Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I figured I better write an update since it has been a while.

Things are sill going well, progression for both Jon and Allison.

Allison was able to come home on Saturday for a while and she seemed to be doing well while Jen and Jon visited. I grilled some steaks and hot dogs.

Allison had a visit with Dr. Jones, the orthopedic surgeon who did surgery on Jon and who also saw Allison about her spinal fractures. He said that she is healing well but still will need to keep her collar on most times. She can take it off to eat and to shower. Naturally, Allison decided to take 2 hour showers and to extend her eating times as much as possible, but I think Jon was able to talk her into listening to the doctor and not doing that. So, she's healing, but it will be a bit until the neck brace is off totally.

Jon continues to improve and seems to kick ass at therapy. The other day I was hanging out while he was showering and he yelled "Dave!! I'm washing my head with my right arm!!!!!". It seems like we aren't progressing very fast in the movement of the arm until we look at what he can do now compared to what couldn't be done earlier. Today in therapy he bent his arm to 120 degrees, the most that it has ever been bent. He even did it on his own, bending the right arm with the left while sitting upright, he was very proud of that.

Still more therapy for both, and still gradual gains, but still all positive.

BTW from the message before, I hear that Ian's heart surgery went fine and he's recovering well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Today went really well.

The family meeting today at Sojourner's went fine, nothing too surprising. They are going to have her there still for at least one more month, we will have another similar meeting at that time. We heard from her Recreational, Physical, and Occupational therapists, as well as her Social Worker and her Psychologist. One common theme amongst them all is how hard she is working and how much of a willing participant she is in all of her therapies. They are all very pleased with her progress so far. They even commented on how much a positive influence she is on the other residents there in that program, due to her attitude and determination. She is at the best place for her recovery right now and they all have the goal of getting her back as much as possible, with the ultimate goal of getting her back to work as a Doctor.

Everyone was very optimistic about her progress so far and we didn't have any bad news, but we do realize that she has a long way to go. Her Psychologist especially had some interesting information to share. He talked about a lot of the tests she is going through and I don't recall it all, but she is testing quite low in certain areas and higher in others. She can solve some very complex puzzles and has good strategies in place for her memory retention, but in other areas will need a lot of help to get her full functioning back and re-develop what she is missing. They will continue to work with her for a month then see where she is at at that point. They are talking about getting her out into the community more and will be doing a full battery of neurological tests sometime next week. The physical and occupational therapists were waiting for some of her physical restrictions to be lifted to do more things with her, which leads me to....

Allison's orthopedic appointment went great today! She is now approved to be full weight bearing on her broken right arm. They will be working with her now to regain more strength in that arm and to help with her pronate/supenate range of motion. She is also now full weight bearing on her right leg. Given, these restrictions are limited by range of motion and pain. The right leg is actually the one with the broken ankle, but it has been healing well. She is not weight bearing yet on her left leg due to her pelvis - most of her pelvic injuries were on her left side and that will take a while yet to heal. Because of all this, she will work on not having to use a slide board for transfers, and will be graduating to a regular wheelchair or walker soon (she had a handle-driven wheelchair that was very exhausting for her left arm, her only way to both propel and steer).

Her orthopedic surgeon is very pleased with her healing. Allison does not need to take the blood thinning Lovenox shot now anymore since she will be much more active, which she is elated to hear. She's been approved to start some aqua therapy now in the pool. I think her Physical and Occupational therapists will be happy to hear that they have a lot to work on with her now. Her pelvic pain the Doctor said was pretty normal and a sign of healing. We were worried about her pain in her pelvis, but it sounds like it is pretty normal and somewhat expected. There's nothing wrong with her healing at any of her sites. She will be in some decent pain now, but will be making good progress we hope.

As far as her neck goes, that is being referred to Dr. Jones, who saw her about that initially. She has an appointment with him next Tuesday so we'll know more then, but she still may need to keep her neck collar on for a while, I'm sure that's not something they want to mess with.

Jon is very happy with this news. Once again its a waiting game, but they are both healing and getting better by the day. We all hope that it continues.

One last quick note. Allison's brother, Ian, is going in for surgery on his heart tomorrow. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Easter went really well, it was great having Allison and all of the Turnbulls over for a nice lunch/dinner on a great day. I think both Jon and Allison were a little tired, but they got to spend some good time with each other and with the whole family.

Yesterday Jon was once again able to range his elbow more than he had before. Now that he has active movement on that arm he seems to be progressing well. He was shouting with joy yesterday after I stretched his arm because he was able to touch his own face with his right hand while laying down. He says every time he touches something new its like a whole new experience, the touch of his whiskers yesterday he said felt really weird.

Jon has been cleared to drive, which was surprising because of how easy it was. We assumed that they would have to test him on his reflexes and range of motion, but all that was needed was a simple phone call. MFB checked with his doctor(s) and they cleared him for 'light driving'. They suggested that we take him to an empty parking lot so he can get used to it first, and that he really practice getting his wheelchair in and out of the car. Yesterday he and I went out and practiced these things and we ended up going to dinner, to the store, and got gas. He had no problems getting the wheelchair in and out of the trunk (its not really light, but he mostly uses his left arm) and hopping to the front of the car to get in. He was driving without difficulty and was able to turn the steering wheel fine with both arms in use. He drove himself to therapy today and is happy to not rely on the sometimes sketchy taxi service anymore.

His therapy is going pretty well, they are pleased with his progress. It wasn't clear through the doctor's orders what is cleared or not for him to do in therapy, but Jon is pushing it along as much as he can. They weren't sure about using exercise machines but he went for it, using some light weights, an arm bike, and other different machines for exercise. Jon also did get the modified walker I mentioned earlier. It was fitted with a little platform for him to rest his right forearm on, but he really didn't like it at all. Not only did the platform dig in right where his surgery site and plates were in his elbow, but whenever he hopped forward it would cause his elbow to bend to painful levels. He got the OK to take the platform off yesterday and has much more success using it as just a regular walker. He still uses the wheelchair for almost everything though, the walker is exhausting.

Allison seemed to be doing great on Sunday. She's been having some pain in her pelvis which she was not feeling before, so the doctors will try to keep a close eye on that. We have a family meeting with the people at Sojourners tomorrow (Wednesday, 4/15) to learn about their evaluations. We hope to hear about how long she might stay at Sojourners, what will happen next, how well she has been doing, and what they expect for some of her recovery.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

4/10/09 PM

Allison's visit to the house went well. There was worry about her transferring into the bathroom because it is so small on our main floor, but it was worked out and she's cleared to come home on a pass. Jon said she was doing great today - realizing how lucky she has been and how far she has come.

It looks like we'll have a nice family Easter.

I'm not usually very religious, but thank God for the progress that has been made and that we can all spend the holiday together.

Friday, April 10, 2009

4/10/09 AM

Allison is scheduled to visit home today for the first time since the accident. She will be coming here with Physical and Occupational therapy in the afternoon to visit and look at the house. They will try to see how well Allison can move around the house and what she needs here. If everything goes as planned, she will then be able to get passes to come visit home. It sounds like we are planning on having Easter dinner here at the house with both families, including Allison. That would be the first time Allie will have gone out without assistance from hospital staff (I believe). I have to work, but on Saturday my Mom and Jon are going to go visit Allison at Soujourners and are bringing Easter Eggs to color with her. It is a yearly tradition that she always loves. Its nice to feel like we are able to get a bit of normalcy back in our lives.

Jon had a terrific day yesterday. His outpatient therapy put him in a good mood, just being able to get out of the house more really helps. He was able to range his elbow further than he had been able to before. He was also able to work with some light weights (3lb) on that arm - the therapist was very happy. When he got back he was able to go sit outside on a beautiful day and hang out with the neighbors while all the neighborhood kids were running around playing hide and seek (the wheelchair ramp makes a good hiding spot, I guess). Mom, don't read this -- but Jon went up and showered on his own yesterday while I was at work. I was expecting him to do this soon, and it didn't surprise me that it was yesterday. I usually help bring his wheelchair up to make transfers easier in the bathroom and so he can sit after he's done to get dressed and shave and such. He said it wasn't a problem at all, he just scooted up like he normally does then scooted into the bathroom, transferred to toilet then shower chair. Afterward he was able to stand at the sink on his one leg and do what he needed to. I told him that if I'm around I should still help him and he agrees, but just wanted to try it out to know he could do it.

Real quick I just wanted to thank our neighbors, Jim and Nichole and their daughters Kira and Regan. Your support has been amazing. Thanks for helping with the house and the cats while we were at the hospital. Thanks for all the visits and for the food and movies you've brought Jon. Kira and Regan your drawings for both Jon and Allison were great, they really appreciate the hard work. Thanks for the cupcakes and the cookies.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Howdy folks. I feel bad I haven't been keeping my messages updated. I don't have a lot of time now so I'll keep this short, but I thought I should at least let people know a bit about what has been going on.

If any of you haven't been following Allison's CarePage, you'll be happy to know that she has graduated from Mary Free Bed and is now at the Sojourner's facility of the Hope Network, located on the East Beltline by Calvin College. This is more of a residential facility - it doesn't have the hospital 'feel' to it. They all seem very nice there and will cater Allison's program to her own needs. They work with only people with brain injuries and are focusing primarily on that aspect of her injury, although she still has physical limitations as well, mostly due to her broken pelvis. She will have been there for 2 weeks next Wednesday and we will meet to learn how she has been doing and what to expect. She will be there for at least a month but it could be several months, they will be helping her to recover as much as possible.

I went and visited her on Saturday with Jon. We spent about 4 hours there and she was doing great. We had at times up to 8 visitors in the room and Allison was able to track and follow conversation all around the room, laughing and telling stories and being engaging. In the whole time I was there, she didn't repeat herself once. Previously, she sometimes would ask the same questions or tell the same stories, but she seems to have grown out of that. Once again, she is doing absolutely incredible.

Jon also has some good news, he can use his right arm again. Previously he could only move it passively and it just hung like a dead limb. He had a meeting with his Orthopedic surgeon on Monday and his healing is going great. He got the go ahead to start moving his arm actively as often and as much as he is able to. He has no real weight restriction, but instead is using pain and weakness as his guide. He's still got quite a bit of limited movement, especially in his elbow, but is really happy to be able to do more and more things. Things like putting on a sock, eating (he can cut his own food now!), and putting on clothes has become a lot lot easier for him. A little inappropriate humor, but one of his big accomplishements this week was that he was able to pee standing up, haha. He's still in some pain, especially after I and his occupational therapist move his elbow to the pain limit, but his spirits have seemed to really raise up this week. He's also getting some Physical Therapy and massage on his neck and back to relieve all of that muscle pain and tightness that was causing him problems before.'

His orthopedic surgeon was very happy with his progress so far. His extension especially he was pleasantly surprised about. Jon can actively move it mostly straight, and with someone cranking on it can straighten it all the way out. His flexion has gotten to where after its warmed up and stretched, Jon can actively move it to a 90 degree angle, and with help can move it past that -- his record so far is 110 degrees (on the outside angle, so his bicep and forearm make a 70). He still can't touch his face with he right arm, which he is looking forward to. It was funny at Panera Bread the other day when he forgot about that and tried to pick up his sandwich with his right hand and take a bite, it didn't quite make it there. His pronation and supenation has full range with active movement, but I'm still helping him stretch that more (pronation and supenation are the movements of rotation in the forearm -- think of holding your elbow close to your side and then rotating your forearm to be palm up and then palm down). The surgeon was happy that there was no 'collapsing' or 'migrating screws' at his surgery points. Its scary that those were even an issue, but it didn't happen so that's good I guess. We learned that all the screws and plates in his body are actually Stainless Steel and not Titanium, I'm not sure where we were getting Titanium from.

Jon is going to be fitted for a modified walker to get around the house and should have it by this weekend. It will probably be a platform walker where he can lean on his right forearm instead of his hand, but they will do whatever is most comfortable for him. He will still need his wheelchair for anything longer than just getting up to the bathroom or kitchen. His ankle is healing well the doctor said, but still has 4 weeks of total non weight bearing. That puts it at 10 weeks, right in the middle of the his prediction of 8-12 weeks. It will start off very slow, and they said Jon will eventually move on to crutches but have to be in crutches for up to 6 months. We're not sure if that's 6 months post surgery, or 6 months once he's weight bearing, but it will be a long time nontheless. They are still talking about surgery again in about 9 months to remove one of his plates in his elbow, and to lengthen some of his tendons in his leg(s) to get more movement. During his appointment he also got an MRI on his right knee, which is his 'good' leg. He's still got some pain there and they are checking it out, we haven't gotten the results on that yet but Jon thinks it will be nothing, just the strain of using that leg so much.

Jon will be doing outpatient therapy now at Mary Free Bed and is looking forward to getting out of the house more and more. The outpatient therapy starts today and will include both Physical and Occupational therapy. They have arranged transportation to and from, by taxi. He will likely be gone in the afternoons, so if anyone was thinking of stopping by you may need to call Jon to see if he is here first.

Well, I need to get going but I uploaded the best of Jon's x-rays so everyone can see them if you want. The hardware is pretty impressive. I'm not going to attach it because when I did that before the files were too large. Instead, here are the links. Let me know if you have issues seeing them, I'm not sure if I'm doing this right.

Right Clavcle Before:
Right Clavicle After:
Left Ankle Before:
Left Ankle After:
Left Ankle After, view 2:
Right Elbow Before:
Right Elbow After: