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Thread: C2 Complete, Three Weeks Ago

  1. #1

    C2 Complete, Three Weeks Ago

    Hi everyone. First post, although I've been using the site for information since I found it. It's a great resource, one of the most informative and helpful out there.

    On September 12 my father-in-law suffered a C2 fracture in a pool accident at a family gathering. He was kept alive with artificial respiration until paramedics arrived and was flown to Palomar Hospital in Escondido, CA. It was a pretty horrifying event to say the least, as he almost died in front of family, friends, grandchildren...

    Medical care at Palomar was decent but the trauma doctor, who was leading up the case, basically wrote my father-in-law off and talked as if he wanted to pull the plug, saying there was no chance of recovery, he would have no quality of life, etc. So based on some referrals we had him moved to UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest. Nicer place, but we definitely want to get him to a real rehab facility ASAP.

    Now over three weeks after the injury, my father-in-law is still 100% ventilator dependent. He can't speak becasue of the vent, so we have to lip read, which can be quite frustrating. A speech therapist is teaching him to swallow, and two days ago he had flavored ice chips for the first time. He had a pacemaker inserted because his heartbeat was irregular; blood pressure is slowly getting to the point where it is self-regulating. His state of mind is remarkably positive considering the situation.

    He slowly seems to be regaining some sensation, although it's hard to tell if what he's feeling is significant from a recovery perspective. In my mind any new feeling he has is great and is a sign of recovery, but the medical staff at the hospital seems to feel otherwise. Are the sensations below signs of recovery? Are they anything to get excited about, or meaningful at all?

    - Feels hot internally in torso and hands (this began on about day 4 or 5)
    - Feels indigestion regularly
    - Feels like lungs aren't getting enough air
    - Occasional sensation in hands when they're rubbed, pinched, or squeezed (inconsistent)
    - Burped yesterday for the first time
    - Yesterday his wife ran a pen up and down the bottom of his foot while he was asleep and his foot twitched

    Thanks for your input.

  2. #2
    My heart goes out to you guys.. I can feel the hurt you guys must be experiencing.
    I think that you should remain hopeful! Doctors and nurses are around these scenes everyday and become doom and gloom it seems. Dont let their words and judgements or prognosis stop your hopes, or his hopes. I think any sign is a good sign. I wish you guys the best.

    Have faith..

  3. #3
    Thanks for the supportive message gunami. Staying positive is our daily goal; I believe that the mind plays a huge role in the healing process, and lots of collective positive energy helps as well.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    It is way too early for anyone to predict the chances of improvement, but what you have written about your FIL to this point sounds very hopeful to me. I don't know how old he is, but you are probably fighting lowered expectations by the medical staff because even there marginalization takes place. Getting him to a real rehab facility is paramount. They will be much better at assisting him and coming up with realistic prognosis as time moves forward. Good luck to you and your entire family, and keep writing here for concrete advice when you need it.

  5. #5
    Thanks for the encouragement Eileen. I actually do have a question. One of the issues he is having right now is acute anxiety because he feels like he's not getting enough oxygen. According to the respiration monitor his saturation and inflation levels are fine, but he only feels satisfied when the nurse manually pumps the oxygen into his lungs. Could this indicate a problem, or is it likely psychological?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mona~on~wheels's Avatar
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    Welcome to CC. I'm sorry you had to find it.
    I can't answer your question. Hopefully the nurse will soon.
    Also a vent dependent rehab center for him.
    I'm sorry your fil is having a hard time with his oxygen.
    That has to feel horrible.
    Praying for him and his family. God Bless~

  7. #7
    I am a C2/3 vent dependent quadriplegic, 23 years post injury. I'm only 26, but can likely help with some of the things your father-in-law (FIL) is experiencing.

    When the nurse is doing manual pumping, it's often harder, or stronger, than what the vent is giving. That may be what your FIL is feeling as an improvement. You could talk to his respiratory therapist/doctor about a slight increase in volume on the vent, but this would need to be done carefully.

    Do you know what type of trach he is using? At this point, it's likely a cuffed trach which doesn't allow air up to the vocal cords. It takes time for the throat to adjust, but he should be able to speak again in time.

    The feeling you mentioned is a good sign. New injuries often report recovery for two years after injury, so continue to work with him. As the nurses on here will say, it will be important to get him to a clinic certified for spinal cord injuries.

    Sorry you had to find us, but you're in a place full of knowledge and experience.
    C2/3 quad since February 20, 1985.

  8. #8
    Thanks trainman. We asked about increasing the volume but the respiratory nurse said that he's already at full capacity and they don't want to distend his lungs. The nurse did say that the manual pumping is probably more satisfying because it inflates the lungs more - exactly what you said. I'm thinking it may be a mental hurdle he has to overcome - it's probably a claustropobic feeling because he's not controlling his own breathing. I think he has a cuffed trach, not sure of the terminology. He was able to breathe on his own off the vent for seven minutes the other day, which is a great sign I think. And he's been yawning occasionally.

    He's been accepted into SCVMC pending insurance approval, and will be transferred there next week. We're hoping he can be outfitted with a phrenic stimulator or diaphragm pacemaker if he can't be weaned off the vent; I know they specialize in that at SCVMC.

    Thanks to everyone once again for the support and valuable info. I'll keep you updated. Also, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone else here going through their own ordeals.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Leo's Avatar
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    hi gallonman,

    when i was getting weaned off vent i loved the nurse doing the manual pump, it was a great rest, but maybe just look at it like that.

    my 2 cents

    good luck


    Quote Originally Posted by gallonman
    Thanks for the encouragement Eileen. I actually do have a question. One of the issues he is having right now is acute anxiety because he feels like he's not getting enough oxygen. According to the respiration monitor his saturation and inflation levels are fine, but he only feels satisfied when the nurse manually pumps the oxygen into his lungs. Could this indicate a problem, or is it likely psychological?

  10. #10
    Where is SCI Nurse?

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