Our journey series: two of eight

Our journey

Read what happened following Doug's accident. These posts were originally published on Doug's CaringBridge site, https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/dougbichler.

Since returning to his room on the burn unit post-surgery, Doug has been resting. He has been in and out of sleep. But, he did drink a good amount of fluids and ate a fruit bar, deli meat and crackers. He was on oxygen, then was taken off oxygen and now is back on it. His vitals are looking good. I am anxious for him to be more awake tonight or in the morning. He is on strict watch from me to complete his breathing exercises, which will keep any onset of pneumonia at bay. His pain is at a comfortable level. As I type this, he is snoring and the sound is bittersweet to me as it reminds me of laying and sleeping in our bed at home. We have many weeks ahead of ups and downs, surgeries and rehabilitation, but some day soon I hope I can hear the same restful snore at home with a baby in our arms. 

A new day
Today is June 30. Where did the month go? Many questions of how, why and what have crossed our minds in the last week. Compared to the unknown following the accident, we both feel blessed to be at the recovery stage we are at this morning. Doug didn't have the best night. He had some elevated pain levels compared to yesterday, which may have been his anesthesia wearing off post surgery. He was able to sleep some. He was out of bed to sit three times. I don't know how, but he has the strength to rotate, stand and lift himself out of bed and then sit. And then, do it all over again to get back in bed. He is trying to rest now but between nurses coming in, the constant temperature fluctuations in the room and commotion of a hospital, he is having interrupted sleep. His attitude is good and he is looking forward to another day. There is Mass in the chapel at the hospital today, and we've asked that he receive Holy Eucharist if the priest is able. He is also looking forward to becoming stronger so we can take him on the burn unit's outdoor patio area. He told me this morning that he misses our dirty (remodel zone) house. We also both miss our dogs, cattle and farm in general. We can't thank those enough who are at home tending to our animals and home in our absence. But, thankfully we have another day together and with family and friends.

Marathon runner in training
As I type this, Doug is sleeping. Rest that is much needed after a busy day. He had visitors ranging from family who had to depart today to the family who are still here, the hospital chaplain and priest, his rehabilitation doctor, nursing staff, physical therapist, occupational therapist, trauma psychologist, dietitian, both his orthopedic doctor and burn unit doctor and their fellows/residents ... I'm tired typing the list. He made strides today as he walked across the room twice to use the bathroom. He took a stroll to the end of the unit's hallway and back, and then upon returning to his room, he sat in a chair for at least a half hour to an hour. He has made a couple phone calls, has read only a small portion of the kind and encouraging comments from all of you, has witnessed a heart warming video of our three dogs at home and has seen a video of fresh baby clothes hanging in our nursery closet thanks to a hardworking niece at home. He had a good lunch (chicken peckings compared to his normal portions, but protein nonetheless) and a snack. I know I am forgetting more small triumphs from the day, but all in all today was one for the books. Every day isn't without its downs, and they do happen. But, we face each hour as it comes. Now, if I could only get him to marathon train with me. Maybe someday, right?

Rooftop therapy 
We just returned to the room after taking Doug outside on the burn unit's patio via a wheelchair. Fresh air makes a world of difference. He is officially unplugged from the monitors for the evening, which makes him more comfortable when laying down. He still has his wound vac and will continue to do so. We have yet to hear from Dr. Mohr, but we have heard he is scheduled for a wound vac change in the OR on Sunday - and if all goes well, they will do the initial skin graft surgery on Sunday as well. He'll go back on monitors for the surgery. Here's to a hopefully restful night!

2 a.m. massage
I stayed in the room with Doug for the first time last night, on a very, very loud cot. I think it makes noise when I breathe. We both were able to get segments of sleep. It's hard not to be startled when the nurses comes in to take Doug's vitals. We slept from 10 p.m. to midnight, midnight to 2 a.m., and 3-6 a.m. During the 2 o'clock hour, Doug walked around his room and did some weight shifting exercises. He also sat in the chair and worked on rolling his shoulder, did bicep holds and worked at lifting his legs and applying weight against another chair in front of him. After being in a hospital bed for the last few days, and having undergone two surgeries, the stiffness and soreness has set in. Doug is having swelling and pain in his shoulders. The remedy? A massage at 2 a.m. to put him back to sleep. This helped him relax, because he was also having pain at this time, so we plan to try to add in daily massages for his legs and arm. Doug was up with the rooster and took a walk around the block, meaning we made one loop around his area of the burn unit. This is the furthest distance he has walked since the accident. When we got back to the room, he sat up in the chair and was going to eat breakfast but was having nausea. The nausea is somewhat gone now, but he still hasn't eaten breakfast. He is wiped out from the activity and is trying to rest in bed. We are hoping for a day of more activity and adequate nutrition. He also has a handful of visitors to look forward to today. One of his two burn unit doctors just left our room and the plan is to have a wound vac change tomorrow morning in the operating room. In addition, the doctors will be placing the two different skin graft options on his surgery consent. This way, when the doctor opens Doug's wound, he can have consent to choose the best long-term option for Doug. If the tissue is not viable for any type of graft, then at the very least his wound vac will be changed. But, time will tell and in the meantime we'll keep taking one hour at a time. Doug is humbled by all the love and support. Keep it coming, and if anyone wants to send Doug mail, he is able to have cards/pictures in his room. Simply send to this address: Regions Hospital Burn Unit, Attn: Doug Bichler, 640 Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55101. He cannot have flowers in his room and has already received a heart-warming balloon bouquet from our kind neighbors. We thank you for all the prayers!

Knock knock
Well, the inaugural day of July 2017 has been a busy one. Accomplishments for today include three walks around the unit, with more planned for this evening. I should note Doug's pace with each walk has accelerated, to the point of being at his previous relaxed pace. He'll have a ways to go before he can be at his "I have work to get done around the farm" pace. He was able to have his hair washed and we changed his bedding and gown. He received a manicure thanks to his wife and now needs a niece or two to tackle his toes. He had a busy afternoon of visitors from six friends, which is such a blessing because it takes our minds out of this hospital for awhile. He has had moments of feeling, in his words, "blah," but has been able to eat small amounts throughout the day. We have yet to speak with his surgeon for tomorrow, but have been told he is scheduled for a 7:30 a.m. surgery, with pre-op starting between 6-6:30 a.m. He will have to fast from midnight until after the surgery tomorrow. We are anxious to hear specifics about the plans for the surgery, and I am looking forward to meeting this doctor because I have not yet. Doug is resting comfortably now. The visitors knocking at his door wore him out, but in the best way possible. 


Popular Posts