In February of 2019 our 30-year-old son Zack, was heading home in Midland to work on his truck. He was in a terrible car accident which he was not expected to survive. Through the Medical team, nurses who went above and beyond to guide us, hands-on therapy "mom style", and the grace of God, he won his battle to survive.
Just a few days before his accident, with his Grandpa, younger brother and sister
His niece Emmy's 1st birthday celebration. The Sunday before his life changed forever.
Early afternoon on a clear February day, Zack was driving his truck to our home to work on it. And then- he was in an accident. Zack did not drink or use drugs, he was not on his phone, it was horrible. The aftermath, Zack's truck is black. Girl in silver car suffered a broken ankle.
After receiving the call from my husband that Zack was in the accident I was put on to the next plane. I arrived back in Texas and rushed to the hospital. They told me Zack was "hanging on to life" to see me. It was 1 am and he was very critical. The nurse was listening to his heart. I asked her for the stethoscope and put it on his heart. He was still with us...
Prayers and touch, talking and love. He was in really bad shape. Not likely to survive. The donor team was calling his room to talk with the nurses about the condition of his organs...I told them not to call again, Zack was still using all of them and he was going to fight to get better.
On the 20th after the doctor and team came into the room, the doctor told me "he was not hopeful". I could not believe those words. I went to the head of nursing and told her I wanted to get him out of there.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Traumatic subdural hematoma
bilateral subarachnoid hemorrhage
Anoxic Brain Injury
hypo-density of brain stem (darkening of the brain stem, nothing they could do about it, meant his brain was dying)
C2 fracture with odontoid process displacement - displacement of dens and C1
Acute Hypoxemia Respiratory Failure
atelectasis of lungs
broke all long bones, back, internally decapitated, etc.
I knew if he stayed there he would die. He was not stable enough to have further surgeries to repair all of his broken parts. He was not stable enough with collapsed lungs to go on a helicopter, they told me he likely would not survive the Ambulance ride to Lubbock either, but I knew we had to try.
Midland was only a Level 3 trauma center and the level 1 trauma center was 2 hours away. There was no way I wasn't going to risk it.
He had to survive!!!
Here they are getting ready for the transfer.
We followed the ambulance at 95mph for the 1 1/2 hour ride. As soon as we pulled up and they got him out I ran to the driver and he said "HE MADE IT"!!!! They had to manually give him oxygen as the respirator was not working well enough. He went immediately into surgery so they could stabilize his open Femur Fracture. He was still VERY unstable.
Zack was really fighting for his life. I stayed by his side, there were no chairs in the room and so many machines. I put my winter coat on the floor and knelt on it with my head in my hands. I had family and friends bring me the tools I need to aid his recovery. Stimulating his limbs and talking to him about 20 hours each day. He was still with us, and the team told me it was going to be a long hard road, but he could make it. They were going to do everything they could. It was alarming to hear their disbelief in the fact that the Surgeons did not do anything for him in Midland. One doctor told me quietly that they did not want to tax his organs with another surgery as they wanted him to be able to donate all of his organs, with the exception of his spleen as it ruptured in the accident. The doctors told me to keep doing what I was doing. At this point I was doing tactile and muscle stimulation, music for brain healing, and cold laser therapy.
In this video, his little sister sang to him. It was not yet 24 hours post accident. This song became something that made him work hard. She was the reason he moved his toes, opened his eyes, his reason to fight. Zack always loved hearing his sister's voice. Now his vitals were responding well to her touch and voice.
The stimulation was beginning to work! I asked them to give him a medication vacation so I could see his function. The fentanyl and propofol were at the highest dosages. In a just a couple of days, he was responding! Slowly, but he began to open his eyes as they decreased his coma medication. He began to communicate again using his eyes.
"Blink if you want me to keep fighting for your life". HARD BLINK!!! I knew he was in there!!
He needed to wiggle his toes to show that he was responsive and his brainstem was not damaged. Those toes were rubbed for several hours a day. I snuck a daily pedicure in with the stimulation. My son hated his feet being touched. Zack was still on the Glasgow Coma Scale at a 3.
A Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of 3 on presentation in patients with severe traumatic brain injury due to blunt trauma has been recognized as a bad prognostic factor. The reported mortality rate in these patients is very high, even approaching 100% in the presence of fixed and dilated pupils in some series. Consequently, there is often a tendency to treat these patients less aggressively because of the low expectations for a good recovery. (Peer reviewed article)
Eventually, they found it necessary to put in a trach. It was good as they could regulate his breathing better. We could see his smile and he could mouth words. Though he was still hard to understand it was good to see him being able to communicate.
He was desperately trying to breathe and had many invasive procedures as his lungs continued to fail. I started to laser his lungs and other organs several times throughout the day and night.
His younger brother could not see his brother without sobbing. Jacob did everything he could to stay strong. But seeing his only brother so hurt and the thought of losing him was very painful.
Once it was safe to give him what they call a "sedation vacation" he started to be awake for 20 minutes per day. This is one of the first times...he got to see his little sister and she sang to him on Facetime.
He had many visitors, some of his favorites were the therapy animals who came to see him. This guy was "on the move" when I took this shot.
Zack was moved from the most critical room in the surgical ICU to the medical ICU. It was a welcome change as I had been kneeling on the floor, and if I was lucky, sitting on a folding chair for 20 hours per day stimulating my son's limbs, head, hands, and brain. Here I had a recliner and lots of room to help him. His time off heavy coma sedation was increasing. He was having some hallucinations, some times when he was very alert (and might I say hilarious), and other times he just laid and stared. I made sure lights were on and brain stimulation music was on all throughout the day. I worked on his eyes as his nystagmus was still quite significant.
Here is Zack brushing his teeth like a champ - and having a little snooze at the same time. We were able to get him out of restraints for much of the day by this point. Still very critical, but fighting...the doctors told me to keep doing whatever I was doing because he was beating the odds. It was about this time I started him on oral CBD without THC.
One day as the team was working on him, he hollered, "HEY MOM!!! WHERE IS MY PFG? MY MTC? MY....CBD!!!!" I went to my purse, got the dropper and gave him his dose. Next thing I knew the room was full of many people. Head Dr, Head nurse, social worker, director of nursing and so on. Apparently they weren't happy with me dosing him without it going through the pharmacy. They immediately drug tested him for THC. I had a report from the makers of the CBD, that there was absolutely no THC in it...They had to see for themselves. It was from that point on I had to "dose" his ice chips and do what I knew was helping, despite them telling me "no".
This little pup above folds his hands and prays for patients.
His left cast came off...He wasn't too sure what was happening. He thought they were cutting his leg.
Leg stimulation day one... =)
A few minutes later we got a peek at this bad boy... =)
Stimulation of his legs was difficult with the stitches, but I was able to work around them. I used a small sensory brush, a bath glove, a makeup brush, colloidal silver and lots and lots of deep pressure.
After tons of stimulation and hard work, Zack was ready to go to physical rehabilitation. With the help of friends and many of my clients, we raised the 10K to get into the facility.
This is Zack's neck. He was still very immobile, could not bear weight on his legs or sit on his own...but somehow, he managed to fall out of the bed, not once, but twice in one night. He said he was going to get some pizza. Yes, the rails were up. Too much pain medicine perhaps? Yup. Neck still intact thank goodness.
I could not wait to get him out of the facility and care for him at home.
Jake always came to see Zack on his days off. His visits were very important to Zack
Zoe made him smile too...flu season...no flu for you know who!
Headed home to mom and dad's house. Still on a feeding tube and not mobile, but we will get there...
Home sweet home. My son was back to a schedule much like when he was an infant. Feeding every three hours, meds, moving him and keeping him clean. He disliked bed baths so much we started taking him outside in his wheelchair and hosing him off. Gotta do what works.
Outside for one of the many walks we took him on. It was a process to get him out of the bed, but with three people and a hoyer lift anything was possible. It was good to get him out of his space and into the fresh air.
Zack's accident was devastating but the love that came from it was beautiful.
Graduation from the wheelchair. Zack liked his furry "ugg boots" better than the hard ones. We still had to move me with the mechanical sling, but at least he got time out of that hospital bed every day.
Watching some cooking shows, getting ready for the feeding tube to come out.
Zack's neurosurgeons at his last check up before being released from care. The brace came off right after this pic was taken
His first day wearing shoes. Heading to Physical Therapy
Next, get this feeding tube out. YAY
Cold Laser therapy helps heal
Vagal Nerve Stimulation helped too!
First time standing in four months! CBD helped him stand alone.
Approved for Physical Therapy to learn to walk again.
New shoes, just what the doctor ordered!
He is all there...a true miracle in front of our eyes.
Zack put back on his necklace that I had borrowed during his recovery. It shined so bright.
Just before this doctor visit Zack decided to stop all of his medications. Seizure meds, pain meds, ALL of them, cold turkey. Scared me, but he was capable finally, and I needed to let him take charge of his recovery. This is one of the surgeons who helped put Zack back together.
Graduation from Physical Therapy. He is a walker and can do ANYTHING!!
Zack's Physical Therapist. He worked so hard to help him and was blown away by how hard Zack fought to get himself strong and upright again!
Zack started taking over my jobs around the house.
The aftermath of working sooooo hard, a bit of a snooze...
Zack was my sidekick for the first year, when I went to work with kiddos he came too. Here he is helping me teach this little guy with delays how to walk.
Zack went back to Colorado to try to strengthen his marriage. His wife had "checked out" right after the accident. This is him the day he came back to Texas and said....I'm over it, I am ready to work on me.
There were many appointments and follow up surgeries, which put Zack back bed bound for a few months. When they first operated they had no idea he was going to be working out and walking, swimming, cooking, etc. The surgeries were to help his walk. Re-stabilize his ankle and take the additional knee cap out that grew after his Brain Injury.
IT WAS DURING THIS TIME THAT ZACK STARTED ONLINE SHOPPING. PRETTY NEAR EVERY DAY OR TWO, THE UPS TRUCK WOULD PULL UP AND ZACK WOULD ASK ME TO BRING HIM THE PACKAGE....HE LOVED HIS SNACKS...AND MORE SNACKS...
This man is so full of joy and love! He has touched the lives of many others who were struggling.
Zack built a garden and grew many things, including these "hugging" carrots.
Zack decided it might be a good idea to learn to play violin to continue to rehab his right hand.
When the kids were born Grandma and Grandpa planted a palm tree in honor of each of them. In April, Zack and I went to visit and he cleaned up all of the areas around the trees. The hike up into the orange orchard was treacherous, but he did it like a champ. Zack spent time talking with his grandpa about how he worked to get himself better. Grandpa has had several setbacks lately and was eager to listen to his Grandson about the real meaning of being patient.
He wanted me to take a picture of the sign his grandpa made for in front of his palm tree. He told me it was broken too, but the pieces fit back together, kinda like him.
Grandpa's favorite cake, we pretended it was his birthday and made him this angel food cake from scratch!!
A nice walk on the beach together.
While we were in San Diego Zack and I had a date day. His choice of what to do...He picked a tour of the Midway Warship. Hours of climbing stairs and shimmying through the innards of that huge vessel. NO ELEVATORS on board!!!
I am grateful to have my son, and my loving family. Without faith this journey would have been difficult.
Jacob came to Texas this year and surprised me for his birthday. First time together in over two years. Can you tell by my face how happy having my family all together again made this mommas heart?
The love of a family is life's greatest blessing
Being a family means you are part of something wonderful.
It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.
Miss Darla has helped Zack get through his toughest days...Now Zack is Darla's therapy human. =). Here she is in her shark suit ready for her swim lesson.
A message to all of you from Zack ~ June 2021
Dylan was unable to have volitional movement on day one of his intensive treatment. By day three he was able to move his hands and arms willingly.
And then it begins!!! Zack has started traveling with me to help individuals who have had injuries similar to his. This young man dove into a lake in June of 2021 having fun with his siblings and friends. He did not come back up to the surface. As a result, he injured C2 to C6 and is said to be paralyzed from the neck down.
Here, Zack is cupping Dylan's legs. This enables better blood flow and greatly aids in the reduction of inflammation.
Zack's body fought hard. it was a long fight, but he won! Head trauma Dr said in his 37 years he had never seen anyone survive, let alone come out of it with no apparent signs of brain trauma. Zack is doing great!
They thought he was posturing, he was not, he was just frustrated I am sure. They said he was non-responsive to stimuli; well, he sure was responsive after receiving stimulation from me. I started videoing as much as I could. They too began to believe that he was "in there". One of the surgeons said, "you are always touching him, don't stop, it's working"...
Out of all the treatment Zack got from me (QRI, tens, Nemechek Protocol, etc.) the direct stimulation I gave him was by far what helped the most.
Reach out if needed, 801.458.3036.