Friday, March 5, 2010

March 5 10:45 pm Lisa with liberal quoting from Ginny

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry for the delay in posting. Everything is fine. These first few days at Shepherd have been hectic and to ease the transition, Ginny, Mom and Dad have been permitted to be with Joe most of the day, and thus I have not had much time to talk to them. The regular 9-4 work routine for Joe will commence Monday; at that point Ginny and Mom and Dad Leahy will have more time on their hands and be more available--I think!

The initial days at Shepherd have been filled with thorough assessments of Joe by a team of various experts. They will be developing an overall plan for his rehabilitation but will daily meet to plan his schedule and adapt it as needed depending on his responses.

What follows in italics is from Ginny direcly:

Jill, the EMT, who was with Joe at the scene rode with us to Shepherd, and it was wonderful to obtain some details from her first hand. She gave me a prayer key ring to give to Joe when he is well. I was humbled as surely she, as so many others, had played a vital role in Joe's survival and God's plan.

Today Joe was really tired, having spent approximately 4 hours in his wheelchair (yesterday he sat in the chair for about 1 hour) after spending 21 days laying in bed. Joe also had his trach capped all day yesterday and today, allowing for regular breathing through his nose. At night the plug is romoved to ensure his comfort and safety. The therapist is working on helping to learn to swallow.

Yesterday, as I sat on the side of Joe's bed I wished aloud that the bed was wider so I could lay down for a nap. Joe surprised me noting that a wider bed "would probably cost more." Joe also told me that we needed to take "one day at a time." Though I know much of the time he is quiet and other times I can't follow what he is saying, these moments are precious. I just can't help thinking that these wise words are meant to bring both laughter and comfort to reassure me.

I am confident that Shepherds is where Joe should be. He is content and comfortable, and the staff have been responsive to our needs, our concerns, and our unending questions. The physical structure and equipment are incredible. Joe's in good hands. The family apartment is nice, and it is such a blessing to have Joe's folks here with me. Though the cafeteria food is really good, it is certainly no match for the wonderful meals provided at Huntsville Hospital by our friends! I also miss the kind NICU waiting room staff.

I miss Keith and Stephen, our extended families and our Alabama friends. Oh, how I miss the hugs! But... we need to be here, and I'm so glad that Ed is with the boys holding down the fort at Madison.

It's weird as I still feel a sense of "out of body" over this whole thing, but I also know that I have much to be grateful for--the precious gift of life! Two Catholic Deacons have already visited, which is so wonderful and welcome --I'm so thankful for my faith in times like these.

Wishing you peace. I selfishly ask for your continued prayers for Joe's return to health.

Love, Gin

One more note from me (Lisa):

The other news I wanted to share is that Stephen won second place in the Regional Science Fair and will be going to state next month!!!!!!!!! The title of his project (which I do not understand but perhaps some of you science types will!): "Construction of a Variable-Angle Photovoltaic Meter and Measurement of Solar Power at Different Times of Day and Different Angles of Declination" Got it, right? (Okay, Dr. Fix, and all you smart people from the UAH College of Science--you probably understand this!) Anyway, congrats, Steve. We are all so proud of you and Keith for your strength and determination amidst this trial. You have been such an inspiration to so many people including your Aunt Lisa who got home to Omaha and wanted to just hide in the house. I prayed a bit and then I thought, if Keith and Stepehn can pull it together, I can too--we can't let evil win! You're awesome guys and Uncle Mark, Eric, Phil and I (as well as all your family not with you) miss you so much. Hugs!!!

Please keep the prayers coming as this is such a long process with many peaks and valleys--it sure can take its toll on everyone.

We wish you many blessing and know we pray for you and your families as well,


P.S. Here is the address where you can send cards or whatever to keep up Joe and Ginny's spirits.

Virginia Leahy

WFRC #503

c/o Shepherd Center

2020 Peachtree Rd NW

Atlanta, GA 30309

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March 3 8:45 Lisa

Dear Family and Friends,

HEMSI transported Joe to Atlanta today. The paramedic, Jill, who rode with Ginny and Joe to Atlanta was the same person who helped Joe during that dark day a few weeks ago. Thanks Jill for all you did to keep Joe alive! And special thanks to Dr. Lynn Boyd who bravely held a torn shirt on Joe's head to stop the bleeding as well as talked to him until the paramedics arrived.

Joe getting settled in and will be assessed by all the experts tomorrow. Dad and Mom Leahy, who followed the ambulence, helped get everything moved into the apartment efficiency adjoining the hospital while Ginny was with Joe. Know they are very busy--will post as more information becomes available.

My heart is so torn. It's great being home and seeing the family, but I wish I could be in Atlanta and Omaha at the same time.

Keep the prayers and masses coming--lots of hard work to rehabilitate.

Love and Blessings to All,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 2 3:30 pm Lisa

Dear Family and Friends,

Wonderful news! Joe is cleared to leave for the Shepherd Center in Atlanta tomorrow (Wed) at 9:00! At our request, Ginny and I were awakened at 3:30 am by one of our many awesome ICU waiting room staff members to learn that the trauma doc on call had cleared him to go. We were so pumped up by the news that it was difficult falling back to sleep (but we managed!). Today we're organizing, shopping and packing for the trip. Ginny will be able to ride in the ambulence with Joe and an EMT to Atlanta, and Mom and Dad Leahy will follow. Friends are still planning to get Joe's van to Atlanta, and Ed, Gin's bro, will stay with Keith and Stephen until my folks return from seeing Joe at Shepherds and closing up the Florida condo. The rest of us are returning to our homes, Gin's folks and sister to Ohio and me to Omaha. (I can't wait to see you Mark, Eric, Phil, Jillian and all my friends and colleagues at U. of NE-Omaha!)

Many have asked how long Joe will be at Shepherds, and we simply don't know right now. I know Ginny wants the boys to visit for a few days during Steve and Keith's spring break and on the weekends when they can. Keith decided to go to Mississippi State today to check out of his dorm but he should be back tonight. Again, we'll get the address to Shepherd's to you very soon, but Ginny is taking her laptop and will be able to respond to email there as well. Ginny will continue to give us updates regarding Joe's progress, which Mark or I will relay to all of you via this blog site, but the posts may not be every day.

I wish I could express how grateful we are and how blessed we feel to have the love and support of so many wonderful family and friends, both here in Huntsville-Madison area as well as throughout the country (and a few countries). It truly is a miracle that Joe survived. We know it is the power of all of your prayers and those of our loved ones in heaven that pulled us through this horror.

I know I speak for all of the family from out of town when I say that 18 days ago we never expected to make so many friends in Huntsville and Madison. You are all phenomenal people, and we will sorely miss you. But....we promise we will return for a huge celebration for Joe with all of our families!

God Bless All of You!
Love and Blessings,


Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1, 11:00 p.m., mark

Hi everyone,

Just a quick note to let you all know that, medically, it was a good day, as Joe continued to show progress in his cognitive awareness and responsiveness.

Plans are still being finalized for the move to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. There were a few bureaucratic/procedural hold-ups in getting signatures and paperwork in order, as it proved to be a very busy day for the trauma wing at Huntsville Hospital.

At any rate, the best guess now for the move date MAY be Thursday, or perhaps Wednesday at the earliest. We'll keep you informed as best we can, but did want to let folks know that there were no significant medical setbacks to be concerned about.

Thank you again for all your interest, support, and prayers. Good night.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb. 28 7:45 pm Lisa

Dear Family and Friends,

Joe continues to make great progress during the brief periods of the day he is awake. He stood with assistance for a full 30 seconds and did not experience the vertigo/disorientation of a couple of days ago. He also surprised us at the 4:30 visit as he spoke very loudly and clearly to Keith and Stephen through the trach collar--I really think he is learning to adapt to the trach. He's been getting some breathing treatments in the past 12 hours or so to loosen the secretions and he sounds better already. Joe is also looking a lot better as the swelling has decreased significantly despite the fact that much remains.

The pace is picking up around here as we prepare to transition from Huntsville Hospital to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. We are very fortunate that there is an opening for Joe in this state of the art rehabilitation complex as it specializes in brain and spinal injuries but can also accommodate patients that are ICU status. Ginny will travel in the ambulence with Joe and Joe's mom and dad will follow; we also have arrangements for friends to follow and take Ginny's car to Altanta. Joe will have intense therapy every week day from 9-12 and then 1-4. Family can visit at lunch and between 4 and 9 and anytime during Saturday and Sunday. We are trying to get all of this coordinated plus Ginny has to pack both herself and Joe. Thanks to Joe's brother Paul and wife Lisa (blogger of last night) who visited this weekend and shopped for Joe's needs at Shepherd. Gin's family working on thank you notes and I blog and organize cards for Gin to take to Atlanta. Mom and Dad at house in Madison with the boys. Soon Ed, Gin's bro, will be with the kids while Joe's parents visit at Shepherds and then pack up the condo in Florida. At some point Mom and Dad will be back in Madison and Ed will return to Ohio. When Joe goes to Atlanta which could be Tuesday but probably Wednesday, Gin's parents and sister will return to Ohio and I will return to Omaha. However, Ginny will update Mark and me so we can continue to blog out of Omaha; she refers to Omaha as the location of her IT department! We are not sure how long Joe will be in Shepherds but we'll keep you posted. There is a housing unit for families that is connected to the hospital via walkway--4 people can stay comfortablly there and perhaps 6 with sleeping bags. Again, we don't have this all figured out but we have a strong and loving family with wonderful support from friends so we'll meet this challenge as well.

We are meeting with the case manager and the Shepherd's representative tomorrow morning so I will blog soon after that to let you know plans. I know that Ginny will have to be in Madison to pack and there will be the need for more family meetings so stay tuned for Ginny's requests regarding visitors.

We ask for your continued prayers of healing and support for Joe and the family as this will be a very long and challenging journey for all of us, particularly for Joe, Ginny, Stephen and Keith.
We are so happy that Keith was able to transfer to U. AL in Huntsville for the spring and summer and are grateful the Mississippi State was so kind and cooperative in helping with this transition. Stephen is going to help Keith pack up his dorm during spring break and I know Keith has really helped Ginny and Stephen by being here.

We ask for your continued prayers of healing and support for Joe and the family as this will be a very long and challening journey for all of us, particularly for Joe, Ginny, Keith and Stephen. However, we know that our faith and the loving support from so many family and friends will continue to strengthen us. As the priest said today at Mass we meet God through the love of others, and we have certainly been blessed by all of you.

Blessings and Virtual Hugs,


P.S. Jeff : We received the shirt and patchn and Joe is happy to be an honorary member of the Circleville Fire Department!