The Taggart Family -- Life, Family and Friends

My Photo
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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New Steps in the Rain and Snow

New steps for Joseph-- Electro-Ectoskeletal devices and trach buttons
Things are loosening up as Joseph finishes the course of antibiotics to kill the pneunomia and latest bladder infection. He is doing well. The new step yesterday and today was an experiment allowing him to go all night without the respirator. Also they are trying him out with a trach button (a plug that keeps the stoma open while blocking the hole from allowing air to pass in and out). With the trach button, Joseph has been breathing through his nose and mouth rather than through his tube for the last couple of days. This is a test to see how he'll do, but so far he has been "doing great". Today they tested a new electronic ectoskeletal device on Joseph that stimulates the muscles in a manner similar to the 'e-stim' they been doing on his wrist, only with a spiffy new device. Here is the link to the "Ness H200 Neuroprosthetic & Rehabilitation System": This is really outstanding, (insurance probably would not cover something like this, and it is outlandishly expensive) with it Joseph can open and close his hand. The video on the site's home page is pretty interesting.

New Steps for the House (literally) & Shovelling Snow off Joseph's Bedroom Floor:
Sunday morning before going up to the hospital to feed Joseph breakfast, his Dad spent a half hour shoveling snow off the sub-floor of the bedroom (that's the last time we expect to do that!) We are grateful after working through the day on Monday that Mark Maxfield (our carpenter/handyman) listened to his bones that said it was going to rain on Tuesday-- He did not tear into the roof to begin tying in the new ceiling joists for Joseph's bedroom. If he had, it would have been raining into the family room. As it was, it leaked a bit into the downstairs bathroom where the holes are cut into the foundation for the new plumbing. While waiting for the rain to cease, on Tuesday Mark built the new steps and platform that serves as a landing for the wheelchair lift in the garage. Today he replaced the window in the upstairs bathroom with a small one (needed to make space for the roof of the addition). The making of the main level of our home into a warm and suitable place for Joseph's new world, continues with painting etc.
We so much appreciate all the many who are so willing to help out. We had a dozen men from the ward over tonight, breaking up huge concrete slabs (buried as fill in our lot, dug up by the excavation of the footings) and putting them in a trailer for the dump. All this in the rain, no less. "Greater love hath no man. . ."

The Doctors say Joseph can come home in two to three weeks. Mom and Dad are scrambling to get things ready, not just the house but everything else as well. Dad found a vehicle on Ebay last week and bought it on Tuesday. It is brand new . . . and wrecked. It is a Chevrolet minivan customized by Braun as a wheelchair vehicle.( as we arrange to get it here then get it fixed, it remains to be seen how wonderful a bargain it will be. Anyone know a good bodyshop?

If you haven't checked out the counter on the very bottom of this page you really should. Joseph is so inspired by all those checking this blog from all over the world. As so many prayers ascend to heaven, it really buoys up his faith and ours.
Also see

1) Physical Therapist from the manufacturer puts the new device on Joseph. Note the little red dot where the trach tube usually is. Thats the 'button' shutting off the trach.
2) Electrical stimulation caused Joseph's hand and fingers to extend.
3) Ceiling joists ready to go up on the addition (Tomorrow is the day!). Note the little new windo in the upstairs bathroom, making way for the roof. Note also the standing water on the floor from all the rain.
4) The new landing for the wheelchair lift outside the back door into the garage.
5) Joseph's new wheels (assuming we can get it repaired), the good view.
6) Opps! the bad view. The engine, and passenger side with the wheelchair lift are undamaged and brand new. Lets hope a month from now we are saying: "what a fabulous deal that was!"

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Carpentry, Plumbing and Cake Cutting – 3/25/06

Joseph’s niece Cheyenne celebrated her first Birthday in the LDS Hospital Rehab area with Uncle Joseph, Grandma and Grandpa Taggart and her parents, Elizabeth and Denny Bird, Grandma Bird and family friends, the Smiths and the Housleys. It was a fun time. We had been planning on taking Joseph out to Leatherby’s, except he is battling another case of pneumonia as well as another bladder infection. The doctors are talking about Joseph coming home in three weeks. Mom and Dad are working with the professionals in Rehab, trying to learn all that is needed to care for him at home, as they scramble to get things ready. Dad is working on finding a vehicle etc, as we race to the finish line (okay then, the starting line).

The house is moving right along. Dad got the plaster sanded in preparation for the painter to do the priming on the front part of the house, while Mark Maxfield, the carpenter ,really ripped into the work on the addition. The floor joists went in on Wednesday. On Thursday, Doug Miles did the HVAC runs and the sub-floor was laid. The phone service had to be moved in the middle of things to accommodate the floor joist against the house. On Friday the outside walls went up. Today Scott Coleman (one of our EBM missionaries) and his buddy Brian did the plumbing rough-in, while John Connors (another EBMer) did some texturing on some ceiling areas in the house. We’re hoping to move furniture back in Wednesday. Oh, to sleep in our own bed again. Check out

Quote of the day -- George A. Smith on Joseph Smith, the Prophet:

“Cousin Joseph came to see me. . . He told me I should never get discouraged, whatever difficulties might surround me. If I were sunk into the lowest pit of Nova Scotia and all the Rocky Mountains piled on top of me, I ought not to be discouraged, but hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I should come out on the top of the heap.”

(Zora Smith Jarvis, comp., Ancestry, Biography, and Family of George A. Smith, p. 54, in Joseph Smith, Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q.Cannon [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997].)


1) Cheyenne Bird's Birthday Bash. L-R: Vicki Smith, Tyler and Pam Housley, Elizabeth, Cheyenne, Denny and Ethan Bird, Denny's mom Gloria, Marci Smith, Joseph's mom Gloria, and the Champ himself. Dad's taking the photo (looks better that way).

2) After Ethan gave little sis a kiss, messy with frosting.

3) Joseph's addition, with floor joists.

4) Now the sub floor is on and Doug Miles is doing the HVAC work. Mark Maxfield helps him out, in between carpentry work.

5) The first wall is up.

6) The view along the back of the family room towards the new outside door of Joseph's room.

7) Scott Coleman and friend Brian Bruce put in plumbing for the new handicapped bathroom and shower.

8) Joseph Smith by Theodore Gorka.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Counting Box, Filling Pocks and Electric Shocks on the Vernal Equinox – 3/21/06

The Vernal Equinox:
Today is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (Brazil and Australia [the Taggart men’s first missionfields] have their first day of Autum today, the autumnal equinox). HAPPY SPRING!

Electric Shocks:
Between the electrical stimulation therapy and Joseph’s hard work, his left wrist is beginning to respond well, today he was able to move it a couple of inches! That is remarkable, just last week movement could barely be perceived. He is struggling as he makes progress to get completely off the ventilator. The last few nights they have had him on CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) only, no additional pressure support. This requires a lot of use of the diaphragm since the Intercostal muscles are below the injury level. The result is that he has been exhausted during the day. It’s all part of the progress. When you workout, you get tired.
Today they did a CT scan to help determine if, when and how a second surgery might be done while Joseph is still on the respirator. We are all voting for the additional surgery. The surgery might have real impact on breathing if additional breathing muscles can be enervated on the right side as well as the right arm. That is the hope.

Filling Pocks:
Things are moving on the house, tomorrow or Thursday they will begin working on framing Joseph’s bedroom. Today they started plastering up the holes and pocks in the living room and kitchen walls etc. They also put wallboard in the kitchen hole for additional cabinets (ones Joseph can use, hopefully). They built forms for the platform at the entry from the garage to the house, where Joseph will exit the wheelchair lift. Mark (the guy who can do anything) has finished most of the baseboard and trim installation around the floors and doors. It looks great. We even put the bed back in the bedroom today, in a few days we may even get to move back in. On Saturday they drilled through the concrete foundation in three places for heating, plumbing and the dryer vent. All is ready for when the framing is underway.

The Counting Box:
Notice the new counter on the very bottom of this page. It counts how many visitors since last Sunday. Red spots on the world map indicate where the hits are from. When you enlarge it looks like the map here. The latest info: Visits to this URL since Sunday 19 Mar 2006: 258. Visits yesterday: 122.

To help see:

1) Joseph’s wrist is beginning to respond to the electrical stimulation therapy and his efforts.
2) Attitude from Joseph as he gets his percussive breathing treatment from Megan (Respiratory Therapy) while reclined in his power wheelchair and Matt, trying out the bed.
3) Wallboard goes up in the kitchen.
4) Patching the swamp cooler hole.
5) Mark puts in the forms for the platform outside the door from the garage.
6) Mark works on the baseboard in the family room.
7) The concrete holes cut for heating, plumbing and the dryer vent.
8) Worldmap counter for the site.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Happy St. Patty's Day 3/17/06

Just a note to wish every one a Happy St. Patricks Day. Several lines of Joseph's family history come from the Scotch-Irish ( who settled in America. They were Protestants who escaped from Scotland and went to Ireland and from thence a few generations later to America. The Taggart family Crest has a significant motto worth remembering: "Spem Successus Alit" literally "Success Nourishes Hope"a good thought for the day. More later.
Go to to help.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Out With the Bad Air, In With the Good Air -- 3/16/06

Out With the Bad Air, In With the Good Air-- Joseph:

The good air was fresh today, as Joseph and entourage went out to the cinema! With lunch included during the show, the group enjoyed Firewall, the new Harrison Ford thriller at the Megaplex 12 at the Gateway. Notice Joseph has no tubes . . . no oxygen connected. He's doing better and better as he gets ready in a couple of weeks (hopefully) to get rid of the trach altogether. Early this morning (no, EARLY!), about 2 AM, the cuff of Joseph's trach burst (see the diagram, the cuff is what seals the airway off, so air only goes through the trach tube). A doctor had to be called to remove the entire trach and replace it ('out with the bad, in with the good' again. . . seems to be a theme). This evening another doctor "popped the trach out" (Joseph's words) of the incision and went in with a small video camera to check things out. Everything looked great, no scarring or problems . . . so we're back on track.

Out With the Bad Air, In With the Good Air -- The House:

Today the HVAC guys came and replaced the 30-year-old furnace with a new efficient furnace/AC unit. This one will feed the new bedroom as well. It is not the least bit sad to see the swamp cooler go as well. One of the side effects of paralysis is the inability of the cardiovascular system to regulate body temperature normally. Joseph will need to be able to control his room to whatever temperature he needs independently of the rest of the house. So beside this new full house system, he'll have an independent system in his room to override whatever the rest of the house is doing. As the HVAC crew looked into the air returns they found the builders of the house built the gas vent into the cold air return, which was not even sheet-rocked or sheathed with metal. No wonder Gloria has had problems breathing and has smelled gas for years. The fix could be a huge health benefit, along with getting rid of the swamp cooler and associated dust, pollutants etc.

The new wheelchair compatible laminate floor installation was completed yesterday. Today we covered the living room and kitchen floor with cardboard to protect it as wallboard work, wallpaper removal and painting continue. Gloria is taking lessons in patience and endurance from her son. We have such a profound sense of appreciation for so many who are lifting our family's burdens and our faith.


1) Joseph arrives at the Gateway Mall area with Misty (Physical Therapy) and Katie (Nursing). Not shown are Chris (Recreational Therapy), Jennifer (Nursing), and Matt and Bryant Smith, Joseph's friends. Dad showed up just to take pictures again, then run off to work on the house. Dang!

2-3) Flicks, snacks and chicks. Neat tricks.

4) Illustration of trach tube and 'cuff'.

5) Doug Miles labors on the "Out with the bad air" portion of the job. Tearing out the old furnace.

6) The new furnace with air conditioning unit on top. "In with the good air".

7) The new laminate floor and the new 3'6" back door for wheelchair entry.

8) The Scouts came over to help remove wallpaper.

Opps! . . . The wallpaper ripped the wallboard surface off (Tim put it on pretty well 20 years ago). Oh well, we will enjoy the high class texturing job that will fix it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Dedicated Dilligence, Dinner and Dollars -- 3/12/06

The last half of this week was an absolutely amazing buzz of activity by everyone who knows the Taggart Family (and some who didn't know them before now). The supplier needed to deliver the new laminate flooring for the home on Saturday morning so it can acclimatize by Monday. That meant the main floor of the house had to be emptied. Family, friends and neighbors all pitched in to help out. Most of the furniture was moved into a PODS storage unit in the driveway, the rest into the garage. Then the gang pitched in to rip out the carpet. In the midst of this, the new 3'6" wheelchair sized back door was installed and wallpaper was being removed at the same time. WOW! what an effort. By Friday night the main floor was naked. Saturday morning the Ward Young Men came and shoveled dirt around the foundation of Joseph's new room addition. They did a really great job. Saturday the flooring arrived and the baseboard was painted ready for Monday. While all the helpers changed clothes and began work on:

As so many of you have read on, the big dinner and auction to raise funds to help the family get things ready for Joseph's return home and rehabilitation happened Saturday evening. It was astounding! Joseph's Mom and Dad didn't have much to do with the evening's planning or execution, a Committee organized by Elizabeth, Joseph's sister, and a group of friends of the family, returned missionaries, and neighbors -- along with the help of dozens of others, did the whole thing. What an unbelieveable undertaking:
-Dinner for 400
-Hundreds of donated items
-An auction of those items that moved with speed and fun
-Original music performed by Cori Connors
-Coverage of the event by the News Media

The dinner was wonderful, with a huge serving of Dutch-oven chicken and cheese potatoes etc. with apple pie for dessert. Please check out the website for the businesses and others who helped out so much. Dr. Dale Hull spoke for a few minutes (see Update 1/25/06: about his experience and the road ahead for Joseph.
Joseph's cousin Troy Pugmire from Logan put a video together that was played just before the auction. It was very moving. (We'll put a link to it here in the next few days).
The auctioneer was terrific and entertaining--and so many things had been donated. When Joseph saw a video of the event today, he was blown away. There was expensive jewelery; sports equipment; beautiful and unique handcrafted items; autographed photos and other sports items from the Jazz, Grizzlies, Blaze, USU, Uof U, BYU, and SLCC; furniture items; original artwork; certificates for services of all sorts; wonderful gift baskets of every sort; and dozens of other things. The auction alone raised over $17,000.
KUTV, (local Channel 2) sent over a news crew and interviewed Elizabeth,Dad and Dr. Hull as well as getting good footage of the event. The news story (we'll see if we can link that as well, in the future) was on the 10 O'Clock News. It opened about 10:13, live from outside LDS Hospital and lasted about FIVE minutes. They did a great job and used bits of the DVD prepared on Joseph. At the end they mentioned there would be a link on their website. It is there today: as the first item. It links to this blog as well as the website and tells how to make a donation at Zions Bank. They may do a follow up tonight.

Joseph is doing Great! He is working hard and making progress. He does have a couple of different kinds of infection, but they are not slowing him down at the moment. The doctors are giving him antibiotics. He has a new spiffy power chair he is trying out, that seems to work better for him. (It is hard to fit his long body and long thighs and get the wheelchair controls out where he can see to use them-- as well as other issues). His wrist is responding to electrical stimulation treatment. On Saturday morning he was able to clearly lift the wrist, flexing the muscle in the lower arm that controls it . We were all very excited. It is another muscle he will work on whenever possible.
He is so overwhelmingly grateful for everything everyone is doing and has done. It is difficult to express how inspiring it is to see the love and friendship and committment shown by the service, donations and expressions of so many. He hopes he will have the chance to see each person and personally thank them over the course of the coming months.

1) An empty wall in the kitchen (years ago it held a gas log for the front room) has been opened up for cabinets that Joseph can access from his wheel chair. You can also see the opening cut for the new wide back door that will allow entry from the garage).
2) John Connors, McKay Bodily, Denny Bird, Eric Fugel work on fixing a problem in the subfloor in preparation for laminate flooring.
3) Vicki Smith, (Joseph's 2nd Mom) strips wallpaper while Denny (our son-in-law) rips up kitchen carpet with a shovel.
4) Welcome, ticket sales, and handing out auction numbers.
5-6) The BringJosephHome Dinner/Auction crowd
7) Dr. Dale B. Hull, former C-4/5 quadraplegic.
8) The Auctioneer, Kelly Berezay from Logan, with his "Vanna Whites": Jennifer Segmiller, Erin Nielsen, Kara Peterson (behind), and Marci Smith
9-10) A few of the dozens and dozens of auction items. There were additional dozens of items in a "silent auction".
11) Joseph enjoys a Sunday morning "lie in".

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"A Foundation for Better Living" / Windows v2.0 -- 3/7/06

This is a happening week! Joseph is back on track with respiration etc. after the cold he's had. They continue to wean him off respirator support at night and he's on his own during the day (just humidity added to the trach). His muscle capacity on his left bicep is pretty impressive. They are using electrical stimulation on his left wrist and feel his muscles are beginning to come back there. When Tim massaged his feet for an hour or so on Sunday, he felt tingling in both of them (we'll take tingling!).
He loves playing practical (or not so practical) jokes on the nurses. The other night his nurse (who apparently didn't eat his vegetables as a child) kept turning on the lights every time he came in to do something. After one of these times he had just left and a short time later Elizabeth, the respiratory therapist, quietly came in, in the dark, to check on Joseph and his breathing rates etc. He, of course, was wide awake. He waited until her back was turned and she was recording his respiration rates, then he held his breath. When the respirator sensed the patient's breathing had suddenly stopped, the piercing alarms went off!!! She almost jumped out of her skin. As she looked at him thinking "Is this it? Is dying on me?" He started to laugh (and breathe). She could have smacked him. Poor Weston in the next bed. After all the commotion, she was so shaken she dropped a water bottle all over his floor when she was helping him. Joseph is becoming a hospital legend.

On the home front, Saturday was another big day with family, former missionaries and friends helping out. They finished painting the main part of the garage and did new dry wall etc. in the small storage area on the back of the garage. Monday the construction crew started early and had the block laid for the foundation in short order. It is an amazing work of perfection, every line straight, level and perfect. It's too bad it will mostly be buried. The craftsman began Monday morning on Windows version 2.0. beginning to open up the wall on the North side of the bedroom in preparation for moving the window from the West side. We vacated the bed etc from the room (we are sleeping in the family room, now) and he began the work. He soon hit a snag (okay it was the electrical feed) in the wall right in the middle of where the window was supposed to be going. That delayed things a bit but the work pressed on and tonight it looks great.
The city inspector came early this morning, gave a big thumbs up to the superb block foundation filled with rebar. The crew immediately began to fill the block and finish the foundation. Tonight it's completed and "How Firm A Foundation" it truly is. Tomorrow it's the new back door. We are preparing to move everything on the main level and rip out carpet before Saturday morning when they deliver the new flooring material for installation on Monday. Panic! We're all looking forward to the big shindig on Saturday evening. See

1) Joseph without collar, showing the scar from his surgery in Guatemala and the blue Passey-Muir speaking valve that allows him to speak all day long even though he still has his trach. Info on the valve: . The background on the handicapped inventor of the valve, David Muir, is really interesting :
2) Weigh in time in the hospital. Joseph has lost over 40 lbs. (Just look at the chicken legs)
3) Joseph's cousin Jamie sprays the final coat of paint on the new textured garage ceiling.
4) The firm foundation. Note the bedroom window closed off on the West and installed on the North. For a "before" view, see Photo 4 on the previous update (3/3/06)
5) Inside view of Tim & Gloria's bedroom and the moved window.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Lunchtime at the Red Iguana -- 3/3/06

See the businesses that are helping out at

Today was an incredible day! Joseph had an outing! The hospital staff arranged an expedition into the real world, with lunch at Joseph's favorite resturant, The Red Iguana (736 W North Temple
It was a real adventure. Dad raced away from a meeting at the Church Office Building to take pictures of the festivities (Joseph may start calling him "Papa Rotzi"), then race back. It was a great time with good food and great company.
The 'Therapies' were there (Occupational, Physical, and Recreational) as well as Nursing. Mom and Matt and Bryant Smith were able to join in the food frolic.
The realities of handicapped parking were noted as the first try leaving the hospital van ended in a dead end as the wheelchair lift was blocked by a parked car and they had to move the van and try again. Joseph looked great and was a good sport about the attention and cameras (sorry kiddo).

At home the detailed preparations were made on Thursday night for the footings for the addition, which were poured today. It was a beautiful job (at least until the Grand-dogs put their paw prints on the surface, opps. . . let's bury the evidence). Thanks so much for all of you that are helping out, It's amazing to experience the outpouring of good will and service.
Joseph really enjoys the feedback comments you leave here on the blog and on the site.

1) Joseph and entourage enter the Red Iguana.
2) The head of the table supervises the affair.
3) Left to Right: Kasey and Andrea (Occupational Therapy) Kris (Recreational Therapy), Lisa (Nursing), Bryant and Matt Smith,
Misty (Physical Therapy) and Mom.
4) The crew prepare for pouring the footings for the addition (Joseph's bedroom and bathroom).
5) Tim, Gloria and Joseph Taggart.

Locations of visitors to this page