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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.

Friday, February 03, 2006

"I have Chicken in my Teeth, and I LOVE IT"!!! --Friday 2/3/06

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.


Blogger JFord said...

look at you, your looking great even though you got BYU on your shirt. i am always checking your blog looking at the progress you are going through and how fast it is coming around. haveing this many blessings every day is fortafing my testamoney every time i hear about you. your awesome. keep going.

Feb 4, 2006, 1:59:00 AM  
Blogger Stephanie (Record) Davis said...

WOW you are doing so awesome!! Don't worry I'll back you up on the BYU shirt! Chicken fingers are my favorite especially if you dip it in a Wendy's frosty....mmmmm!
You are such an inspiration to everyone. Keep it up.
Stephanie Davis (Record)

Feb 4, 2006, 5:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gym Rat said...

Chicken fingers dipped in a frosty? Ewwww! Oops, sorry, got distracted by the previous notes. LOL!

Wow, this is so great it's unbelieveable. My brother had a neck injury similar to yours and this is indeed very fast progress. What a great blessing to you and your family to see you moving so quickly from one step to the next.

Feb 4, 2006, 5:56:00 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Those pictures are really neat! You are looking really good with your new hair cut and that is so awsome about the different foods. Keep up the hard work. I'll be up to visit soon.

Feb 4, 2006, 9:22:00 AM  
Blogger Janice Auger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Feb 4, 2006, 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Janice Auger said...

Disregard my comment that isn't finished. My fingers are faster than my brain (not a good sign).
I still see that great smile. Good for you. Bernie and I pray for you constantly, and the many prayers in your behalf are being heard. You are also working hard -- a combination that can't be beat. Keep up the good work!

Feb 4, 2006, 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Chrissie said...

Actually fries dipped in ice-cream are GREAT. And I love that you have a RUGBY shirt on (great sport!)

Now...why doesn't it surprise me that Joe Taggart has bypassed babyfood and gone straight from the chicken nuggets... Mmmmm...

Feb 4, 2006, 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Chrissie said...

Oops...I mean "for" the chicken nuggets (giggly fingers)

Feb 4, 2006, 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Rocky said...

This is the best update yet you are rockin it. Keep those nurses and physical tharapist trying to catch up. For some reason I am hungry fast food never sounded so good.
Rocky J.

Feb 4, 2006, 1:59:00 PM  
Blogger Katika77 said...


I am so excited to hear about your progress! I wish I had your positive attitude about everything, haha! Seriously--just reading this post helped me put a lot into perspective. Everyday may be a challenge but you are getting through it and helping and inspiring me!
Tell Elder Brown hello and we are praying for him now too. I'm glad he has you for a roommate. I can't think of anyone better to entertain him!
Keep up the good work!
Kate Lyon

Feb 4, 2006, 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy Hailstone said...

Your news reached us in Cedar and could believe it. But reading your website was truly moving. Glad to see your fantastic smile & humor through all the hard work. You're great! Say hello to everyone in the 8th Ward.

Feb 16, 2006, 5:52:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I have been checking your blog everyday and it seems that you're doing much better and I'm so glad.
I know that everybody in the 8th ward will be so happy when you go home.

Mar 1, 2006, 2:30:00 PM  

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