On July 30, 2022, Tom broke his neck and sustained a spinal cord injury from a mountain biking accident. This first blog is a collection of videos, photos, and posts I shared on social media during his first week of recovery.
July 30, 2022
THE POWER OF PRAYER…I wholeheartedly believe in the power of prayer and I’m asking for yours. Tom crashed on his mountain bike this morning. I’m sitting in the corner of an ER bay as multiple medical personnel are tending to him. His neck is broken. Surgery is required. Waiting to find out if it will be today. We will be here at the hospital for at least a week. He “may” need to go to a rehab facility afterwards. They don’t know him, yet. Keep our little buddy in your prayers too. He was biking with us and rode shotgun in the ambulance.
July 31, 2022 – The First 24 Hours
July 31, 2022
THE FIRST 24 HOURS…Thank YOU all for your literal outpouring of love and prayers. We are so incredibly overwhelmed by every message, text, phone call, etc.
Tom, Asher, and I were mountain biking. I ride first, then Asher, then Tom. Neither Asher (we later learned he did) or myself saw what happened. All I heard was Tom yelling for Asher to get help.
I threw my bike in the woods and went running back towards them. Tom was laying on the ground on his back next to a tree.
It took quite some time for the emergency personnel to reach us as we were deep in the woods. Thank God two riders stopped, Reed and Eric, to help. Believe it or not, someone rode right on by.
The 911 operator only wanted me to talk to him and I was trying to keep Tom talking and tend to Asher.
Tom immediately said, “I can’t feel anything below my belly button.” He remained conscious until the EMS arrived and knocked him out with ketamine.
It was a five minute walk out of the woods to a clearing where there was an ATV waiting to take him to the ambulance.
Even thought I got pushback, I insisted Asher and I were going with Tom.
I rode in the back of the ambulance with Tom and Asher rode shotgun.
They called the ER and said code red level 1 trauma incoming. Once we got to ER there was 20-25 people waiting to whisk him away.
They escorted Asher and I to a family waiting room. Jane and Tim were waiting in the lobby and they were not allowed back in ER. Another nurse came and walked Asher and I to them. We did a quick debrief and Asher went home with them.
During that time they took Tom for CT and MRI. The tests confirmed he broke his neck at C6 and C7. He had, unbeknownst to us, an existing and significant degeneration in C5 which “was a disaster waiting to happen.” He most definitely had a brain injury and a small bleed.
They took him back for surgery at 4 pm.
About six hours after he crashed. He was out of surgery and in an ICU room by 8:45 pm. The neurosurgeon says he’s very lucky (we don’t believe in luck so we’ll say BLESSED) his spinal cord wasn’t severed, it was compressed and flattened.
They went through the front of the neck for the surgery. A fusion. Although I’m not fully clear what that means.
He’ll be in the collar for some time.
I hesitate to put timelines on his recovery because this is Tom we’re talking about.
He was diagnosed with central spinal cord syndrome. It has limited the use of his hands. PT says realistically a year for the nerves to regenerate.
Back to last night.
They made an exception and let me spend a little bit of time with Tom even though it was well past visiting hours. One of our neighbors came and picked me up. Thank you Josh. It was after midnight.
This morning, I returned to the hospital at 10 am. It was approximately 24 hours since he fell off his bike. The neurosurgeon was in his room and Tom insisted he wanted to try walking.
Okay. So, first catheter has to come out and he has to pee on his own. And his blood pressure has to stay stable while sitting up. Check and check.
Guess who’s walking like a speed demon down the ICU hallways.
That would be my husband.
PRAISE THE LORD.
He can walk.
August 1, 2022 – You are a Treasured Masterpiece
August 1, 2022
YOU ARE A TREASURED MASTERPIECE…This morning one of our son’s asked me if I am bored sitting with Tom at the hospital. It made me smile. Being bored hasn’t crossed my mind. There’s no place I’d rather be.
Although, our stay in the ICU is coming to end. And our transition home begins. They are moving us to a new floor for a couple days where I will learn how to care for him at home.
I got my first education today on taking his collar off, changing the pads, and putting it back on. Initially, we were told 7-10 days in hospital and then a stint in rehab.
Today, we were told it’s likely he will be discharged Wednesday/Thursday with orders for outpatient therapy. Tom continues to amaze all of his care team with his progress.
He is walking without the use of assistance and even did a couple flights of stairs. His nurses have commented a few times they are not used to having patients up and walking. Let alone asking to go for a walk.
His overall pain is being well managed with the exception of the nerve pain in his forearms/hands as well as in the upper chest area. Both are at an “excruciating” level.
It was helpful for Tom when one of the care team drew an anatomical picture showing him how they went in through the front of his neck and moved everything that was in the way to get to the spine. That explained the pain.
The Rx for the nerve pain can take up to 5 days to build up to a dose where there is noticeable relief.
Now, about his hands. Fine motor skills is what he’ll be working on intensely in rehab. While they work on activities of daily living, I think I’ll teach him how to crochet.
We are and will continue to dismiss any approximate timelines they give us on his recovery. This is in God’s hands.
I wanted to share a Susie Larson blessing that I prayed over Tom today. I hope it blesses you too!!!
You are a treasured masterpiece designed by God Himself. Your smile, gifts, and insights were all woven together by a Father who loves what He created in you. May your soul come to know it very well! I pray that you learn to trust Him more than you trust yourself. May the sense of God’s nearness grow stronger with each passing day. And may your confidence in His character grow exponentially too. May the God of all hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him. You are anchored to a good, good God. In Christ Jesus, you are secure, loved, called, and equipped. May you rise this hour and take your place in the greater Kingdom Story God is writing on the earth today. Love God. Love others. Love yourself.Susie Larson
August 2, 2022 – A Walking Miracle
August 2, 2022
A WALKING MIRACLE…72 hours after surgery for a broken neck and spinal cord injury, and being referred to as a “walking quad“, Tom is discharged from the hospital and heading home.
*The injuries Tom sustained often result in a person being a quadriplegic.
August 3, 2022 – Eight is Excellent
August 3, 2022
We are quickly learning it can “feel” like progress is slow even when it’s not (especially when tired and in pain). Tom and I are sitting outside tonight recounting all of today’s new blessings and wanted to share!!!
1. Walked the perimeter of our property line through the woods with our son Brodrick
2. Did walking lunges from the living room to the bathroom
3. Took a bath with Vanessa’s help
4. Was able to squeeze with left hand for the first time
5. Had almost two hours of no pain in hands/arms after Vanessa & Jen did some essential oil therapy on them
6. Got his collar changed for the first time at home again with Vanessa & Jen’s help
7. Picked up a can of Zevia with left hand, took a drink, and put it back down (no straw)
8. Now able to pull up underwear/shorts after going to the bathroom
EDITED TO ADD
We continue to be overwhelmed with the generosity of others, offers of help, words of encouragement, and all of the prayers. Tom is wondering if one of his meds has estrogen in it as his eyes are leaking. A lot.
August 4, 2022 – Pathemata Mathemata
August 4, 2022
PATHEMATA MATHEMATA…is Latin for learning through pain. One of Tom’s many mantras.
This morning when he woke, before he even got out of bed, he said, “I want to go about our day as normal as possible, even if there’s pain.”
We got up and went right out to feed the deer. He carried the corn 3/4 of the way. Which is 3/4 of the way further than yesterday.
We made coffee together.
Even played one hand of our morning card game.
He then decided he was going to just try putting in his contacts. And he did.
Then, we went to the gym.
Yesterday, he called his friend Victor. Victor and Tom met at LifeTime Fitness in 2001. They were co-workers, friends, and in a men’s Bible study together.
Tom told Victor he needed some fellowship and if he was up for it a spotter too. Victor was waiting for us in the parking lot.
We worked out, came home, and had lunch. My brother Nic came for a visit and helped Tom type and send his Nikkola Newsletter.
After Nic left, Tom took a nap and when he woke up Jane, Tim, and Asher had arrived.
Tom and I took his first shower together. He said he imagined it being way more romantic than it was.
Tim gave Tom a shave, and Jen and Jane worked on dinner.
We enjoyed a meal together then sat outside and visited.
When Tom and I were on our way to the gym we cranked Toby Keith and sang out loud and for a moment, everything felt normal.
Thank you Lord for blessing us with this day.
August 5, 2022 – Back in the Saddle
August 5, 2022
BACK IN THE SADDLE…yesterday morning, before Asher arrived, Tom and I watched the GoPro footage from Asher’s helmet cam.
We were shocked to learn he saw the whole accident and captured it on video.
It’s amazing how he can describe the details of what happened down to the names of the EMS workers.
He also recalls a biker riding by and not stopping to help and wondered why they didn’t.
We have told him how proud we are of his courage and have assured him everything is going to be alright.
Tom and I showed him a drawing of the spine, talked to him about vertebrae, discs, and the spinal cord. Explained what happened when Tom hit his head, what they did in the surgery, and why he has so much pain.
He is asking really good, well thought out questions.
Last night, after we said our bedtime prayers he asked if he could sleep with us and today he is glued to Tom’s side.
Right after the surgery Tom made me promise that Asher and I would keep mountain biking.
So, we left Tom in good hands with our friend Jen and the two of us got back in the saddle and did an easy 45 minute ride at Willow River this morning.
I know many of you have asked how Asher is doing.
He is doing really well.
Praise the Lord.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~ Ephesians 2:10
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