Monday, March 31, 2008

Panes and Helicockers

We went to the air show this weekend at NAS Meridian. They had a great turnout. I think they estimated that 30,000 would attend. Our family went on Saturday to watch all the stunt pilots, wing walkers and of course the Blue Angels. As many times as I've seen them, their airborne courage and skill never ceases to amaze me! It's weird to think Mike might be flying one of those F-18s or the Harrier jet in a few short months.

Abby Kate had a great time - it was her first air show. We were concerned about her ears and bought her some earplugs, but she only wanted to play with them. So we tried to cover her ears with our hands during the high-speed passes of the jets. But the high decibels didn't seem to bother her one bit - she cheered every time one roared by! She shouted "pane!" and "helicocker!" all day. We enjoyed hotdogs and strawberry smoothies and a lot of sunshine. Until the rain came. It poured right after the Blue Angels' demonstration. AK loved that, too. She splashed and stomped through every filthy av-gas-filled puddle she could find. In her best sandals. (I did my best to just relax and let her have fun, even though it was killing me that her shoes were being ruined!) We came home with sunburns even though we applied a 50 SPF. But no matter - we had a great time!

Being outdoors and watching the show made me sad that Dad couldn't be out doing the same thing. He's so tired of being in that hospital. But I have faith that he will be out swinging his golf club by midsummer. Love you, Dad! You're doing great!

Monday Update

Dad has been extremely fatigued for the last 24 hours. Not sure why. His oxygen levels are good, but he is just worn out. The PT tried to get him up to go to the bathroom to wash his face and comb his hair, but once he got in there, he couldn't do anymore and had to lay back down. The doctors said to expect good days and bad days. I think the extra work his body is doing in effort to heal is just wearing him out.

Mom took her computer to the hospital yesterday and read him every word I've written here as well as every heartfelt word you've written in the comments. They evoked both tears and smiles from his face. He is so grateful for each of you. Again, my thanks.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Update

Dad now sports a size 6 trachea tube. The doctors came in this morning and downsized it. They asked him to cover the hole and breathe through his mouth and nose, which he did without any problems. He can also cover the hole to speak a little bit through his wired mouth. He never had braces as a kid, but that's sort of what it looks like. It's wired so tight, I'm not sure how he's going to get a straw in there, but the doctors say it'll be possible. Sometime in the next two days, they will downsize it again and teach him to swallow liquid - something he's REALLY looking forward to. We still aren't sure if he'll go home with the tube still in place. I guess it'll depend on how he's doing then.

Mom said he's continuing to improve. He still has to have pain medication for headaches, but that's to be expected for several more weeks given the trauma to his face. His long-time friend and co-worker, Keith, came to visit today and had him laughing. Hearing that warmed my heart. There have been so many of Dad's family and friends to come visit. Thank you to all of you for taking time to come and support him and especially those who have helped my mom by staying there by his side for a few hours while she took care of other things.

Mom, you have been so strong and brave through all of this and I know that Dad is so thankful that you're there to take care of him. I love you and I'm praying for you everyday as well. I'm looking forward to coming back for Dad's homecoming to help him and you.

Dad, Abby Kate says "Pawpaw, I wuv you. Ouch. Pawpaw, band aide."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Update

I'm happy to report that Dad walked up an entire flight of stairs and back down today. His physical therapist has to take his oxygen tank with him, but his levels have been a lot better lately. The antibiotics seem to be working. He's still in isolation. Anyone who enters his room has to wear these bright yellow cape-type things. Mom told me Dad had said (written down, rather) that when he woke up for the first time in isolation he thought he was in heaven and that these three people standing around him in yellow were angels. Not sure if he was joking or not, but I thought it was funny. Mom says Dad is feeling better and better both physically and mentally. Thanks again for continuing to pray for Dad. Our prayers are being answered!

The doctors are planning to downsize his trachea tube to a size 6 tomorrow and will hopefully be placing a valve on there so he can speak. They'll also be teaching him to swallow and drink from a straw with it in. Dad hasn't had anything to drink or eat for 2 weeks and 3 days. He is wanting water to drink so badly! So I'm praying he gets to have the pleasure of a cold glass of water tomorrow. He'll be having lots of protein/fruit smoothies and milkshakes for the next several weeks to supplement the feeding tube that's already in place. So if you have any great-tasting, healthy blender recipes please pass them on!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday Update II

Dad was just moved to the ninth floor (out of ICU). Turns out he has not only the staph infection, but pneumonia as well. So he's still in isolation, but the antibiotics are doing their thing and Dad is getting better. Mom finally spoke with the doctor and she said that Dad would be in the hospital five or six more days. He'll go home with the two antibiotics they're giving him now as he has to take them for 10 days. They will downsize his trachea tube sometime in the next two days to a size 6 and then to a size 4 a couple days after that. He'll go home with the size 4 tube and have it for two more weeks (I'm guessing for emergency purposes) and then they'll take it out. They're still not sure whether he'll have to go to rehab, but are hopeful that his physical therapy in the coming days on the ninth floor will result in significant progress, thus avoiding rehab.

Thanks for your prayers!!!!

Thursday Update

Nothing much has changed as of this morning. Dad is still in isolation fighting the MRSA infection. However, he did get a surprise when the doctors took off his nose bandage. I mentioned that he looked the same despite all the broken bones he suffered in his face. Turns out I was wrong. He has a brand new, straighter, smaller nose according to Mom. I'd say that's the least he should get after going through all this pain. :) The doctor said he should expect to lose nearly 40 pounds with his mouth being wired shut for eight weeks. He's going to look like a new man. And he doesn't even have to step on the treadmill!

Thanks again for all of your comments and get well wishes for Dad. I've been passing them on. And hopefully it won't be long before Dad can get in front of his computer and read all the nice things you've written himself. Also, thanks to all of you who have added Dad to prayer lists in your communities. He's being prayed for in churches across the nation and I can't express how good that makes us feel.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday Update II

As of this afternoon, the doctors have identified that Dad has MRSA (a staph infection). It is serious but treatable. He is in isolation, which means nurses, doctors and family members must wear scrub gowns, masks and gloves when they enter his room. They changed his antibiotic to a very strong medicine called vicomycin. I wanted him to stay in the ICU for the better care, but not under these circumstances. We are praying that the antibiotics work quickly and that the infection clears.

I'll post more as often as I'm informed.

Update on Dad

My Aunt Dianne stayed with Dad yesterday while my mom attended a work conference in Louisville. She called to tell me how great Dad was doing. She said he sat up in a recliner for several hours and walked around the nurses' station. His oxygen levels are getting better. His white blood cell level went down which means one or both of the antibiotics are working! Very good news. We still don't have the results from the bronchial suction procedure or the CT scan of his sinuses. Hopefully those will come today. But Dad is feeling better. They are talking about moving him out of the ICU sometime today. That is bittersweet because even though he's doing too well to be there, they have taken such good care of him that I hate for him to go back to a regular room.

There is also talk of Dad needing to go to rehab to get his strength back. Before his last oxygen emergency (Friday), the physical therapist had him try to walk up two steps. He did it, but his oxygen decreased significantly and eventually plummeted that night. I know he just wants to go home, but a couple days of rehab would be much better than him falling and injuring himself or struggling to breathe at home with no doctors around.

As far as his facial injuries... you wouldn't believe it - even though he broke or crushed nearly every bone in his face, the plastic surgeons gave us back the same Gary Carnes we've always known! He looks so great. The stitches have already come out and the swelling has gone down a whole lot. He still has a nose stint on, but that will come off soon and he'll be able to see his new nose. We joked with him that he got a brand new nose, he just didn't get to pick it out. :) He has a raised area on his left brow that's still black and blue where they put a plate and screw, but the doctors say that will disappear in time as well. One doctor said that if the blow would have been two or three centimeters off, he would have been blind in his left eye and had brain damage. He is so lucky. We are so lucky!

What's ahead: In the coming days, the doctors will be downsizing his trachea tube two times, each time involving a day or two of waiting to see how he does with the smaller size. They will teach him how to swallow water (and hopefully a milkshake or something!) around the smaller tube and teach him how to speak around it using a valve. The hope is that the trachea tube will come out before he is discharged, but who knows.

Thanks again and again for your prayers and concern. I appreciate all of the beautiful words you've all left here on the blog and all the e-mails you've sent as well. Looking forward to posting more and more good news...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Prayers for Dad

I feel so strange and disconnected as I sit here in my bedroom in MS. It seems eerily quiet here, without the heart monitors and blood pressure readings and nurses' murmurs just outside the door. The last 13 days have felt like an endless nightmare. Most of you know that my dad was in a horrific car accident on Tuesday, March 11. I'm sorry for those who I haven't contacted and are learning about it here.

Dad was traveling to work that morning and hit black ice which sent his car across the median and head-on into another car. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was thrown into either the dashboard or the upper passenger-side ceiling (still unsure). He broke or crushed nearly all the bones in his face as they disconnected from his skull. The roof of his mouth was also broken in two. He had a broken nose and lacerations all over his hands and face.

He was rushed to University of Louisville Hospital because it is the best place for trauma patients. A stranger had called my mom from the accident scene. When she arrived at the ER, she wasn't prepared for how bad it was. Dad was in unspeakable pain and she said you couldn't even see his face from all the blood. Surprisingly, he was conscious and could speak in very slow sentences. Meanwhile, I was here in MS and Brian was flying over AL somewhere, taking an executive to a meeting there. When we heard about the accident, Brian flew over to Meridian to pick me up (only a 30 min flight from where he was) and we headed home to KY. Mom hadn't really told either of us how bad it was. But we saw for ourselves when we arrived.

Dad was taken to a room that night and scheduled for two surgeries in the following days. One included a tracheotomy (where a tube is inserted into the trachea to redirect breathing out of a hole in the throat) and having a feeding tube inserted. The second was extensive reconstructive facial surgery.

Watching my dad lay there in so much pain was unbearable. He did not want the trachea tube put in, but left it up to the doctors. Given the extent of damage to the bones in his face and mouth, it turned out to be absolutely necessary. Later, we would find that it would be the most difficult part of recovery. His tracheotomy surgeries went fine, but coming out of anesthesia was a long process. It took him more than five hours to wake up. When he finally returned to his room, he looked so defeated and miserable. I could hardly stand it.

His plastic surgery was scheduled for the next day. The doctors told us it could take anywhere from 4-10 hours. It ended up taking 5 and a 1/2. When he woke up from the anesthesia a few hours later, he was still on the ventilator. They tried to take him off, but his oxygen levels "were not impressive" as the doctors would say. When they finally let us back to see him, I just wanted to drop to my knees and cry. He was unrecognizable. Swollen beyond anything I'd ever seen. It was hard to believe that was Dad laying there. The swelling and stitches on his face didn't disturb me nearly as much as seeing that ventilator pump his chest out and in. Knowing he couldn't breath on his own tied my stomach in knots and I felt like I'd pass out right there.

Even though his mouth was going to be wired shut for eight weeks and he would have a feeding tube for six weeks, we kept telling Dad that the worst was over now that the surgeries were over. Now all he had to do was heal. He shook his head no as if he knew what was to come. They ended up leaving him on the ventilator in ICU for the rest of that night and into the next day. He went to a lesser ventilator after that and then finally back to where he was breathing on his own (still through the trachea tube) but with oxygen and humidified air pumped into a T-shaped tube intersecting his trachea tube.

He spent a couple of days going back and forth with the ventilator until he was well enough to be moved out of the ICU. We took this as a good sign. He spent a couple nights in a regular room where his nights were worse that his days, but we felt he was getting better. He had a lot of pain and was coughing a lot. The nurses had to come in and suction his lungs quite often. This is a very painful and uncomfortable process that left Dad gasping for air. So hard to watch.

Lots of family and friends were coming by which Dad appreciated, but he was so tired and miserable that he preferred quiet more than anything. We got him a private room so he could rest a little better and I stayed with him the first night. He did pretty well that night. I only got up a few times to cool him down with a fan or wet cloth or ask the nurse to give him pain medicine. The next day went great, too. They came in and downsized his trachea tube. Another step forward. He got up and walked around the nurses station with the help of the physical therapist. His spirits even seemed a little better. He was sort of able to speak around the smaller trachea tube, even though his mouth was wired shut.

That night, Mom stayed with him. His oxygen levels started to plummet that evening and into the night. The nurses thought it was a faulty monitor and largely ignored it. They switched out the monitor after awhile and saw that it remained very low. So they took a blood test and realized that it was in fact an emergency. They asked my mom to leave the room and seven nurses and doctors worked on my dad to get his oxygen back up. After stabilizing him, they wheeled him straight back to the ICU and told my mom that the doctor had inserted the new, smaller trachea tube in wrong and it had gotten twisted and was blocking off his airflow. This was a huge setback.

In the ICU, Dad was put back on the ventilator. Once his levels were better, he was put back on the oxygen tube and remains in the ICU even as I type this today. Dad is a diabetic and his blood sugar levels got up to 500+. They put him on an insulin drip and were also giving him blood pressure medicine. We thought it couldn't get any worse until he had another incident with his oxygen levels in the next couple of nights. Again, they pushed my mom out of the room. She called me crying. I had just returned home to MS after thinking Dad was getting better. My family couldn't take it anymore. The doctors needed to get themselves in gear and figure out what the heck was going on with my dad.

Since then, they have determined Dad has some sort of infection, possibly pneumonia. They are giving him antibiotics and did a procedure to clear out his lungs. All we can do is continue to hope and pray that he gets better. This has been the toughest most heart-wrenching experience for my family. To watch someone you've loved your whole life - someone who has been your main source of strength and protection and unwavering support - endure that much pain and fear is unimaginable. Looking in my dad's eyes and hearing him try to huff out the words "I... love.. you..." through wired jaws while struggling to breath just before I left on a plane back to MS... I can't think of it without crying.

Dad is constantly on my mind and I sit in wonder of his progress every second. I call my mom all day, everyday to get updates. In fact, I just got off the phone with her. Dad was taken down for a cat scan of his face to determine if he has an infection in his sinuses. It feels good to know the doctors are taking measures to determine the next steps instead of all the waiting around they were doing last week. I pray that this is at last the upturn that stays up.

Thanks to all of you for all the cards, e-mails, phone calls, text messages, hugs, tears, kind words, prayers and support you've given my family over the past two weeks. We are so thankful to have you to lean on and will continue to reach out to you for prayers and support as Dad recovers.

Updates will certainly come... Love, Casey

Friday, March 07, 2008

Flip. Flop. Fall.

Ahhh, the warmth of the sun. We are loving being outdoors in our shorts and t-shirts... and Abby Kate's new sandals, of course. She was very confused about the strap-between-the-toes thing at first. I stood her up after putting them on and she remained there staring down at her toes. I asked her if she wanted to play outside - which usually gets her running for the front door - and she didn't move an inch. She stood there frozen as if I had taken away all mobility with this pink, polka-dotted form of foot torture. After a few increasingly confident steps, she was running again. Until she fell. Then we had another first - an adhesive bandage for her scraped and bleeding knee. And then we learned a new word. We heard "boo-boo" for the rest of the day. I like putting AK in her little shorts, but now I feel guilty because I know her jeans would have prevented her scraped knees.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Abby Kate and I left KY around noon on Friday. It's always hard to leave my mom and dad. I cried as usual and kissed them goodbye to start the 8-hour journey back to MS. Knowing we were coming home to Mike made driving 6 of those hours through rain and wind worth it. I kept telling AK that we were going to see Daddy. So when we made our stop for gas somewhere in Alabama, she was looking out the windows saying, "Daddy? Daddy?!" So I hated myself for saying d-a-d-d-y too soon.

As we crossed the MS state line, I started getting her all excited again about seeing Mike. We drove directly to Key Field to pick Mike up. As he walked in from the plane, Abby Kate spotted him and started half giggling, half shrieking. I put her down as Mike came closer and she just fell into him soaking up his hugs and kisses with a huge grin and laughter. When he picked her up, she poked his chest repeatedly saying, "Daddy. Daddy. There she is!" (She says 'there she is' with perfect inflection whenever we ask where anything is. No matter the gender. It's hilarious.)

Abby Kate wasn't the only giddy one, I must add. I may not have been shrieking, but I felt like it! I was so happy to see Mike and couldn't hug and kiss him enough! It was so wonderful to see him walk off that plane and to see him greet Abby Kate.

Mike was amazed at how much bigger Abby Kate had gotten and how she has become more coordinated and talks more clearly. She had dozens more words to say to him, and continues to surprise him with her language as a couple days have passed.

Abby Kate has had a great time getting reacquainted with her toys as well. But there are a few things she starting to miss... namely Mimi, Pawpaw and of course Cody (my parents' dog). She says "No, no, Co-co!" randomly throughout the day.

We are doing great and have been enjoying the 75-degree weather. In fact, I've got to go now as I have three lovely faces staring at me waiting to go outside and play!