Nikolai's Recovery Fund

For: Martin Buser
Seattle, WA
Organizer: Aaron Abrahamson
Nikolai's Recovery Fund (Martin Buser)
of $200,000 goal
15% Complete
Raised by 298 donors

The Story

Nikolai's mother, Kathy is posting updates on his condition and recovery here

Nikolai grew up in Big Lake, Alaska. The son of a champion Iditarod racer, Martin Buser, he grew up working in his family's kennel Happy Trails and in the dog racing community. While he developed a love for the outdoors, he wanted to explore and try city life - so Seattle was a natural fit for him by providing the perfect mix of outdoors and the city.

He enrolled at the University of Washington in 2006. In his time at school Nikolai built many deep friendships through his fraternity, a support network we are very grateful to have during these trying times. Nikolai has an incredible outlook on life and is one of the most easygoing people out there. His personality is instantly welcoming and comforting to strangers, and his unique smile and chuckle are contagious. He has a passion for music and arts, that has taken him all over the country to a number of events and festivals.

Nikolai was admitted to Harborview Trauma Center ICU on Friday January 22nd after sustaining several injuries in a multicar accident on Westlake Avenue (Here is the article about it). Currently he is classified as in Critical Condition but stable. 

His car was pushed into ongoing traffic, which left him pinned in the vehicle with serious injuries to his head, spine and legs. Thankfully an EMT was able to stabilize him while he was still pinned in the car before the fire department was able to free him with the Jaws of Life and transport him to Harborview. 

Upon arrival he was assessed to be in dire circumstances due to his internal injuries in his belly and was rushed to the OR where his spleen and a foot of colon were removed.  The docs opted to keep his belly open not knowing what other injuries might present.  That means he is sort of taped up and hooked up to a number of different tubes until the doctors have addressed a number of remaining issues.

There are several teams of doctors involved- neurology, vascular, spinal, orthopedic.  He has a one on one nurse round the clock.  Since this is a teaching hospital, there are many groups of doctors in and out.  After surgery and a CAT scan, the team began more in depth assessment and found numerous issues.  From head to toes: 

  • Some bleeding in his brain demanded drainage.  Currently this is the priority for treatment.  Monitors measure the pressure in his skull and some drainage can be facilitated. 
  • Several fractured vertebrae in the neck and further down the spine with fractured ribs. 
  • One of the many scans revealed an aortic tear.  Probably of #2 priority. 
  • His belly issues described earlier
  • His left femur is broken and in traction but probably not a major concern. 

His lab work has come back showing positive results.  He also moved his fingers and toes, and during the last CT scan he made an attempt to pull the breathing tube out but most of the time he is heavily sedated.  We visit him and hold his hand but are asked not to stimulate him because of the brain injury.  We will not know the extent of the TBI until they decide to really wake him up, but upon returning from a CAT scan of his heart area this morning, Nikolai's nurse decided to try to get a read on his movement abilities. Martin was there and after being somewhat loudly encouraged, Nikolai wiggled all fingers and toes, executed a strong hand squeeze and gave a thumbs up. This is a huge positive indication!!! There's no way to know if other areas of his brain are hurt and we won't know until he's allowed to wake up but we are going to take this as a healing victory.

Many, many of his friends are coming by the hospital.  His girlfriend Ari is hanging out here constantly. “Aunt Patty and Aunt Kristin” were here getting information even before his father Martin and I arrived.  Kent Harrington made a stopover last night in SEA so he could sleep on the floor of the waiting room with Martin.  Sean Williams, Beth Little and Knud and Linda Cyra have been here.  We have so many folks visiting that they gave us our own conference room.  Friends are bringing food and drinks, hanging out taking turns to just go stand with him.

One of the first responders even came to check on Nikolai today (9/25). She was the one trying to stabilize him while he was still pinned in his car. She said the top of the car came off real quickly but it took a long time to get rid of the metal around him after that. She also said the heavy Audi was a curse but without that much metal around him, he would have died on the spot. The EMT brought tears to our eyes, because she didn't need to come here to check on Nikolai today, the accident was on Friday, BUT SHE DID! We love this place for those reasons.

Thank you ALL for the many thoughts and prayers.  Our hearts are so full with the love and prayers being sent our way. Moments in time are so valuable and we thank you for taking time to pray and send positives our way. Seems to me the energy being channeled to his ICU room is almost palpable.

All donations will be used for medical costs and other expenses that arise from this accident.

Love to all~  Kathy

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on April 4, 2016

Posted on April 4, 2016

Day 71 Back Home

Admittedly, I did not expect this day to arrive so soon!  Nikolai easily negotiated the flights of stairs, unlocked his front door and walked into his apartment to settle in to being back home. 

10 weeks to the day.  From not dead to still alive to surviving eight surgeries, off the ventilator to verbal responses then moving to a wheelchair then crutches then cane.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  The collective work by so many who gave so willingly is miraculous, not a word to be squandered but the only explanation for Nikolai's rapid progress.  The actions of so many people focused on a common purpose are staggering.  On January 22, I made a pledge to myself on our flight from Anchorage to Seattle that if Nikolai was still in this world with us when we arrived, I would embrace the challenges ahead positively.  So many friends, family members and people we didn't even know very well empowered us to keep hope and love close. 

And then there was Nikolai embracing every challenge with grace and strength.  I know he went out of his comfort zone many times, worked through exercises in pain, and did not complain about anything except the numerous times people tried but failed to install an IV.  He often responded to requests related to procedures or exercises with "sure, why not."  My sister attributes his progress to his "strong life force" from when he was born.  He has always had a unique and commanding world view, just thriving on the next discussion or thinking a bit differently.  That confidence and determination has from time to time of course, been a challenge for his parents and teachers.  In the case of surviving a near fatal accident, that same confidence and determination and relishing of life provided the backdrop for healing.  He has always approached life on his own generous and willing but stubborn terms.  He loves his apartment, his roommate, his stuff and his friends and made it his mission to get back there as soon as possible.  And now he's home!

- Kathy

Posted on March 15, 2016

Posted on March 15, 2016

Day 53 Test Drive in the Community

Besides standing, rather than sitting in the shower,  Nikolai went on a field trip to the grocery store today.  His budget of $10. from the hospital wasn't quite enough for the steak and asparagus he plans to make tomorrow so Mom pitched in a few extra dollars.  The trip was part of recreation therapy and helps patients get an idea of the reality of dealing in the outside world again.  After a block walk to the store, buying the food and a block walk back to the van, he was exhausted.  His gait is smoother with every little venture but the endurance is going to take some time.  Just like reading, the more you do it the better you get - actually like so many things.  Tomorrow he gets to cook and eat the steak, just like the Little Red Hen.  He's most excited because Luis brought by a box of Char Crust which is the absolute tastiest steak rub.  The steak will surely brighten his belly and spirits. 

The cane is now the device of choice and the crutches and walker disappeared from the room.  The PTs must have a lot of confidence.  I'm a little nervous, as most moms would be with a child learning to walk only he's way to big to grab.  I do trust every staff person here so I'll go with whatever they deem appropriate. 

As I've been writing these notes everyday, I wish I had a baby book for adults.  Rejoicing over each new accomplishment is just as important now as when Nikolai was a toddler. I imagine every family on this path must feel the same way.  The book could be part of the Rehab packet because when you arrive you really have no idea what to expect.  The doctors hold the cards close and are extremely careful to avoid giving out false hope.  They never discourage but remain carefully vague regarding progress, I think because each person is so different and sometimes they really don't know what will happen.  But, if you had some sort of little Adult Accomplishment Album or Baby Book 2.0, you could really track the little things and document the trajectory back to better health.  We are some of the more fortunate in the progress department but all steps to recovery are cherishable and worthy of note. 

- Kathy

Posted on March 7, 2016

Posted on March 7, 2016

Day 45 Nikolai's Wild Ride Takes an Unexpected Twist and Turn

Later last night as we were settling in, a nurse came in and told Nikolai he needed an IV.  We both sort of looked at her and wondered, what's all this about.  No, they checked the computer and IV antibiotics had been ordered.  By who and for what we asked?  As the first nurse was trying to set up the IV with no luck, I decided to be the Advocate Mom and I asked to speak with the doctor.  Dr. Lee called immediately and had thought the Pulmonary docs had come back to tell us the new plan regarding the fluid around his right lung.  Evidently, due to Nikolai's elevated pulse rate and a low grade fever, the docs decided to start IV broad spectrum antibiotics.  Bacteria take a few days to culture in the petrie dish and once again the docs want to get ahead of the possibilities.  So we've added another appendage, this time the anitbiotics drip through the IV for four hours, 3 times/day.  The pharmacy will try to work out a schedule so that at least during most of the therapy times, he will be unplugged.  Otherwise we'll end up with an entourage just to carry along Nikolai's medical devices.

We'll have to think of a name for the IV pole, since the wound vac in now called Toto, since I tote it everywhere.  We've made a sling so it can hang on the wheel chair and it sits just outside the bathroom when Nikolai showers, just like a little pet.  The little oops sounds indciates when we have it unplugged and on battery power and if there's a breach of the vacuum it sort of squeaks.  Tomorrow is Wound Vac change day so Toto will get about an hour rest while Nikolai gets a little torture.

Nikolai had several friends visit to watch the Seattle Sounders game which was actually being played right outside our hospital window at Century Link Field.  Unfortunately, the
Sounders lost but the guys all showed their spirit by wearing Sounders jerseys and scarves.

The Iditarod start from Willow reportedly went very smoothly for all our teams.  Martin is reported to have pnemonia.  I know he had been coughing a lot and he went to the doctor for medicine.  He assured me today that he was on the mend.  We're wishing for smooth fast trail. 

We look forward to the coming week and the many new challenges and opportunities!!!!  We appreciate your staying on the ride!  click, click, click up the hill we go.


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