THE FIRST WEEK AT CRAIG
Overall, Luke’s first week at Craig seems to have gone well. Here is an amalgamation of the reports we’ve gotten from Kris since her arrival on Tuesday:
The family is settling in, and enjoying the relatively warm weather and sunshine. After a few days with a roommate, Luke was moved into a private room. Kris says: “Yay! I suspect that was due to two noisy kids and more visitors than typical.” I love hearing that even in Colorado, Luke is surprising people with his giant fan club. We really appreciate the friends there who have stepped in to take over the supporting role of Team Luke.
The team at Craig Hospital has been working hard to learn about Luke’s injuries and how they are impacting him. They are repeating tests to get their own baseline, and doing new tests as well.
Luke’s eye doctor reported that Luke can't see out of his right eye (which was not really a surprise). He did say his optical nerve looks good, and it's possible something could be done to improve his vision in his right eye.
Luke had a basic hearing test, and didn't hear any of the tones. But several visitors have reported that Luke seems to be able to hear at times, and Luke himself once said that he could hear a little. More hearing tests will be done to try to establish exactly what the impairment is.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Craig refit Luke’s neck brace. It had been bothering his ear, and was also necessary because he has lost significant weight since the accident. The team eliminated his big back brace altogether, saying he no longer needs it. They also fitted Luke for a wheelchair, and within a few days of arrival he was sitting in the sun looking out the windows.
Luke had a vomiting spell during his flight and after he arrived. They considered scoping his stomach but decided against it because his neck is not yet stable enough. His team decided to treat him for an ulcer, start his tube feeding back up again, and hope for the best. So far he seems to be doing ok, but if the problem recurs they may scope him next month when his neck is more stable.
Luke has been cleared to use his speech valve again, and the team gave him a cuff-less trach. This means there is not a balloon inflated in his throat when his speech valve is not in use. Also, this is the smallest and last trach he will have, and Luke is well on his way toward weaning off the trach. Removing the trach is an important step toward improving Luke’s quality of life and reducing the risk of serious infection.
On Friday, Luke did well in physical therapy. His physical therapist sat him up on a mat and leaned him over on his forearm. Luke was able to activate his left side to try to keep his balance, and to try to catch himself when he lost his balance.
Kris has spent a good amount of time talking to Luke's neuropsychologist about Luke’s injuries. The neuropsychologist said he has never seen a patient with three occluded arteries before. He explained that Luke has two main issues; the primary one is the brain stem stroke, but there was also a smaller stroke in Luke’s right lobe.
The right lobe stroke is likely the cause of Luke’s weakness on his left side. It is hard to tell what the other effects of the right lobe stroke are, because these effects are probably masked by the effects of the brain stem stroke. The neuropsychologist said to expect a lot of improvement in the first nine months with regard to the injuries caused by the right lobe stroke. Improvement will continue for at least two years.
Luke’s brain stem stroke caused damage to the two arteries in the back of his head. It is likely the cause of Luke’s speech loss and his right side paralysis.
The neuropsychologist indicated that the brain stem stroke is more mysterious, and is harder to predict than the right lobe stroke. We just have to wait to see what Luke is able to do over time.
The neuropsychologist told Kris Luke was well taken care of in Anchorage. We thank the team at the Providence ICU and at St. Elias for all they did for Luke in first two months after his accident.
Luke’s insurance company has approved the first week at Craig as if he were in the hospital and not a rehabilitation facility. This should reduce Kris and Luke’s total out-of-pocket bill by one week. They will try to get this approval for a second week as well.
We know Luke is on all of your minds and we’ll do our best to update you as soon as more information comes in. Here is a closing note, direct from Kris: “Thanks for your love, support, and encouraging words! We appreciate it.”