Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bennett has a discharge date

Bennett has been in rehab for one week and the hospital for 8 weeks.  His projected discharge date is February 7th.  This past week he’s pushed his therapists to push him.  It hasn’t been easy and he sometimes gets frustrated, but he knows that he needs to be patient.  Pain is his biggest enemy.  Since standing up with the help of a walker Bennett has been experiencing intense pain in his right foot, leg and hip (even though he’s not putting any weight on it), plus swelling in his right foot.  I guess this is to be expected since he was on his back for 7 weeks, but that doesn’t make it any easier.  One of his therapists told him that a rule of thumb for recovery (regaining strength) is 3 days of rehab for every 1 day of hospitalization.  Needless to say, it will take quite some time.    

Each day Bennett spends 1 ½ hours with a physical therapist and 1 ½ hours with an occupational therapist.  He has gone up 4 steps and walked about 250 steps with the aid of a walker.  His range of motion with regards to how far he bends his knees and flexes his right ankle improves daily and it looks like the nerves in his right leg are OK.  He also took his first shower last weeks.  What a treat! The skin graft is looking great and is healed, but the donor site is still pretty raw.  

We plan on heading back to Tybee after Bennett’s discharge.  Right now we’re looking at our different transportation options.  When he gets back to Savannah he will need to continue physical therapy rehab as an outpatient.  He will also be coming to GA on Coumadin because of the blood clot and will need a primary care physician to monitor that, an orthopedist, an infectious disease specialist, and possibly a urologist, vascular surgeon and plastic surgeon.  Hopefully that’s it.  Then there’s the housing issue.  At this point we’re not sure if he’ll be able to navigate the stairs at my house and we probably won’t know until closer to his discharge date.  We have a lot to figure out in 2 weeks.  

On Feb 3rd there will be another benefit for Bennett in Savannah.  It should be awesome and I’m thinking seriously about coming home that weekend.   The Accomplices and LittleTybee are playing.  Chrystal Beer Parlor is providing the food (thanks Johnny!), United Distributors is providing the booze (thanks Diane!) and Brighter Day paid for the venue (thanks Janie and Peter!). Kelly Nelson has been doing the heavy lifting (thanks Kelly!) and I'm sure there are others folks that are instrumental in making this happen.  A big thanks to the bands, artists anf others helping Kelly pull this together.  Both bands I love and there’s a 3rd band playing that I’m unfamiliar with, Christ, Lord.  Bennett and I just finished listening to some of their music and we’re pretty excited!  WOW, kind of a dark Gypsy Jazz , with some New Orleans and Doors mixed in.  Bennett wants someone to record the music at the benefit.  He is bummed he won’t be there because “it’s going to be sick”.   Any tapers out there willing to step up? (with the bands permission of course).   For more info on the benefit check this link

Bennett’s health benefits through Vail Resorts run out the end of this month and his COBRA will be a little over $500.00/ month.  Money raised through the benefits will help Bennett continue his recovery, cover COBRA payments and meet day to day living expenses until he’s able to work again.  

My favorite Little Tybee video (above). I'm sure that some of it has to do with the fact that Bennett's in it, but it's also the music, the magic of the GA & SC coast and these boys (men really, right?) that love each other but aren't often together. Brock created this video after a sailing trip last spring from Savannah up to Charleston. Bennett is looking forward to regaining his balance and getting back on the water.

See you soon!

With much love and gratitude,


p.s. If you're wondering where the Breckenridge Bourbon went, I found out that it's not being served at the fundraiser after all so I deleted that part of the post, however...it is being carried in Savannah now and you can ask Diane at the fundraiser where to buy it.   If you're a bourbon drinker you will love this award winning whiskey.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Up to rehab he goes

Today was Bennett’s first full day of rehab.  It was an emotional day and he’s a tired boy.  Bennett moved up to the 7th floor yesterday evening.  We’ll have a better idea in the next few days how long he’ll be here and what he’ll be able to do when he leaves.  In all likelihood he still won’t be able to bare (sp?) weight on his right leg.  Each day Bennett will have 3 hours of rehab spread throughout the day and split between physical therapy and occupational therapy.   Bennett was happy to be doing the work today but frustrated with his weakness and complete lack of control over his right leg.  He was pretty low this afternoon after hearing his Plastic Surgeon describe to the Physical Therapist all of the injuries and muscle loss to the right leg.  He knows he can learn to compensate.  He knows that the second day he was here there was a discussion about amputating his leg amongst his various doctors and he’s grateful to still have it.  He also knows that so much of what he did and loved prior to the accident was based on having strong legs and good coordination.  He wants to be able to surf.  

The goal up here in rehab is to gain strength and independence.  He is so weak and will have to learn to function without the use of his right leg for now.  The prognosis for his right leg is not horrible, but it’s still too injured to do anything with and is causing him serious pain issues.  When he arrived up here yesterday he was weighed.  He’s not sure what he weighed coming in, but knows it was probably between 150 and 155 pounds.  He was already a thin guy.  Today he weighs 130.  I’m trying my best to put some meat back on his bones.  

We have a great view of the Denver skyline from his room on the 7th floor of St Anthony.  All of his other rooms were on the opposite side of the hospital looking west towards the mountains.  He’s now looking east.  We can also see the Flight for Life helicopters coming and going.  

The only IV drug he’s still on is the antibiotics.  I was looking at the bill today and each round of just one of his antibiotics is over $2200.00.  WOW.  He’s still on pain meds, meds for nerve sensitivity, and Coumadin, but they’re all oral.  He’s also taking supplements that will help him heal, increase vascular strength and bone density, fight infection, protect his liver and help him meet the nutritional demands of a broken body on the mend being pumped full of antibiotics and other drugs.  Thanks Peter and Janie!  

Last Sunday was the third time that Bennett had been out of bed.  (The second time he shuffled over on his walker and kissed his Mama!)  I suggested to the Physical Therapist that he might like to go outside, so instead of sitting in the recliner his PT rounded up a wheel chair and cut us loose.  Bennett wanted to see the hospital where he’s been confined for almost 2 months.  He wheeled himself to the elevator and down we went.  After a bit he got tired and I wheeled him to the south side of the hospital.  There’s a patio area that’s close to the cafeteria with some tables and chairs. When the sun is out, even on cold days, it always feels good there.  It’s set in a little bit from the rest of the hospital so it’s sheltered from wind and the sun hits it most of the day.  Out we went and Bennett took a deep breath.  I think I was holding mine. 

“It smells like winter…”  (silence)  ”…Is there an airport close by?”
“No, that’s a helicopter starting up.”
“Can I see?”  

So off we went to the middle of the parking lot, turned around and watched the Flight for Life take off.  It was an intense moment.  Later Bennett said that he could smell people’s fires.  It made him sad.    

Since my last post Bennett’s catheter (that had been with him since the day of the accident) came out.  The plumbing is working great.  He also was able to get rid of the Miami J (neck brace).  He’d been told that he may have to wear it up to 12 weeks.  Bennett was given a CT scan and the basilar skull fracture and C1 fracture are looking good.  When I arrived at the hospital on Sunday morning the collar was gone.  

Saturday Kate and Andrew stopped by on the way to the airport.  Kate had organized the Bennett-fit at the Whales Tale and Andrew had flown in from San Diego with the surfboard for the silent auction.  They were the high bidders on the board and brought it to Bennett!  It’s now in his hospital room and is beautiful.  Sweetness!

From the sounds of it the fundraiser at the Jinx was a big success and lots of fun!  Bennett was able to SKYPE for a few minutes with friends at the benefit and see the great turnout.  Thanks so much to all those who helped put this on and those that attended.  Bennett is so grateful for all the visitors, well wishes and good energy.   It keeps him going.

Much love and gratitude,


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tractionless, stapleless and drainless in a recliner…

January 12.2012

That’s right!  The rest of the staples came out on Monday, the traction came off on Tuesday and the last drain came out on Wed.  Tuesday night Bennett was moved up to a room on the 5th floor (room 528) and will be here until he's strong enough to go up to Rehab.  He’s projected to move up to Rehab next Tuesday or Wednesday.  The new room is either for big wigs or extremely large people and is literally twice as large as any other room in the hospital.  Maybe Bennett is being rewarded for being such an awesome patient for so long (6 ½ weeks).  This would have been a great room when the whole family was here over the holidays.   And for you Band of Squirrels, there’s room to hang your hammocks, I’m just not sure what you’d attach them to.  Bennett is really wishing that his co-pilot, Kyle was still here.  They had some serious helicopter flying sessions, but in this new bigger room they could really have some fun. 

The ­­­Staples came out while I was in Breckenridge for the Whales Tale Bennett-fit, which was awesome.  The last of the staples were around the perimeter of Bennett’s skin graft.  The skin graft is looking great and is less red every day.  Dr Reynolds says that it has taken 100%.  

The day after the Bennett-fit the traction came out.  It was a little creepy.  The traction pin was threaded and bent.  Picture this: a shiny giant bolt cutter and cordless Craftsman drill.  Bennett was heavily sedated and Wes filmed it so that Bennett could “remember”.  It was later that night that Bennett moved up to his new “suite”.  

Yesterday Dr Reynolds removed the drain that went up into his pelvic area.  The area was still draining a little bit but it’s been clear and the drains need to be gone for rehab.  Bennett said it was the “strangest feeling” and that he could feel it moving through his body as it came out.  EEK.  

Yesterday Sandra and Hal came to visit Bennett from Breck. Unfortunately Bennett was having horrible stomach pains when they were here and he was pretty zoned out, but Hal left a thumb drive with photographic evidence of the Bennett-fit. He also left a HDMI connector, so we could hook my PC up the the TV.  It was a wonderful gift for Bennett to be able to watch it later.  Last night Robin and Denise, owners of the Whales Tail, stopped by on their way up to Breckenridge.  This was a big surprise for Bennett and I loved meeting them.  They're not in Breck full time and were not there for the Bennett-fit, but they had graciously offered me their home that night, plus they allowed the restaurant to be closed down for regular business, so it was great to meet them and thank them.  
Today was a big day.  The first news was that Bennett’s Coumadin is now at a “therapeutic” level so the Heparin was stopped.  Heparin was one of the things keeping Bennett from going up to Rehab.  He is finally off IV pain meds and IV heparin.  Now all he needs is the strength to withstand 3 hours of rehab a day and he’ll stay in this room until then.  Bennett’s already working hard to get his knees moving and on upper body strength.  He’s a little worried about being strong enough to fully take advantage of his rehab, but I’m sure he’ll do great.  

So, the second big news of the day… DRUM ROLL PLEASE… Bennett sat on the edge of the bed, stood… and then moved to a recliner!  He put full weight on his left leg and with the help of a walker and a couple of therapists and shifted to the recliner where he stayed for about 1 ½ hours.  This was such a huge step.  He literally had not been off his back and out of bed since November 28.  I’m hoping in the next couple of days I’ll be able to wheel him outside.  Tonight Bennett is in a lot of pain.  I'm nor sure if it's from the new activity today, but it seems likely. 

Later in the day Bennett had a CT scan on his right pelvic area.  After viewing the CT scan Bennett’s Orthopedic Surgeon will have a better idea of what Bennett’s prognosis is with regards to his right leg and how he can proceed in rehab.  Yesterday Dr. Desai told Bennett about an app that’s a 3D x-ray and CT scan viewer.  Tomorrow we’ll meet with Dr Desai and he’ll share these images using the app that Bennett downloaded and discuss the future.  We’re really looking forward to this meeting and Bennett is anxious to see the x-rays of the night he came in.  I guess he’s strong enough to see them now, but they are pretty horrific.  

The Bennett-fit at the Whales Tale this past Monday was wonderful and amazing.  There were so many donations for the silent auction.  Everything from acupuncture, to merino wool undies, to snowboards.  There must have been over 50 items for the silent auction and about 30 for the raffle.  The turnout was so great I was worried that the fire marshal might show up!  Kate did an amazing job of organizing the event and a lot of other folks really stepped up and assisted her.  Wes put out a nice “spaghetti feed” spread.  Sandra was an exceptional MC (and prize).  Thank you SO MUCH Whales Tail crew, folks that donated and got donations and all the wonderful folks that showed up and made it a huge success.  We love you all so much and it was great to meet more of Bennett’s friends. 

                                                          The Whales Tail Bennett-Fit

This Saturday there’s another benefit for Bennett at the Jinx.  There will be great music plus there’s been donations for a raffle, including gift certificates to Zunzi's, Green Truck, North Beach Grill, JW Salon and Spa (boy could I use this!), Fannies, Sundae Cafe, Spa Bleu, and more. There are also limited t-shirts and prints by local artists for sale, with all profits going to Bennett.  We love those Collett boys and Matt has pulled this benefit together.  The art is compliments of Nicole, Andrew, Guy and Patrick. Love Love Love and Love!  For more info go here.  
If you’re not a night owl (the benefit starts at 10:00) then stop by the Jinx for Happy Hour and experience some awesome and high energy Rock-A-Billy from Crazy Man Crazy!  This Happy Hour is part of the BRING HOME THE BACON FOR BENNETT BENEFIT SHOW. CMC will be taking requests for money and donating to the cause. (in Colorado CMC stands for Colorado Mountain College; In Savannah CMC stands for Crazy Man Crazy!) “Who knows, we may even stick around and play as part of the show later.”

Personal note; mrpalmeronbass is very close with the Bacon family and really wants you to come to this show!  Thanks Mr. Palmer.  We love you too!  For more info go here.  

Thanks again for the  love and support.

We love you back!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Onward and Upward!

 This beautiful hand painted surfboard is one of the many amazing items donated for the Bennett-Fit being held at the Whales Tail in Breckenridge on January 9,2012. 

Bennett continues to make small strides every day.  The Pain Specialist finally made it in, and it made a positive difference.  Some of the nerve and pain meds were being given to Bennett at 12 hour intervals and they were only lasting about 10 hours.  The Pain Specialist increased these meds to 8 hour intervals, so now this lapse in coverage (sound like insurance?)  doesn’t occur and Bennett has been more comfortable and able to sleep longer and more soundly.  

Today Bennett woke up some muscles in his right leg.  He tried to flex his calf and thigh muscles for a long time with no response ( he said there was just no connection to his brain), but by the end of the day he was doing it.  His nerves are still waking up and his muscles are starting to fire.  He wants to get that leg moving!  It was a beautiful sight tonight seeing his calf muscle flex.  

The Whales Tail in Breckenridge has organized a Bennett-Fit.  It’s tomorrow from 5-9 and I’m tearing myself away from the hospital and heading up to Breck.  It sounds like it will be quite an event and even made the Summit Daily. So far a run-down of just some of the things up for auction/raffle...

-Hand painted surfboard by Katy Helen
-2 night stay at Breck Inn
-20 games of FREE Bowling
-2 Hour Snowmobile Ride with White Mountain Tours
-$150 in General Dentistry from Dr. John Warner
-2 Hour Pontoon Rental
-Haircut from Jules Santen!!!
-1 Hour Massage from Alpine Spa
-1 Hour Acupuncture from Acupuncture by Audrey in Avon
-4 Rockies Tickets
-2 Trips to/from DIA with Fresh Tracks Shuttle Service

Bennett is so grateful to his Whales Tail family and everyone that has donated and gotten items for the raffle. He will be skyping the event so at least he can be talking to people at the event from his hospital room!  For more information on the Bennett-Fit you can check out the link below:

Thank heavens Bennett has health insurance.  He's worked for Vail Resorts for 5 years but it’s been seasonal work.  Every summer he’s let his coverage lapse, but when he returns in the fall he picks the better of 2 options.  It looks like he’ll be in pretty good shape with regards to being able to pay for his care as long as he can meet his deductible and out of pocket, plus continue his coverage through COBRA.  Bennett’s insurance coverage is running out the end of this month.  His COBRA payments will be $504/ month and he won’t be able to work for a long time.  Bennett can be covered by COBRA for 18 months and this continuation of  insurance coverage will enable him to get the rehab he’ll need.  The fundraisers set up for Bennett will help him meet his financial obligations such as the COBRA payments as well as simple living expenses while he is unable to work.  

I found out a few days ago what Bennett’s medical expenses have been so far.  The Flight for Life was $19,476.00.  Would anyone like to venture a guess what the hospital has billed?  Hint:  he has a leg scratcher that says, “million dollar leg scratcher”.  

Onward and upward!

With much love and gratitude,


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year!

Jan 4,2011

It’s 4 days into the New Year and Bennett’s hanging in there.  His days consist of laying on his back in a hospital bed, keeping up with the many meds he’s on, visiting with friends, asking me to do things for him (which I of course love doing), worrying about me being bored (get over it Bud),  eating, worrying about the weird pains in his right leg and foot , worrying about the drains coming from his thigh and pelvis, talking to nurses, doctors and therapists, using his I Pad (on his golden cheese wedge and Chocolate Moose), trying to read (it puts him to sleep), talking on the phone, snoozing, being bored, being thankful, BEING, HEALING.  This is just what I can observe.  I have no idea what’s going through his head but even with his pain and worries he remains positive.  No pity parties in room 321 of St. Anthony Hospital.  He’s an inspiration to me.  

Pain is still front and center.  He has taken to setting his alarm for every 2 hours at night so he can get his pain meds and stay in front of the pain.  Otherwise it gets in front of him and he spends hours chasing it.  He’s still on track to start rehab next week, but can’t be on any IV pain meds or heparin when he starts plus he needs to be out of traction.  He’s been waiting for a “pain consultation” since last Friday, and the anesthesiologist responsible for doing this still hasn’t shown up.  HELLO?  The goal of this consultation will be to find longer term relief.  Right now his pain management consists of   a variety of narcotics, nerve meds and muscle relaxers.  This includes an IV pump and on occasion (when the pain gets too far ahead of him) IV Dilaudid in addition to the pump.  We hope that in 6 days he can move to the 7th floor for rehab, but the pain could be an obstacle.  

Last night we got our Coumadin “talk”.  Bennett is transitioning from Heparin to Coumadin (both anticoagulants for the blood clot).  His doctors tell him he will have to be on Coumadin for 6 months and then have the blood clot checked.  The talk consisted of the importance of staying off motorcycles and having a doctor lined up that will monitor his International Normalized Ratio...or INR  weekly after he leaves the hospital.   I remember when Jerry’s (Bennett’s Dad’s) grandmother was on that rat poison; how hard it was to regulate and how easily she bruised.  I always hated that stuff.  Now it could save Bennett’s life.  I’m hoping that Bennett can have the blood clot checked before 6 months, that it will be gone and he can discontinue it.  While it will likely be a long while before Bennett is back to an active lifestyle, 6 months seems like a long time to be on rat poison that could cause you to bleed to death.  Ok Ok, I am sounding pessimistic, but like I said I always hated that stuff.  It’s ridiculous, I know.  After everything I’ve seen Bennett endure over the last 5 weeks and I’m stressing over this?  Sorry for the negative rambling.  Did I say Happy New Year?

Bennett’s plastic surgeon is pleased with his skin graft and has released him to be able to move his right thigh. He also got cleared today to be able to use 1-2 pound weights or bands for his arms.  We’re waiting on word from his Orthopedic surgeon as to what exactly he can do with his right leg.  We already know that it will be a couple of months before he can put full weight on his right leg, but the Physical Therapists are looking for guidance on what he CAN do.  Hopefully he will be able to put full weight on his left leg when he goes up to rehab next week.  

An x-ray was done a couple of days ago on the left femur and he has quite a callus growing around his break.  It sounds as though there will always be a lump there of extra bone.  This is one more example of the heterotopic ossification, the condition caused by trauma that creates extra bone growth.  Better this than the alternative, no new bone growth.  We’re not complaining. 

The staff infection continues to be treated with strong IV antibiotics which Bennett will be on for another 5 weeks. The Infectious Disease Specialist told us a couple of days ago that the infection responded better to a different antibiotic in the lab, so he was taken of one of the big guns and switched to another.  He does not have a fever and his blood work is looking good so we’re optimistic that these antibiotics are working their magic.  I’m trying to get a lot of good critters back in Bennett’s gut to counteract the antibiotic damage done.  

Bennett’s breakfasts are consisting of lots of berries, kefir and/ or yogurt.  The kefir and yogurt have probiotics and will help keep his gut healthy and replace the good critters that have been killed by the antibiotics.  I’ve also been incorporating a lot of miso into his foods that with also will help with this and his healing and immune system.   My twist on the southern new years dinner for Bennett was a warm black eyed pea, wild rice and veggie salad with a garlic, miso and balsamic dressing (Hopping John), Braised green and purple kale (for the money), and homemade sausage.  I didn't get around to the corn bread.  Hopefully 2012 will be a great year full of good luck and prosperity.    

Today an old friend Joey stopped through on his way to Vail from Athens, GA.  It’s been at least 14 years since we’ve seen him.  What a great surprise.  Kyle came in town today from Tybee and will be here with me and Bennett for a few days before heading up to Breck.  Yesterday Saundra and Beth came down from Breck and the night before Dan and Heather stopped by.  Bennett loves these visits.  I’ve heard him tell several people that he knows the prayer and positive healing vibes being sent his way are helping him heal.  He feels it and is grateful.  

Happy New Year!

Much love and gratitude,