What a remarkable couple of days! When the Jazz came from down 11 points to win by 10 tonight no one around Joseph was surprised. . . it was a day like that!
The Physical Therapists, Speech Therapists and Occupational Therapists have been working with him all week. His muscles have been responding in a remarkable way, seeming to double in strength daily. He has been sitting up for longer periods each day and handling it well. He has been on the speaking valve in his trach and handling it very well (part of the process of getting off the ventilator, as well as excercising his vocal chords). Mom talked to him over the phone today (1st call). Last night she cut his hair just before his shower. She also reminded the doctors that he had stiches in his neck from the surgery and on both sides of his head from the traction device that had never been taken out. . . They did that last night as well. Today he dressed in a T-shirt and is looking pretty cool!
He was having some trouble with one side of his lungs so they did another bronchioscope (photo attached) You can see the plugged up left side before and after they cleaned it out. They also started a percussive treatment where they hook up a machine that mists medicine into his lungs at the same time it thumps them with air pressure, opening up the alveoli (little air sacs). He is so willing to happily submit to anything they say will help, joking with them, giving them a hard time and making them laugh all the way. They all love him.
Today they put a video camera on the end of a little tube up his nose alongside his feeding tube to check out his ability to swallow. This is a big deal because how well he can swallow liquid and food determines whn he can have the feeding tube out, and helps determine how well he can do without the respirator at some point and speak as well (the voice muscles and swallowing muscles are dramatically impacted by neck injuries like his, thus the speech therapy workers are always assigned). As you see in the photo the monitor shows the view looking down on the epiglottis. The white, horizontal, worm looking thing, is the feeding tube going down his throat. If the epiglottis doesn't completly close on swallowing, then liquids go down into the lungs instead of the stomach. They gave him thick orange juice. . . gallump
, down it went. Then they gave him rice pudding, dyed BLUE, easier to see. He kept it in his mouth a long time . . . they assumed he couldn't swallow it, but he was keeping them in suspense while he savored the flavor. When they were about to give up -- he smiled and gallump
! down it went, no problem. He finished up with a graham cracker, managing to get it down (with slight challenge since there was no liquid to wash it down) and ACED THE SWALLOW TEST.
This is remarkable! They said "you can have hamburger tonight". He's been saying since the first couple of days in Guatemala he wanted a Pina Colada Slurpee, but when it came right down to it he chose a Chocolate Shake and Chicken Fingers! As Vicki Smith raced off to procure the goodies, everyone at the hospital was stunned with the results. The head nurse said "In all my years I have never seen anyone with a spinal cord injury like this without an obstructed
swallow. . . It is unbelieveable!" The other worker said, "I can't believe it, you are skipping liquids, baby foods, soft foods, and going right to hamburgers -- unheard of!"
Joseph is estatic about being able to start eating and drinking (he has to show that he can get his whole nutrition by mouth before he gets to lose the feeding tube), but he's also grateful for the little miracle-- not the first and certainly not the last.
He has a new room mate. Elder Weston Brown, a 19 year old from Farmington. He was three weeks into his mission in Mcallen Texas when symtoms of a brain tumor showed up. They flew him home for surgury and removed a 6 inch long tumor with a diameter from hotdog thick, to golf ball size, growing probably for many years. He begins radiation next week and will have to learn many things over again as he overcomes this challenge. He could use our prayers and few miracles as well.