we took of Joe in ICU in Cincinnati, when Joe was hooked up to so many monitors and IV's and just laying there unable to do anything. We never could imagine having him home this soon.
Sunday morning he went to church and then to Acme. So many people came up to say hello and wish him well. He is starting to see how many people care.
We spent a lot of time working on the house to make it easy for Joe to move around. He uses a combination of crutches, walker and wheelchair to get around. He said it is great to not feel like a patient and and like a real person.
Joe is home!!!!!! He got to come home yesterday. We are all so happy, especially Joe. He is sad that Jen wasn't here to be a part of it but she will be moving up here soon. He can't wait. Having her in his life has giving Joe so much motivation to get better and beat this.
After a while he wanted to get out and see life. We went to Acme and then Target.
We have just been hanging out as a family talking about old times and he wants to now about the things he missed.
We feel so blessed to have our family together. The support we have received from so many people is overwhelming in a great way. I don't know how we can thank everyone.
Today is the first day that Joe has been able to put weight on his left leg. This morning he walked a couple of laps around the rehab gym with a walker, practiced getting in and out of the tub, stood on both legs while doing some work at the table and got to go up and down stairs. I posted a new picture of him at the table.
It won't be long now until he comes home and starts out patient therapy.
The other thing Joe told me today is that he started to read this blog. He said it's unbelieve that a little thing like giving a thumbs up or wiggling his toes was such a big deal. I told him we were so excited waiting for him to come home that night, then a couple of days later wiggling his toes was a hugh deal. It's amazing how your whole world can change in a second.
Joe can't wait to come home and start out patient therapy. Being home over the weekend has really given him motivation. He says if it wasn't for the doctors, nurses and therapists he wouldn't be where he is today, but he's ready to get home.
The doctors are reviewing his x rays to see if he can put weight on his left leg. That will help determine when he is will come home. Joe got to see his x rays, he said it looks like he has a hardware store in his leg, with the plate and screws.
Joe got to leave Edwin Shaw today and come home for about ten hours, as a test run to see how he would do. Checkout the new picture I posted of Joe on his new bed. He was so happy to be home and, as you can imagine, he didn't want to go back. He knows it won't be long before he is home for good.
He did really well. Hanging out with friends and family like old times. I had to run to the store to pick up a few things and he really wanted to go along. We loaded him and his wheelchair in the car and made a quick trip to the Acme. He said he wanted to see real people walking around that weren't doctors and nurses.
I think he will sleep good tonight.
Check out the new photo I added. It is a picture of Joe at therapy today, they had him standing and practicing with his drum sticks. You should have seen everyone in the therapy room stop and watch. He wanted me to post the picture so everyone can see that he still plans to be a drummer.
He was also telling me today that he knows he has a second chance at life. He said he feels he is truly an adult now because he said he realizes what is really important in life, and plans on taking advantage of it.
The doctors and staff are starting to talk about what it will take for Joe to be ready to come home. Today Joe told me that one of his doctors said that he doesn't know if he has seen anyone make as much progress as he has in two weeks.
Last week Joe told us he was going to do whatever it takes to be able to go home. He has been working hard and seems determined to recover as fully as possible.
He told me, "You know what, I stared death in the face and said no thank you, I want to live." He was a bit more descriptive then that, but you get the idea.
Today in therapy Joe walked 150 feet with a walker and then walked 75 feet on crutches. He was really happy when walked up and down stairs two times. He can't wait until he can start to put weight on his left leg.
He is still struggling with the hospital food. He is lucky, between his grandparents, friends and us we keep him fed with food he really likes. Yesterday Diana spent part of the cooking a variety of foods to bring to him this week.
He has come so far it is hard to believe, but he still has a lot of work ahead of him. He really works hard to get to where he wants to be. To think back to January seventh, the way he looked and the condition he was in, I don't know if anybody thought he would be where he is today. In some ways it is not that long, but it seems like an eternity to us.
It has been just amazing how good Joe is coming along. He gets himself in and out of bed, to and from the wheelchair. Yesterday he wheeled himself down to the vending machines to get a snack.
In therapy he has been walking on crutches, he made himself a sandwich and a lot more. He was showing us how much his left leg has come along. He bends his knee and can flex his ankle, both things he could not do before rehab. His long term memory seems to be all there. Short term memory is his biggest issue. They are working with him and we can see improvement already.
Everyday he tells us how happy he is to be alive. He has looked at some of the pictures of himself from Cincinnati, when he was in ICU and he can't believe how bad he was. The nurses in Cincinnati told us to take some picture of him so he could see the condition he was in and it would help him realize how much progress he has made.
We have started to get our house ready for when he comes home. His bedroom was downstairs, so we are moving his room upstairs and moving the girls downstairs. We also have to get things like the bathtub ready with support bars so he will be able to get in and out of the tub to take a shower.
Diana and I both have said how we feel like we are on a treadmill that never stops. We go from morning to night and try to get enough sleep to get through the next day. The support we are getting from family, friends, our employers and our school and church community has really helped use get through everyday. Your support and prayers are working and we are so thankful. We keep telling Joe that he has no idea how many people are pulling for him.
The doctor removed Joe's feeding tube today. He said he finally has nothing hooked up to him for the first time since the accident. He hasn't been tube fed this past week, but it was more of a safety issue, in case he had any trouble with eating real food.
He was working with crutches today and seemed to like them better then the walker. Tonight, when Diana left to go home, Joe and I walked her to the lobby. Well I walked and he wheel chaired. He thought the lobby was so nice, he said it's the first time I remember being somewhere that didn't look like a hospital.
You know Joe is feeling better because he is complaining about hospital food. He eats some of it but has us bring him things like Swenson's burgers and fries, Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts and one of his favorites, a pulled pork sandwich. Typical foods for a twenty year old.
He told us he has been having flashbacks. He's not sure if it is real flashbacks or dreams of the accident. He woke up the last couple of mornings from them. This morning the doctor told him it is his brain trying to fill in the missing gaps. He told Joe it is like a movie and you have some clips missing, so your brain is trying to fill in those blanks. Most likely once there is a memory in his brain, the dreams should go away.
Joe has been working with the therapist everyday. He told them his main goal right now is to walk. They have had him walking with a walker, but want to move to crutches soon. That will be easier for him when he comes home.
They are also working on his memory. He has some short term memory loss. This morning he told me that he wishes he could remember being in Cincinnati. Then he said only if he could remember it, without the pain. He said he can't imagine how much pain he must have been in. I told him maybe that is why you can't remember it, your brain may be protecting you from it.
Joe keeps telling us how happy he is to be alive. He said every morning he wakes up and is so thankful for another day.
He still has some memory trouble. He remembers alot about Mississippi but he thought he was living in New Jersey. I grew up in New Jersey, and my family still lives there. He may remember he had breakfast but not sure what he had to eat.
He has been so funny. He has had all of us laughing the last couple of days. He always had a good sense of humor, and he still does. It is so great to hear him laugh.
He has been reading all of the cards he has recieved, from family, friends and students from St. Sebastain School. He said he would really like to find a way to thank everyone.
Yesterday in therapy he was walking with a walker. He still can't put weight on his left leg. He also was working on balance. Standing on one leg and volleying a balloon back and forth with Diana.
Joe was moved to Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation Hospital today. He was so excited, he really wants to come home but understands he has to go through rehabilitation first.
He had me wheel him around the halls to say good-bye and thank you to a lot of the staff at Select Specialty Hospital. He really enjoyed the staff there.
This morning, before he got in the wheelchair, he was sitting on the side of the bed he lifted his arms in the air and leaned back and forth, and said, "Dad, Look I have my balance back. The things you take for granted."
This evening he was a bit emotional, I think the magnitude of what he has been through is really sinking in. He had alot of questions. We just tell him the facts of the accident and how lucky we are to have him here with us. He is very loving. He tells us every day "I love you guys". And we respond "we love you, very much". If you are reading this, go tell your loved ones how much you love them. In today's society, I don't think we tell our kids enough how proud we are of them and how much we love them.
Well today they removed the trach from Joe's throat. He is so happy. They also did a procedure where they insert a camera and had him eat applesauce and crackers to make sure everything is working. He did great, so starting today at lunch, he will start getting a regular diet. The tube feed will be cut in half and then it should be turned off tommorrow if all goes well.
Yesterday he wheeled himself down the hallway in a wheelchair, he also walked or hopped on one leg between parallel bars. He still can't put weight on his left leg until the break heals. Jen and Kate said he also did great on some basic puzzles.
It is so good to see him come back, he has moved so fast, faster then we ever thought. He told me, "Yeah, I don't mess around!"
They are starting to prepare Joe to move to rehab. They capped his trach today, they are going to see if he can last for 12 hours. If that goes well, next they will try 24 hours.
He also ate applesause today. That is the first food he has eaten since the accident. He has been fed through a feeding tube. Jen was with him and said he loved it.
Tonight when we left he was sound asleep.
He was really happy that The Black Keys won three Grammys last night. He said, "That's just crazy!" He also liked the picture of a beardless Dan Auerbach in the morning Beacon Journal. Everyone at the hospital knows he is a big fan, there is a big Black Keys "Attach and Release" sign hanging in his room. Not to mention their music is a still a regular on the boom box in his room.
Joe is really doing good. He keeps asking to go home. Jen is in from Mississippi and as you can imagine Joe is as happy as can be.
Yesterday was an important day for Joe. One of the things Joe planned to do when he got back to Akron was to talk to his grandparents about him and Jen. Well yesterday he finally got to tell them that he and Jen were engaged. They were so excited. He really wanted to tell them in person.
Diana and I were at church today and I got a text from John that said Joe wants you to call after church. I told Diana I better go call to make sure everything was O.K. I stepped out and called. John put Joe on the phone and he asked how I was doing, and told me he was doing good. I asked if he needed something, he said no just wanted to talk.
Later Jen texted me to tell me that when he hung up he told them, "That was my Dad. He loves me." Five weeks ago when we saw Joe in ICU hooked up to so many machines laying there, we never would have thought we would get a call like that.
Joe has really taken off. Getting out of bed and wheelchairing around the hopsital has done him so much good. Friday he spent an hour doing rehab work. It tired him out, but you could tell, it made him want more. He is communicating better and better. His voice has gotten stronger and is hand signals have improved that he really lets you know what he wants.
It is not just the doctors, therapist and nurses that have gotten him to where he is. To watch him interact with his family and friends, is Awesome! Everyone has been there for him and now you can see how important those relationships are to him.
The other night he took Ben's sunglasses and put them on. Lauryn asked to take a picture of him. He waited and posed, with a little added gesture of his own, that you knew Joe and his personality are coming through.
Today was a big day for Joe. The Orthopedic doctor said he is healing great and he could put weight on his right leg. A little later in the day the therapists came in and helped him stand up. He did great. Next they got him into a wheelchair. His wish came true. Sunday he asked about getting into a wheelchair.
We wheeled him around and around the hospital. At one point he pointed to the exit doors, we reminder him it was near zero outside. He settled with looking out the window. He was on the move for about two hours.
He also surprised his grandparents with a big "Hello!" when they came into the room.
It is just amazing watching him come along so fast. We know he still has a long road ahead of him, but to see him stand, talk, think and try to be independent is hard to believe.
Joe is feeling much better. He was restless for a while, but now he is back to being very active. As the day went on, all he wanted to do was get out of bed. With the brain injury, they told us he may be more impulsive. Well he had his mind made up that he wanted to get up and out of bed.
We keep telling him it is great he wants to get up and get going, but he needs to wait for the doctors to give the O.K. Today the doctors are going over his injuries to see if he is healed enough to put weight on his right leg. We know he still has a while to go before he can put weight on his left leg.
It is great that he has the drive to get up, it will only help him with his recovery. Right now he still needs a little patience.
As the doctors said five steps forward, two steps back. Yesterday was a two steps back day. Joe was throwing up. I know how that feels to me, I can't imaging how it feels to him. He finally calmed down last night, but still did a little bit this morning.
We've talked about getting him is a wheelchair, like he asked to try on Sunday, but don't want to rock the boat at the moment and upset his stomach.
For us it is another day with little sleep and more worrying. We know he is getting the care he needs, but as a parent you can't help but worry.
When I left a little while ago, we exchanged a hug and squeeze of the hand. His sister is with him and his grandparents are on the way. I am so thankful he is here in Akron with family and friends near by.
2-6-11 3 p.m.
Yesterday Joe was moved out of the ICU unit and into a regular room. It is great news that he is stable enough to not need to be watched twenty-four hours a day.
He was pretty restless all day yesterday, maybe because of the move. The nurses have told us that a lot of his restless movements are actually his brain and body doing their own rehabilitation. Today, when he was sitting up, he was talking a little over the trach. He told his brother John, “I’m OK”.
We asked if they would put in the speaking adaptor. First thing, he looked at Diana and said, “I love you!” We called Jen so they could talk; after they were done he told her “I’ll call you back.” Shortly after he called me over and said, “I want to walk with you”. I told him I want to walk with him too but with the cast on his leg he can’t walk on it yet, but soon. He looked me in the eye and said “Wheelchair?”. I told him I would talk to his doctors and see when we can do that. It was so great to hear him and start to get to see what he is thinking. The fact that he not only asked to walk, but knew that since walking was not an option right now, that the solution was a wheelchair. He is problem solving.
We told him how much better it will be that he can talk to us and let us know what he wants or needs. I asked if he wanted me to bring in his computer or art supplies to keep him from getting bored. He said, “Not really. Just want to spend time with you guys!” Times like this remind you what is really important.
Lauryn asked if he was going to watch the Super Bowl (Joe is not a sports fan) but he said, “Probably.”
There is one thing I wanted to mention. At both hospitals, the nurses have been impressed with Joe’s friends. Ben, Will and Paul have been regular visitors and sometimes just hang out while Joe sleeps. They can’t believe that these twenty, twenty-one year old boys are so supportive. It really shows what kind of friends Joe has.
Wow what a big day! Kate and I went over to visit this morning and he was sitting up. The speech therapist came in and put in the adaptor to allow him to use his voice. She asked him to say “Hi” and he repeated it. Next she asked him to say “Hi Kate” and he did, then “Hi Dad”. He was looking at the picture of Jen and him that we have in his room, so Kate called her. She put the phone up to his ear; he held it, listened for a bit and clearly said “I love you Jen!” Talk about a heartwarming moment.
I got my camera out and asked him to say “Hi Mom” and he did. Then he said “I love you!” She is going to cry when she sees it!
The therapist told him it was a big day for him and his family. She explained we haven’t heard his voice since the accident and with the adaptor in, he can now use his voice. He looked at her and said, “That’s crazy!”
Today Joe was full of energy and I was running on fumes. Since the accident, I think I’ve had only one night that I have slept more than five hours in a night. I was really tired today but when I was with Joe and he was full of energy, so was I.
The physical therapist helped him sit on the side of the bed. They asked for his drum sticks and he tapped on a magazine. The speech therapist put an adaptor in his trach to try to get him to talk. While trying to get him to talk, I asked him to call Lo, short for Lauryn. He looked at her and pointed at her and motioned with his finger to come over. We laughed because in his own way he called her over. He didn’t say anything but you could hear his vocal cords working. She said they can put it in when we are in the room with him. He may speak spontaneously.
He was so active and I was doing everything I could to keep his hands busy. I called Diana to have her talk to him. She talked to him for a few minutes asking him about his day and said she would be there soon to see him. The nurse was going to give him something to calm him, but I asked that she wait until Diana and John came, and she did. Diana and John came in, Joseph looked right at Diana. Diana said hello and was so excited to see him awake. She asked him for a hug. She leaned into the bed and he took his right arm and wrapped it around her. I had to help him with his left. He then gave her a big kiss!
At the end of the day, I am really exhausted but happy to see him so active.
Joe was sleeping when Diana went to visit today. He slept most of the time. They put him in the hospital chair like they do daily. He opened his eyes. As soon as he does, we give him a few seconds then start to communicate with him. She told him she had a snow day and it was Ground Hog Day. We like to tell him the date and what the weather is like and always reassure him that he is doing fine. When he was sitting up in the hospital chair the physical therapist came in. She worked his legs, he kept closing his eyes and Diana had to keep him alert. The therapist also had him work on leaning forward and he pushed back toward the chair. The PT mentioned how strong he is to push himself back like that. Tomorrow they want to try to get him to sit on the side of the bed and work him.
A good family friend Maggie stopped by to see him. A few days ago she brought him a statue of Saint Paul. She found out he is the patron saint of musicians and protector against snakes bites and snake attacks. What a perfect saint for Joe. Not to mention her son, one of Joe’s best friends, is Paul.
We still play a wide variety of music for him. Today we played, of course, The Black Keys, Tom Petty ,Eric Clapton, Taxidermy Special (his Band), and a few mixed CD’s with songs from Bob Marley, Peter Frampton, What (his old band), Neil Young, Dave Mathews Band and more. If you know Joe he always had music on or was playing it. We figure it will help him to have the music he loves so much to bring him comfort.
I am back to work now so I haven’t updated for a little while. Joe slept most of the day yesterday. He stopped coughing as much so he really needed to rest.
Today the therapist came in to work with Joe and said she thought about him when she saw the weather today, snowy and icy. I told her I did too, I was out covering the weather early this morning and it had a whole new meaning as we talked about the road conditions.
Diana met with his doctors and case worker this morning. They want us to keep reminding him that he was in an accident and Will and Ben are doing well and he is making good progress. We remind him he is back in Akron and has to keep working hard and he is going to be OK.
He was looking at Diana and I asked if he could mouth Mom to her and he did. John
was visiting today and he asked Diana if he could have a Nos drink. (energy drink)
Diana asked Joe, “Do you think John should have an energy drink?” Diana said he turned his head and looked at her as if to say “no mom”. I keep telling him they are working on getting the trach out (which he pulled out during the night!) and then they can work on speech therapy. That way he will be able to tell us what he is thinking and feeling. As he becomes a little more aware of his surroundings, he sometimes has a look of fear on his face. That’s why we have to remind him daily
why he’s there.
We thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for us because we are traveling
down a long, long road. We believe that it is with all of your prayers, we have had
the strength to travel this far.
The roller coaster ride of emotions continued today. The day started with walking into Joe’s room to find out the ventilator was gone. That means after two days of breathing on his own, they removed the machine from his room. That is huge. The nurse was so excited to tell us. He still has the trach and tubes hooked up. Diana thought when the ventilator machine was taken out of the room that the tubes and things would go with it. That was disappointing to her.
Later in the day, after sitting in a hospital chair his girlfriend Jen call to check on him. I put the phone up to his ear and he reached up and grabbed the phone and held it to his ear. I let go and he held it to his ear by himself. I waved to the nurse who was outside the room, the look on her face was priceless. While on the phone he was moving his lips but I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to say. I told him to mouth the words again so I could tell her. I could clearly see him mouth “Love You”. I told Jen what he said and the nurse started to tear up.
As the day went on, he started coughing a lot and seemed to be getting agitated more and more. It was hard to watch him, he just couldn’t get comfortable. The funny thing is the nurses keep telling us it is great that he coughing. They say it helps keep his lungs clear.
The doctors said to expect five steps forward and two steps back. At the end of the day we left not knowing how to feel. He took some big steps, but seeing him uncomfortable makes it hard to walk away happy.
He needs all of your prayers, he is making progress, but he has a long road to travel.
Thursday they had him off the ventilator for two hours, twice.
They said they were going to try 8 hours on Friday. Friday morning they said they had a goal 12 hours for the day. In the evening, they told Diana, he was doing good so they were going to extend it, and see if he could handle 24 straight hours.
He was sleeping most of the evening when we were there. They said just breathing on his own will wear him out at first, and his nurse said she likes him sleeping, that is the best healing time.
Oh yeah, the other thing, yesterday morning when I got there, the speech therapist was there. Since the ventilator was off she put an adaptor into the trach. You could hear his vocal chords when he coughed, then she was asking him to count to three. He was just looking at her, so she asked me to ask him. I asked if he could count to three......can you say one, two, three. You could hear him say one. That is all he got out but through the trach it wasn't perfect, but she said to her, it was a clear one. She was real happy and said it really encouraged her.
Joe seems to be much more aware right now. He is agitated by the things hooked up to him. The monitor that was hooked up to his finger in Cincinnati is on his toe here. He hates it. It is also hard right now because he can’t talk to us. It seems to frustrate him.
They are working on weaning him off the ventilator. Yesterday they had it off twice for two hours at a time, so he could breathe on his own. The goal is to slowly increase the time he off of it, and strengthen his lungs.
Jen called and I put the phone up to his ear so she could talk to him. At one point he reached up and held the phone on his own. When I tried to take the phone away from his ear he pulled it back. The nurse said, come on Dad that’s his girl, he’s not ready to stop yet.
He also puckered up to give his mother a birthday kiss. I’m sure that was the best gift she could get.
At times we quietly sit in his room with him while he sleeps. They want him to get plenty of rest so his brain can work on healing.
Joe has settled in to his new place. He was a bit agitated this morning, but he was in a new place with different doctors, different nurses and they were evaluating him as a new patient. He has calmed down now and has been resting this evening.
The last two days in Cincinnati were emotional. His girlfriend Jen had to go back to Mississippi. She didn’t want to leave, but she needs to work and keep her job. She gave Joe so much strength being there for him. She has been there every day since the accident. They both had such a hard time.
Monday evening he had an MRI. I was there visiting later than usual. I think Joe is starting to understand what has happened to him. He tried to talk to me and couldn’t because of the trach. He had a frightening look on his face and grabbed my arm and was pulling me close to him. His Mom and I talked to him and calmed him down. We tried to reassure him the trach would come out and he would be starting rehabilitation soon, and all of his friends and family would be there every step of the way.
Joe is back in Akron getting adjusted to his new room. I visited him this morning and reminded him he was in Akron and is now in the next step of his recovery. I will try to give more of an update later. I have been on the run getting things done now that I am back in town. I wanted to let everyone know he is back in his home town.
1-25-11 6:37 p.m.
Joe is on his way to Akron to be weaned off the ventilator. Then, they'll move him to MetroHealth Medical Center.
We're headed up north now and we'll keep you updated.
1-24-11 7:30 p.m.
We are in a waiting mode. Joe is ready to be transferred, first to be weaned off the ventilator, then on to rehabilitation. His doctors say he is ready for the next step in his recovery, but now we wait on the insurance companies to give approval. We are doing our best to be patient.
A physical therapist came to Joe’s room today. They sat him up on the side of the bed, with assistance and started to ask him to try to do some things. Put up two fingers, give me five, touch your nose and things like that. He did better at some then others, but you could see he was trying. Then they asked if he was a hugger, I said yes. First his grandfather Roy hugged him and they asked him to hug back. He started to raise arms, so they put them around Roy. I think they wanted to see him trying. Next it was my turn. I hugged hug and he hugged back. It was an awesome feeling.
I am hoping that my next update, will be about his move up north to the Akron/Cleveland area.
1-23-11 3:00 p.m.
Joe has been ornery today. His nurse said he was flipping the monitor off of his finger all morning. She finally held it up and swung it around and jokingly told him if he did it again she would beat him with it. Well the next time she went in he was holding it swinging it.
She told him he will be leaving here soon and she will miss him. She asked if he promised she would come visit. He mouthed "I will".
She gave him a flashlight and he has been turning it on and off and shining it around the room. We brought him in a set of drum sticks, Lauryn and Trevor came out and told us he was tapping them on his leg.
Joe's brother John, hopped on the internet and called his sister Katelyn on Skype so she could see and talk to Joe.
Joe has been pretty quiet from the pain medicine. They say he is also starting to surge. In non-medical terms, his brain is sending out signals (kind of like a computer trying to re-boot). His heart rate goes up and sometimes he sweats and then things calm down. The doctor says that is normal for someone with Joe's injury. It is a good thing. Between both of those things he is wiped out.
Trevor brought his guitar and played and sang to him. Paul, a close friend, drove down from Ohio State and also played for him. He finished up with "Let It Be".
At tonight's visiting hours he was pretty awake. He was looking into Diana's eyes as she talked to him. We all took turns spending time with him. When Diana said Lauryn was coming in he got bright eyed and looked for her at the door.
He looked at Trevor when he talked to him. John hopped on the internet and played one of Joe's favorite YouTube videos, "Baby Monkey." He didn't want to just listen; he was looking for the video so John showed him.
When Jen was talking to him and asked if she could give him a kiss, he puckered up, so she gave him a kiss. Then she asked for a smile, and he cracked a perfect smile.
It was good for all of us to see more of Joe coming back.
Joe is much more alert today. The nurse had the Black Keys playing when got here. He said they played music for Joe off on and off all night . He gave me a hard squeeze when we talked to him. He was playing with the monitor on his finger, sliding it up and down and flipping it off.
Jen wanted to take his picture looking so good. Every time she held the camera up he closed his eyes, she would put the camera down and he would open them. They went back and forth for a while, so I finally got him to let me do it.
Ever since my mother passed away, I have carried her Pocket Rosary with me as a reminder of her. When the kids were young, from time to time if they were having a hard time with something, they would borrow it for a day or two. To make a long story short, I lost it a few months ago, so Katelyn (his triplet sister) bought me a new one in Italy. I showed it to him and reminded him about it. I put it in his hand to feel, he slid it on his thumb and played with it. After a while he slid it onto another finger and played with it.
We got out the Reptile Magazines we were showing him pictures of snakes and lizards. We found one that looked like the Sasha, the first and biggest of the snakes he had, he gave a big smile. Thanks to his zoo friends for sending them.
He started to get a little restless so Jen asked if he was starting to feel some pain and he gave her big thumbs up. His nurse gave him some pain medicine so he has been sleeping for a while.
Most of yesterday he was pretty quiet from the pain medicine. We did get a little more interaction with him in the evening. His nurse said he did give them a small head nod at shift change last nignt when they told him who was coming and who was going.
The nurses are playing his music for him off and on when we are not there. We played a lot of different music for him yesterday, all of the usual stuff, the Beatles and a friend sent a CD with a mix of songs. Everyone liked it.
Last night Jen got a package of Reptile Magazines in the mail. Today we will show him and read to him. He should be more alert today with less pain medicine.
I again have to say the support we getting is amazing. I keep telling he has no idea how many people are out there for him.
We got a call at about 8:50 this morning that they were taking him for surgery at 9:00. We scrambled and raced over to the hospital. We got to see him before they took him away.
He was alert as they wheeled him down the hall. Wish got to him luck and he puckered up for kisses. As they wheeled him back, he has a smile on his face.
A short time ago, the doctor told us he was finished and everything went together well. He has a pretty big plate and screws in his leg, and may set off metal detectors.
We are waiting to see him.
I thought I was done with updates for the day, but I had to add tonights events. When we went back for visiting hours, Joe's nurse told us he was waving at the nurses. We didn't believe her. She said three of the nurses were outside his door talking, she look in and he was looking at them. She yelled, "Hey Joe we see you looking at us." and they all waved at him. She said sure enough he raised his hand and waved back.
If that wasn't enough, he was kind of quiet, not doing much for a while. I saw him moving his lips and kind of puckering them. I said, "I see you moving, puckering your lips. If Jen came over here, she could give you a kiss right on your lips." His eyes popped wide open!
Trying to be a good Dad, I told him good night, and left him and Jen have some time alone.
I know it is still going to be a long road ahead but, things like that, help you make it through the hard stuff.
A quick update, they didn't operate on his leg today. It is now set for tomorrow, not sure what time. I'll try to post something after he is back in his room and we get an update.
The good thing was we got to spend time with him. He was looking at us and Diana got to talk to him over the phone. His eyes opened wide and had some other facial expressions, we know he heard her. She is back in Akron at the moment, and wanted him to hear her voice.
The morning started with a call from Joe's doctor. They wanted permission to operate on his leg. They want to put a plate and screws in so they can take the external fixator off. To us it was good news because they felt he was in good enough condition to do it.
Later in the morning they decided go ahead with the tracheostomy. That moved the resporator from his mouth to his neck. They also moved his feeding tube out of his nose and directly into his stomach. Both of these are better and safer for him. It will also make him more comfortable.
When we got to see him after the procedure, he looked great and it was great to be able to see his whole face without all of those tubes.
At this point they plan to do the leg tomorrow.
Thanks again for all the prayers and support.
1-17-11 10:00 p.m.
Joe is still progressing. They had to check his lungs today, he has pneumonia. That 's one of the issues he is dealing with now. The doctors are treating it. They did that this morning, so for the early part of the day he was kind of still from the medicine. Later in the day he was more active. He squeezed our hands, wiggling toes and opening his eye and looked around.
When we got there for tonight's visit he seemed much more peaceful. To us he looked more like Joe sleeping. He again responded to us before we left for the night, he just seemed more relaxed, and more of Joe was showing through. I left with a good feeling that he was connecting with us even more. There was just something in his eyes, it is hard to explain.
Oh yeah, the music for today. I played Jack Johnson, Taxidermy Special and the Black Keys.
1-16-11 12:40 p.m.
Another encouraging day.
Yesterday, I went up to Erie to our other son Trevor's sports banquet. He plays football for Mercyhurst College and had a great year. The whole family was planning on going before the accident, but Lauryn and I went to represent the family. Family comes first no matter what!
They removed the probe from his head that measured the pressure inside.
The sedation medicine is slowly being reduced so he is going to be more responsive as time goes on.
Kate and Lauryn went in first today and he looked at Lauryn when she talked to him. Next, Diana and I went in and he squeezed our hands when we talked to him. I told him about all of Trevor's awards and he gave us a small smile.
We are blessed to have Diana's parents with us to help in any way we need. They have been with Joe and all our kids every step of their lives.
Paul and Ben came to visit Joe over the weekend. We know Joe gets strength from them.
Again we want to thank everyone for all the prayers and support. We know the prayers are helping him heal and give us strength.
Joe is still showing slow progress.
They are starting to slowly lower his sedation medication. He is still responding to commands when they take him off the sedation. The hope is to slowly wake him up and keep him as comfortable as possible as the doctor's do what they need to do.
Kate and Ben were in his room when he opened his eyes looked around the room and Kate thinks he may have stopped and locked on her.
We are holding up pretty good, if he has a good day so do we.
Our friends Mike and Tracy stopped down with their daughter Emily. It was nice to have a few minutes with friends.
I have mentioned Joe loves the Black Keys. Well when we got back from our visit with Mike, Tracy and Emily, there was a package from them in Joe's room.
It had a few surprises and a note that said, "Joe, Wishing you, Ben and Will a fast recovery!" The Black Keys.
It was really a shock. It meant a lot to the family. It will mean a lot to Joe once he is awake and knows what's going on.
(Thank you Jim! We know you were behind this!)
Thanks again to all of you who are praying for Joseph and our family. We can not get through this tough time in our life without those prayers and well wishes!
1-14-11 3:20 p.m.
Joe is still doing about the same. He had a drop in oxygen levels last night, but they handled it and are happy with where he is right now.
The doctors and nurses are really on top of things, they are also great at keeping us informed. We are doing our best to not get too high or too low, they told us it would be a roller coaster week for him and an emotional roller coaster for us. It has, but we are doing a pretty good job of living in the moment and not looking too far ahead.
An update on the music choice of the day, we started with Jack Johnson. Taxidermy Special may be tonight or tomorrow. We figure with the new added stimulation mellow music would be more relaxing for him.
1-13-11 9:55 p.m.
Joe continues to follow simple commands today. His temper has shown up a couple of times when he doesn't want to be messed with.
His girlfriend Jen and his brother John brought in music this afternoon to play for him. While his medicine was down, she asked if he wanted to listen to his band's music he didn't respond. When she asked if he wanted to listen to the Black Keys he gave her a small smirk, she took that as a yes.
Sorry Will and Ben, he picked the Black Keys over your band. Maybe tomorrow.
1-12-11 2:57 p.m.
He is still heavily sedated, but responds to stimulation when the nurses lower his medicine. On Tuesday, they put on an external fixator on his left leg. It is an external support system for the bone, where they put a pin above and below the break and they have two bars on the outside of the leg.
They are monitoring his pressure inside his head and watching for swelling. He can breathe on his own but is on a respirator so his body can focus on healing his brain.
As background, Joe was living in Mississippi, he wanted to be with his girl Jen. Work was hard to find so he was returning to Akron to work and she was planning on moving up later in the year. Joe is in a band, Taxidermy Special, with his buddies Will and Ben. They went to Mississippi to visit Joe and were bringing him back to Akron when the accident happened. When they got back to Akron the plan was to put together a tour, they have had a lot of offers to play at different venues across the country. That would be Joe’s dream come true. For those who don’t know, Joe is a drummer. Drumming and Reptiles (yes we have had large snakes in our home) are what Joe loves.
On Tuesday, I read an article about the Black Keys in Spin Magazine to Joe. He was so excited when he found the magazine in Mississippi with the article about the band from Akron. He called me over and over as he was reading it. They tell us he can hear us, may not remember what we say, but our voices will give him comfort. The nurses have been asking about his band and Wednesday, if all is still the same with him, we are going to play some of his band’s music for him and the nurses. Hearing the music should also be good for him. Next we will play some Black Keys and maybe some mellower music he enjoys like Jack Johnson.
The support our family has been getting from family, friends, co-workers, our church, our employers etc. is overwhelming in a great way. The most important thing our family and Joe needs right now is your prayers. Also pray for Will, Ben and their families. Will was released from the hospital and is home now. Ben had cuts and scrapes but it must be hard for him. He saw his buddies injured and did everything he could to help them until the ambulance arrived. I think without him on the scene Joe may not have made it.
I will try to give updates when time allows. Just know your support really does make a difference.
1-12-11 1:54 p.m.
We were in with Joe a short time ago. They backed down his medicine asked him to follow commands. He opened his eyes, gave thumbs up and wiggled his toes. It is amazing how little steps can mean so much.
1-12-11 12:31 p.m.
Encouraging news! The nurse told us that this morning he lowered Joe’s medicine, called out his name and Joe opened his eyes. That is the first sign of Joe following commands.
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