The Taggart Family -- Life, Family and Friends

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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

This blog is a record of events in the life of Joseph Taggart and his family since his spinal cord injury while body surfing in Guatemala in January 2006.

Monday, January 30, 2006

NOW the Work Starts -- Monday 1/30/06

Joseph moved back to Rehab this afternoon, Yea! He is excited to get to work. He begins with three one hour workouts a day. Not much by pre-accident standards but massive after lying down flat for three weeks, not even breathing with his own muscles. He's lost 32 pounds (2.3 stone for you British lot). He is in Room 483A at the LDS Hospital Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation Unit (8th Avenue and C Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84143). He will be there for at least 4-6 weeks. Saturdays and especially Sundays are good days to visit.

Below are some photos of Joseph in the emergency room of the Herrerra Llerandi Hospital in Guatemala getting fitted with headgear for his traction and the weights. They attached the metal frame to his skull and attached the weights to the end of a rope pulling on the frame over a pulley. He was in this for 5 days with increasing weights (a little over 40 lbs at the end, including three sandbags). Following those photos are the x-rays from before the surgery and after, with the titanium plate securing C-4 to C-5 with four titanium screws. CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Day of Rest Sunday 1/29/06 9:00 PM

Joseph is doing great and anxious to go to Rehab tomorrow. His lungs are clear and the pneumonia seems to be licked. He's been breathing with little assistance from the respirator most of the day. (A lot of work til the muscles get built up again).

We thought perhaps you might like a couple of photos of the experience in Guatemala. IF YOU CLICK ON THE PHOTOS YOU CAN SEE A LARGER VERSION

1. Monterrico Beach was where the accident happened. It is in red on the bottom of the map. Guatemala City is shown with the yellow star.

2. Joseph's friends Kylie and Scott getting ready to get on the boat to get across the marsh to the beach.

3. Joseph's photo of a bird by the water.

4. Joseph's shot of a pickup on a flatboat. A little while later this is how he was to return to the mainland. Kylie and Scott got him in a pickup truck and bribed a boat owner to take the truck across.

5. The black sand beach and the waves (from the site below) the waves were 7 1/2 feet high that day!

A good set of photos can be found at : note the black basalt sand (there are still a few grains coming from Josephs ears etc.).

Perhaps tomorrow We'll show some photos of the traction gear and x-rays from Guatemala.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Respiration and Inspiration-- Friday 1/27/06 10:00 PM

Joseph is doing great (If you ask him, that's what he always says, and if you heard him you would believe him). They did the bronchoscope again on Thursday AM then again on Friday morning. Everything was clear this morning and they won't need to do it again. His breathing is doing great as well. His fevers have disappeared and he's getting bored. . . A good sign! They will move him back to Rehab on Monday, he is excited and so are they. The Rehab staff have been in working his muscles and preparing his program. They are terrific people and will be a joy to work with.

We have been surrounded by people who are extending themselves way beyond what anyone could expect, in order to serve and help. The IHC Insurance representative, Debbie Moore, who has come to the house to personally pick up paperwork, made numerous phone calls etc. and has even come to the hospital, not because of expectation of workplace rewards, but because she desires to bless our lives in anyway she can. Jamie McQueen is a friend from our Church History trip in October, we were brothers from first meeting. He has taken upon himself to help with our house project, he's in construction and it's one of his talents and gifts. He knows others who can help. Bill Yadeskie, our former bishop, is drawing up house plans. There are so many others. Why would so many offer so much? Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a reality in their way of life. None of them have really thought twice about doing all they can to help, because it's the way disciples live their lives. We got a call from the non-LDS bus driver who shared some great experiences on the Church History trip. He and his wife are praying for Joseph and our family. They, like all of you, understand the reality of God's love for us and the efficacy of asking in order to receive. All of our lives are blessed through our faith in Jesus Christ and our works (prayer for example). Thank you all for showing your faith through your works in Joseph's behalf. We know Heavenly Father is listening and will provide every blessing and opportunity that is in Joseph's best long-term interest.

Some of the greatest miracles are the one's we are able to witness in the examples of His children. Tonight one of those great examples stopped in to see Joseph. Elder Richard G. Scott has so many important duties and responsibilities, but manages to spend time ministering "unto the least of these". It is clear to us if you want to see the face of God, you only have to look into the face of His children who enjoy His image in their countenance.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

ICU in Respitory ICU-- Wednesday 1/25/06 7:30 PM

Charming the nurses and trying to stay cool enough (or warm enough) is a full time job. Between rehab workouts here in Respiratory ICU, Joseph is helping train all the staff in the new speaking valve for the respirator. It works really well and Joseph enjoys being able to talk while it's on. . . but it does take some work. They did a bronchioscopic proceedure today that let them look into the bottom of his lungs. They found a giant glob (blog backwards? :) of junk in the left lung that is good to have out. They also did a first attempt at sitting upright in a chair (of sorts). That was really a pain! But he did it, even if he did end up with a collapsed lung for a few minutes. . .

Mom & Dad have so many people helping, supporting, working and praying to help, it is really inspirational. We are trying to figure out how to fix up the house for when Joseph comes home (average 4-6 weeks after entry into rehab). We have neither bedroom or bathroom on the main level . . . hummmmm.

Dad had a good visit with Dale Hull, a local OB/GYN who broke his C-5 vertebrae (like Joseph) jumping on the trampoline. It took months and several surgeries but he has use of arms and legs and now specializes in helping spinal injury patients.

This is a long term process of endurance, education, and hard work with all things dependant on the Lord's blessings. We are so grateful for Joseph's fantastic attitude, the love, support and prayers of so many, and the Lord's goodness to us. Please know our family and Joseph are praying for you as well.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Move to Rehab and Out Again-- Monday 1/23/06 11:50 PM

This was a interesting 24 hours. It began with sleep deprivation therapy (at least that's how it felt), the night was disturbed every few minutes. Then this morning we started the preparation to move to Rehab. Joseph was very excited to get going. A little after noon we actually began the migration with all the stuff to the 4th floor, North section of LDS Hospital to the Neuro Speciality Rehabilitation Unit. Gloria and Tim had the grand tour and were given their reading assignments etc. to begin the rehab process. Later in the afternoon we had a wonderful visit from Elder Hilbig of the Seventy (the Executive Director of the Audiovisual Department). The warm and kindness of his visit was so helpful.
A little later Joseph was having trouble breathing when they rolled him to his left side (for some reason, in the random rolling to one side then the other, to avoid bed sores, he has never been rolled to his left before, we hadn't realized it until Joseph mentioned it). A pulmonary specialist came and they prepared to do some another CT scan to see if it might be from a blood clot or something else. The results were negative for the blood clot but it was clear the pneumonia was worse. The doctors made the decision to move him to the Respitory ICU for a couple of days to get the pneumonia under control. Joseph went "willingly because he had to". His attitude has been so humble, willing, and wonderful that Heavenly Father cannot help but bless him. This is a disapointment but only a bump on the road to recovery. The room (C503) is very spacious and comfortable, and the staff in all the areas have been very helpful. But he does look forward to getting into rehab and starting the work back. He has lost about 15 lbs so far. . . lean, but not very mean.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Update-- Sunday, January 22nd, 11:00 p.m.

Joseph has been doing well over the weekend, his fever has been better. The tests they did on the fluid near his surgeryhave been positive, no infection. They still don't know what has been causing the fever but it seems to be getting better. They are moving him to rehab tomorrow. He is very excited to begin the hard work that lies ahead. Today he was breathing on his own for most of the day. They have had him sitting up straight for an hour or so each day as well. It's been hard work after being down flat for a couple of weeks. He has a new pair of Converse All-Stars high tops (black and white, very cool and retro) these help his feet stay in a good position.
The neuro-surgeons are talking about a potential second surgery to help stabilize Joseph's neck. They haven't set a time or anything yet. It remains to be seen if it is needed for sure.
We'd all like to express gratitude for all of your prayers and faith. There has been such a great feeling to be around Joseph. When you walk into his room you feel a warmth and peace that is inexplixable without understanding the workings of the Holy Ghost. He is known as the Comforter for an important reason. What a blessing to have so many friends, neighbors, co-workers, family and strangers praying for Joseph. Those prayers are being heard and blessings are flowing in answer. Greater miracles lie ahead, but the miracle of God touching hearts and lives in a powerful way because of this accident is amazing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

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Update-- Friday, January 20th, 11:00 p.m.

Yesterday a lady from California, who was at the hospital training the speech therapists how to use a new valve for the ventilator so people can talk, came into Joseph’s room and asked if they could use him as a guinea pig and show everyone how to put it in and how to use it. He said, “Sure.” They had him talk for a while, and then took it off. She came back in the afternoon and had another group of people she wanted to train, and he got to talk again for a bit. By the end of the day he had about 20 people owing him slurpees.

Joe had a really good night last night. The nurse was great and let him sleep. This morning his fever was back up to 103.6. The Rehab people came in and made him sit up in his bed. They told him they would like to have him there for a 1/2 hour, and he made it for an hour. They also put the valve in the ventilator so he could talk for a little while.

The doctor decided that they needed to see if the fluid they found around the surgery on his neck was causing the infection. The procedure was really hard on Joe. They had him laying on his side with out his neck brace on for about an hour. They did give him some pillows to help support his head, but it was really stressful and painful to be that way for so long. Initially they didn’t want to take any fluid out of his neck because it would be difficult and possibly cause more damage. They have been treating this “invisible infection” with antibiotics and Tylenol, but even when they increase the dosage his fever still rises. We will find out if it is the fluid that is causing the infection tomorrow.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Update--Thursday, Jan 19, 3:30 p.m.

Joseph had a wonderful experience last evening when Elder Richard G. Scott,15609,3959-1----47,00.html came to visit him. Elder Scott was so humble, warm, and gracious, it was a wonderful uplift. Joseph asked for a priesthood blessing, what a sweet experience. Dad anointed and Elder Scott pronounced a powerful blessing. Joseph said he felt the power and influence of it throughout his whole body. There were several things mentioned that were almost word for word from Joseph’s patriarchal blessing. We read that blessing afterward and underlined the parts that were the same. The spirit was so tangible and remained for a long time after. There have been so many times during this ordeal that have been so filled with Peace and the love of the Savior, that we all know that Heavenly Father is mindful of us all and especially Joseph. We are perfectly assured that He will allow Joseph to accomplish everything in life He is meant to do. We are so grateful for your prayers and kindness.

Joseph had a good night Wednesday, and his fever came down quite a bit. They are ready to move him to the Rehabilitation Center at L.D.S. Hospital as soon as space becomes available, probably in the next couple of days. He is so anxious to get going and making some progress. The staff showed Mom and Dad some things they can do to help him start exercising his shoulder and arm muscles.

Matt Blanchard, a former member of the Stake, came into the ICU with a broken back from an accident on Tuesday. The family saw Tim and asked him to give Matt a blessing. Matt’s surgery went well yesterday and he and Joseph are planning to challenge each other in Rehab. Matt has some follow up surgery today, but has feeling in his legs and things look very positive. Tim going ahead with a previously scheduled fireside tonight with a stake Relief Society group who asked him to talk about the Atonement. His title is “The Solution to All of Your Problems”. He feels so strongly about the subject, especially this week, there is no way he would decline. Here is a link to the resource material from his talk if you are interested:

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Update--Wednesday, Jan. 18, 8:30 a.m.

From Gloria:

Yesterday, Tuesday, Joseph was either cold and shivering or hot and fevered. We spent the day piling on the blankets or turning on a fan to cool him off. They can't figure out where the infection is coming from. They have made him much more comfortable by putting him on an air filled bed and gave him a new neck brace. He had a restless night and is still fighting the fever. They have been running more tests to see if they can find the cause. He has been having a lot of pain in his right shoulder and we are thinking maybe he injured it in the accident. We are hoping to get him out of ICU soon, but not yet.

We have appreciated your many acts of kindness, your notes of love and support, your concern and care and most of all your prayers for Joseph. Most of the time he is in good spirits and has a great attitude. He is still "Joe" and although he can barely whisper he still gets in an occasional funny remark. We as a family are truly blessed to have so many wonderful, loving people in our lives. Thank you so much ! !

Monday, January 16, 2006

Update--Monday, Jan. 16, 1:00 p.m.

Joseph and Tim arrived through the snowstorm about 1:00 p.m. Sunday. They were glad to make it back. The Learjet had to circle the airport a couple of times and buck its way to the ground, but the touchdown was perfect! The ambulance was waiting at the Executive Airport for transport to L.D.S. Hospital. Just to let everyone know they were home, the sirens were wailing all the way!

The doctors and staff at the R.E. Thomason General Hospital in El Paso were excellent and took great care of Joseph. They did most of the tests, scans, x-rays, and exams that L.D.S. would have on the return to S.L.C. and provided it all on a CD for the doctors in SLC. They were surprised at how good the treatment was at the Hospital Herrera Llerandi Guatemala The doctors were waiting at L.D.S. Hospital and Joseph was quickly received in the Emergency entrance and admitted.

After briefings and examinations he was sent to the Intensive Care Unit Room 632. He was able to spend a peaceful night. He has some pneumonia and fever they are dealing with and so will have to leave the trach tube in for a while as they evaluate his ability to breathe without assistance and clear up the problems. They removed the line in his upper chest, put in during surgery, and put in a new pic line in his right arm this morning (the other could be causing infection and fever). He is in good spirits but is limited in his talking to whispering and mouthing words. That is a real frustration for him (you know Joseph). Tim has learned to read his lips in both Spanish and English. He says, "MAN, IT’S GOOD TO BE HOME!!"

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Update--Sunday, Jan. 15, 1:00 p.m.

Gloria and Liz have heard from Tim. The Airmed plane left El Paso about 10:00 a.m., due to land in SLC at 12:30 p.m. Joseph had a very good night in El Paso. He liked the hospital there. The ventilator he was on was computerized, helping him to breathe, as opposed to the previous one that forced air into his lungs making it hard for him to breath on his own.

Gloria has a bag packed and doesn't intend on leaving Joe any time soon.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Update--Saturday, Jan 14, 9:30 p.m.

"Almost home"

Tim called from Monterey, N. M. this afternoon. They are traveling by lear jet. Tim says it's a tight fit because of all the equipment -- and Tim and Joe are large guys. Joseph is really happy to be almost home. They were just having a "pit stop" in N.M. and then were heading to El Paso, TX to drop off some of the doctor's and pilot's luggage. The plane is so heavy it using a lot of fuel. They were scheduled to arrive in SLC between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., however, the air traffic decision makers were very concerned about the impending weather and the Airmed plane was told they could not land in SLC. They will check again first thing tomorrow and hope to be in SLC soon -- flight is about 1 1/2 hours.

Gloria is extremely anxious to get her boy home -- she can hardly wait until she sees him -- hopefully tomorrow a.m.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Update--Friday, Jan 13, 10:00 p.m.


Joe and his family had a bit of a scare tonight. Joseph has been saying he is having a really hard time breathing. They never could figure out why, so they didn't do anything to help. Tim went down to take care of some paperwork and Airmed scheduling, but was checking in every so often on Joe.

The last time he went back to check on Joe, there were a bunch of nurses and doctors rushing around his room. Looking closer he saw Joseph's face and neck were swollen severely and that he wasn't breathing. What had happened was when they re-did the trach tubes after Joseph's neurosurgery, they forgot to cut a flap of skin off. It had closed off the airway and was sending the oxygen up into his neck and face. He blacked out. They rushed him into surgery to correct the trach and cut off the flap of skin. The doctors came and apologized to Tim and told them it was all their fault and that they were very sorry.

The surgery went well and Tim says that to look at Joe you would not know there had been a problem. We are so thankful for our blessings and that Joseph is doing OKAY !

Update--Friday, Jan 13, 2:00 p.m.

This is straight from Elizabeth (Joe's sister):

Joseph felt some tingling about 4 inches above his belly button and feels like he has a little more control of his lungs. Nothing is for certain, but this is a positive sign. Also, last night Tim said the doctors were amazed because Joseph was uncomfortable and was able to lift his head up off the pillow and readjust it. The doctors say with this type of injury that is usually not possible to do, especially this soon after surgery. Late last night he asked Tim to get him a blanket because his feet and legs felt cold. He cannot feel them or move them, but they felt cold. He is having a good attitude and is hopeful about his recovery. Mostly he is anxious to come home.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Update--Thursday, Jan 12, 9:00 p.m.

Tim reports that Joseph has some feeling in his right arm between his shoulder and his elbow. This was not the case before surgery, so it is encouraging news. Joseph is also able to "flex" his left bicep, which is also encouraging news.

Today, Tim's boss at the Church office building had a conversation with Elder Scott. Elder Scott indicated that he had been thinking a great deal about Tim Taggart and had intended to call him or talk to him. When he learned of Joseph's accident and the subsequent events, he further indicated that he now knows why he had Tim on his mind. He asked to be notified when Joseph and Time were back in Salt Lake so that he could make contact and pay Joseph a visit.

The family feels strongly that the Lord is mindful of their needs and they feel comforted by that knowledge and by the faith and prayers of all of you.

Update--Thursday, Jan 12, 8:00 a.m.

This update came directly from Tim. His comments were written late Wednesday night:

Joseph is doing well today. He is still on the ventilator and has the trach tube in his throat. (That will not change for awhile.) The doctors were pleased with the x-rays this morning. They will be bringing him to the L.D.S. hospital on Saturday, where he will be for sometime. We have all been blessed with the Lord's Spirit. Tim commented tonight that everytime he walks into his room he feels peace and the Comforter so strongly. Thank you for all of your prayers and fasting. It has given us strength. May the Lord bless all of you for your efforts.

We love you all so much and you all mean so much to us, as well as Joseph. We have a very long road ahead of us, but we can do it with the Lord's help and all of you.

May the Lord keep and bless you.
Our love,
The Taggarts

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Update--Wednesday, January 11, 10:00 a.m.

The Taggart family expresses gratitude for the many, many people who have contacted them to express their love and caring for Joseph. This "blog" will allow the family to communicate current information to the many who are interested, yet allowing them to have the time they need to deal with the many issues at hand.

At least daily, and more often if there is something to report, an update will be posted here. Please access it regularly. Submit comments, if you desire, and please tell your friends and neighbors to use the "blog" to keep current.

Within a day or two details of the accident will be posted so you will have full background information.

Joseph underwent surgery yesterday . It was a long, difficult surgery, but Tim reports that the doctors are pleased with the outcome. Within a day or two physical therapy will begin. The target date for bringing Joseph home is Saturday, January 14, 2006. This is not firm, but has been set as the goal.

Joseph is communicating well. The family appreciates your love, faith and prayers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Blog Creation

This website has been set up to help keep all those we love up to date with how Joseph is doing.

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