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Brendan Cullen's Recovery

Brendan was involved in a serious motorcycle accident Thursday (6/22) in Redondo Beach, CA. He is currently in a coma within the ICU at the UCLA Harbor Medical Center, be[...] read more

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Wednesday July 19, 2017 - Sunday August 6, 2017

Wednesday July 19

Today we have another important update on Brendan's recovery. Last night after the shift change in the ICU Brendan was moved to the PCU (progressive care unit) where he will still have very close monitoring with doctors and nurses but he no longer requires the intensity of care that is typical of ICU trauma patients. This is a big step towards getting him discharged from Harbor UCLA and medevac'd to the Midwest for long term recovery and rehabilitation. We are still researching facilities and applying to them. Thank you to everyone to has reached out to us with additional recommendations and information on this. Tonight marks 4 full days he has been breathing on his own and the way his vitals have been looking I think he probably has a fair shot of staying off of the vent. Since last night when Brenny got up to the PCU he has not opened his eyes once. I think that without all of the chaos of the ICU he is finally catching up on some much needed sleep. He looks very calm and restful right now.

 Thursday July 20

He is feeling much more well rested after sleeping for a solid 36 hours since his transfer to the PCU. He was a little more active today, eyes open, head moving about. I started him out with his arm stretches and exercises and then moved on to a vanilla bean scented arm and hand massage. Never thought I would utter those words! πŸ˜‚ Other than that his vitals look good and his breathing continues to improve. I have started the process to get copies of his medical records. Staying positive and thankful!

Friday July 21

Brendan was running a fever around 100. Darin was keeping him cool with wash clothes and his fan. Although his eyes were closed and he was resting; Darin did some basic pt, massaged him, played music and talked to him. There is no new information on the CT or EEG. Darin said that he was starting to get pushy and the nurse was helping him to get a hold of someone to get results. On this end, spent time calling LTAC facilities and providing information to the social worker. We pray for Brendan's complete healing in God's time.

Saturday July 22

Drumroll pleeeease πŸ₯ πŸ₯ πŸ₯ πŸ₯ πŸ₯ πŸ₯...we have reason to believe Brendan has started to respond to verbal commands!!! When we got the the hospital in the morning we asked the nurse for an update on B-man per usual, and as part of that update she casually mentioned that when the doctors came around early this morning once they woke him up he blinked his eyes on command. Of course this was alarming to us since we have been trying to get this kind of response out of him for weeks. So we woke him up a bit more and were talking to him while we did his arm and leg exercises and trying to get a clear response from him...no dice. Then the nurses had to clean him up and change him so we took a break. We came back and greeted him "Hey Brendan, it's Darin and Uncle Mike, we're back buddy...how are you doing...you look really good" and his bright blue eyes opened wide πŸ‘€ and we held his hands and said "Brendan blink your eyes if you can hear us and if you can understand us" AND HE DID!!! We were just stunned and hugging and high fiving and feeling such a rush of positive emotions. I am shaking just thinking about it again. This is such a small sign yet such a big step towards him regaining his consciousness. As we've seen life can truly change in the blink of an eye. Here's to more blinks!!! πŸ˜‰ πŸ’“

Sunday July 23

I read a devotion on the plane today about Jesus being the light of the world. The message said He desires each of us to be Light-bearers. "The Holy Spirit who lives in you can shine from your face, making Me visible to people around you. Ask My Spirit to live through you as you wind your way through this day. Hold My hand in joyful trust, for I never leave your side." It reminded me that so so many are shining and being Light-bearers as we follow this journey with Jesus blessing and taking care of our Brendan. Day 31 found Tim & I flying into LA with great anticipation. As Hayden dropped Darin off for his flight out, he picked us up. Uncle Mike was busy massaging Brendan when we walked into his room. Truly so wonderful to be able to see, touch, and talk to him again! He's definitely much more alert. Throughout the day he'll open his eyes and they seem to be looking, but there is no actual recognition yet. He moves his toes, arms, and head . . . They are slight movements, but definitely progress and we continue to be grateful. His treat from mom today was a foot massage and getting toenails clipped. Hoping to be at the hospital early tomorrow so we can catch doctors on their rounds and the PT team visit.

Monday July 24

Day 32 and I don't have anything super spectacular like Darin on Saturday, but it was still an awesome day. Tim & I got to the hospital early. I started by reading Brendan every card that's been sent to him along with the personal wishes written inside. We were there for the OT & PT assessments. Both showed us 'exercises' and range of motion activities we can do with Brendan. PT was going to get some arm splints to keep wrist, hands, fingers straight and extended. His tendency is to curl tight into a fist. Also gave us a great suggestion to cut up a pool noodle and get small pvc to put inside so he can't collapse it when he squeezes. Hayden is pretty sure that PT stole that idea from him. He says he told Darin that idea the other day : ) We talked with the doctor and she said Brendan is a 10 on the Glasgow Coma Scale now. We always knew he was a 10 😊 Progress is moving up by 1. We continue to work with the social worker and look foward to the day we can get him back to Wisconsin. Today I had to cry saying good bye to Hayden and Spencer who left to drive back to Minnesota. They have been like brothers to Brendan and a huge source of support for us. The four of us worked some great PT on B-boy this afternoon. Hoping they enjoy a safe and well-deserved mini vacation / road trip as they drive back. Tonight we were back exercising Brendan again. His numbers look great - for you medical folk HR 53, oxygenation 100, RR 23, and BP 125/74. We left him after double teaming him with the Lord's Prayer coming in each ear

Tuesday July 25

Day 33 and another positive day in the books for Brendan. PT brought arm/hand splints for B. She was given the ok to raise Brendan's right arm up. This is the one with broken scapula and rib #1. She actually was able to get it up pretty high. Tim was the PT guy today while I spent a good portion of the day on the phone and planning. Quite honestly, 2 pretty stressful days in a row but I know things will all come together. Sometimes when I'm in that mode, I forget to lay it all before the Lord. I know He knows what's going on, but I just need to take a deep breath and trust that He's working it all out alongside me. Brendan continues to open his eyes and move his arms, legs, and head. Thank you for continuing to pray for him and I ask for your prayers in finding the best LTAC and air ambulance situation for Brendan and our family.

Wednesday July 26

#BringBrendanHome
7/26 Another day of PT and healing in the books for B-man. My Mom and Dad have been diligently working on LTAC transfer applications, air ambulance quotes, packaging and shipping Brendan's truck and belongings, and countless discussions with the social worker in addition to Katie's input from her people at Froedtert. It has been a stressful few days trying to sort out all the fine print, but we are getting close to nailing down a plan for Brendan's transfer back home!

I'd like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to everyone who has so generously donated to Brendan's GoFundMe page! To date we have raised over $25,000! This is going to be such a huge help as we expect the air ambulance alone will wipe out close to $18,000. I have had several people reach out to me requesting that I repost the link directly so it is easier to find. Brendan's long term care and medical bills continue to stack up in addition to travel expenses our family has incurred. So here goes nothing folks, if you have not seen the page yet please take a look and consider making a donation no matter how big or small, everything counts. Also please share this post and help spread the word! #BringBrendanHome #TeamBrendan #BPC

Thursday July 27

Day 35 and tears of joy again. God and his perfect timing has aligned everything in one day. Many tummy flips today. Learned this morning the vehicle transport is picking up Brendan's truck tomorrow from the hotel we're at . . . Not sure of the time yet. Next call was Camille, the Harbor UCLA social worker, letting us know Brendan was accepted to Life Care LTAC in Pewaukee and that his insurance approved the transfer. As soon as Tim and I got to the hospital we turned in the 26 page air ambulance contract which we reviewed at the hotel last night. Wire transfers were done to secure the flight AND πŸŽ‰ πŸŽ‰ πŸŽ‰ πŸ₯ πŸ₯ πŸ₯ Brendan is coming home to Wisconsin tomorrow ❀ ❀ ❀ The ambulance will be here to pick him up at 10 am and take him to the air ambulance. ✈ Tim is flying with Brendan. Originally both Kate and Tim were going to take the medical flight back with Brendan. Since things moved so quickly and Kate is not out here, just Tim will be flying with him tomorrow. As soon as we know the truck pick up I can change my flight which was supposed to be Sunday night. This day has been a long time in coming. One more thing to share. One of our favorite security officers at the hospital has the last name Peace. He is the most upbeat person you can imagine 24/7 and you'll find him high-fiving anybody coming through with the greeting 'peace and love.' We have talked to him numerous times. On Wednesday he told us that he was absolutely certain Brendan was leaving the hospital on Friday. We smiled at him and told him we'd let him know when we showed up here on Friday. So we can't wait to find him tomorrow and give him one last hug goodbye. And on that note, we thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement over the past 5 weeks. We couldn't have done this without God and all of you. ❀ We are looking forward to the next chapter in Wisconsin. 🎢Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Friday July 28

Brendan is officially out of the state of California and a few short hours away from home! #BringBrendanHome #TeamBrendan

The eagle has landed!

We had many nurses, doctors, and caregivers coming in to say goodbye, give us hugs, and wish Brendan the best. The scene was sort of surreal as the gurney came down the hall guided by 4 uniformed guys - 2 ambulance paramedics and our uniformed Angel Air medical team. I think the 4 of us just choked up knowing this was for real - it was really happening. And right about that time the truck transport people called and said they would be at the hotel to pick up Brendan's truck at 10:30. We watched as the Harbor UCLA team disconnected their equipment and the Angel Air medical team prepared him for flight. The four Medical Transport people lifted Brendan on to the gurney, secured him, and then we were on our way down to the ambulance. Even though Brendan was in great hands, I was still in tears seeing them drive away. Mike and Erin came back from sending off Brendan's truck and took me to the LA Airport for one last flight out. Angel Air flew out of John Wayne Airport and arrived at the Waukesha Airport. There were no issues with the air flight or the two ambulance ground transports. Tim did say as they climbed to higher altitudes they needed to increase oxygen and as the plane came down they decreased it for Brendan. Other than that, all went well and Brendan was starting the Wisconsin chapter of his journey by 6:30 p.m. Darin and Kate were there to welcome their brother. I arrived back in Wisconsin about 1 a.m. and I cannot tell you how great it feels to have all of us back here together. And on another side note just to show you how God works to put all of this together, the medical team told us at the hospital that they were in LA on Thursday to transport another patient. That flight was cancelled so the team was asked to spend the night in LA and take Brendan out on Friday morning. We see daily signs of His presence. Today has been a very low key but wonderful day. Tim and I have spent most of the day with Brendan loving him, talking to him, and working our PT magic on him. Signing out for today and thanking all of you for your prayers and support to bring Brendan home.

Sunday July 30

I have to thank everyone again for your thoughts, prayers, and kindness shown to Brendan and our family. The last 5 1/2 weeks have been a rollercoaster, but to have Brendan back in Wisconsin and so close to us is more than we dreamed could happen in this time frame. Thank you to those that offered information and suggestions on facilities, air ambulance, location for care . . . His placement is more than we could hope for. Besides being a pretty new facility with wonderful help, it is a breath of fresh air to look out the window to a prairie like setting. Last night we had a doe with 2 fawns outside Brendan's window. Today we had a couple cranes stroll by and we've heard wild turkeys will visit, too. It is going to be a great place to rest and heal. Not sure how much rest Brendan had today as lots of family - aunts, uncles, a couple cousins, and Grandma came to see him. I'm certain he hears us, but does not respond to requests or 'commands.' He needs time. We would ask that for this first week only family come to see him and limit the length of those visits. If there are too many people, there is a nice family room down the hall. Please do not visit if you are sick or even feel something coming on. Thank you. Also a reminder that any mail should be sent to our house (his belongings were moved out of the Redondo Beach apartment last week and sent back to our house). AND one last huge thank you to all who donated to the Go Fund Me. When Brendan's friend, Spencer, set that up early on I was both humbled and for lack of a better word I'll say embarrassed because of accepting the charity of others. Truly, I am so grateful for gifts of so many. ❀ Brendan's air ambulance from LA to Wisconsin was not covered by insurance. It is a huge expense and it was a relief to be able to use those monies to secure the flight. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ We will continue to update you, but maybe not as often. We're just not sure what progress will look like and not sure you want to read the 'same story' each day. However, we ask you to continue praying each day for Brendan's healing and complete recovery. We know and have witnessed the Power of Prayer and God's hand every single day of this journey. We live in Faith and Hope.

Monday July 31

Tim and Kate thought Brendan was more alert today, but also said he was warm. Nurses said he had a low fever overnight. Darin popped in taking a late lunch with friends Brock and Mariah who are moving to Hawaii tomorrow and wanted to stop in and say goodbye to Brendan before leaving. When Tim and I came back tonight, we found out Brendan is having a minor setback. He has pneumonia and is running a low fever. They have started treating him with antibiotics for the next two weeks. This Is not unusual for patients with a trach collar, but we still need to be cautious. For that reason, we are asking that everyone refrain from visiting Brendan. We only plan to have immediate family in with him right now. Thanks for understanding. Please pray for Brendan's pneumonia to clear up.

Tuesday August 1, Wednesday August 2

Hey Team Brendan, sorry to keep everyone waiting. I just ran out of steam last night. I would say since Brendan was started on the antibiotics for pneumonia, he has slowly been improving. He has a very hard and productive cough which is good. Yesterday they put him on contact isolation which means we need to gown and glove up to see him. Last night he had a fever of 100.3 and was very flushed. Really just held his hand in between putting cold washclothes on his head and wiping his face. Also bought a mouth guard since he grinds his teeth a lot and that was pretty tough to get in. On the home front FedEx delivered the first 5 boxes of his belongings and the transport delivered Brendan's truck! Today Tim said OT came in to work with him on response testing. Darin, Tim and I worked his arms and feet for a little while tonight. Shortly after Darin left, Kate walked in to spend time with B. I won't lie, it's been an exhausting week. Came home and the last 2 boxes of Brendan's stuff got delivered today. So that's great . . . We've got Brendan & all his things back in Wisconsin. Thought I'd share one thought from a friend today who inquired how Brendan was doing. At the end he said you must have big shoulders because God never gives you more than you can carry. I believe that's true but I know that he has given us the support of all of you as He walks this journey with us. " Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 

Thursday August 3

Not a lot to report today. Kate and Tim were with B during the day today. His left knee is very swollen so they did a CT scan and ultrasound on it. Thu nurse tonight indicated that they didn't show anything serious, but said the doctor would give a full report tomorrow. I forgot to report that on Sunday the respiratory therapist dropped Brendan's oxygen level from 40% to 28%. Although he's had the pneumonia, they've been able to keep him at the 28%. Another positive in getting him off oxygen and the trach. Quiet night with him just trying to hold his hands and keep him from curling those hands, wrists, and arms in. Another day of healing in the books. And here's to a peaceful night of rest in Jesus arms.

Friday August 4, Saturday August 5

Just said goodnight to our sweet B-boy. He is resting comfortably. Two good days of rest and healing. Tim spent the day with him yesterday. He was disappointed when he arrived and Brendan was dripping in sweat laying on a wet pillow with his head really drooped. He got things rectified quickly. Darin was out after work and perfected the Fu Manchu he's given him and gave him a good foot massage. Tim and I flew through yardwork before getting there about 8pm. Brendan was sooo relaxed and peaceful that we couldn't bring ourselves to work him. We opted to just hold his hands and talk to him. Just as we were leaving about 10 p.m. they brought in a portable x-ray machine to check his lungs. When we got there this morning, they told us the X-ray showed his lungs were clear. We are still putting on gowns and gloves until they get firm results back from the lab. Kate and Tim worked on range of motion exercises on Brendan's arms. I was in charge of giving him a good pedicure and foot massage. His temperature was normal this morning and he didn't cough a lot today. Got a visit from Uncle Mike and Aunt Beth this afternoon. Brendan always favors laying his head towards his right shoulder. He slowly turned his head toward the left when Uncle Mike asked him to look that way. ❀ Eyes were mostly shut today. We took a brief break to go home for dinner and feed Ginger (our dog). Tonight was just peaceful resting again so we just arm wrestled: ) Due to his injuries and lack of use; his fingers, wrists, and arms are atrophied. So our goal when we are with him is to straighten out those arms, wrists, and fingers. It is unbelievable how strong he is when you try to uncurl everything. By the time we're done we feel like we've just finished a good round of arm wrestling! We continue to pray for the healing needed to bring Brendan out of the coma state he's in and the patience to wait for God's timing. πŸ™

 

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