Saturday, February 20, 2010

Feb 20, 9:30, Lisa

Hello Family and Friends,

We are so excited by Joe's progress tonight. I couldn't wait to tell you via my husband, Mark, who writes much better than me. Good news tonight:

fever is gone

the cat scan taken today looks good

he wrote with a marker

he put his arm around Ginny's waist and tried to pull her toward him

and . . .

the nurse came in and said "Hey, Dr. Leahy, I know you're so tired from all the work you've done today with PT, OT, and the nurses but can you wave to your family."

He promptly raised his arm and waved to us. I couldn't help but weep with joy. It was such a special moment as we were all in the room to see it--Ginny, her parents, my/Joe's parents, and me. We thank the Lord for this miraculous progress, and we thank all of you who are keeping Joe and our family in your prayers. Please keep praying for us and all the patients here are at Huntsville Hospital and especially keep praying for the families of Adriel Johnson, Gopi Padila, and Maria Davis who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.

I want to personally thank my family and friends and all the Jesuits at Creighton Prep and Creighton University who are praying for us in Omaha. I am especially grateful to my graduate students and colleagues who are covering my classes at the University of Nebraska at Omaha so that I can be here with Joe, Ginny, and family. Happy 4th year anniversary, Eric and Jillian, and hope your college interviews went well at SLU, Phil. Mark, thanks for holding down the fort in Omaha. Love you all, Mom/Lisa/Joe's sister.

Feb. 20, 4:00 p.m., mark

First things first -- the following is a prayer written specifically for Joe and the family by the priest at their church, Father Phil O'Kennedy. Ginny asked me to get it posted here, and she will be deeply grateful for everyone who is willing to offer it up.

Prayer for Joe Leahy

Lord God, heavenly Father of us all,
We know that You are with us in the good times,
and dare to trust that You are even more
surely with us in our trials.

May we never give way to ill-will or discouragement,
but persist always in Your grace, mercy and love.

We beg You to watch over Joe, Ginny, Keith and Stephen Leahy,
and the extended Leahy and Warnecke families
who are “carrying the cross” at this time.

Lord God, please restore Joe to fullness of health and well-being,
Restore him to his family,
to the students that he loves,
and to all of us who so respect and admire him.

May Joe soon “walk tall” in our midst again,
and may we live always for your honor and glory.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Our Father . . .

Hail Mary . . .

Glory Be to the Father . . .

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

Written by Rev. Phil O’Kennedy,
(Pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church, Madison, AL)

On the medical front, Joe is making steady progress and we're seeing more improvement in responsiveness and movement on his left side, while his right side remains strong.

Keith got home for the weekend from Mississippi St., while Stephen (freshman) ran today in the first-ever track meet at Catholic High School (new track team this year). He ran the first leg of the 4 X 800 and PR'd with a time of 2 min. 25 secs. You can't keep a good man down -- good job, Steve.

Joe's mom Jackie and sister Lisa attended the memorial service for the victims at the University last night, and said it was a beautiful and poignant ceremony. (I was able to watch it live online on the website of WHNT-TV. You might check to see if they have all or parts of it archived).

Again, they ask that everyone keep up the prayers, not only for us, but for all the families affected by this tragedy.

Charge On.

Love and thanks to all.

no news = good news; Feb. 20, 2:00 p.m.

Hello everyone,

Sorry about the delay in posting -- just dealing with some nasty computer gremlins; nothing to be alarmed about re: Joe's condition. He had a stable night, and we'll get other news posted as soon as we can.



Friday, February 19, 2010

Brief medical update and correction, Friday 10:15 a.m.

Joe had a good night. The medical staff were pleased with his consistent responses to commands all through the night.

Hard as it is to believe, it turns out that I made an error in last night's post. The civic official that visited Joe was the former Mayor of Huntsville, Loretta Spencer, rather than the current one, as I mistakenly reported. My bad.

More later today, probably.

Love and thanks to all.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update, Thursday 2/18, 9:00

Evening everyone,

Another good day in the fight -- solid progress but no dramatic breakthroughs and, more importantly, no setbacks. Joe's sodium level continues to come down and is now at or near the range the doctors want. He remains responsive to commands (e.g., "lift 2 fingers" or "wiggle your toe"), but the strength of the response varies depending on the area of the body involved and the level of sedation that he's under at the time. As of late afternoon, his temperature was back up a couple of degrees, but the nurses do not seem overly concerned -- results of the cultures taken yesterday weren't back the last time I talked to Ginny and Lisa, but white blood count is still good. Physical therapists have been working with Joe regularly -- Gin says it's mostly involved deep massages of his limbs to try to maintain muscle tone, etc.

Ginny asked me specifically to express her deep appreciation for the amazing response she and the family have received from the entire Huntsville community. She says that southern hospitality is definitely alive and well, and she regrets the fact that Huntsville might be getting an undeserved negative national reputation as a result of this tragedy. UAH faculty, administrators, staff, and students have been overwhelming in their warmth and generosity, with constant visits to the hospital and immediate responses to any questions or concerns that have arisen. Even the Mayor of Huntsville has come to the hospital to pay his respects, as have countless ministers and other representative of local church communities. And of course, the overwhelming support from Joe and Gin's local friends and neighbors continues unabated.

We also want to remind readers that the funerals and memorial services for the victims who died -- Joe's friends and colleagues Drs. Gopi Padila, Adriel Johnson, and Maria Ragland -- are now underway and will be completed over the next few days. At the service for Dr. Padila today, one man offered a particularly apt thought: "All the focus in the last few days has been on the dark mind of Amy Bishop. I think it's very appropriate that we spend time talking about those bright points of light that she extinguished." Ginny asks everyone to remember in their prayers those departed souls and their grieving families, even as we take great comfort in Joe's continued progress and our family's good fortune.

One last note, just phoned to me: Joe received a greeting today from a pretty famous supporter -- a signed photo with personal words of encouragement from Jim Tressel, head football coach at THE Ohio State University. More Buckeye pride, Buckeye strength......

Ginny, if I've forgotten anyone or anything, you know where to find me.

Love and thanks to all.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Joe Honored at Ohio State, Feb. 17, 9:00p.m.

A great gesture of support for Joe and the family took place at the Ohio State-Purdue basketball game tonight. At the first time-out break, the P.A. announcer asked for the crowd's attention and said something pretty close to the following:

"We have all heard about the horrific events of last Friday afternoon on the campus of the University of Alabama - Huntsville. Once again, our nation has been rocked with campus violence as three professors were killed and three wounded by point-blank gunfire during a staff meeting. One of those critically injured is one of our own, Dr. Joseph Leahy, (OSU '82, '84), Professor of Microbiology at UA-H. A Circleville native, Dr. Leahy remains in critical condition in a Huntsville hospital, with a gunshot wound to his head.

The Ohio State University family asks that you pause now in a moment of silent respect to honor Dr. Leahy and to wish him well during his long journey of recovery, and to support his wife, Ginny and sons Keith and Stephen. The thoughts of Buckeyes everywhere are with you."

Folks at the game report that the crowd was paying attention and seemed genuinely moved at the news. It was a wonderful moment for Joe's many friends and extended family members who were at the game.

The person primarily responsible for getting this done was Joe and Gin's close friend John Frericks, who started the ball rolling this morning, and overcame significant bureaucratic obstacles to make it happen -- taking his case all the way to University President Gordon Gee. John was greatly assisted later in the day by our sister-in-law Julie Scherer, who made a bunch of phone calls herself and even took it up directly with "The Man," Archie Griffin himself, before the game. Many thanks to John and Julie for all their efforts!

On the medical side, the news remains good. Joe's fever is down from where it was earlier in the day and his white cell count remains good. He looks better and seems comfortable. He has still not needed to be placed on any steroids to combat the swelling and inflammation. Tomorrow, the infectious disease specialist will have the results of screening samples taken today, checking for any kind of infection. Onward and upward.

That's a full lid for the night. (West Wing talk, for any afficionados out there).

Love and thanks to all.


Lisa Feb 17 3:05

Dear Family and Friends,

Please continue to pray for not only Joe and us but all the people in this hospital and everywhere who are suffering. We continue to be so grateful for everyone's support and the continued generosity of friends, family, and colleagues; we can't get over the number of local businesses in Huntsville who haven't accepted money for the food they have provided to us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I've posted a picture of the extended Leahy family on this blog and hoping we can get a picture soon of the Warnecke side. This is a picture of all of us celebrating Mom and Dad Leahy's 50 anniverstary. Front row left to right is Nick Leahy(nephew), Jackie Leahy (Mom), Phil Leahy (Dad), Devon Leahy (niece), and Stephen Leahy (son). Back row left to right is Paul Leahy (brother), Lisa Scherer (sister and blogger), Phil Scherer (nephew), JOE, Ginny Leahy (wife), Keith Leahy(son), Lisa Leahy (sister-in-law), Mark-in-law (brother-in-law and blogger). Please pass on this blog to others. Hugs to all. Lisa

Update -- Wednesday, early p.m.

New info from Gin/Lisa:

This morning, and in the early afternoon visit also, Joe has been showing the most body movement/activity since the shooting, particularly on the left side. Neurosurgeon used term "purposeful" in describing the movements (a first time for that adjective). Lisa reports that he even went so far as to lift his hips and appeared to be trying to sit up, and he squeezed her hand strongly in response to specific comments and questions (a very moving moment for her). Staff cautions not to expect dramatic responses all the time, because we do not want to bring him out of sedation to "perform" too frequently.

He's running a fever again, but his white blood count is good and the nurses don't think we're dealing with an infection. Mentioned something about the possibility of a non-infectious "neurofever," but don't quote me on that. His sodium levels continue to move in the right direction -- down -- bottom line is continuing reason for guarded optimism.

All the family has been to Ash Wednesday services, and Gin says "Happy Lent" to all.

Lisa wanted me to tell everyone that she'll be posting more photos to the blog as soon as she can.

Keep the faith, hang together...

Love and thanks to all.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Medical Update, Tuesday night, mark

Ok gang, I'm going to try to provide an update on Joe's medical progress today, as related to me by Lisa, Paul, and others. If any of you readers are medical pros, prepare to cringe as I blunder through some of this.

The biggest developments of the day were the successful procedures to remove the various tubes that had been in Joe's mouth, and their replacement with a tracheotomy and a feeding "peg" into the stomach. He has adjusted to the trach. well and seems a good deal more comfortable with the new devices in place. He is going to be getting his first "milkshake" through the feeding tube tomorrow. His sodium levels have dropped to a less-troubling range, and all his vital signs are good.

There are continuing concerns about the swelling in the brain but, as Stephen mentioned in an earlier post, this is normal for the kind of trauma he has suffered. The hope is that we may be at or near the worst time for the most dangerous swelling, and yet it hasn't been bad enough for the doctors to feel the need to administer any drugs to address the issue, which is a good thing because those can have other adverse side effects. (Again, any medicos out there can clean up whatever mess I'm making on these points).

Sometime within the next week, doctors hope to begin procedures to repair some of the fractures in Joe's facial bones -- jaw, cheek, etc, so that will be a big step as well.

He's getting music pumped in via his hi-tech "astronaut" bed (it is "Space City," after all), and seems to be comforted by that as well.

All in all, a positive day. But there will be ups and downs, as you all know. Not out of the woods, still in the middle of the thicket. Keep the prayers coming, and we'll keep you informed as best we can.

And I should point out -- Joe will want everyone to be pulling hard for Ohio State against Purdue tomorrow night.

Love and thanks to all.


Update 2-16, Mark

Hi Friends,

The family at the hospital asked me to pass along a couple of items: First, they treasure all of the love, support, and prayers they are receiving, both in-person and via these electronic message boards. Keep the messages coming -- they are being read and are greatly appreciated. For those of you in the Huntsville area who are able to come to the hospital, they wanted me to let you know that the family only has 4 short windows of time each day when they can visit with Joe. So, if they break away from you in the midst of a conversation or otherwise don't get to visit with you as much as they might like, we trust you'll understand -- they literally have to be ready to dash away the minute they get the opportunity to go into the room.

Secondly, for the many people who have asked about sending flowers or other items to the room, understand that they're not allowed into the ICU rooms. Ginny asks that all you send are prayers of support, and lots of them. (Cards to their home address -- 203 Pebblebrook Drive, Madison, AL 35758, would be fine as well) (my editorial comment).

We'll post more as we can. Love and thanks to all.


Monday, February 15, 2010

New information and mailing address

Today the doctors ran a CAT scan on my dad. We were informed that the swelling in the brain has gone up, which is not a suprise. Most swelling occurs over three days so this is expected. He lifted my hand today when I was holding so that was great for me personally. When we visited him at 8:30PM, we played some peaceful classical music through those amazing beds. A song came on that was played at my parents wedding. My dad whose hand was held by my moms's hand, suddenly moved some when the song started playing a little, then lay still again. Tomorow my dad will have a tracheotomy, I was told that a mailing address should be added to the hospital so if you would like to mail something to the Huntsville Hospital the mailing address is 101 Sively Road, Huntsville, AL 35801.

This is a picture of Joe coaching track.

Feb 15 5 pm Lisa

Dear Friends,

We are experiencing some issues with getting connected to the internet; hospital wireless tends to get overloaded and the computers provided by hospital have an internet connection but they have blocked google and facebook. Further, we beginning bloggers so please be patient.
On Sun. at 5 am and 8 am Joe was responsive to commands. He lifted up 1 finger and and showed 2 fingers on command; he raised his leg on command. We are very encouraged by this. This morning he was not responsive to commands but doc thought that could be due to higher than usual sodium levels. They are continuing to adjust the sodium dose and the CAT scan done a couple of hours ago showed a small increase in swelling which medical staff said is to be expected. The neurosurgeon will read the scan to determine whether meds needed to help decrease the swelling--he's not on any meds for swelling right now as they have some side effects for some people. On positive side Joe was moving a lot when we visited at 4:30; he bent his knee every time someone told him a person's name and he squeezed Stephen's hand. My brother is a fighter and he's strong. Please keep the prayers coming. Love to all, Lisa
Writing for the Leahy Family

Update 1

This is Joe's brother-in-law Mark (Lisa's husband) posting. I can't presume to speak for everyone, but we are a close-knit family, and I can certainly say on behalf of all the Leahys, Warneckes, and Scherers, thanks to everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and contributions to this new blog, and to the dedication page on Facebook. Special thanks to Derek Mayer for establishing this page.

There will be many ups and downs in the coming days as Joe continues his fight, so please keep your thoughts and prayers coming, not only for Joe and our families, but for those of all the victims (and, although it is hard for me to say, for the soul of the person responsible for these crimes).

I believe it is our intention to use this blog as a kind of a one-stop "clearing house" for information on Joe's condition. After I confer more with Lisa, Paul, and the others, we'll get whatever information we can offer posted here on a regular (or semi-regular) basis.

Thank you again, and our love to all.

Mark S.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Opening Post

On Friday, February 12th Dr. Leahy was wounded by a disgruntled colleague during a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He survived the attack, and struggles to recover at Huntsville Hospital.

This is the official blog for the family and friends of Dr. Leahy to track his recovery.

A Facebook page is dedicated at:

Information on Dr. Leahy and his research:

Information about the attack: