Thursday, December 6, 2007

Update and Prayer Request

Hi Everyone,

I'm sorry I've been absent in posting updates. The good news is that Jeff continues to get closer to "normal" with each passing day.

I will update one specific prayer request we had and I apologize for my tardiness. Jeff was home for Thanksgiving! He was able to go to California for 2 days and see a lot of his old friends and our parents. His trip was short, but I'm glad he got to take it. Thank you again for praying to that end.

One specific prayer request we have is for Jeff's shoulder. If you recall, he fell in the hospital. He had repeatedly asked for an Orthopedic consultation and they assured him that he was just sore. When his pain persisted, he asked again and they said he was just stiff from being immobilized while he healed. When he got out of the hospital and continued to go to PT, his Physical Therapist finally ordered a consult for him. The Orthopedist thinks that Jeff may have a torn rotator cuff. Jeff had an MRI this week and he goes to the Orthopedist this coming Monday to review the results. If the MRI indicates the tear, Jeff will have to undergo another surgery, which he is already stressed about.

Would you pray that the results are conclusive. We of course pray that he won't need surgery but if that is the case, would you pray that they are able to find what the source of his pain is? And if he does need surgery, would you pray that Jeff's nerves are calmed and that he has peace going in to whatever procedure(s) they determine to be necessary?

We're so grateful to have Jeff home for the holidays. He gets stronger every day and he is already eager to return to work and other normal activities.

Thank you for your prayers and thoughtfulness?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November 11: First Full Week Home

Hi everyone,

Jeff had a great first week home. On Monday we spent of time getting all the ducks in a row for his outpatient follow up treatments at the burn clinic, and at Physical and Occupational Therapy. Fortunately we have a great advocate at the hospital who helped us cut through a lot of red tape.

Jeff had some good days and some tougher days but overall he is doing well. On Wednesday they took the bandages off his arms and now he has these pressure garments to wear that he'll have for up to a year. They are really tight so they cause him some discomfort but I think he's adjusting. As soon as the graft on his leg is ready, he'll get one for his leg, too. What the garments do is help his new and grafted skin grow smooth and flush with his existing skin. He's getting some blisters on his hands and I'm not sure if that is from the garment or not so hopefully the clinic on Wednesday will give him some insight in to that.

Jeff came to church with us this morning, then out to lunch and then to our house this afternoon and he had a full day of activity yesterday so we've been excited at the continued increase in his energy and activity level. They also decreased his pain medication so he is more uncomfortable but is tolerating it well and I guess it's a good sign that they thought that he was strong enough to do that.

Thanks for continuing to follow his progress. We're praying for another great week!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

November 3: Homecoming

God has brought Jeff past another hurdle:

Jeff is HOME!

The doctor was in today and Jeff did his PT and OT first thing in the morning so the doctor said that as long as he stayed at the hospital all day, he could come home tonight. So right before supper time, he was released. All 10 of us and 2 dogs had supper together at home and Jeff did a lot of walking and visiting. He's gone to bed early and we're praying that he gets a good night's sleep in preparation for his first full day home.

We're home now too and we're going to take advantage of going to bed early. I'll likely update less often because there will be less day to day change, but I'll try to keep in touch as much as I can.

Thank you all for praying and for continuing to pray as we continue on this journey.

Friday, November 2, 2007

November 2: Coming Home?

Jeff did ok again today. He's still uncomfortable but the promise of getting off the medication to go home really motivates him to push himself. The prolonged hospital stay is really getting to him, and because he doesn't really have any concept of time, nor of how badly he was injured and how MUCH treatment he was receiving initially, it's hard for him to have much perspective about the insignificance of a couple more days in the grand scheme of how far he's come. If it were up to him, he'd get up and walk out tonight, and he's having a hard time seeing the long term goal of rehabilitating himself as thoroughly as possible before moving on.

That being said, 6 of his friends drove out today, including Becky and Chris, so that should really lift his spirits. The other 4 haven't seen him since before this all started, so I am praying the reunion really lifts his spirits. He has such wonderful friends.

However, with all that said, the doctors are talking about a release date of this Sunday! He was really hoping for tomorrow, but his Physical Therapist called in sick today and the rest of the unit was short staffed anyway so he couldn't do the walking they need him to do first, so the plan is to do that tomorrow and if all goes as planned, release him on Sunday. The extra day really upset him, but again, we're trying to help him see the perspective of the grand scheme. If he goes home on Sunday, it will be exactly 3 weeks since this all started. I just can't believe how quickly things have progressed. God has indeed been merciful and generous in His healing of Jeff's body. Even the doctors have been surprised at how quickly Jeff has been healed.

He still has a long road in front of him. He can't expose his burned skin to sun for at least a year. Since all of his limbs were burned, that means long pants and long sleeves. Fortunately, it's fall and not overwhelmingly hot. The doctors said that for the first couple of weeks that he's home, he'll feel like a truck ran over him as he tries to regain his strength and continues to re-sharpen his motor skills. He'll likely have to undergo Physical Therapy and when he returns to work, he'll have to start out slowly, on light duty. Plus, as the pain continues to subside, it's likely that he'll focus more on the psychological trauma of the fire so he will have that to deal with as well. But coming home is such a HUGE celebration and we're so grateful for that.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. His friends moved all of his stuff from California to his new house so tomorrow will be a mixture of unpacking in preparation for his homecoming and visiting him in the hospital. I'll try to update tomorrow night but maybe the next time you hear from me, he'll be home!

Praise God for His generosity of healing and His provision of great friends for Jeff. Please pray for extra protection around Jeff's spirit as he enters the next phase of this journey.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November 1: GREAT News!

The tech and one of the surgeons just looked at all of Jeff's wounds and said they look great! They've undressed all his wounds and have replaced the heavy bandages with just a light transitional cover! All of the grafts look to be taking with his own skin.

The same surgeon was the one who originally gave us the timeline of this weekend. He had said "if everything looks good when we undress the wounds, he could go home this weekend." He didn't say that today, but he did confirm that both the wounds and the donor spots did look great. His own doctor was not able to look today so I think that's why we don't have a firm timeline.

Two major hurdles have to be overcome before he can go home--he has to start walking again, and he has to wean himself off the IV Pain Medication. Once those two things are done and presuming the wounds continue to heal in the mean time, I think the end could be in sight!

October 31: No Update

Mom just got home in the last hour and I was able to chat with her about the hospital visit today (I still can't go because of my sickness). The doctors wont be reviewing Jeff's grafts until tomorrow--we misunderstood that it would be today. There was little change in Jeff's status so I don't have any updates in that regard. Thank you for your continued prayers for the post-surgery assessment. I'll update as soon as I know more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

October 30: Evaluation Tomorrow

Jeff is scheduled for an evaluation tomorrow wherein the doctors will undress his wounds to determine whether or not the grafts are melding with his own skin. A discovery during surgery gave them a little bit of concern. When they removed the pigskin from his leg during the surgery, they found that there was little to no improvement, indicating that the skin was not as receptive as the rest of his burns had been. So there is some potential that this same area will also not have been receptive to the skin grafts. Please pray that the doctors find good news tomorrow when they unbind him. Also, as I mentioned before, when his donor site comes in contact with the air, he is likely to be in even more pain than he is now, so please also pray for comfort for him tomorrow as they introduce this change.

October 30: Post Surgery Update

Jeff came through surgery just fine. He's on bed rest for at least 3 days to allow his grafts to heal so that's been really frustrating for him. He was in quite a lot of pain yesterday. Today is a little more bearable but the doctors said that tomorrow or the next day, whenever they remove his bandages and expose the donor site to air, will be his most painful day. They're trying to keep him as comfortable as possible, but that's difficult because he has the donor site on one side and a splint on the other side and burns on his back so he can lie on his back or on either side without significant discomfort. Please pray that he gets some rest and relief from the pain.

Monday, October 29, 2007

October 29: Surgery Update

Jeff is already out of surgery! They took him really early this morning and he was done by 9:15. He should be out of recovery within the next hour and then we'll get to see him.

The surgery went as expected. They grafted exactly the areas they thought they'd have to--no more and no less. They took all of the skin from one donor site on his thigh. The doctors said that the donor site actually what will give him the most discomfort in the coming day. It kills us that they had to create a new wound for him to get better but in the grand scheme of things, it's a small price to pay so we try to keep that perspective.

His right arm is entirely unbound. He just has a little "Michael Jackson" glove over his hand but his fingers and the entire arm are free, meaning that the wounds have healed enough to be in contact with the air. They're still working with a splint on his left arm and that arm had a little grafting done this morning so the challenge will be how to move his muscles enough so they don't atrophy without moving them so much as to tear the grafts. I guess one thing they were going to do while he was "out" this morning under the anesthesia was take advantage of his state and manipulate all of his joints and muscles beyond where they'd been able to while he was conscious due to the discomfort it caused him. So that should be helpful from the Physical Therapy recovery.

Jeff's biggest challenge this week will be taking it slow. If he's too aggressive, he could tear his grafts or not give them a chance to ever meld in the first place. But I know it's going to be frustrating for him to not be able to be as active as he was in the most recent days. They haven't told us if they're going to rely on him to stay still and rested or if they're going to sedate him, or some combination of the two. I'll keep you posted in that regard.

Thank you all for your prayers. We're so grateful that the surgery is over and that it happened early enough that he can be through the emotional stress and on the other side on his way to recovery. I'm off to the hospital now...

October 28: Surgery Tomorrow

Just a quick update tonight because I'm pretty sick and don't feel up to writing much.

Jeff was largely the same today with no major changes. They decided to forgo trying again to put the port in his arm and just put a new central line in his chest instead. I didn't get to see him today (I can't risk getting him sick) but from what I gather, that was the only major change.

His surgery is scheduled for 9:00 am tomorrow. He is very nervous. The nurse gave him something to calm his nerves but I don't know how much rest he will get tonight. Please cover him in prayers for peace and comfort. We've all tried to assuage his nerves but I think he won't be calmed down until he is out of surgery. Please also pray that they take him right away in the morning and don't postpone it, belaboring his discomfort and worry.

Thank you!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

October 27: Physical Therapy

There were no significant changes yesterday. The biggest news is that they're really trying to push Jeff in the way of physical therapy. They've installed a trapeze over his bed for stretching (he has to reach up and grab/push this metal triangle on a sliding bar) and they've got him using an exercise band. One particularly uncomfortable change was that they had to splint Jeff's arm because he'd been cradling it in one position. Pulling it back in to place was painful and difficult and he's been significantly more uncomfortable since. They also tried to install a different kind of port in his arm and after a lot of prodding, poking and digging they still couldn't get it positioned right so they abandoned efforts for the night. But the port in his chest needs to be replaced because the old one has been in there too long and is getting infected. But replacing this port with another like it is not a good option because they only last a couple days and we'd hate for him to have to endure the replacement procedure that often. The port in the arm would be able to last 2 weeks if they can get it in. Whatever they decide, would you pray it goes smoothly for him with as little discomfort as possible?

Everything else is going fine. His wounds continue to heal at a remarkable rate, and he gets more active every day. Yesterday he was moved to a room with a roommate who was significantly more badly burned than Jeff and who is healing very well (and is much farther along in the progress) so I'm hoping that seeing his progress will encourage Jeff. Plus I think both guys will appreciate the company in the off hours when visitors are not allowed.

Thank you for your prayers! I apologize for the short update!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25: Great Day Today

Today started out shakey for Jeff but it turned out to be a great day, as far as I could tell.

It started off rocky because Jeff is really having a hard time sleeping. A huge factor is the pain but another big part of it was that until today, he was in a unit where he was literally the only conscious patient so it was a pretty noisy unit, with activity and machines that kept him awake at all hours. Jeff has always needed a lot of sleep, even when 100% healthy, so the fatigue is heightening a lot of his other senses, including the pain and restlessness. Though today he did get moved to another unit, (one for patients who require less care--hooray that he even qualified for that!), his injuries still make it hard for him to get comfortable because there's not a "side" that doesn't have some injury and he's therefore always laying or sitting on something. So would you pray that his rest is multiplied?

But the great news is that he is now off his telemetry machine. The telemetry machine monitored his blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and oxygen saturation and they've determined that all of those things are stable enough as to not need monitoring. Now he's just connected to some IVs for his pain medication. That's such a change from when he was first admitted where he had tubes and/or wires in his eyes, nose, mouth, throat, arms, chest and toe! God has been so merciful and powerful in the healing he has brought Jeff's body in such a short amount of time.

And because he's now just connected to some IVs, he was able to be mobile. He was able to come out to the waiting room tonight and play games with us--something that we thought we wouldn't get to do for a long time. It was also encouraging for him to get to see us all at the same time-something we'd only previously done once when a nurse sneaked us in. Visiting rules permit only 2 people in a room at once and that was really upsetting him. So tonight we were all able to be together at once--restoring a little bit more normalcy. We also got to take him outside to the "healing garden" and the doctor said we could bring up his dog to see him, so I did and they (Batman and Jeff) loved that! I think it really boosted both of their spirits to know that the other one was really ok. You can really see Jeff's mushy side come out around Batman! :) (OK, I'll stop because one day he'll read this and I don't want him to kill me...but it's really cute!)

I guess the combination of those factors cheered him up so much that right before we left, he wanted to walk again. He walked a long way! I would guess that he walked more than 1/8th of a mile tonight! He also got himself in and out of the bathroom a couple times (TMI but worth mentioning because it was just a couple of days ago that the same attempt caused a fall!) and then in to bed! He made such awesome progress today! He's also had a great night nurse the last couple nights who has been as enthusiastic about his psychological healing as she is about his physical healing so she's allowed us to spend extra time with him.

I know Jeff is really worried about Monday's surgery and he talks about it with increasing frequency as the day approaches. The few surgeries he's ever had in his life have always been when he was already unconscious, so I'm sure part of the anxiety is that this is the first surgery he's ever known about ahead of time, but he's also afraid of the recovery pain, and as I mentioned before, of this experience that he's convinced he had and is worried he'll have again. Please pray that this weekend is especially restful for him and that peace will be granted to his spirit so that he can have no fear when he goes in for surgery on Monday?

Thank you also for your prayers for Todd and Becky after the accident. Both are a little sore but are largely unaffected. The biggest complication is that at the time of the accident, the officer asked Todd if he wanted a report and told Todd that if he (the officer) wrote a report, the other driver would have to be cited. Todd, in trying to be a nice guy, declined so that the woman would not have a citation on top of everything else. Now the woman is lying to her insurance agent, claiming the existence of an imaginary witness and that this witness and she herself will assert that Todd ran the red light. (The accident occurred when Todd proceeded straight through an intersection and a woman turned left in to him). Without the citation the case is much more he said, she said. Thankfully Todd was able to reach the responding officer today who said that while he cannot cite the other driver now, he will speak to the insurance company and confirm that the other woman was indeed at fault and that there were no witnesses. We're not really worried about the outcome--we're just weary of the extra headaches that have accompanied this. We'd appreciate your prayers that the officer's statement would assuage the adjustor's suspicions and that Todd could be free of having to deal with this any more. We'd also love your prayers for Todd and Becky's residual stiffness and soreness to go away.

Thanks everyone! Jeff asked tonight if he had any more messages since I brought them up a few days ago so I'll be bringing him a new CD tomorrow if anyone wants to leave new messages.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Occtober 24: Update

The last couple of days have been marked with both success and difficulty.

Yesterday turned out to not be as troublesome as we expected. The Grand Round went well. They opened up all of Jeff's bandages and surveyed his wounds and made several determinations. The first thing that they determined is that they will not remove his synthetic grafts. They cut holes in to the layers of the grafts to allow the infection to drain out but they determined that that will be sufficient treatment so as to allow the grafts to remain in place so that they can continue to help his wounds heal.

They also determined that his back is looking very good and will not need surgery.

They have scheduled him for skin grafting surgery for the remaining upper arm, and legs on Monday, October 29. If all goes as planned, he could be released as soon as the following week. I can't even believe that we're even having discussions about a release date yet, even if they are preliminary.

Today was more difficult because he did not have a nurse who was qualified in burn care. I guess that's a mixed development because the great news is that he does not need a burn ICU nurse. The bad news is that because she was not a burn care specialist, her care was substantially less qualitatively, and she caused him a significant amount of trouble, pain and distress simply due to her own ignorance of his kind of needs. The charge nurse assured us that he will not be scheduled with her again. But as a result, he's really taxed today.

One piece of good news is that he walked today! He walked the other day from his bed to his door of his room but today he walked out of his room and down the hall a few doors, and back!

Tomorrow he may come off his telemetry machine, which would allow him to get out of his room in a wheelchair and in to the other parts of the hospital and courtyard. That would really lift his spirits because then he could visit with more than two people at a time (something he keeps asking for) and he could get a change of scenery which would help combat the sense of stir craziness that he is struggling with.

One special prayer request is for Jeff in the coming days as they're trying to wean him off of the pain medications. Obviously we want him to feel as little pain as possible, but one of his medications is narcotic so we don't want him to grow too dependent on it. Would you pray for wisdom for the nurses as they determine the balance between pushing him to a healthy point and when enough is enough and he's reached his real limit and just needs help. And would you pray for comfort for Jeff as he struggles to adjust to the increase pain sensitivity?

I want to extend a thank you on behalf of Jeff to everyone who has sent him cards and voicemails. They've been of such great encouragement to him and his wall grows more decorated every day, which helps comfort him especially when he is alone. I'm sure Jeff will thank you all when he is able but I wanted to let you know how appreciative he is.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 23: Evaluation

Today is going to be a tough day for Jeff.

Last night he convinced the nurse to let him get up and use the actual bathroom, rather than the bedside commode. When he was done, he did not call the nurse to help him. He went to stand up and used the door handle for support. The handle turned and the door opened and Jeff fell. He unfortunately landed on his arm that has the worst damage so he is very very sore today. They did take xrays and he did not break anything but he is very sore and feels a bit defeated.

Additionally, his synthetic grafts are infected so they have to remove them. They will not re-do this surgery--his skin in those areas will just have to heal on its own. He did make it through a few days without the infection so that helped him heal a little but they won't have done as much good as they could have if they stayed on the whole week.

He's scheduled this morning for a "Grand Round" wherein the entire team of burn doctors will evaluate him simultaneously. They'll undress all of his wounds and look at everything to gauge his progress. That's bound to be uncomfortable and distressing for Jeff but hopefully, will give us some more insight in to his progress.

He's anxious about his upcoming surgery. He also had some sort of nightmare while he was sedated last week and he's convinced that what he dreamt actually happened to him and he's terrified that it will happen again when they take him for surgery. We've tried to reassure him, but he needs special peace to calm his spirit and worries. The surgery is theoretically still a few days away but I'm not sure if that will give him time to adjust to the idea or just give him more time to stress about it.

While we're grateful for the reemergence of Jeff's personality and determination, we're concerned that his stubbornness, if unchecked, will be counterproductive, and he will push to do things too soon and harm himself like he did last night.

We'd appreciate your prayers that today goes as smoothly as possible for Jeff.

Monday, October 22, 2007

October 22: Continued Progress

Jeff had a really good day today. He was lucid the entire day and even gave some lip to the doctors so we know his spunk is back.

He woke up and his nurses were gently telling him that they were going to check him and set him up to have a restful day. He said "no" and told them that today all the tubes were coming out, that he WAS going to have a shower, and that he WAS going to get up and walk today! And you know what? He did it all! He's tired today and he struggles with being lonely during the time that we're not allowed to be there (and when we have to sleep!) but we're trying to give him lots of things to fill his time. He's frustrated with the fact that he has to rebuild his motor skills and that he can't get well as soon as he would like. But at least we are encouraged that he is more himself. Would you pray that he is comforted, especially in the quiet hours?

We had a little excitement tonight. Mom W. and Tina, PLEASE DON'T WORRY, but Todd and Becky were in a VERY MINOR fender bender (not accident!) tonight on the way home from the hospital. They are 100% ok and unharmed but this just adds one more thing to our plates, stress wise because there are always hassles with insurance, adjustors, etc and I'm sure we'd all love to have as little to focus on as possible. Would you just pray for a renewing of our spirits and's been a tiring week for all of us. This fender bender was the other driver's fault so hopefully there won't be much for Todd and Becky to do, but we'd love your prayers that everything goes smoothly. Also, they're both just a little bit sore from the impact so would you pray that they are well rested and restored to comfort in the morning?

We're on our way back to the hospital now to bring Jeff some dinner (he wanted Del Taco and Red Robin today--yay that he's eating solid food) so we have to pick up the Red Robin and then get back up there--he's feisty and gets on our case if we're not there at the exact moment visiting hours resume--again, another sign that he's back to himself! I'll take feisty!

Thanks, friends!

October 22: So Far, So Good

I'm sorry for such a late update. I'm pretty tired and am having a hard time keeping up with everything. Now that Jeff is awake I may not be able to update every day but I will try my best.

Jeff had a decent day today. He's moderately confused sometimes, and still very tired, but for a large part of the day he was lucid and conversational. He's frustrated because in some ways he understands what happened to him but he doesn't understand how that translates to why he can't move around and do things for himself. That leaves him really frustrated at times but we're trying to keep him calmed down.

His blood pressure is still elevated but that could be due to some of the medications. His other vitals continue to look good. We may have more information tomorrow when there are more doctors around and we'll have a chance to speak with one but so far, it looks like he's progressing really well! Praise God!

I shared all the voicemails with him tonight and I can't even begin to express how much it cheered him up. He's struggling with being lonely during the hours that we're not allowed to be there so I think this will really help, especially because he can't talk on the phone and sometimes, he can't sleep as well as we would like him to.

If you have a chance, it'd be great if people could leave him more messages so I can bring him a new CD full. I've put the info in this post again, too. We don't have to be quite so strict about what we say in the messages now, but please still try to be conscientious about being upbeat and encouraging. He really enjoyed all of the messages--the silly ones, the sentimental ones, the reminiscent ones and the get well wishes. So if you'd like to call again, I'm sure he'd love to hear from you! Just click the "Record by Phone" button and it will give you the number to call.

I'll update again tomorrow! Please pray for continued comfort for Jeff, as well as peace in his spirit so that he does not get too upset.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

October 20: News!

I'm not even sure what to call this post or how I feel about this news:

Jeff is awake!

The reason I'm hesitant to celebrate is he shouldn't be awake (medically, not providentially speaking). What I mean by that is his lungs still showed a need for the intubation (though they had begun weaning him off today, which we did not know), and he should have been very, very heavily sedated. We're not sure exactly what happened, but Jeff sat up tonight, and in one fell swoop, pulled all his tubes out, as if to say "I've had enough!"

His alarm sounded and his nurse rushed in and called the doctor but I guess after a series of checks, they determined that they do not need to reintubate him! He was responsive to questions and even spoke. He did what he was instructed to do and interacted with the doctors and with us.

The bad news is that he is in a lot of pain. And he is very confused. He doesn't understand why he is in pain and he doesn't remember what happened. He asked us if he was going home tonight, and why did his legs hurt so bad? He can barely speak because of the tube that's been in, and he was very upset tonight when we had to go home. He heart breakingly asked, "Why is everyone leaving me?"

Now the reason I'm not sure how I feel is I hate that he has to be so aware of his own pain and confusion and I hate that his tubes came out in such a dangerous, violent way. I'm thankful that as long as he stays strong, they don't need to go back in, but I'd feel a lot better about this if they'd come out when they were supposed to have. Thank God he had a great nurse tonight, which is a huge relief after 2 shifts of really inattentive, unknowledgeable nurses (that's a whole 'nother post!) Jeff really could have been in serious peril if his nurse had not responded right away.

So we're obviously that we get to talk to him and that he can know that we're here, but I'm still reeling a bit from the way this all happened. One thing we do not know (and it's because we haven't had a chance to speak to a doctor yet, not because the doctors don't know) is if this will have caused any short term or long term damage or scarring to the internal areas where the tube was. Hopefully they can clear that up for us tomorrow.

I hate that Jeff thinks that we "left" him and I hate that he is so angry and confused. I'm praying that a good night's rest and the ability to communicate with him tomorrow and in the following days will help soothe his spirit and his questions.

One side note is that Jeff's blood pressure was VERY high today. It was elevated tonight but a lot of that is from the activity of the day. Please pray that it stabilizes.

Thank you for your prayers and celebrations! We rejoice that he did not seriously harm himself tonight and we are cautiously thankful for the fact that he is awake. We continue to pray for comfort and healing for him in the coming days.

Friday, October 19, 2007

October 19: Surgery Update!

It is with deep thanksgiving that I report to you that the doctors have successfully completed their first surgery on Jeff, and he came through it safely!

The GREAT news is that his hands were far less severely damaged than they originally thought. This is a great praise because of all the areas damaged, his hands are what he uses this most. The doctors were able to do the synthetic grafting on his hands and fingers and on one arm and they expect them to heal very well--possibly within a week! We're very grateful they were able to conduct this surgery because it means reduced pain and risk of infection for Jeff! Praise God! They'll un-bundle his wounds in 1 or 2 days to determine how well the synthetic grafts are bonding with his own skin. Hopefully they'll find good news and they won't need to work on those areas again.

We are also excited at the news that the doctors isolated the particular organism causing his pneumonia, and have adjusted the "generic" antibiotic treatment and replaced it with one specific to this kind of pneumonia, and he is already showing great response!

We did however, receive some less positive news, too, but we are not dismayed or discouraged. Unfortunately, the burns on his legs and upper arms were worse than originally thought, so those will require traditional skin grafting. What they did today was prep those areas by adding a temporary graft of pigs skin (gross!), which will somehow prepare his own skin to better accept the grafts in about a week. Skin grafting is more involved and complicated to heal, but they are hopeful for Jeff. If he recovers nicely next week, they expect to do the skin grafting at the end of next week or the beginning of the following week. And then if all goes as planned, recovery from that surgery would take a minimum of a week, though it would require additional physical therapy to "train" the skin to behave in its new location rather than like the it did on its previous body part (likely his upper thighs).

The other disappointing news is that Jeff's lungs are now to a point where he cannot breath on his own and is dependent on a "moderate" amount of assistance from the respirator. Every day that he is intubated increases his risk of infection or additional pneumonias, so we are naturally anxious for him to heal quickly and be stable enough to come off the vent. Additionally, our own hearts long to talk to him and for him to know that we are here, but as long as he is as heavily sedated as he needs to be for the vent, that will continue to be out of our reach. However, we are grateful that the longer he's sedated, the longer he can be as unaware of the pain as possible and the more rest his body can get. The flipside though is doctors are eager to restore his movement and activity so as to avoid muscle atrophy, and again, we want the tubes out as soon as possible because of the risks they pose.

The doctor did say that based on his clinical diagnosis, his experience has been that Jeff's lungs won't be ready to stand on their own for at least 3 more days and then they might be able to consider weaning him off or removing it altogether. Our prayer is that he'll be stable early enough in the week that they'll be able to take it out before the second surgery. If it takes him too far in to next week, they'll just leave it in for the next surgery, which will be almost 2 weeks total of intubation, which starts raising new needs and concerns like a tracheotomy. So we'd obviously like for him to have some relief. And the doctor did give us hope that if he is strong enough, he could be weaned off, placed on only for the hours of the surgery, and then taken right back off. That is our specific prayer.

Also today we turned in Jeff's paperwork for State Assistance with the medical bills. Because he had only been with his employer a short term, he did not have health insurance. There may also be assistance available through the burn foundation but any information on that is several weeks out. We're praying for mercy and generosity on the part of the Program Administrators.

The doctors gave us hope that if all goes as planned and Jeff recovers well and pushes himself in he way of physical therapy once that time comes, he could be home and restored to light functionality by Thanksgiving! What a joy it would be to have him home and close to being "himself" for the holidays. Would you pray toward that goal with us?

So overall it's been a day full of a mixture of hope and the reality of the long journey in front of us. We're grateful for the triumphs of the day and hopeful for the goals the doctors have helped set.

It seems trite to sign off every night with "thank you" because we have so much more in our hearts than what those two little words can convey. Please know you have our unending love and gratitude and we offer up thanksgiving to God for all of you.

Jen for all of us

Financial Assistance

I am hesitant to deviate from the initial purpose of this blog which was to update friends and family on his continued prognosis. Please know that we will not solicit anything other than your prayers, and this is only posted for information purposes for those who desire to give out of their own accord, and is at the request of several who have inquired. Future posts will return to the original update intention of the blog.

At the request of many of Jeff's friends, we have set up a bank account for him. Any donations collected will be used for accident related expenses including medical bills and living expenses that would have otherwise been covered by his employment wages. The hospital estimates that his medical expenses could be as much as $5000 or $10000 per day, and we do not yet know when he will be able to return to work. So obviously any help of any amount will help him greatly. We have applied for state assistance on his behalf, but we do not yet have any idea how much assistance it will provide, if at all. Also, because he had just started his job, he was not yet eligible for health insurance and the insurance adjusters have yet to determine if this will be covered by Workers' Comp or other insurance.

The bank account is currently in the name of our mom, Rose McCormick. When Jeff is lucid again and can speak for himself, the bank account will be transferred to his name. (We obviously couldn't open an account in his name for him).

The bank account is just a traditional checking account at this time. Donations to it are not tax deductible. It is a new account, established singularly for this purpose and separate from any existing personal accounts.

For those who would like to donate, there are several ways.

Online Using Paypal
You can use paypal to donate by clicking this button. (The button is also on the right side of the blog now).

In Person
For those of you in Ventura County, CA, you can make a donation deposit in person at any of the following Washington Mutual Locations. Just ask to make a donation to the account in the name of Rosemary McCormick. These 4 banks below should have been informed about the potential of donations but in case you run in to snafus, it may help to tell the teller that the account was established at an Arizona WAMU and that the last 4 digits of the account number are 4474.

(Click any address for map)
1. 461 S Reino Rd., Newbury Park, CA. 805.480.1152
2. 148 W Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA. 805.497.7559.
3. 248 Hampshire Rd., Westlake, CA. 805.494.3311
4. 3960 E Thousand Oaks Blvd., Westlake Village, CA. 805.497.3764

I forgot about the WAMU at Janss and Moorpark in T.O. when I was setting this up. I'll get that bank added on Monday

For those who are near a WAMU facility other than the 4 specified, you can of course donate at at your location anywhere in the country but you would need a complete account number to do so so please contact us if you would like that.

For those making deposits at a bank please know that the bank does not tell us who makes the deposits. I'm sure Jeff will want to thank you so if you would like to let us know you've made a gift, please email us at and I'm sure he will be honored to thank you when he is able. If you prefer to remain anonymous, we respect that as well and we offer you our heartfelt gratitude on his behalf.

If you prefer, you can mail a donation to the address shown in the right column on the blog (the address on Baseline Road) and we will deposit it. Please make checks payable to Rose McCormick.

Thank you to those of you who have inquired about offering financial assistance and thank you to everyone for your patience with my deviation from the intended purpose of this blog.

October 19: A Good Night Last Night

Jeff's fever is finally gone and has stayed away! Hooray! I'm praying it won't return because he was miserable. He had to lay on a blanket set at 40 degrees and he was packed in ice--we could visibly see how uncomfortable he was so I hope he doesn't have to do that again.

His nurse said all of his other vital signs stayed stable throughout the night, too!

To that end, they've put him back on the surgery schedule. However, he's 4th in line so I don't know how realistic it is that he'll have it today and I don't know that he'd be done by that 3:00 deadline so he may still have that tube in for the rest of the weekend. I know he'll get the surgery when it's the right time for it, but for his own sake I just pray that that time is soon.

We'll get to see him in a couple hours. I'll update again tonight, Lord willing with good news.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

October 18: A setback

Jeff's surgery has been postponed indefinitely. They determined today after a series of exams and xrays that he does indeed have pneumonia.

While this is typical for burn victims, it's still scary. The doctor warned us from the get go that this could be one of his biggest risks (even more so than the actual injuries) so they are taking very careful care of this. They're not any more worried about Jeff than they would be about another burn victim with pneumonia, so that is a good sign, but it's still a significant step backwards. They did a broncheoscopy (correction from my post this morning) and suctioned off "a ton" of gunk from his lungs so that was good. But he's continued to cough today which is productive, but uncomfortable.

He's also exhausted from all the trauma yesterday. We're a bit discouraged because it seems that there was just some miscommunication and there was no reason Jeff should have had to endure yesterday without pain medication. Thankfully, it's rectified today and he's resting deeply. Also, one of the medications he's currently on has an amnesiac in it so while he felt the pain at the time, he shouldn't remember it.

We're home early and didn't get to see him much today because they asked us to let him rest and not try to stimulate him by talking to him or touching him. We all took the opportunity to come home and get some rest for ourselves, because we're all, understandably, very tired.

The great news is that his oxygen levels were 98-100% this afternoon and his temperature has stayed all day around 98 degrees. His blood pressure was high this morning too, but they got it down by the time we left this afternoon.

The doctor said we could know as early as tomorrow if the pneumonia is responding to the antibiotics so today is really just a waiting game. They may go through with the surgery tomorrow if it looks like the antibiotics are working but if not, we'll just have to keep waiting til we know one way or the other.

Pray for my mom--this is hard on her as I'm sure any parent can understand. Pray for Chris and Becky too--I can't imagine what witnessing that must have been like. Becky flew home with her mom tonight and will drive back tomorrow with Chris so we'd appreciate your continued prayers for traveling mercies.

We'll go up tonight at bed time--hopefully his numbers will have persisted at a good rate and he'll have a peaceful evening.

October 18: Surgery Postponed

The hospital just called. They have decided to forgo Jeff's surgery today because his saturation levels of oxygen are too low. I guess a normal side effect of the excessive fluids they give a burn victim to keep them irrigated is that the fluid transfers itself to the lungs. They're doing another bronchostomy today that will hopefully relieve immediate pressure, but they said it could take a couple of days to get the general problem under control. They said that the problem was unexpected in Jeff's particular case, but not abnormal in burn victims in general so they are not particularly worried--we're just disappointed that the surgery can't happen. But again, as I said last night, we're exceedingly grateful for God's provision of wise and skilled doctors who are able to discern when to be aggressive and when to give him more time and we are confident that this will play a huge part in Jeff's long term recovery.

Visiting hours start in half an hour so we're scooting out now. I'll be back to update around 11:00 tonight.

October 18: Surgery Update

I just called the hospital this morning and they said Jeff had an "ok" night but spiked a fever. They also said he's been bumped to third on the surgery list again, which is where he started yesterday. So we're still praying that his surgery goes through today and early. His nurse couldn't tell us why he'd been bumped again. So please keep joining us in prayers that he's able to have the surgery soon and hopefully they can take the tubes out today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October 17: Surgery Postponed

Today was a disappointing day for everyone. Jeff was originally scheduled to be the third surgery of the day. Something happened with the second surgery that made it last far longer than they anticipated and finally at 4:30, the staff gave up on the hope of having time for Jeff today and told us that he wouldn't have the surgery until tomorrow.

The disappointing part is that this resulted in a lot of discomfort for Jeff. He couldn't have anything in his feeding tube all day. They had started to sedate him and backed off his pain medication in preparation for the anesthesia so he was much more aware of the pain. It was especially hard when they had to change his dressings and scrub his wounds. He was in so much pain but there was just no way to avoid the unfortunate timing until it was too late and they just had to push through it. Plus, because he was technically supposed to be ready for surgery at any time, we couldn't see him for most of the day and that was hard since we all naturally wanted to be at his side, comforting him.

So by tonight, he was exhausted. We sat with him a long time and played all the voice messages but he was so sedated that he didn't respond to our voices or to the tape. We'll try again tomorrow. At least he was in such a deep sleep that he was getting solid rest and relief from the pain.

His fever remains a steady 103. I guess the good news is that it isn't climbing. The surgery is supposed to help bring that fever down, ward off infection, and help him heal more quickly.

The GREAT news is that if they can get him in surgery early enough tomorrow, they may be able to extubate him tomorrow afternoon, and then they'd stop backing off the sedative. The hospital's goal is to have him lucid and moving (walking!) by the weekend because they don't want his muscles to weaken anymore. I'll be honest and say that seeing him today, that sounds like SUCH a far away possibility that I can't see bridged in 2 days, but I have faith that God has entrusted him to so many wonderful doctors and nurses. If he's up, GREAT! If not, that's because his team has the wisdom to see that would be pushing too hard and we are grateful for that wisdom too. So, we'll see.

The recovery from the surgery will be very uncomfortable for Jeff. They said it's essentially like taking a cheese grater to his skin. I wince at that analogy and am just grateful for skilled doctors and medicine and care that will minimize his trauma. But if you'd pray for special mercies from the pain for him, during both the surgery and recovery, that would be wonderful. The great news is that if the surgery goes as planned, his recovery from it could be as little as 2 weeks!

We're really praying that he is able to have the surgery tomorrow. We're specifically praying that he gets to have the surgery early so that he doesn't have another day of no pain meds, no food, and prolonged intubation. So earlier in the day is better. They don't extubate after 3:00pm so ideally we want him out of surgery and stabilized by then. That's our specific hope for tomorrow.

I'll keep you updated. They don't have internet in the hospital so I can only get on when we come home for dinner or when we come home at bed time. On the right you'll notice that I added a box where you can enter your email address to be updated whenever I post something new--sign up if you like :)

An update from yesterday--Chris made it home safely! And Becky's mom made it here safely too. She's flying home tomorrow so please remember her safety in your prayers, too.

As always, our unending thanks go out to all of you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 16 Evening Update: Persistent Fever, Elevated Agitation

We just got home from the hospital and the news is not as encouraging as I would like.

Jeff's fever is 103, down from 104. The nurse told us to expect it to rise again. They're doing everything they can to keep it stabilized but it's taken them all day to get it down just that one degree.

The more difficult news is that Jeff is increasingly agitated. They're having to sedate him more heavily to keep him from thrashing. His nurse also said they may have to tie his arms down to protect him from himself. He's confused and in pain and it breaks my heart to see him that way. You can tell from looking at him that the poor guy is just miserable. He doesn't understand the breathing tube--he gestures at it with a look of confusion every time he's lucid and conscious of the discomfort.

So specifically, please pray that his fever comes down, and that he would be more physically comfortable. It's getting increasingly hard for us to see him so utterly miserable--he just doesn't know what's going on, and the confusion coupled with the pain make things really difficult for him.

They said they will proceed with the surgery tomorrow so please also pray that this surgery, a synthetic grafting, would be successful. There is a potential that they'll get in there, discover the wounds are deeper than they thought and then they'll need to do skin grafting which has longer term complications, and is more difficult to do. So we are obviously wishing for the synthetic grafting to be sufficient for his wounds.

I'll probably update post-surgery tomorrow.

Please also pray for Chris, who is on the road right now by himself (10:30pm) to drive back to California to be at work by 6:00 tomorrow morning. Safe traveling mercies over you, sweet friend!

I took these today and had them enlarged and hung on his wall--hopefully they will brighten his spirits! He hasn't been awake enough to see them yet but hopefully they'll bring some comfort to him. We'll also bring anything we receive in the mail from his friends and family.

October 16: Fever and Surgery

There was little change today. Jeff was somewhat coherent during a large part of the day but for some reason he grew agitated in the afternoon so they asked us to let him rest and calm down. Unfortunately, when he's awake, h's aware of the tubes and the procedures, etc, which are all naturally uncomfortable. They helped him calm down so that he wouldn't hurt himself by pulling at his tubes and bandages and then he slept.

The biggest concern is that his fever continues to be very high and he is not responding to their efforts to bring it down. They said that they don't suspect an infection to be the cause of the fever. Their most likely explanation is that his body doesn't recognize what's happening to it (both the injuries and the treatments) so it's trying to cook out the foreign things. We're praying hard that his fever will break.

Jeff may have surgery tomorrow, which is a very good sign. They believe that his vitals are strong and his wounds are healing well enough as to make him eligible for this surgery. This surgery would repair the skin at the worst wound sites and if successful, would replace the need for skin grafting--yay! There are always risks with any surgery but the doctor at this time does not think that there is any particularly elevated risk with either Jeff's specific injuries or this specific type of surgery so baring any unforseen negative changes, he will undergo the surgery tomorrow. So please pray that the surgery is successful.

Visiting hours are closed now and open up again before bed so we will go see him one more time today. If anything changes, I'll post again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Leave a Voice Message for Jeff or Send Snail Mail

Jeff is continuing to gain consciousness and even when he is not completely lucid, he can hear us. We'd love it if he could hear your voices, too. Obviously, he can't communicate by phone so I've set this up instead. We'll take the recordings here to the hospital and play them for him in the background.


We do not know if Jeff remembers what has happened or not. If he does NOT remember, we certainly don't want to help him remember just yet because it will agitate him which could cause him to move and hurt himself, or send his blood pressure up, or any other number of risks.

1. DO NOT reference the accident, fire, damage, etc.

2. DO NOT reference anything like Becky, Chris, Batman or the building being "ok" or "safe" or anything like that because we don't want him thinking that there was ever a possibility that they weren't ok, which could confuse him if he has no memory of the events.

3. It IS OK to tell him that you hope he feels better, that he heals quickly, etc. He obviously knows he's in pain, even if he doesn't know why.

4. DO identify yourself in your message. In his medicated state, he may or may not recognize voices, especially out of context without a face to match them to so we want to minimize confusion. At this point in time, please only leave a message if you know him personally. While we appreciate the prayers and well wishes of strangers, I reiterate that the goal is to avoid confusing or agitating him, so we don't want him at this point straining himself to try to figure out who strangers are.

5. This will be played in his room in the background throughout the day. Any message you leave could be heard by any of us (his family and friends here), as well as by any one on the medical staff so please know that this is not private. Please keep your messages short, appropriate and respectful for a public setting.

6. You don't HAVE to talk about his current condition if you don't want to. If you just want to "chat" about general life, that's fine too. Just hearing the voices of his friends will help improve his morale. You can talk to him over this recording just like you would if you were sitting face to face. Obviously please make sure what you're discussing is calm in nature but general chit chat can be helpful to him too.

7. LASTLY, if you post the link to this recorder anywhere else, PLEASE make sure you post these guidelines with it or just direct people to this post instead of the recorder directly. We need to do everything we can to keep him calm, and in good spirits and we don't want to confuse him or agitate him.

THANK YOU ALL for your love and support!

To leave him a message, just click "record by phone" and follow the instructions. Obviously when and for what length of time we are able to play these will depend on how he's doing each day so bear with us. We'll share these with him as soon as we think we safely can and even if he can't listen to them til he's home from the hospital, I know they will be of huge encouragement to him.

Some people have asked how they can send things to Jeff.

If you'd like to send cards, letters, pictures, trinkets, etc, please feel free.

He cannot receive plants, flowers, or food because of the risk they pose of bringing in foreign germs.

If you'd like to send anything, please send it to:

Jennifer Wright
550 W Baseline Rd
Ste 102-132
Mesa, AZ 85210

Make sure my name is on the package or they will not deliver it to my box. We go to the hospital every day so we will bring anything you like up to him. If you have my personal address here at home, you can use it to send things, too.

The hospital has requested that people NOT contact them directly because they obviously need to spend as much time with the patients as possible and as little time on the phone or sorting through mail, etc. Please use this blog and his family as intermediaries if you want any info or if you want to pass anything on to him.

October 15: Initial Lung Damage Assessment, Limited Burn Severity Estimate

Jeff made it through the evening, waking up just once and falling quickly back to sleep.

They were able to do an internal examination of his esophagus and lungs to evaluate the extent of the inhalation damage. The damage is much worse than we were hoping for. They found a lot of soot and particles in his lungs and worked hard to suction and clean out as much as they could. They didn't rate the extent of the damage on any sort of scale but my understanding is that the damage is "pretty bad" and serious, but not life threatening.

What this assessment means is that he will continue to be intubated, and therefore mostly unconscious. They told us that they expect him to be intubated at least 3 to 5 more days, maybe as many as 7. The challenge is in trying to keep him on it as long as his lungs need to strengthen, without staying on so long as to put him at added risk for infection and pneumonia. They said his lungs have already begun constricting, which concerns them because it's fairly early on in the process for that to be happening. But they're watching him round the clock and are confident that as long as they can protect him from infection and pneumonia, he is not at serious risk for permanent damage. Obviously there are always those rare cases where things go south, but the doctor said that in "90 to 95%" of cases like this, the patient makes a full recovery. So that encouraged us greatly.

Additionally, several nurses and the doctor told us that from very initial observations, the burns are not as bad as they thought. They're hesitant to give us too much hope in that regard, but that is there is a lot of hope for recovery with none or minimal grafting required.

He did wake up long enough for us today to communicate with him and he answered us as best he could through head nods and gestures with answers that were relevant to the questions so it appears he's lucid. Tonight he was the most conscious he's been since this all happened. He was able to gesture, nod, engage. I wasn't there tonight because I wasn't feeling well but Mom, Becky and Chris are greatly encouraged by the noticeable progress just since we left this evening around supper time. They've started to bring him out just a bit from the sedation which is a catch 22 because we obviously want to be able to communicate with him, but the less conscious he is, the less aware he is of his own pain so for his own comfort, we want him as unaware as possible. The nurse tonight (who is awesome-another praise!) indicated that so long as Jeff is able to handle it, they'll keep him at this level of consciousness or more. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to engage with him tomorrow.

Other great news is that the fire investigators think they've identified the chemical(s) involved which will help the doctors better treat him.

Other great news is that the burn center he is in is #2 in the country so he has a really wonderful set of doctors, nurses, specialists and techs. While I'll be honest and say there have been some sources of frustration with miscommunication and incomplete communication on the part of the hospital staff members, and they're not as touchy-feely-compassionate as I would like, but they are VERY skilled and talented and that trumps good people skills any day.

The few concerns today were that his fever was higher and like I said, his lung damage was worse than we were hoping for, but overall, it's been a great, positive, hope filled day. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

The Accident and Initial Injury Report

What we know about the accident is sketchy.

The accident occurred just before 3:00pm on Sunday, October 14th. Jeff was with his girlfriend and his best friend. Jeff was working on a car and somehow, chemicals he was working either with or near spontaneously combusted. He was able to get the fire off of his body and he was taken by ambulance to the burn center. Fortunately, no one else was harmed.

We were initially told that he had second and third degree burns on his forearms, legs, a patch on his back, a patch on his face and a tiny spot on his foot. Additionally, we were told that the entire epidermal layer on the backs of both of his hands had burned completely off, in addition to some portions of the dermal layer.

They were also concerned about lung damage but will not be able to gauge the severity for a few days. Until they know, he is intubated and under heavy sedation, thereby unconscious for most of the day and night.

The biggest initial complication was not knowing what chemical(s) that could have burned Jeff or been inhaled by him. The chemical continued to burn him for several hours as they attempted to neutralize it. About 9:00 last night they told us that they felt they'd finally neutralized most or all of it, stopping the spread of the burn.

Here is a news article about it with a video (on the right side of the screen). The 15% number is never something that's been told to any of us so I'm not sure how accurate it is. The fire was not started by running over a lighter as one news story erroneously reported. The witness cited in that story was not a witness at all.

I'll update as we know more. As I'm writing this post I actually do know more but I wanted this post to contain only what we initially know so that people who want to read from the beginning, can.


I've started this blog to update all of the many friends and family concerned about my brother, Jeff, and his recovery from a serious fire accident this weekend. Please feel free to pass this link on to anyone who might be interested.

For those who don't know me, my name is Jennifer and I am Jeff's older sister. He has been living with me in Phoenix. The dealership where he was working is also where my husband works and my husband has been corresponding with the police and fire investigators.

I'll post as many updates as I can. Please continue to remember him in your thoughts and prayers.