Friday, December 31, 2010

Through Surgery #6

Zane's surgery yesterday went well! There were no complications, and they were done in about an hour and a half. Of course.. they got started about 3 hours late, but hey, at least I got familiar with the basement of the hospital! When the doctor came out to talk to me, he let me know that the nerve in Zane's elbow was moderately compressed and the nerve in his wrist was quite severely compressed. So, rather than the typical 2-inch incision that they make in the wrist, they made about a 4-inch incision and did quite a bit of decompressing. Because of the large incision and the frailty of Zane's skin, the doctor decided to put Zane in a right arm splint that he has to wear for about a week. It's quite bulky, so we're having fun getting his shirts over it.

Zane's pain level seems to be pretty low after the surgery. They put him on an extra antibiotic but didn't prescribe any additional pain meds. It's hard to know if the surgery accomplished what they set out to do (restore feeling in his hand), because it can take a long time. Right now, Zane doesn't have any change in sensation, but the doctor told me it could take 3-6 months. I was a little surprised that it could take that long, but if there's one thing I have learned through all this, it's patience! :) We have faith that God can work on his own time-table just as we've seen him do so far, so we'll continue to pray that the feeling will come back soon!

We've taken it pretty easy last night and today, and are looking forward to dinner and a laid back night tonight with some friends for New Years. We are SO blessed by our friends down here. I am so thankful that God has placed people around us here that are such a huge encouragement. We could have easily ended up in a place where we knew no one & had to spend all our free time alone. Again, it's just another detail that God worked out before we even thought of it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Back Home

On October 12 I packed a suitcase with a few essentials before rushing to the airport. In that suitcase I packed Zane a pair of sweatpants, boxers, t-shirt and shoes. They took up just as much room as my own clothing, and it probably seemed silly to anyone else to bring them. At that point I had no idea if Zane would survive the trip to Boston, but I was too stubborn to accept anything but survival. I packed those clothes and vowed I would take him home in them. Well, 2 1/2 months have passed and I almost forgot that I had said that. As we boarded the airplane last Thursday I looked down and realized that Zane was wearing the sweatpants I had packed him back in October... and I was bringing him home. It was as if I felt God saying, "See? I took care of him and I brought you both back home".

The past 6 days Zane and I spent in Maine were absolutely wonderful. We enjoyed a lot of time with family and friends and had plenty of time to relax. It was great to sleep in a familiar bed, eat lots of good food, and see our normal surroundings. Zane went back into work to see his coworkers for the first time since the accident. It was so good for him, as it was for the guys too, I imagine. For a lot of them, their last memory of him was pretty scary. I'm sure it was pretty neat to see him up and doing a lot for himself.

This Christmas was so special. Christmas has always been about God's gift of His Son to the world for Zane, myself, and our families. This year I felt truly overwhelmed by God's gifts to us. Not only did He give His Son to provide a way to save our lives eternally, but he gave us the gift of Zane's continued life on this earth. For these two things I could not be more thankful. We serve an ever-faithful, generous, and caring God. We do not focus on what we've lost or what negative things Zane will have to live with. Why? Because ultimately, we have dedicated our lives to God and they are not our own. No matter what happens, we have faith that God will cause it to work together for good. So, this Christmas we thanked Him for the gifts we've received the past few months.. the gifts of closer family, a greater witness, a closer bond with each other and God, and the many changed lives that we have seen.

Zane has not had any major changes in his condition. While we were away I did his stretching that the therapists normally do so that he wouldn't lose progress. He's getting a bit more range in his arms, and his left hand is almost back to normal. He still struggles with rotation of his joints the most. The right hand is about the same.. although, the swelling has gone down considerably and he's experiencing a good bit more pain. We're hoping that these are all just signs that the feeling will come back to his hand soon.

We were scheduled to fly back on Monday afternoon, but with the blizzard the east coast got hit with, we ended up flying back this morning. The flight went well and Zane stayed relatively comfortable. It's a little funny getting extra help from people when they see me carrying all of our bags or people talking to us and getting sympathy from them. We're pretty self-sufficient people, so accepting that we need help sometimes is humbling. When we got back today Zane went straight to therapy and then got fitted for custom compression garments. The garments will help significantly with scarring and are worn for 1-2 years under regular clothing.

Zane goes in for surgery on his right arm tomorrow. He will have releases done on his wrist and elbow to release a nerve that they believe is pinched. The hope is that this will give Zane sensation back in his hand. The surgery is at 11:30 so any prayers that you could whisper would be very much appreciated. It's a relatively simple surgery, and will be done on an outpatient basis. I'll be sure to post an update when we find out the results. Thank you all again so much for your continued prayers and support. We have been so blessed by all of you. And, to those of you whom I met while home, thank you immensely for your words of encouragement. It was wonderful to see old friends and family, and great as well to meet new ones.

{a fun one with the fam.. and the animals :)}

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Going Home

Zane and I are headed home today in just a few short hours.. Hopefully. We're praying that the weather clears up and we're able to get out. Our flight has already been delayed 20 minutes, but we're hoping that will be all. We are beyond excited to be home together.. For the first time in 2 1/2 months. I have to run as we're headed out to the airport, but I'll try and sneak another real update in soon!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Home.. Kind Of

Having Zane back at the apartment has been absolutely amazing. My sisters flew in from TN on Thursday night and my dad drove down on Friday. We all spent the weekend together & it was so much better being here rather than the hospital! On Saturday night Mom, my sisters, my aunt, my cousin, and I went to The Nutcracker while Dad and Zane went to Lowe's and ordered pizza. :) Yesterday everyone left and went back to Maine, except for Zane and me. It's nice for it to be just the two of us again, but I was also a little sad to see mom go. She hasn't left my side for the past 10 weeks.. she held my hand while Zane was in a coma, and she helped me take care of him when he woke up. I told her yesterday that it was like having the training wheels taken off. I am SO thankful for her.

Zane is doing great being here. He's doing more and more on his own, including washing his own hair. This is huge, considering a couple weeks ago he couldn't even touch his face. On Friday, we had an appointment with Zane's burn/plastics surgeon, Dr. Pomahac and another plastics surgeon who specializes in hands, Dr. Sampson. They decided to do a release surgery on Zane's right wrist and elbow. They think that this will take some pressure off the nerves, and hopefully restore feeling in his right hand. The surgery is scheduled for December 30th.

I want to answer a few questions:

Yes, Zane will still have outpatient therapy. Right now, we're staying in Boston and he's getting therapy at Spaulding 5 days/week. Hopefully sometime in January we'll move back home and he'll get therapy there. They said he will probably need therapy for a year or more, but right now it's important we stay in an area where there are therapists who are experienced in burn.

Yes, we will be coming home for Christmas. We fly home on Thursday and back on Monday. We are SO, SO excited to be back home, even if it is just for a few days. Neither of us have been home, or even left Boston since October 12.

Yes, I had Zane's wedding band on a chain around my neck. The nurses gave me his ring when they took it off him in the ER on the day of the accident and I haven't let go of it since. I wore it around my thumb for a while, but it was still too big, so eventually I got a chain to wear it on. I'll keep wearing it until he can put it back on his own finger. :)

{this was just a cell phone shot, but we got the whole family (my side, anyway) in one. :) Oh, and I'm the one to the left of Zane.. my sisters and I look a LOT alike.}

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Leaving Rehab

Well, here's the good news: WE CHECKED ZANE OUT OF REHAB TODAY!!!!!!!

After just 2 weeks in rehab, when the doctors predicted 2-3 months, we left! I've been hiding this from you all since Monday, when the decision was made because we surprised my sisters. We went to pick them up at the airport tonight and brought Zane with us. They had no idea he had been discharged. Success! :)

More to come later, but I thought I should let the secret out!

{Posing for one last picture with Zane's nurse.. whose name also happens to be Courtney}

{the 3 of us.. can't tell mom and I are related, can you?}

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Outings & Another Prayer Effort

Please forgive my absence the past few days. We've had internet troubles at the apartment in addition to a very busy schedule. Zane has been coming along fantastically. He's been able to do a few more things on his own for the first time. He's blowing his nose on his own, picking up a full glass and drinking on his own (without a straw), and brushing his teeth without any support or assistance. They may seem like small things, but they're huge victories to us. We get giddy like little kids every time we see him do something new.

Last night Zane, mom, and I attended the Phoenix Society's Burn Support Group Christmas party. It was held over at Shriner's Hospital & a mix of burn survivors, spouses & family, and hospital personnel attended. It was soo good for Zane to see other people just like him who have suffered through many of the same things. He was able to talk to a couple of guys who had damage to their hands as well, and it really helped him to see them with their function back. They talked about things like weight and muscle loss, the pain, itching, and tightness. If anything else, it just helps to know you're not alone. I got to talk to one of the guys' wife as well, and it means so much to relate with someone who has been in my shoes. We also saw several people with much more severe burns, especially facial burns. It made us truly thankful that God spared Zane's face and humbled by the sheer miracle of it all.

This morning Zane went in for an audiology consult to try and get some more information on his hearing loss. The news we got was not good. Zane has moderate to severe damage to his inner ears. He cannot hear mid-range pitches in his left ear and has lost both mid-range and high pitch hearing in his right ear. Because the ears have different amounts of hearing loss, they concluded that the loss was probably due to the accident and trauma itself, rather than medications or other post-accident procedures. It isn't common for burn victims to have hearing loss, so there is not a lot of research on cause and effect. They told us it was hard to know for sure if his condition would improve, but that is wasn't likely. There is also nothing that they can do for him, other than possible hearing aids down the road. Hearing aids won't fully solve the problem either, as they amplify more than address the issues that Zane has with different pitches. Right now, Zane has some trouble hearing people talk on the phone or hearing someone talk on his right side or behind him. He also confuses what words we're saying because he loses certain pitches in the words themselves. So.. all of this said, I want to ask you again for prayer, and lots of it! We are refusing to accept final defeat and are believing that God can restore Zane's hearing. It is one thing to pray for something.. it is another to truly believe that it will happen. So please believe with us as well.

Tonight Zane and I had the opportunity to go see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at TD Garden, which is just across the parking lot from Spaulding. We were offered tickets by a very generous gentleman I work with (thanks Kevin!), and were so thankful to be able to attend. It was a fantastic show.

I can't let the cat out of the bag yet, but I have some exciting news to share very soon! Stay tuned! :) Thank you all again for your amazing support. Zane and I read each and every comment, email and card, and are blown away by your kindness. We pray that God will richly bless all of you praying for Zane.


{Zane being presented with his "inaugural" build-a-bear}

{Zane and I with therapists from Spaulding, one from the Brigham, and another burn survivor, Bill}

{Just before going to the orchestra tonight}

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2 Months

Zane has had a great couple of days. His appetite has been great, and the nausea hasn't made an appearance in quite a little while. Yesterday we just relaxed and enjoyed a slower paced day. This morning Zane got up, enjoyed a nice warm shower & we headed out after lunch for a day of fun. We had plans to go to Quincy Market, but we altered course when we saw the buckets of rain being dumped on Boston. :)

We did some more Christmas shopping a picked up a couple outfits for Zane for some outings he has this week. Tuesday he'll be going to a burn survivors' Christmas party & Wednesday we'll be going to the Transiberian Orchestra with a gentleman I work with and his family. We had dinner at a neat little cafe and then took Zane to Lowe's (of course). On our way back into the city we stopped at Brigham & Women's to visit Zane's old nurses. It was fantastic to see them and for them to see Zane. None of them had seen him up in normal clothes before. They just marveled at his amazing recovery.

After leaving the hospital we came back to the apartment to let Zane see where we'd been living for the past two months. He got to relax a little after his big day and it was so good to have him there with us. As you can imagine, he's now itching more than ever to get out of the hospital and come stay here with us. He was exhausted when I tucked him into bed back at Spaulding tonight, but was very thankful for such a great day.

It's amazing how far we've come in 2 months. Two months ago today I didn't know if I would ever be able to see my husband's smile again. I didn't know if he would wake up again, and if he did.. I didn't know what kind of disabilities he could have. After one long month of watching him sleep and heal, I got to see that smile again. And, this past month I have seen him overcome all odds through the power of our Heavenly Father. We have a long road still ahead of us, but we will cherish each day together and thank God for these past 2 months. We have learned more about ourselves, our God, and each other than we could have ever imagined. As I quoted early on on this blog, "God brings us through deep waters not to drown us, but to cleanse us". The waters have certainly been deep and my heart has definitely gasped for air in fear of drowning, but God's promises held strong. He has raised us above the deep and we are getting closer each day to a full recovery. I truly believe, as I know Zane does, that this was all worth it if just one life was changed. If just one person reading this blog comes to know our God then all my sleepless nights and Zane's pain and struggles are worth it. And the greatest part? It's only been two months! We know God has great things in store for the next 2 months, 2 years, and our entire lives.

{Our new friend at the mall tonight}

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First Time Out Of The Hospital!

On Wednesday evening Zane, my mom and I met with Zane's doctor, nurse, OT, and case manager to discuss discharge. They laid out a set of goals that they had for Zane to accomplish before he left. He has already accomplished all but two of those goals. Zane was ready to leave right then, but they really want him to stay longer. They believe that the therapy he'll get there will be better and in higher quantity than he could get on an outpatient basis. Zane doesn't really like the idea of staying in a hospital for 24 hours just to get 3 hours of therapy, but he consented to give it another week. We've asked the case manager to explore outpatient options and see how much therapy he could get. We'll meet again next Wednesday to reassess. Zane's pretty sure he will decide to leave at that point, as the doctors have told him that ultimately, it is his decision. As you can imagine, being in hospitals for 2 months is starting to wear on him, and now that he can do so many things on his own, he's ready to break loose.

As a part of consenting to stay a bit longer, the doctor agreed to give Zane passes to leave the hospital for therapeutic reasons and to get used to being back in the community. Last night he got his first chance to leave. We took him to a mall near Spaulding and ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I had to help him get his coat on and off, carry things, and cut his food up for him, but everything else he did himself. He was just so happy to be out in the real world that he didn't care about the small details holding him back. Another blessing was that I didn't notice people staring or treating him any different. His scars are primarily covered, but what did show, people didn't seem to notice or see any differently. We got him some Dunkin Donuts coffee, some red velvet cheesecake, and some tools for Christmas presents. For a guy like Zane, that's a pretty good night!

Zane's stomach has been doing much better. He hasn't vomited for a few days, and he's able to eat a good bit more. This is such an answer to prayer!! Overall, we are SO thankful for the recent improvements. Each one is a direct answer to prayer. I know I've said this a million times, but our God is SO faithful. Just because Zane is on the up-side of his initial recovery doesn't mean the blessings have slowed down. Between God's miracles and Zane's amazing determination and submission to God's plan, we are amazed.









Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Miracle

Zane battled nausea and vomiting all day yesterday. They took him in for xrays of his abdomen just to rule out any kind of blockage. His doctor took him off some unnecessary supplements and medications in case any of them could be affecting his stomach. Your prayers for his stomach would be very much appreciated. He REALLY needs to be eating and taking in enough fluids as it's essential to the healing process. He's lost a little over 20 pounds since the accident, and would like nothing more than to pack the calories back in.

Now that I told you about our area of concern, I have tell you about the exciting stuff. Zane had some INTENSE occupational therapy yesterday. His OT is tough, but it's good for him. She made him put his own socks and sneakers on. It was a real struggle for him because he pretty much had to do it with his left hand only. The right hand can't grip anything yet, so he can only really use it for support. It took a while, but he managed to get both feet dressed on his own. He can't tie his shoelaces yet, but this was a huge accomplishment for him! During the rest of his therapy, the OT stretched his armpits and shoulders VERY aggressively. He was in a pretty serious amount of pain while it was happening, but after he felt much more loose and stretched.

Last night Zane and I were hanging out in his room and his supper came so he sat on the side of his bed and I put his bedside table in front of him and told him to see if he could do it himself. He reached up, grabbed a fork, stabbed a piece of meat, and put it in his mouth, just like it was completely normal. Cue me freaking out and grabbing the camera. :) He told me to get his nurse so she came in and he showed her. She did a little happy dance with me. This was the first time he had used normal silverware and fed himself. Prior to last night, he had only used a long, modified spoon and gotten 2 bites in his mouth. Another HUGE accomplishment.

After eating a little bit, he got back in bed and figured he'd keep on going. He reached up with his left hand and touched his face on his own for the first time!! This is sooo amazing. Just the day before he was still about 6 inches away from being able to touch his face. We KNOW that this was a miracle directly from God. There is no other explanation. We are so incredibly thankful. Our God never fails us. Zane and I have been praying every night together and claiming healing for his arms and hands. We hadn't seen any significant improvement for a while, but never once doubted that God would heal him. Each night we just believed together and prayed even harder for healing. We never thought it would come so quickly and suddenly, and are SO taken back by this miracle.






Sunday, December 5, 2010

Up & Down

Zane had a fantastic day yesterday. He was up and very active. He was power-walking the halls and almost gave his nurse and me and heart attack when he tried to walk backwards. He likes to show off just a bit. :) He was feeling really good, which put him in great spirits. He was cracking jokes all day, and giving me a hard time. We took him for a wheel chair ride outside, as it's their policy to have him a wheel chair whenever he goes off the floor. It was freeezzziinng outside so we didn't stay out long. He had another first last night- he had his first Dunkin' Donuts coffee since the accident. There's nothing like it!

Today I gave Zane his second shower since the accident. This time it went much better than the last. His hair looked the best I'd seen it since the accident.. not that he cared. :) When doing his dressing change, we found a few more staples that hadn't been taken out before. It's funny how they keep turning up over time.

In OT this morning, Zane gave his therapist a pleasant surprise with how well he did. She commented that she was very impressed & that he was further along than she thought he'd be. He's working super hard, and is so determined to get his function back.

Zane struggled with nausea today. They're not sure what's causing it, but he got sick a couple times today and once yesterday. His doctors are going to look at it more closely, but it could just be a side effect of his medications or simply his stomach still trying to regulate itself again. He felt a little better this afternoon so he came down the cafeteria with me so I could get some lunch. The nausea hung around all evening, so he pretty much just layed low.

My dad and grandparents had been visiting for the weekend and my mom went home with them today so that she could drive us a car back down. We figure Zane will be able to at least go out for the afternoons soon, so we should have a car for him to ride in. He wouldn't be comfortable on the T or in a taxi, so we figured it was time to bring the car. Up until now, we've just been walking. But, Spaulding is too far away for that. We are SO looking forward to breaking him loose and getting him out more.

Every day I am more amazed at how strong Zane has remained. He is truly my example of reliance on God. He's just so unshakable. Nothing that he's going through has had the power to get him down. While how he's feeling physically may go up and down, his faith hasn't budged an inch.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Adjusting

We moved into rehab yesterday, and are just getting to the end of our first full day here. Zane is doing AMAZING. He had mostly consults and evaluations, as the staff is just getting to know him and figure out his needs. He is getting into and out of bed entirely on his own and he went to the bathroom on his own for the first time today. A couple of nights ago Zane and I were walking around the floor at Brigham's and I asked him if he wanted to try some stairs. Always up for a challenge, he said, "Sure!". We didn't know that we weren't supposed to do it without a therapist, but we went up and down an entire flight of stairs just fine. His physical therapist today at Spaulding was shocked that he was already doing stairs. I don't think it'll be long before they realize that he's not their typical patient. :)

His arms are still about the same, making little baby steps of progress each day. One thing that has set him back is some pretty extensive pain in his elbows, particularly the left. We're not entirely sure what seems to be causing the pain. He has some open areas on both elbows, but the pain seems to be internal rather than surface. They're hoping that continued therapy will help it subside.

Like any transition, there are adjustments to make. We're getting used to the staff, the rules, and their way of doing things. To be honest, it's been a little tough because they have limited mom's and my involvement much more significantly than Brigham's ever did. Of course, this upsets Zane too, as he wants us with him and doing all the things for him that we have over the last 7 1/2 weeks. But, we're trying to be patient, as we know the staff here also hasn't been with him this whole time- they don't yet know what works best. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before the kinks are ironed out. Honestly though.. we really don't think Zane needs to be in inpatient rehab for very long at all. The people who cared for Zane most at Brigham agree- mom and I can do everything for him that he needs (of course, mom is an RN), and he could just go in for outpatient day therapy. We'll see what his doctors and therapists think, but it's definitely a goal of ours.

When Zane first started waking up, I told him that I had hummed Amazing Grace to him every night that he was asleep. Apparently, he didn't remember me telling him that because when I mentioned it again tonight he said, "You did?". I told him all over again and all of a sudden he said, "I remember that!". He can't remember what song or anything, but he said he can remember humming. Amazing! I asked him if he'd like me to do it again tonight and he said yes so I started humming. By the time I got to the third verse, he joined me and we hummed the rest of the verses together. When we finished he said, "Can you wipe my eyes? They're leaking". :) Such a special moment.

Zane's appetite is slowly improving, and his personality is definitely shining through. Not only is he giving me a hard time about things, but he's rattling his nurses a bit too. We get plenty of chuckles out of it. I told him it was the one time in his life he could get away with being so difficult. God is so good. I know that's such a cliche statement, but it's so true. He has just walked with us every step. Every moment, I have felt his peace and I am constantly encouraged. Just seeing Zane's smile appearing more often lifts our spirits, and we SO look forward to getting him out of hospitals entirely!

{Zane's stuff all packed up and piled on his bed at Brigham's}

{Saying good bye to some of the ICU staff}

{Zane and his favorite nurse}

{Zane, mom and I with his most recent resident doctor}

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rehab

Thank you all for your sweet anniversary wishes. We appreciate every comment and email so much! They make writing all these updates so worth it. We had a lovely anniversary on Monday. We didn't think we'd be able to do anything too special, but my mom surprised us with a romantic "candlelit" dinner in the hospital conference room. It was so sweet, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We followed it up with a movie, almost like at home. I have the best mom ever. :)
Tomorrow's the big day! We're moving to rehab! After just over a week on the regular floor of the hospital, Zane is well enough to move on to some intense therapy. We would have been moving out today, but he spiked a fever yesterday morning. They think it could be tied to a change in his medications, as the fevers have not come back after some of the meds were discontinued. He's also had a bit of a struggle with his appetite and nausea yesterday. But, this could also be due to taking some of his meeds on an empty stomach. He's been taking them with some crackers now and the nausea seems to have subsided.

His grafts continue to heal well, as does the donor site. The donor site was causing him a significant amount of pain, limiting his mobility to almost nothing. They put on a dressing called xeroform that has helped keep the area moist enough that it doesn't dry out and crack & bleed. He's been up walking much more yesterday and today than he has been since the surgery last week. He can now get up out of a chair and sit back down on his own, and with some struggle, can get out of bed himself if the back of the bed is raised up high enough.

His arms a getting stronger, slowly but surely. He fed himself a few bites of pudding today for the first time, with the assistance of a modified long, angled spoon. His left hand is strong enough now to do some more functional things. We purchased an iPad so that he can still get on the Internet, check email, and play games. We prop it up on a table for him and while it takes a good bit of effort, he can do a lot himself, with his left hand. He has a tiny bit of feeling coming back in his right hand, and each day we can see a tiny bit more movement. He saw a hand specialist this morning. She believes there is some nerve damage at the wrist, but it's too early to tell if he may need more surgery or just extensive therapy. She estimated that it would be a year before he gets function back in that hand. Please lift his hands and arms, specifically the right, up in your prayers. We are believing God can work a miracle in them and restore them faster than anticipated.

This morning I did his dressing changes myself, and the nurse showed me how to burn down his hypertrophic skin with silver nitrate. The hypertrophic skin is basically just an overgrowth that needs to be burned down so that good skin can grow in. You just apply a layer of lidocaine to numb the area so it doesn't hurt him. As much as this would have grossed me out before, I was surprised that it didn't bother me at all to do it for Zane.

Zane is just as determined as ever, and is ready to take on rehab full speed ahead. We're looking forward to this next step, and are trusting that God will give him all he needs to work hard and get back to normal.

{our anniversary dinner in the hospital conference room}