I would like to update a few things from my brother, Nelson.
Yesterday, Rose called me to tell me that Nelson was out of surgery and the doctor reported that everything went well. He said that there were lots of contusions to the spinal column, and that he repaired what he could, fused what needed fusing and that he continued to have great expectations for a full recovery. He said that the numbness and lack of motor coordination that Nel was experiencing was from the swelling around the fractured C-1 and C-2 vertebrae and that Nel will need therapy to recover from the damage that has been done there. He said when you have the weight of a body falling as far as Nel did, there just ARE going to be broken bones. Once again, we acknowlege that things could have been much, much worse.
It was a long day at the hospital, but Rose continued to express a peace and a gratefulness and a spirit of pluckiness and willingness to do the best possible thing at any given time. She amazes me!!! And the relationships that Nel (and she) have built over these last years are coming home to comfort and bless, and that makes all of us most thankful.
This morning I talked to Rose just before leaving to go to Dover’s Festival, and Nel had a pretty good night. The halo was in place, and he needed to be flat on his back, at least for a certain amount of hours. Rose spent the night, and was able to swab his mouth and help him when he needed something. The problems with the right arm were the biggest concern when Rose talked to me. The doctor had been in and said that the spinal cord was bruised at the site of the C-1 and C-2 fracture, and that is why there were problems with numbness, aching and some lack of control. He continued to maintain that the pain and the ability to move at all were positive signs and said that he still thought that therapy would bring back at least most of it. I am including this picture and explanation of the brace. I was certainly interested in how it looked, and maybe some more of you would like to see it, too.
The halo brace is often used as the initial treatment for odontoid fractures (located at the second cervical vertebrae of the neck). The halo brace has been used as the initial treatment for odontoid fractures. A “halo” metal ring is secured to the skull with pins and to two metal rods attached to a well-fitted plastic jacket. With this apparatus, it is possible to obtain complete fixation and to arrest almost all movement of the cervical spine. The outcome of this treatment varies with fractures healing and fusing within 3 months in 15% to 85% of patients.
When they got into the spine yesterday, they found some additional damage. The T-1 and T-2 vertebra were very badly damaged. The one was ruptured and the other severely herniated. They “fixed” that. The T-3 and T-4 were the ones that were fractured and unstable, so they fixed that. The T-8 and T-9 were fractured (as they knew) but were stable. A very interesting thing that they found was an old fracture in one of the torso vertebrae. The doctor says that he suspects that fracture happened when Nel was a teenager! That is really fascinating.
Nel has two ribs broken in his back, up near his shoulder, and the doctor said those are specific to an high impact blow. Otherwise these ribs do not break. Also, this morning they X-rayed his hand because it appeared that there may be a fracture there that has been overlooked in the greater scheme of things. With the later news of today, I completely forgot to find out what was wrong there, but I am sure that I will hear eventurally. They estimate that he fell about 20 feet, and landed on the landing of the stairway that was on a cement floor. If he had been three feet in almost any direction, he would have landed on concrete. The medical personnel are so impressed with Nel’s general health — his blood pressure, his oxygen levels, etc., but they are quick to say that if it had been concrete that he landed on, this story could be so different.
This afternoon, when Mama and I were on our way home from the festival, the phone rang, and it was Rose, and she was so excited I could hardly understand her. This is almost unbelievable, but they got Nel up today. He even walked a little bit with assistance, and they were able to seat him in a recliner of some sort. They were testing his range of motion and fine motor skills, and asked him to please lift his left hand high in the air. “Like he was praising the Lord” said Rose. Up it went, and without any difficulty at all. Then it was time for that uncooperative right hand, and Rose said that it didn’t want to cooperate at first, but eventually it also made it ALL THE WAY UP!!! Just like the left hand. And some of the fine motor skills were exactly where they should be, too. It is a marvelous! It was Wonderful! Nelson is so pleased, of course, but Rose and their family are almost beside themselves with joy.
Nel is in good spirits. The pain medication seems to be holding him pretty steady, though they are being careful to not over-medicate. His family is in and out, and he is talking, alert, and even joking. Rose expresses a deep appreciation for the prayers and the encouraging words that have been offered on their behalf. “This is a tough time,” she says philosophically, “and Nel and I will be spending lots and lots of time directly together, and it will not always be easy. But this what we need to do to get Nelson better. The doctor says that the order of business is ‘healing, physical therapy, and good food’ and that is something I can do for Nel. I can cook him good food, and I will!!!” She makes me laugh so often. I told her again this morning that I am so glad for the gal my brother married. She is so good for him, and she will throw her heart and soul into helping him get better.
I must run. I had Mama up to the festival today, and we both had barbecued chicken and potato salad and shared a funnel cake. Oh, yes. Something else. We both bought absolutely lovely quilts for ridiculously low prices. I will have to put a picture on here when I get a chance.
Wowser, am I tired tonight!!! But it is a good kind of tired. Tomorrow is Sunday, and I should get some rest. Thanks for all the good wishes, the prayers, and the encouragement to me and our extended family.
One more thing. If you at all can, be in church tomorrow morning. Nothing takes the place of being in the House of the Lord, and worshipping with the people of God.