This post is the second of three excerpts from a journal article written by Dawn Ehasz — the mother of Bailey Ehasz whom I wrote about in the post titled Road to Recovery. The journal describes Dawn’s thoughts and feelings as well as medical facts about events that occurred after the driver of a Ford F-150 nearly killed her daughter. To read the prior post from Dawn’s journal, click here. If you have questions for Dawn, please contact her directly. If you do not use Facebook, and you would like to contact Dawn, please send your questions for her in the Contact form on my blog and I will contact Dawn for you.
During the first three months of her hospital stay, Bailey would drift in and out of consciousness and she had a nasogastric (NG) feeding tube. Even if she wanted to say something or respond to my questions, she was rarely conscious and the tube would have made talking very difficult for her. Doctors wanted to replace the NG tube with a gastrointestinal (GI) feeding tube, but I refused the GI tube because I knew in my heart she would be okay — she would talk and eat soon. Requiring her to endure the added trauma of a GI tube didn’t make sense to me. She lost about 10 pounds and looked frail, but I wasn’t giving up and neither was Bailey. Even when a team of doctors tried to persuade me to let them use a different type of feeding tube, I refused. As Bailey became more alert, she would frequently remove the NG tube on her own — often 10 times per week. She liked to remove the NG tube on weekends when daddy was at the hospital.
Within days of her admission to CHOP, I requested in-room physical and occupational therapy for Bailey. Her right hand was clinched tightly, and buried under her chin for at least three month in spite of receiving the therapy.
Bailey spent approximately one month in the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) before she was moved to the Sea Shore House at CHOP where she spent the remainder of 2009 as an inpatient (this post) and an outpatient (next post) improving essential skills such as chewing solid food, drinking liquids, swallowing foods and liquids, sitting, standing, bathing, dressing, cooking, walking, moving, thinking, deciding, and talking.
She has right-sided weakness. Watching her do anything is like watching her climb the tallest mountain when she is prepared for nothing more than a walk up a driveway. Regardless of her being in a semi-conscious state she was up and learning to walk again within a month. The hardest part for me was not hearing her voice; she didn’t talk for nearly four months. To finally hear her say “hi” to me was like having a ton of bricks lifted off my chest to put it mildly. Once Bailey began talking, her recovery progressed much faster. She was determined and incredibly positive about everything! She soon learned to swallow and take her meds orally. At that point, one of the nurses removed her NG tube.
She ended up with a staph infection in a pin site where her femur was fractured — a huge physical set back, but she recovered from the infection. Eventually, she was strong enough to walk a good distance with a walker, and we were working on her use of a cane as well. “Our” discharge date was in site, but over the weekend she developed a fever — 104 degrees. An orthopedic surgeon said she is okay, but an orthopedic resident said she needs another surgery. I had another UGH moment; I’m sure Bailey was frustrated as well. The next morning, surgeons removed the external fixator for fear that MRSA would set in her bone. [MRSA is known by several names such as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and Medically Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. According to the Mayo Clinic, MRSA is an infection that “is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.”]
We are almost five months post injury now. The orthopedic surgeon said Bailey’s femur is almost healed. The “new” surgeon — the disappearance of the original surgeon was not explained to me — removes hardware puts in compression screws and to our surprise NO healing. So a week away from discharge she was in a cast around her hip and right leg! They swiftly made a special brace and ordered a hospital bed for our dining room. Our insurance capped out at six months. Insurance companies rarely allow their clients to remain inpatients of a hospital for more than six months.
Even though she was discharged as a CHOP inpatient in late September 2009, she required additional therapy for her right hand, arm, and leg. I will address this topic and more in the next (final) post.