Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Jeff Schrock Update

November 14, 2005 Update from Jason, Jeff Schrock's dad. (Ernest & Louise are Carolyn's parents; Sara (Schrock) is Jeff's sister who teaches in the Russian School in Spokane; Jerrold (Hooley) is Sarah's boyfriend - he teaches the church school where Jeff's 3 girls attended; Cliff Helms is the driver of the "at-fault" vehicle in the accident.)

From: Jason
This is Thanksgiving morning. As we ponder on this day, especially focused on being thankful, there are many thoughts that swirl through one’s mind – Perhaps it seems with the loss of five precious children that it is difficult to be thankful today. But that is not so. There are so many circumstances in relation to this loss that makes one truly thankful. When one ponders the “what ifs” we can only say that the Lord doeth all things well.
We got a copy of a letter sent to Jeff & Carolyn from a local lady here that lost her husband in a traffic accident 10 years ago. He was a farmer that we had dealt with for many years. I was impressed with what she shared. I’m going to quote from it here:
“I must confess that even though I don’t know you or your children, their loss hit me hard. I have four grandchildren who are very dear to me, and I could not fathom having them gone in an instant. Our human nature wants to ask God ‘WHY?!’ Well a couple of verses in Isaiah have meant a lot to me.
Isaiah 57:1,2 (NIV)
“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; (well some of us do) devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
“These verses seem to explain that God looks at death in a different way that we do – our loved ones who are in His presence no longer have to deal with the world, the struggles, sin, pain, and troubles. They are in His presence and are in peace.” End of quote.
So is there any thing to be thankful for? Certainly! Also the fact that Jeff was spared and that God is giving them the opportunity to start over with a family.
Well, I thought this was supposed to be an update on Jeff’s condition!
I’m not going to go back at this time and reconstruct the happenings from the accident on November 1, through the time of the funeral on November 7. I think most of you have the basic facts surrounding what happened. But I do want to share a few things concerning Jeff that we learned since the time many of you were here at the funeral. Some of you likely got some of this information, but will share for the benefit of all.
On the afternoon of the accident Jeff was airlifted by helicopter to the Sacred Heat Hospital in Spokane. He says that his first memory is getting on the elevator at the top of the hospital. The paramedics asked him if he knew where he was. He said, “On an elevator.” They told him he was at the Sacred Heart Hospital. He said there are bits and pieces of memory that evening, but nothing that came together to make any sense out of what was going on. He could not figure out why everyone was gathered there – why the church people and many from the Deer Park Church. Something serious must have happened, but what? He couldn’t put it all together. Also by the next morning he was just beginning to think about the children. He remembered they were with him. He wondered – had he met Carolyn and then something happened? He just couldn’t remember. It was only about a half hour later that Ernest and I came into the room and then broke the news of their deaths.
Before Jeff was released from Spokane to go to Chewelah, we had the opportunity to talk to the nurse and doctor that were in the emergency room that night. We also got the written report from the doctor that told the extent of what he found and what he did.
The thing that stood out to us in the doctor’s report was that he said he had spent three and one half hours trying to resuscitate Jeff. It’s not that he wasn’t breathing or conscious enough to answer questions, but I think the main problem was stabilizing him because of severe bleeding. He was bleeding badly but they could not find the location. The top number on his blood pressure plummeted to 60. They gave him five units of blood, but they just went through him. They did an angiogram to determine if the aorta had ruptured, which it had not. But the bleeding stopped on it’s own! In comparing the time frame of this, it appears that his bleeding stopped about the time word got around concerning the accident and people began to pray. God doesn’t answer prayer? There are no Divine miracles performed in our day? The doctor said they do not know to this day where he was bleeding, but thinks it was likely an artery off the aorta valve.
Jeff has a lot of broken bones. I wasn’t initially aware that beside the fracture of the sternum he also had a cracked rib. Also we found out that another fracture was his collarbone.
His third surgery was on Wednesday the 9th. (The two previous surgeries before the funeral had to do with his knees and jaw.) This surgery was to repair his right arm. The crazy bone on the elbow was broken, so they repaired that with a plate. Then the doctor put a nail up the inside of the entire humorous bone from the elbow to the shoulder. He told us that each end of the nail (or rod) had a hole for a screw. Once in place they x-ray it to find the hole, then put a screw in the bone and rod to keep it from swiveling. He said that the bone was broken in two places and that there were a number of pieces of bone broken loose but that all the nerves and blood supply was intact, so he was very optimistic. The doctor told me that he gives the arm an 80% chance of full recovery. He said it may be three or four months until the nerves wake up.
After that surgery they were talking of transferring him to another facility for therapy. They gave us three options: The St Luke’s Hospital in Spokane, which specializes in therapy, The St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chewelah, or home care. They felt it is a little soon for home care. We opted for Chewelah, since it is close home and Carolyn had heard good things about their therapist.
Once we got some of those decisions made and some other business matters under control our family left for home on Thursday, getting home around 11:00 pm. We wanted to be home for Beulah Patzan’s wedding on Friday and communion on Sunday morning. Ernest and Louise stayed with Jeff’s in Spokane.
On Sunday afternoon I drove back to Spokane so that I could be there to help facilitate the move to Chewelah. There were five young people traveling back in the afternoon also, including Sara and Jerrold. We basically traveled together until the last couple hours, but I drove by myself, listening to some tapes and talking to some of my siblings on the phone. I got to the hospital a little after 9:00 pm and got to visit Jeff for awhile yet that night.
There were too many things to pull together yet on Monday so the decision was made to make the transfer on Tuesday. The main thing was that Chewelah wanted to make sure they were staffed enough to handle him. It is a small hospital with approx. 20 beds and an adjoining long-term care facility.
Before leaving Spokane the orthodontist, orthopedic surgeon, and his primary care physician (the one that attended him in the emergency room) all needed to see him. The orthopedic doctor said that Jeff will need to be in a wheelchair for six weeks until his arms heal enough to put weight on them so that he can use them to carry his weight as he tries to get back on his feet. So that put it almost until the end of the year, until he can even try to walk.
The primary doctor told him before leaving, that even though he is broken up badly and has a lot of issues, all of his injuries are recoverable. That is much for which to thank the Lord.
His jawbones need to fuse together and heal before Jeff can eat anything solid. So there again for six weeks he’s limited to soft food. Most of his meals are puréed. His lower lip is still numb, just like after one gets out of the dentist chair.
They ordered a wheelchair transport to move Jeff. He sat in the wheelchair the whole way to Chewelah, enjoying the scenery on the way. They did stop at the orthodontist’s office on the way out for one more check. Carolyn and Sara rode with Jeff in the transport. The driver was a Russian man that is the father of one of Sara’s students.
Jeff’s regimen in the hospital in Chewelah has been to get out of bed twice a day and sit on the wheelchair for one and one half to three hours at a time. They usually get him up for two of his meals. Then it was a great accomplishment the first time he could use a commode instead of a bedpan. In fact the first time they were able to seat him on the commode, it took the male therapist and three nurses. I walk down the hall just as the nurses came out to give Jeff some privacy. They were jubilant, acting like a great event was taking place. Another nurse asked them if a baby had been born! I need to explain that statement. Jeff is in a room at the end of the hall that is used for the recovery room or second labor room in the OB section. They chose that room because it is large with enough room for a second bed for Carolyn. She sleeps nights in Jeff’s room. The first room they put him in was not large enough for all the paraphernalia the therapists needed, causing them claustrophobia. They also soon saw that he needed larger quarters for all his visitors.
After Jeff was settled in Ernest went home Wednesday, returning Saturday. Tuesday to Thursday nights I slept at James & Eunice’s place. That was so nice, since it is in town and not far from the hospital. I didn’t actually get a lot of time to visit there as it kept me going to keep up with things in the hospital.
The rest of the family went back to WA on Friday to be there for Bev Schrock and Arnold Weaver’s wedding. When Ruth got there we stayed out at Jeff’s from then on.
There are two therapists working with Jeff – the physical therapist and the occupational therapist. The physical therapist had me begin to help him with putting the leg and arm splints on Jeff before moving him out of bed and helping him to transfer Jeff from the bed to the wheelchair and back again. One day he took me to their exercise room and had me be the “patient” while he got me up and transferred me to the wheelchair. Then it was my turn to do it to him. There are techniques and positions that make the job easier. Jeff was in his wheelchair watching and enjoying the whole procedure. He said it helped him understand much better what they are doing to him and he can help with some slight movements at the right time.
After Ernest got back on Saturday we had another training session. I think Jeff got more of a kick out of that, watching us hoist each other back and forth. The procedure is to get the patient on the edge of the bed by getting a hold of his hips and pivot from side to side while sliding him forward with feet nearly touching the floor. Then a transfer belt is put around his waist so that one has something to hold on to. Then a slide board about two feet long or a little longer tapered on each end is used to slide him from the bed to chair and back again. I was rather amazed when I took Ernest’s entire bulk and hoisted him from the wheelchair to the bed, which was a couple inches higher than the chair, with little effort!
On Friday the occupational therapist and her assistant went with me to Jeff’s place to evaluate the house and make recommendations of what equipment is needed and how to set things up. She seemed pleased with the adequate room and the width of the doorways.
This therapist has been working with Jeff on his right hand and arm. He can close his fingers, but is not able to lift them up without help from his other hand. It is called radial palsy because the radial nerve is damaged in his upper arm, if I understand correctly. Improvement is already showing in the movement of his arms and fingers.
Another thing they are watching is his diabetes. It often goes up to 210 plus after a meal, so they are giving insulin. Before he had the accident he was able to get along with oral medication. Hopefully he can return to that later. He was diagnosed with diabetes in August and was watching diet and exercising. He had gone from 225 lbs to 205. He has lost more through this experience. The last they weighed him he was down to 188. They have him on a 2200 calorie diet because he needs the calories to heal the bones, but it’s a little hard for him to eat that much diabetic food without exercise.
Here are the plans for the near future. This Tuesday a number of the local men and Ernest poured concrete under the awning that runs the whole length of their mobile home. It had just been gravel there. Then they got the idea to put in some flowerboxes; so yesterday Joe Miller made flowerboxes with brick along side of the concrete floor, in front of the house.
Ernest’s whole family is to be there over the weekend for Thanksgiving. On Saturday they plan to build the ramp. It needs to be one foot long for every inch of rise. So that means a ramp of 30 plus feet long. A neighbor and his family plan to cut wood for Jeff today, so some of the Birky family was going to build a little shelter to put the wood in to keep dry.
On Monday the medical supply company is scheduled to set up a hospital bed in the house. They will also bring out other items needed. Then we hope to move Jeff home on Tuesday the 29th. Ruth and I plan to go back Monday evening, so we can be there to help with the move. We plan to be there for a week while Ernest and Louise come home. Louise has not been home yet – it will be four weeks from the time she left home till she gets back. From then on we plan to alternate every other week. We feel that as long as Jeff is wheelchair-bound either Ernest or I need to be there since we are the ones that got the training.
Last week I made a number of calls trying to get Jeff’s business matters under control. Jeff Kessler, who used to work for Jeff has offered to help fill orders. He and Lloyd worked on a couple tables and then Jeff K. has done a number of other items since then. So that is very nice. We are trying to hold off on any new orders for now. They are leaving the store front open until Christmas with a sign that says they will not be able to take orders, but would sell floor models and if anyone wants to wait for furniture in the future they can leave a message. I don’t see how Jeff can do any work for at least six months, and then I question whether he can do as much strenuous work as he had been doing.
I’ll mention a little yet about the graveyard where they children were laid to rest. That is such a lovely, peaceful setting, overlooking the churchyard. The dirt dug out of the grave was so rocky and full clay that they hauled in other dirt to fill the hole. You probably know that there was not enough dirt there the day of the funeral. They hauled in some more – then made five mounds. Each mound has a bronze metal marker with the names of each one. It looks so much more individualized than that great big hole for them all.
Maybe you remember the individual red roses on the table in the back of the church the evening of the viewing. Each one was labeled with one of the children’s name. They were in vases. Carolyn decided to go to school on Thursday, when they had a half-day of school for the first time following the accident. At the close of school she had each student take one of the roses – five students, five roses; three of the student girls for the three girls who died and two boys for the boys. They each took their rose up to the burial plot and laid their rose on the corresponding grave. Then the vases were given to them as a keepsake.
The Helm family continues to keep contact with Jeff’s. They were to visit him in the hospital again on Monday. Cliff Helm had a spell last week. He was at home, was telling a story, got a coughing spell and fell over, passing out for about 40 seconds. They took him to the hospital in Spokane and did testing on him but could not find anything to say why he passed out. His wife said they have an appointment with the heart specialist. If that produces no answers they plan to continue going to various specialists until they find out what is causing his problems. Cliff says he is not going to drive until they determine whether or not it is safe.
"So, prayer Warriors, Keep on Praying for Healing for Jeff and Cliff." vmr
Thank you for your concern and prayers, and please keep on praying for Jeff, Carolyn, and Mr. Helms.