http://www.don.smith.net/Gerald_Smith_update.htm
 

2006

 

Gerald Smith update Ė July 15

Dad has been enjoying living at home instead of the LTC facility.But, it does take its toll on the care giver Ė mom.The warmer weather has helped.Dad really enjoys getting outside.His walking has really progressed.He gets around pretty well with a walker.We continue to walk behind him when he is walking as sometimes his balance is not so great.He is eating solid food very well.We have to cut it up for him and things like steak are pretty heard, but cooked meats go down pretty well. He still has a PEG tube in his stomach as water continues to be problem for him to swallow.A doctor suggested we try slushy ice type drinks.We are considering Vitastem therapy for his speech as well as his improving his swallowing.During the month of June they were in Kansas City for four weeks getting hyperbaric treatments.So far we have not seen any benefits, but we keep praying and hoping.Dadís speech has improved, but it is still hard sometimes understanding him.Plus, dad gets frustrated trying to communicate with us.We did buy dad an electric wheel chair that he loves to use to drive around the yard and look at things.We do still fight depression.Dad often tells us he is going to die.It is especially depressing for mom when he gets in a negative mood.But, there continues to be small progress and for that we are thankful.

 

Gerald Smith update Ė March 18

They have stopped the physical therapy with dad.They say he has learned as much as he needs to know, right now.They did offer if there are skills later that we want help with they could restart the therapy.The last thing they taught him was getting in and out of a car.He does pretty well at that.We did get him a new rental hospital bed as the old / borrowed one we were using was having some problems.Mom has a woman help her three days out of the week, but she still sound tired to me.Being a full time care giver and taking care of a house is putting a strain on her.

 

Gerald Smith update Ė February 26

Dad has made some more progress.  His is now able to get up from a chair and is able to walk with his walker mostly by himself.  He is stronger.  We made the decision to bring dad home from the nursing home.  So two weeks ago we brought him home where he now stays.  My two sisters stayed with mom the first week to make sure things were going okay, which everything went fine.  Dad is happier now that he gets to sleep at home.  We are watching mom now to make sure this is not too much of a load for her.  She said she was tired when I talked to her yesterday.  I think we might try to have the woman who is helping her two days of the week to maybe try to help more days.  We don't want mom to get to tired and run down.

 

He has been working with a speech therapist since Jan 25.We are seeing some small progress, but not much.

______________________________________________________________

2005

 

Gerald Smith update Ė December 29

Dad very much enjoyed seeing everyone at Christmas.  We had him home during the day for the last two weeks.  He enjoyed the time with his family.  Dad continues to eat more food.  The food still has to be purťed, but he is enjoying tasting food again.  They have reduced his feeding into his stomach tube from 3 cans a night to 2 cans a night, with the expectation that if his weight holds up, they will reduce it to 1 can and then hopefully no cans in the next couple of weeks.  He is still fed water and his medications through this stomach tube as he can not really drink water.  The water goes down his throat to fast and he will choke on it.  While I was home we worked on his walking every day.  He is getting pretty strong and can walk 75 meters using a walker.  But, he has some control problems yet and sometimes looses his balance so someone has to hang onto him while he is walking.  We are also working on helping him get standing up and setting down.  He is slowly developing some muscle control it takes to do - the simple things we take for granted.

 

We are having some struggles with his digestive track.  It is taking some time to get it used to real food again.  We are fighting constipation and bleeding in his digestive track.  We hope with a bit of time it will settle down.

 

We continue to make small steps forward.  It has been 4 months since I had last seen him.  I was over joyed to see the progress he has made.  The physical therapist commented that he did not think dad would ever walk - and he is happy that dad has proved him wrong.

 

Gerald Smith update Ė November 21

Hello all,

Dad continues to make progress.The physical therapist is making headway with him, along with the family working with him.Dad is now walking short distances, with a walker and some help for balance.Dad is also eating some soft, blended up foods.All good things.His speech continues to slowly improve.We are continuing to move forward, slowly but surely.Thanks for your continued prayers!

 

Gerald Smith update Ė October 23

Hello all,

Dad continues to make slow but steady progress.We have taken him on the reglan.We had some diarrhea for a couple of week, but we not think that was due to a flu.He is better now that he is off the reglan.The rocking in the wheel chair and the ďout of itĒ have both improved.He is saying some short phrases now and then.Plus, we have got a physical therapist working with him.He has dad doing some assisted standing.He also has been working on taking a couple of steps (very much assisted).It is all good progress.Dad told me he loved me on the phone the other day.That really brought joy to my heart.Today he asked me what I was doing.His speech is still pretty hard to understand, but you can understand him. Every step forward is a blessing.

 

Gerald Smith update Ė July 4

Hello all,

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and support during this journey with my father.On Friday we moved dad to a nursing home that is close to home (in Leoti).Dad took the move pretty well and seems to be accepting this new phase of his life.Mom is having a hard time being home now without dad.But, she is physically and mentally exhausted so it is good that she will at least be in her own bed now.We have also bought a used wheel chair minivan.We are going to try to bring dad home a few times during the week.My brothers and sisters brought dad home on Sunday.It was the first time he had been in the house since the stroke.He cried a bit, but overall I think it helped his spirits.Some cousins had a hospital bed that they have loaned us to use as dad has limited tolerance in a wheel chair and needs a rest when we bring him home.Dad is still pretty high care so we are concerned that the nursing home will not be able to provide the care he needs, but we are where we need to be right now.So the family enters the next phase of life.

Thanks again to all who have helped and prayed for us.

 

Don and the Gerald Smith Family

 

Gerald Smith update Ė May 26

Hello all,

We got dad moved to Colby.It is a nice facility.The staff works more as a team Ė the benefit of a smaller facility.We have been here for almost two weeks now.We have a very compassionate and caring doctor that we really like.She sees dad twice a day.The therapists are working well with dad.We have OT, PT and speech.

 

We continue to fight keeping the pneumonia from coming back.They are giving him breathing treatments and getting him up 2 to 3 times a day.So far he is holding his own.Dad got a bad case of diarrhea followed by stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and a bloated looking abdomen.We had GI doctor look at dad.He said the CDiff caused his colon to shutdown and we need to get it working.He put dad on a drug to help jump start it and switched his feeding formula to something with more fiber.As his bottom was getting very sore from the diarrhea the doctor put a catheter in dad.Unfortunately, he now has come down with a bladder infection.

 

All this is taking its toll on him.Dad lost another 10 pounds over the last 3 weeks.He is pretty thin.

 

I got back to Cincinnati last night and will be resuming my job.I am feeling a little disorientated right now coming back to Cincinnati.

 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support,

Don and the Gerald Smith Family

 

Gerald Smith update Ė May14

Hello all,

Hopefully this is the last email and last weekend from Kansas City.We are moving dad to Colby, Kansas on Monday, May 16.We had to postpone the move until Monday as the receiving doctor would not admit dad over the weekend.We are hoping that things go well in Colby and dadís overall health improves.We have been doing some maintenance physical therapy while in the hospital so we do not loose to much ground.On the up side, we do have a great speech therapist who has been working very well with dad.He can say a few words in a sentence completion mode, ie, pass the salt and ???.Dad has apraxia.He has the language, the wire between communication and memory of words is broken.

 

He seems to have gone backwards on his swallowing capability and is not managing his saliva well now.They think it is related to the pneumonia.This may be a long term problem for us, but only time will tell.

 

I am going to head back to Cincinnati around May 25/26 and go back to work.It will have been almost 4 months since I left town.Since dad is closer to home and the kids are out of school my other siblings will be helping mom and dad out during the next month or two.

Dad will be at:

Citzens Medical Center

100 E. College Drive

Colby, KS 67701-3799

 

Gerald Smith update Ė May 8

We are still in Kansas City.Sorry for the long delay for an update.I do not have internet access at the hotel.The Medical Lodgeís therapy department did not agree with Dodge Cityís assessment.They do not think dad has reached a plateau.So, they were going to continue to work with him building his strength up.That caused us to change out plans by putting the hyperbaric therapy on hold and to continue with the therapy.(We can not do the hyperbaric therapy until he has a clear chest xray which will take 1-3 months after the pneumonia).

 

But, dad was taken to the emergency room of the local hospital on Sunday, May 1st.He had been having diarrhea since the Wednesday and he developed a cough on that Sunday morning.He has been diagnosed with pneumonia as well as CDiff.After avoiding CDiff in Wichita all that time it finally got us.It is a common hospital bug that wipes out your digestional track.Unfortunately it is very hard to get rid of.The Medical Lodge had a good therapy department but it was a big place with lots of bugs floating around that dad caught.So, we were not very happy about them giving dad another bug.Dad will probably be in the hospital until the end of next week, May 13ish.He is getting three very strong antibiotics.We are then planning on moving him to Colby, Kansas.Colby is a mid size town out near my parentís home town.They have a good therapy department along based in a small size hospital that is free from the big city hospital bugs.We will let dad continue with the therapy in Colby for another 30 days or so and then try and get him into a rehab facility (you must be able to do 3 hours of therapy a day to get into a rehab center).

 

I have extended my leave of absence by 2 weeks to get dad to Colby.Iíll go back to work on May 31.

 

Gerald Smith update Ė April 27

We are in Kansas City.We had trouble finding someone that would take dad on with so little notice.So we have ended up putting him back into a skilled nursing unit where he is pretty much on the same routine we were in Dodge City.He gets PT/OT twice a day and speech every other day.The place is not as well staffed as Dodge was, we see a doctor once a week, but the therapy seems to be pretty good.They think that Dodge City bailed out on him to soon and that they can make more progress with him.So we are going to try this for a couple of weeks and see what becomes of it.If it looks like they are just using time to bill medicare then we will move him to a long term care place and try the hyperbaric treatments.

 

We did get ear tubes put in last Friday before we left Dodge City (for the pressure chamber).Dadís ears and throat have been causing him quite a bit of pain so we are struggling with that.

 

Dad is at:

Medica Lodge Post Acute Care

Room 506-1

6500 Greeley Ave

Kansas City Kansas 66104

 

Mom and I are staying with my sister Ruth for now.I looked at hotels today so we will be moving to a hotel this weekend.

 

Gerald Smith update Ė April 21

It took the doctors two days after cat scans of his head, chest and abdomen to find out that dad did have pneumonia.It was pretty low in the lungs so it did not show up on the chest xrays.They antibiotic they started him on did not work, so they switched him to two antibiotics, vencoxycin and zosyn.The venco is the strongest antibiotic on the market.But it worked and pretty quickly took care of the pneumonia.He was feeling stronger on Sunday and has been making lotís of sounds lately.Occasionally he says no, yes, mom, okay.We are encouraged.

 

We continue to fight the diarrhea.They switched dad to a new tube feeding formula that we are hopeful will work better.It is more expensive than the others, but his bottom has bleeding sores on it now so we really need to try to get something that will work for him.

 

We are headed to Kansas City on Sunday.After seeing how quickly the pneumonia came on and affected dad we were concerned about taking care of him in a hotel room.So we have opted to put him in to a long term care facility and to then transport him from there to the hyperbaric treatment center.The place we selected wants to put dad in skilled nursing for a week and evaluate him and see if they think he is making enough progress to warrant continuing the physical therapy in skilled nursing until he can transfer to a rehab ward.If they also decide he has reached a plateau, then they will move him to a LTC ward and we will start the hyperbarics.Even though Dodge City thinks dad has reached a plateau, he does continue to make small improvements.We continue to see these small improvements.The reality is his is not recovering as fast as they would like for the best possible dollar return.Money drives the system.We are taking this one day at a time.

 

I will send out new addresses once we settle in some where in KC.

 

Gerald Smith update Ė April 13

As expected, this week the doctor told us to plan on a discharge by the end of the week.He has been fighting the diarrhea all week.They were going to discharge him once that was cleared up.So, we made plans to take dad to Kansas City and start the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.We arranged for a hospital bed to be put into a hotel room.The therapy is an outpatient activity.We also set up a chest xray and to get tubes put in dadís ears to protect him through the pressurization.BUT, last night dadís heart rate spiked at 145 bpm, his temperature went up, his respitory rate was very labored and he became very restless.They called in an internal medicine doctor who is running the full range of tests.His white blood cell count has shoot way up.They started him on an antibiotic via IV.He has an infection somewhere.Tonightís thoughts are that he has aspirated pneumonia.Meaning, this past week they have been working on feeding him a bit of thick apple juice.Some must have gone down into his lungs.He is coughing a lot so that why we are thinking that.

 

The week was going pretty well.The therapy was continuing and he was starting to eat a bit.But, this will set us back a week or two.Dad continues to have to fight for every step on this journey.Please keep him in your prayers.It continues to amaze me that his heart and body continues the fight so well, as well as keeping his spirits up.

 

Every day is a challenge for us and dad.

 

Gerald Smith update Ė April 6

The doctor came in today and told us that he believes that dad has reached a plateau and will probably not recover any more.He told us in 8 to 10 days we will have to make a decision on what we want to do with dad as he does not think he will be able to go from skilled nursing to rehab.We are disappointed and struggling with the next step for dad.The path looks to be putting him in an old folks home as he is not self sufficient enough to take home.We are in low spirits right now.Dad never wanted to live life in a home.We are looking seriously at Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.The put dad in a oxygen rich pressure chamber and force oxygen into his system.It would be multiple treatments over about 20 days.There have been good results on stroke patients.Itís not covered by insurance and would require us caring for dad in a hotel room as the treatment is outpatient.We are praying for guidance and direction now.

 

Dad came down with a sinus infection on Monday.They did xrays and a catscan.Itís not a real bad one, but we are back on antibiotics.He also had some bleeding from his urinary track on Sunday night and Monday that no-one could explain.It has stopped but we are keeping an eye on it.They did a urine analysis and so far it has been negative for infection.

 

I have put the updates on my web site, in chronological order, fyi:

http://www.don.smith.net/Gerald_Smith_update.htm

 

Gerald Smith update Ė April 3

Mom and I enjoyed a couple of days back home at the house.We spent a good part of a day getting momís flower gardens in order, mowing the lawn, etc.The weather was nice, 75 degrees both days.

 

The big news is that dad was able to receive communion on Friday.The speech therapist was working with dad in the room when the eucharistic minister came in the room and asked if he could receive.The speech therapist has been working on his swallowing and she thought it would be okay.We did a 1/3 of a host and had to give him a bit of water to help him swallow.Dad was so joyous.He cried tears of joy.Having the speech therapist in the room (who is also catholic) that could make the decision to allow dad at the same time the minister came in was designed by our Lord.It really lifted dadís spirits on Friday.

 

Therapy has been going pretty well.He does an hour and a half in the morning and another hour and half in the after noon.He is so tired after the morning session that he falls asleep over lunch hour.The afternoons are not as intense but still tire him out.We are working on building up his tolerance for the therapy.At some point in the next week or so they will transfer him from the transitional skilled nursing unit into the rehab unit (same hospital).We have been putting dad in the wheel chair for a couple of hours each day as well.This weekend we took dad outside for a bit as it was such a nice day.He enjoyed the air.

 

On Monday (tomorrow) they are going to do a swallowing study on dad.They will give him a barium fluid to swallow then take xrays to see if all the fluid goes down into the tummy and not into the lungs.If this goes well, we will start working on feeding him some things.He seems to swallow okay but the stroke affected his mouth so the challenge for him is getting the food to the back of the mouth to swallow it.

 

Thank you all for the continued prayers and support,

 

Gerald Smith update - March 29

It has been a good week.Dadís breathing has started to settle down.He still has problems breathing lying on his back, but is better on his side.We are still coaching him on using his nose and mouth.The panic / anxiety breathing is very in frequent now.He is learning how to breathe again.

 

He has been make great progress with therapy this week.PT has been working on his legs and trunk building strength.OT has been working on his arms.PT has been working every day on getting his blood pressure to self-regulate.They have a big table that they are slowly moving from horizontal to being vertical, ie standing.They strap dad to the table and slowly increase the angle to get him standing.Each day he gets closer to vertical before his blood pressure plummets and they have to move him back to horizontal.He has been able to set up in a wheel chair longer and longer each day.We are up to 2 hours now.His right leg and arm are returning more and more each day.He was able to move his right hand today Ė fingers!

 

Dad started making sounds on Sunday during a crying period.It was joy to our hearts despite the anguish that was in his voice.His vocal cords work. His mouth and tongue control have a ways to go before he will be able to talk, but itís a start.He has an automatic swallowing reflex that we hope will grow into him being able to control.Then, we can get rid of the last tube, his stomach tube.He still has frequent stools but they say that is part of the tube feeding.We are still fighting the bladder infection.Dad is allergic to sulfa which is in the antibiotics that would take care of this.So, still some challenges.

 

Mom and I are going to go back to Marienthal for the weekend this coming weekend.We need a break away from the hospitals.Dad is stable enough now that itís time for us to take a break.It will be 9 weeks for her and 8 weeks for me coming this weekend.

 

I wanted to share something that I forgot to mention in my last email.As many of you know, some how the song ďAmazing GraceĒ has shown up on the points of high stress.On the last Friday when the doctor capped dadís trach at 9am, then pulled it out at 11:30am.I at first told him I did not think we should pull out the trach until he had it capped for 24 hours.But, I decided to let him after I remembered the morning.At the start of the day the nursing assistant came in to help us change dad.He started humming ďAmazing GraceĒ.I told him that was good song to start the day with.He said he had sung it to several patients that morning and it was just on his mind.I decided to have faith and trust God and let the doctor pull the trach.It was a scary ride that night and into the weekend, but all has worked out.Thatís the fourth time that song has showed up during this journey when I needed God to give me some re-assurance.

 

Dad update - March 26

Sorry I have not written in a while, it has been a busy time for us.

Dad was doing really well the last week in Wichita.The doctors decided it was time to move him to a Skilled Nursing Unit.On March 23 they discharged dad from the St. Francis Special Care ward.We moved him to Dodge City, Kansas.We are now at:

Western Plains Medical Complex

3001 Avenue A

Dodge City, KS 67801

Room 105

 

We will probably be spending 20 days here to build dad up enough that he can get into a rehab unit (at this same hospital).If we cannot get him up to the required entry levels to go into rehab, then we will have to move him to a nursing home.But, we keep praying and working with him so that we can make the next step of getting into rehab.The doctor taking care of him is very aggressive in his treatment.Thursday we did some testing and let him recover from his trip.On Friday morning the doctor capped the trach to force him to breath out of his nose and mouth.He did well in the morning so at lunch time the doctor pulled the trach out and has a dressing covering it so it will heal up.Unfortunately into the evening, overnight and into today dad has been having problems breathing.It is a combination of anxiety and not knowing how to always use his mouth and nose.He did not sleep much last night.I was with him most of the night trying to keep him calm.He was exhausted today and has not been very cooperative with the therapy people.We hope to get over this last big hurdle then we can focus on building his strength up.Breathing will be the last ďlife criticalĒ thing for us to tackle, hopefully.

 

This doctor has also been pulling out tubes.Today they removed the pick lines (semi-permanent IVís).We have the diet working, though we are still changing him every couple of hours.The bladder infection is proving resistant so we changed to another course of antibiotics and are hoping it will work.I know the bladder infection really hurts him sometimes.We started him on some anti-anxiety drugs today to try to help him relax.

Mom and I moved into a hotel:

Nedelís Inn & Suites

Room 206

2523 E. Wyatt Earp Blvd.

Dodge City, KS 67801

 

It is not as good as were we are, but the rooms are okay.We donít spend much time here anyway :-)

 

Gerald Smith - march 19th update

Dad was off tube feeding for most of the week and on IV feeding.The IV feed (TPN) really helped strengthen him this week.We finally got the diarrhea to stop on Wednesday so they restarted the tube feeding on Thursday.His diarrhea returned today (Saturday) so we are still not winning this battle.They had been talking about transferring dad to Dodge City this coming week but with the return of the diarrhea that may get pushed out.We have a GI expert working on the problem but he has not been able to resolve it.

 

Every week brings another challenge.Dad has a bladder infection now.They removed the catheter in his bladder and replaced it with a condom type catheter and started him on a course of antibiotics.This may be contributing to the restart of the diarrhea.

 

Dad was pretty depressed this week.We went through two days where he did not sleep and would not rest nor cooperate on anything.We started him on an antidepressant on Thursday that has settled him down and has him sleeping again.

 

The sore on his bottom is better but we are being vigilant on keeping it covered as we donít want him to get a septic infection from the diarrhea.

 

Gerald Smith update - March 13

Thank you for your continued prayers for dad and this family.I thank God for you all.

 

As with every update, 2 steps forward, 1 step backward.Dad has been off the ventilator for over a week now.They took the ventilator out of the room this week as he does not need it.We are still on blowby.They will not try to progress capping his trach and getting him to breath out of his mouth until he is more coherent and has more control over his mouth.

Dad was up and down this week.We had agitated days were he just thrashed around the bed all day followed by him sleeping and unresponsive the next day.They said the roller coaster ride is expected.

 

We are still fighting the diarrhea.We had hoped to be able to start him on a feed plan by now but his colon is still not good.They started him on TPN last night (Total Parameter Nutrition).He gets all his meal through the IV.There a dangers and downsides with this but he was getting so weak we needed to do something.Tomorrow (Monday) we will have a Gastro Intestine doctor come in and consult on dadís case.See if he has any suggestions.

 

We had a nurse assistant last night that left dad set on his back all night.He was lying on a fold in the linen.As his bottom was already sore it turned into an open bed sore.So, thatís bad and so we will be trying to help that heal.

 

The hospital told us at 4pm on Friday that the doctor had okayed dad to be transferred to Dodge City on Monday.I about fell off my chair.We checked with Dodge City and they could not touch the paper work until Monday.I talked to the doctor on Saturday as this really conflicted with what I was told by her 2 days prior.She told me she had not okayed a transfer and would not approve a discharge.She said the hospital was at the point of peak profit and they were trying to push dad out.She feels dad is not strong enough to be sent to a skilled nursing unit.So, Monday morning looks to be an interesting meeting for me with the management.

 

Dad is able to push his right leg now.He canít pull it to him yet, but we are half way.AND, he moved his right arm today, ever so slightly, and he did it three times for me so it was not just reflex.Iíll pass it on to the therapist tomorrow.God is smiling on us.

 

Gerald Smith update - march 8

Thank you for the continued prayers for my dad.As always, itís been a progress on some things, setbacks on others.

Dad continues to battle diarrhea pretty badly.The feeding tube food was passing right through him.Then, his bum has got very, very sore.We were almost to an open wound on Monday.We really struggled with keeping his linen changed over the weekend (we were changing him every hour).We asked the doctor for a rectal tube on Sunday but he refused and then got mean to the nurse.On Monday we went to the case manager and got a new doctor.One of the other partners came in and apologized for her partner and talked to another group and convinced them to take dad on.Today (Tuesday) she came by and evaluated dad Ė wow, what a difference.She agreed with what we have been saying for 2 weeks.His digestive system is wiped out.She stopped the tube feeding and is going to work on a new feeding regiment after his system has time to get going.His bottom has also improved with the rectal tube in place.

 

An Xray showed fluid in his lungs yesterday.They thought he may have had pneumonia.They put a tube through his ribs today and drew out the fluid.It looked clearish so the doctor thought he probably was okay.They are running lab tests on the fluid.

 

Physical Therapy told us today that they have been seeing some muscle control on his right leg.It is small yet, but a start.So, we are hopeful on him getting his leg working again.

 

Dad also has been off the vent since Friday morning.He is on ďblowbyĒ.Itís a tube that carries an oxygen / moist environment to his trach for him to breath.They have also been reducing his oxygen percentage.We are down to 28% 02.Normal air is 21.They also tried a valve on his trach that let air in, but forced air out of his mouth.He did not have any control over his mouth so we are concerned about the paralysis of his face.But, it may also take some time to get it going after not working for a while.But, we are looking good to wean him off totally soon.Halleluiah.

 

Dad is getting weaker by the day.He has lost a great deal of weight.We are really hoping they get the diarrhea and diet figured out soon as we are concerned he may get so weak that his body wonít be able to fight.Therapy has cut back on what they were doing with him each day as he is so weak and did not have the energy to do much.So, please pray for strength to return to him soon.

 

Gerald Smith update - march 1

just an update on dad tonight (Gerald Smith).

We had an exciting weekend.Our doctor did not come in on Saturday.He showed up Sunday afternoon and finally decided that dad's stomach had stretched out enough to be of concern to call another doctor to consult (after we have been telling him for a week!).They took an xray of dad's lower abdomen.The new doctor got excited.They took dad down to xray and gave him a barium (sp?) enema and then took more xrays.His colon was 14 centimeters in diameter, anything over 9 is in danger of rupturing.The doctor was concerned that dad's colon may be twisted and blocked as the enema only made it half way through.He called in some more people on Sunday night and said he would start with a colonoscopy and hope that it was a blockage he could clear without surgery.It turned out to be hard stool blocking his colon.They suctioned out a bunch of hard stool and did not need to operate - what a relief.Dad's stomach is significantly smaller, and continues to decrease as his colon shrinks (normally it is about 4 cm).His breathing has also improved as the pressure on his lower diaphragm is gone.

 

The downside is his digestive track is a wreck.He has a very liquid stool that runs all day long.They put in a rectal tube last night as we could not keep his bed clean.His bottom is very sore and blistered.They are running tests on his stool to see if he has a bad bug in his system (something called CDiff, amongst others).They did re-start his feeding tube today.They stopped it on Friday.The feeding tube is a on very low rate.

 

This weekís respitory doctor is still working on keeping dad off the ventilator from 8am - 10 pm.But, he has them put dad back on the vent for 1 hour during the day to rest him.So, starting on nights is a week or more out.The diarrhea and such is really wearing his overall condition down.

 

We also are going to have the wound specialist look at his stomach tube tomorrow as it is still red and oozing some.But, it is better than it was 2 weeks ago.

 

Dad is more alert and also more communicative.No response from his right side yet.We are working on keeping some strength in his left side and keeping the swelling from fluid build up on his right side down.

 

That's about all tonight.Mom and I did not go back to the hospital tonight.Dad had an uneventful day plus we had a good night nurse so we needed a break.

 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support,

 

Gerald Smith update Ė feb 23

Hi all,

today is Wednesday.I made it safely to Wichita.Things are going forward, with the ever small steps back.For the last 3 days dad has been off the ventilator from 8am to 10pm.All Day!But, we were having problems today so he did not last all day.But, they said there will be some bad days for him during this cycle.We are hoping to have him off days consistently by the first of next week, wherein we will start working on the nights.We are optimistic.Once we get him weaned off the vent we are moving him closer to home.His sinus infection that he had while in the ICU is still with him.They did some xrays and he has "mastoiditis", meaning the infection is in the jaw - bone.I guess it is hard to clear up the bug when it gets in the bone.They will keep him on antibiodics another 4 weeks.They also have found a "gray" spot in his lungs behind his heart.They are going to take him down the the xray room tomorrow for multiple xrays at different angles to see what is going on.They speculated one node of his lung maybe collapsed - tbd.

 

Hi bowels were impacted so they gave him an enima (sp?) last night.It was a messy night and day.But, the nurses have been pretty good about cleaning him up.I know this has been a humbling experiance for dad, but he seems to be resolved to putting up with it.

 

Still no movement on his right side, but we keep massaging him.They did some tests on his eyes and the stroke affected both of them.His right eye can move left - right only.His left eye can move up - down only.I'm sure he is seeing blurry / multi - images.But, he keeps looking at us and making facial expressions.We have also started working with his mouth trying to teach him how to open and close his mouth.His left side is coming along well.He has good control over his leg and arm.We are still working on his fingers and hand now.

 

Keep praying for mom please.The strain is starting to show on her.Once we get dad off the vent we are going to have someone take her home for a few days for a break.She gets wound very tight about things now and it takes some effort to try to keep her calm and from jumping on the hospital staff.

 

Gerald Smith update feb 19

Hi all,

Dad continues to progress, slowly but surely on getting off the ventilator.

They are taking him off the vent for 2 periods of 4 hours now.He is progressing slower than average, but is progressing.He also is getting therapy to try to keep his muscles and joints moving.They have also been working on pain management for dad.He has been improving faster when they have been helping keep the pain down.Dad was visited by his two sisters and brother this week.I think it helped lift his spirits.

 

I am headed back to Kansas on Sunday.I am taking 12 weeks medical leave of absence from work to help my mom and dad through this.Thank you all for your continued prayers on this journey.

 

Gerald Smith update feb 7

Hi everyone.Enough energy in me tonight to send out an email.Hopefully it will not have to many typos.Every day is 2 steps forward and 1 step back.Dad had a full (and rough) day.PT / OT moved his legs and arms around then sat him up for a minute.He coughed up a great deal of junk.Then they took the stiches out of his Trachea (sp?) and gave it a good cleaning.More coughing.The bed guy came in and agreed that the bed was not functioning right and so he organized another bed.Meanwhile they wanted to weigh dad.So we got them to do it in series.Sounded like a good idea.They lifted dad up in this body sling, wheeled the bed out and wheeled in the new one and lowered him.My younger brother and I were both in room thank God.They nearly let him fall out of bed, did not support his head when the lifted him up, got his IV line caught.wow.I really felt sorry for dad.He did not look comfortable this evening so they gave him tylenol.We are trying to stay away from the morphine as the goal is to wake his brain up.

 

probably the hardest thing every day is trying to understand if he is in pain or uncomfortable and not being able to communicate.His mind is there.We read get well cards to him and he started crying this morning.We have been playing his polka tapes to him to help him relax.But, he has not much of any way to communicate.We are working on that as we would like to know what is going on in his head.

 

I ask for your continued prayers for him - primarily to get off his vent.We are making some headway on reducing his O2 input.I also ask for your prayers to keep his spirits up.He was never one to set still of give up.He is just kind of there these days.I don't know how much fight is in him, it is hard undertaking at 74 years of age.I also ask for prayers for my mom.She is still dealing with what has happened to her husband of 52 years.She breaks down and crys a couple of times a day.We are providing what ever comfort we can.

 

Gerald Smith update Feb 3

Once again there is a mixed bag of news regarding Donís father.Today (Thursday), he is less responsive than he was the first few days.However on the more positive side his vent was reduced from 20% to 15% and he doesnít seem to be struggling with this.

 

His blood Oxygen is lower today at 94% but thatís still an acceptable range.They are taking him out of ICU because heís not considered critical care at this point.But they have to move Gerald to another hospital because the only place in the current hospital that they can do a ventilator is in the ICU.So tomorrow (Friday) they are going to transfer him to a different Hospital in Wichita.I didnít get the name of the new hospital, but Iíll try to remember to ask later.

 

They started feeding Gerald through the feeding tube a few hours ago, so hopefully that will help strengthen him.He is sleeping a lot, and he does sometimes respond, but not nearly as vigorous as in the past few days.Also, they are trying to get his blood pressure down a little more for the transport to the new hospital so they put him back on some blood pressure medication.

 

Don and mom and sister will need to move into different accommodations and they are trying to figure that out right now.They will probably stay in a nearby hotel.

 

If he gets off the ventilator they plan to move him to a hospital in Hayes which from what I remember is a few hours drive from Wichita and within about 30 minutes or so of his sister Kathy.

 

Keep the prayers coming.If your church has a local prayer chain, please think about adding Gerald and family to the list.Don sends his love and thanks.

 

Gerald Smith update Feb 1

Don's father is in desperate need of prayers.Don's father Gerald had a series of strokes this past Saturday and was air cared to St. Joeseph Hospital in Wichita Kansas (afew hundred miles away from his Western Kansas home).He was responding better last night, but has had a very bad night.He is now in critical condition and is in need of our prayers.The pulmonary doctor is saying that he should be responding better than he is right now.

 

There is much to say about the events that have occurred over the past few days, but not enough time to give the full update.Currently Gerald is struggling very badly and Don hopes that he has not given up.He is not breathing very well and has a sinus infection on top of this.He is now not responding very well now.

 

They tried to feed him through a feeding tube down his throat but didn't have any luck with this. They had trouble getting the feeding tube in the right position and actually damaged the trachea trying to do this.

 

He is supposed to have emergency surgery today to put a feeding tube into his stomache and to give him a tracheotomy.But they can't do this until he becomes stabil.His heart rate and blood pressure are too high.His heart rate is around 120 and the blood pressure is something like 240 over 140.

 

Don says his dad doesn't look well at all and is asking for prayers, especially that his blood pressure comes down since it was up about this high before he had a series of strokes.I ask you all to lift Don up in prayer as well.As can be expected, this has been really difficult for him.Thank you all for you love and support.