Posted on December 23, 2014
“The word “adventure” has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when the adventure starts.”–Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia.
Jim’s in Day 29 of this adventure. He continues to improve on multiple fronts at Drake Hospital with some signs pointing to a successful recovery.
If you are one of the three or four people on the planet who did not see his left leg lift video from a week ago, then you missed some big news. His physical therapist, Cori West, worked some magic, experimented with active therapeutic movement, and achieved positive results. Using the tips of her fingers to tap and stimulate Jim’s left quadriceps while his knee was propped under a pillow, he lifted his leg several inches. This was epic.
Jim is taking his pain meds less frequently as he feels less of a need. He took a pain pill yesterday morning after going 48 hours with none.
The paralysis of his internal organs appears to be receding. He receives a daily shot of blood thinner in his lower abdomen. A few days ago we joked about the time he would begin to feel those shots. Yesterday, he felt it.
Last Tuesday, Jim took a slow ambulance ride from Drake Hospital to his surgeon’s office in the University Hospital complex. Forrest McCarthy, one of Jim’s companions in Chile, was in town to bring Jim some mountain spirit and went along for the doctor’s appointment. The visit lasted only a few minutes with the surgeon and physician assistant examining the scar, removing the last of the surgical glue, and then prescribing two to three months of bed rest. Yes, two to three months.
Jim was crestfallen. He had successfully applied to Craig Hospital in Denver for rehabilitation treatment with the expectation that he would be taking an air ambulance to Colorado in early January. Now he finds himself suspended in medical purgatory. The surgeon says he needs two to three months of bed rest to reduce the risk of long-term paralysis. Craig Hospital says Jim needs to begin rehabilitation right away to reduce the risk of long-term paralysis. If Jim were in his air ambulance now, the pilot would have orders from the control tower to “circle but don’t land.”
The difference in medical opinions will likely be mediated with a to-be-scheduled “doc-to-doc” conference call. Jim recognizes the importance of the outcome of their discussion, but also understands that he is the defendant, not the judge or the jury.
Jim’s other companion in Chile and international air ambulance escort, Ben Peters, is in town filling Jim’s hospital room with additional mountain spirit, picking up where Forrest McCarthy left off. This afternoon, Jenny and Michael Fiebig from Bozeman brought tacos (purchased locally) for Jim along with a lengthy conversation of all things outdoors.
On Friday, Roy Tuscany of High Fives Foundation announced that Jim has received a grant to help cover some of his medical expenses. High Fives is a Tahoe-based non-profit that helps young athletes with spinal injuries. Jim is now a featured athlete on the High Fives blog: http://highfivesfoundation.org/blog/highfivesathletes/jim-harris/.
This past week, Jim was the subject of a lengthy front-page article in the Cincinnati Enquireron Wednesday, and two news stories on WCPO-TV, all of which are on Facebook or easily accessed on their respective websites.
With his surgeon’s blessing, this morning Jim will try to sit up for the first time since his accident four weeks ago. He will put on his CTLSO (turtle shell brace) with the help of physical and occupational therapists, and possibly move his legs over the side of the bed. Today will be another big day of adventure.
Thanks to all of you for the Christmas greetings, get well cards, the hundreds of snowflakes, and the one rogue Bat Mitzvah card (who knew?). Saturday he received a canoe paddle with a Christmas tree painted on one side from the base of the blade to the top of the handle because Jim was “up a creek” and needed help. Jim’s room is the most festive here with the most decorations and laughter, which is why the medical staff enjoys stopping by. Thanks to all of you for making it happen.
Please forward this message to friends and family who are interested in following Jim’s progress.
Love you all!
Mary Pat & Jeff