Thursday, July 31, 2014


Emotions ran high last weekend as we marked the one year anniversary of Jeff's accident - which I chronicled in my last blog post.

Jeff and I had talked about what we were going to do that weekend for the last couple months. We thought about having some friends over to celebrate the fact that Jeff is alive - that things could have turned out so much worse than they have. But in the end, we just decided to spend the weekend like most other weekends - just with "us." We knew that emotions were going to creep up on us, so we wanted to keep things mellow.

For me, emotions hit me hard, and rather unexpectedly, early Saturday morning. I awoke in the dark, pre-dawn hours of the morning and my mind took be back to the night immediately following the accident. The night I had to spend alone in our bed. The longest and worst night of my life.

The ICU staff made me leave - made me go home to our daughter - assuring me that Jeff was in good hands, heavily sedated, completely out of it, and wouldn't even know I was gone. Chad drove me home, and there I had to somehow do "normal" things like fix Evie dinner and clean the cats' litter box. I did these things on auto-pilot.

Later that evening, I gave Evie a bath to clean all the caked-on sand off her body. As I undid the tight pigtail braids I'd so meticulously put in her hair earlier that day, she looked up at me with scared eyes, and asked in a small, hesitant voice, "Did Daddy die?"

What a big question for a 4-year old child to ask.

Amazingly I held in my tears and reassured her: "No, baby. He didn't die. But he is very hurt. And he'll have to stay at the hospital until he gets better. Probably for a long time."

Her question showed me that even at 4 years old, she understood the seriousness of our situation.

Back in present time, these events played in my mind almost as clearly as when they'd happened, and my tears were a reminder of that first difficult, scary night.

Jeff doesn't have memories of that night being that he was so sedated for weeks following his injury. But he does remember the accident and the panic that followed. Those are difficult things for him to relive. Understandably he struggles with how this injury has affected his family. He sees how challenging it is for me to juggle everything - how much work goes into taking care of him. He'll never stop wishing that he could help more. I reassure him that despite his physical limitations, his presence at home, his input on everything we do as a family, that is more helpful than he will ever know.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

The Monday following our emotional weekend, we received the photo book I talked about in a previous blog post - the one I made from the photos Evie had taken last year. We were so excited to open it. Jeff asked me to hold it up for him and flip through the pages. He wanted to browse through it quickly as he still has a hard time looking at pictures from our past - especially of himself as able bodied. We flipped through the pages with bittersweet smiles. Then we came across one picture that, while hard to see at first, has an amusing back story, and a funny Evie anecdote attached to it.

It's a picture of Jeff's legs - battered and bruised from a river trip he took a month before his accident. He and his buddies all turned 40 last year, and in June 2013, they took a trip to the Kern River to celebrate. Jeff came home with these cuts and bruises.

He laughed when he saw the picture and said he remembers how much his legs hurt after that. I told him when Evie first looked at this picture when I was putting the book together, she said something funny. Here's our conversation.

"Those are Daddy's legs!"
"Yep. That was when he came home from the river."
"That was when Daddy could stand."
"Yes. You took this picture just a few weeks before Daddy's accident."

I could see her processing this and knew she was going to comment on the day of the accident. She sometimes recalls the events aloud, and of course we let her do this, knowing it is her way of processing everything.

"So when Daddy dived into the ocean, he hit his head.  Maybe on a rock ... or a whale."

I grinned at her imagination. "Well, I think it was just the sand."

"But maybe it was a whale," she persisted . . .

I told Jeff of her imaginative version.

He thought about it for a second then nodded and said, "A whale would've made for a better story, that's for sure."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

One Year

July 27, 2013 - The day our life changed. 

I knew, there on the beach, that day, as I ran to Jeff moments after he'd been paralyzed, that our lives would never be the same. I locked eyes with Jeff as he lay on the sand and saw the panic on his face.

He said words to me that I will never - ever - forget.

Kristen, I'm so sorry I ruined our life . . .

* * * * * * * * * *

But our life wasn't ruined; it was changed. Changed in ways we couldn't even begin to understand that day.

Today is July 27, 2014. One year later, and we're still here.

Below is a look back at our year.

Where we were.
Where we are now.
How far we've come.

August 2013
X-ray of Jeff's neck fusion. Jeff fractured his C4 vertebra and badly damaged his spinal cord. He has metal plates and screws that run from his C3 - C6 vertebrae. He had two stabilization surgeries on his neck - one 3 days after his injury, and the second 1 week after that. 

August 2013
 3 weeks after the accident. Jeff still has his neck collar on. He was in ICU at Western Medical for 3 weeks, then was moved to a different unit for close observation. This picture was taken when he got into his new room. It was around this time that Jeff's memory picks up. He remembers the entire accident, and the ambulance ride, but he doesn't remember much of ICU.

Late August 2013
Evie's first visit to see Daddy. She picked out her favorite dress for this big occasion. She was unsure of all the tubes and medical equipment, but she was so happy to see Daddy. It was the happiest Jeff had been since before the accident.

September 2013
Jeff was transferred to Rancho Los Amigos, a rehab hospital specializing in treating spinal cord injuries, on September 23, 2013 - his 40th birthday. It wasn't quite the way we'd imagined celebrating such a milestone day. We did "cheers" with a 7Up because till now, he was only cleared to take small sips of water. 

October 2013
Evie visits Daddy again - and this time Jeff can speak. Up until this time, he could only whisper words, but he made progress while in the ICU at Rancho by having the cuff in his trach deflated which allowed him to speak again. This was the first visit where Evie could hear his voice. It was a magical moment. It was like all the tubes and machines disappeared, and Evie had Daddy back again.

October 2013
This was the first time Jeff had been able to sit upright since his injury. A side effect of a spinal cord injury is blood pressure regulation. The body doesn't do it as well as before. He still has issues though they are not as bad as they used to be. 

November 2013
This picture shows how much weight Jeff lost (40 pounds) during the 4 months following his accident. During that time he developed a pressure sore on his tailbone, and this picture was taken a few days before his surgery to repair the sore.

November 2013
Our Thanksgiving picture. Jeff is recovering from pressure sore surgery. He had to spend 6 weeks on a sand bed to let the site heal.

November 2013
Watching a Charger game on the laptop! Football season helped to make those 6 weeks go by a little more quickly.

December 2013
After almost 5 months of beard growing, Jeff could no longer stand it. He entrusted me with the clippers, and I groomed him up. Probably the best part of getting rid of the beard was the reactions of the hospital staff who had never seem him without it!

December 2013
Another holiday spent at the hospital. Jeff is finally gaining some weight back now that the pressure sore has been repaired.

January 2014
Finally - Jeff is wearing real clothes! Enough already of those hospital gowns!

January 2014
Watching a Charger game with Daddy. Every weekend, Evie and I would visit Jeff together. Some mornings we would bring breakfast. Some nights we would bring dinner. We had a lot of family meals together in the hospital.

February 2014
Watching the Super Bowl with Aunt Cathy - our sister in law. She's come out several times from North Carolina to help out. We love her so much.

February 2014
February 13, 2014 - Jeff is HOME! It took a lot of planning, persistence, and patience to get Jeff home, but we finally made it. This day was a turning point for us. Best Valentine's Day present EVER.

Late February 2014
Jeff and his favorite beer - Sierra Nevada. That smile says it all.

March 2014
Mama and Evie washing Daddy's hair.

March 2014
Uncle Gary, Jeff's brother, also visited several times after Jeff's accident. 

March 2014
Jeff trying out his mouth stylus to control his phone. Technology has been an important part of our lives since the accident. Through it, Jeff is able to have a lot of independence.

April 2014
Evie and Daddy enjoying a snack together. Evie loves to feed Jeff, especially snacks - probably because she gets to nibble on whatever she feeds him. :)

April 2014
Jeff and Evie playing in our backyard. Just the other day she said, "Daddy, your legs don't work anymore, but you can still chase me!" And chase her he does.

May 2014
These two just being silly.

June 2014
Father's Day. 

July 2014
Selfie of our family taken by Jeff using the self-facing camera on his phone that is mounted to his chair.

* * * * * * * * * *

If there's one thing this last year has taught us, it's that we are capable of handling so much more than we ever thought we could. The stress of dealing with a life-changing injury is overwhelming at times, but Jeff and my relationship has become deeper and stronger through adversity.

Of course we didn't do this alone. We couldn't have made it through the last year without Team Sachs - our supporters. Friends, family, and complete strangers have come together to offer support in so many ways: prayers, meals, donations, errands, positive thoughts, and stories of encouragement. We are so blessed and so thankful to have these people in our lives.

We made it through a year.

We're ready to take on more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Unexpected Find

In early 2013, before Jeff's injury, I got a new digital camera, and I gave my old one to Evie. She was thrilled at the prospect of being able to take "real" pictures with a "real" camera.

For days at a time, she snapped constantly. Our eyes were blinded with the burst of the flash. She had so much fun taking those pictures.

Then our lives were turned upside down, and the camera, along with everything else we owned, was thrown into boxes and moved (twice!) into new homes.

Just a few weeks ago, Evie found that old camera and immediately started snapping more pictures. But she soon came to me saying it wouldn't take any more photos. I quickly discovered the memory card was full.

You can imagine my surprise when I loaded the images onto my computer and found over 300 photos!

I was overcome with emotion when I saw the moments our girl captured on this camera. There were pictures of Jeff - standing - being goofy in the kitchen. Pictures of our two beloved cats, Spencer and Olive, who we brokenheartedly had to give away after Jeff's injury. Also included were portraits of stuffed animals and random things like Evie's artwork, living room furniture, and messy closets.

It was a glimpse back in time. Just a year ago - a lifetime ago.

I knew I couldn't let those pictures just sit on my computer. So today I ordered a printed book from Shutterfly that I filled up with those blurry, silly, wonderful photos.

Here's a preview of the cover and first page:

Cover Image
(Evie's Photos: Our life through the eyes of a three year old)

First Page
In case you have trouble reading the words, here they are:

Our Life
by Evie

In early 2013, I gave Evie my old digital camera and told her to have fun.

She snapped photos of everything she could.

She captured a time in our life just before everything changed.

She gave us these memories through her eyes.

Photos taken between March and July 2013

Those are the only words I wrote in the whole 52-page book. Her photos tell the rest of the story. Here's a few more of my favorite layouts:

We loved our old house where these pictures were taken. It was a two-story townhome in a lovely neighborhood with lovely neighbors. It was perfect for us in our old life. But all wrong for our new life. And so we had to leave it behind - quickly - because at two months after the accident, we didn't know for sure when Jeff would be coming home. We had to be ready for him in a new home when he did.

It still seems so strange to me that after we drove to the beach on the morning of July 27, 2013, Jeff never returned to that house again. He never saw our cats again. For him, the transition from our old life into our new life was very abrupt. He still talks about our old house - how much he misses it, and how much he wishes we didn't have to leave it.

What a treasure to find these photos hidden away in an old, semi-broken, almost forgotten camera. These photos speak volumes to our daughter's creativity - and her uncanny ability to just make things a little better.

I can't wait to get our memory book in the mail!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sachs Family Outing

Yesterday was a pretty big deal ... we had our first legit family outing. Just me, Jeff, and Evie in our new van.

We were invited to a birthday party for our friends' 6-year old daughter. We've known this family for many years and have hung out with them on multiple occasions prior to Jeff's accident. This would be our first time going back to their house since the injury, so it was a big thing.

A few days before the party, I told Evie that we would be going, but that we probably wouldn't stay too long. When she asked why I said, "Well, Daddy gets tired when he does lots of talking, so we'll just have to see how he feels."

I was brushing her hair in the bathroom when we had this conversation, and she snapped her eyes up to mine in the mirror with a stunned, open-mouthed look on her face.

"Daddy's going with us?"
"He's really going with us to the party?"
"Uh huh."

Long breath drawn inward followed by a super sonic high-pitched voice: "I'm so excited!"

Jeff and I contemplated asking my Mom to come along with us, but in the end decided it was an outing we wanted to try on our own. We would be around lots of people we know would help get Jeff what he needed, and help keep an eye on Evie.

Of course it took me hours to get us ready to leave. I hadn't groomed Jeff's face for ... sigh ... about two weeks (!) so it took a while to get him de-scruff-i-fied. Then I packed everything we "might" need, and at the last minute showered myself in order to look presentable. Thank goodness for Nana who got Evie ready and packed up everything she would need for the pool party.

Here we are pre-party

In the van, and ready to set off!

Traffic was terrible, as suspected. But to a 5-year-old who doesn't understand why we can't go any faster than the car in front of us during the 10-mile-an hour-transition from the 405 to the 55, the ride was an eternity. She made the time pass by jibbering about all the cars, buildings, and trees we were passing, and holding Daddy's hand to make sure he wasn't too scared during the drive.

We pulled up to the Millers' house, thankful that the vent didn't alarm during our trek. It was time to start unloading, which of course takes some time. Evie was jittery with anticipation to get inside, but we told her she had to wait till we were ready.

As I opened the side van door to unlock Jeff's chair, I heard her say to him in a frustrated whine, 

"I wish your legs worked so we could just walk in."

My heart sank into my stomach. 

He told her quietly, "I wish so too, Evie, but they don't, so you'll just have to wait."

"Okay, I will" she said in a small voice.

I wasn't upset with her for saying what she did; she was just being honest. I was heartbroken for her instead. I had read and heard that she would experience this kind of frustration when it comes to us not being able to do things as quickly as we used to. I just didn't know it would come this early. I expected it a little later, and was caught by surprise.

Her impatience faded, and we unloaded Jeff and our stuff rather quickly. We were in the house in 5 minutes, and she was in her glory taking it all in.

We were met with friendly faces and genuine concerns about how we are. People wanted to know about Jeff's gadgets on his chair, wanted to see our new van, and told me how they love reading the blog and knowing about our life. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience.

I took Evie to the bathroom to change into her swimsuit, and by the time we came out, Jeff was already in the backyard, and his good friend Keith was feeding him a beer through a straw. :)

We ate some delicious food, and were able to re-connect with people we hadn't seen in over a year. Evie got to play in the birthday girl's room (so fun to play with other friends' toys!), and once she got up the courage to go down the water slide, we couldn't get her off!

At one point, Jeff and I were across the backyard from one another. He was talking with friends, and I was playing with Evie in the grass. Jeff and I caught each other's eye, and I mouthed to him, "Do you need me?" He gave me a little frown then shook his head. I gave him thumbs up, we smiled at each other, then he went back to his conversation, and I went back to playing with Evie. It was a good feeling. My heart was happy.

When the sun started going down, I could tell that Jeff was getting really cold (constant coldness is an unpleasant side effect of the injury). I looked at him and could tell he was done. He was drained of all the energy he started out with. His voice was raspy, and I knew it was time to pack up.

We said our goodbyes, and were again met with such genuine remarks from friends. They helped us load up, and we were back on the road in a matter of minutes. I covered Jeff with a blanket before we took off, and cranked up the heater for him. On the way home, I heard him say in a low voice, "I'm so cold." That was followed by "Thank you, Sweetheart." He later told me that Evie was adjusting his blanket for him to make sure he was covered. 

When we got home, Nana helped us unload and get Jeff back to bed in record time. He was completely worn out. So was I. But once we got settled back in, we looked at each other and said, "We did it." 

It was a big sense of accomplishment.

In the end, we're so glad we made the effort to go to the party. It was a lot of work, but worth it. We came face to face with what this new life is all about. We were met with curious stares, mostly by kids. We experienced Evie's first voiced frustration at our new pace of life, followed by her unwavering willingness to help and make Daddy comfortable. And we were again reminded that true friends are just that - able to see the person and his family, not just the guy in a wheelchair with his poor wife and daughter. 

It was a good day. 

We're looking forward to more family outings.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Body is Rebelling

Have you ever tried to dress someone while that person is lying down?

Someone who is paralyzed...

Someone who is twice your size?

Let me tell you, it's not an easy feat.

I've been maneuvering Jeff around for the last 5 months. Lifting legs and arms; rolling his body to one side, then the other; pulling him up in his bed when he slips down and his feet start creeping toward the edge. It's a lot of physical work.

On the plus side, it keeps me in relatively good shape. On the negative side, it takes a toll on my body.

The first two weeks he was home were the worst. I was sore in places I didn't even know could get sore. I would cry in the bathroom over my aching body, wondering how in the world I was going to do this over and over, day in/day out. But just like everything, I got used to it - and so did my body.

Until Sunday morning.

That's when I woke up and heard my body saying Nope - not today.

The side of my neck had locked up so badly, I couldn't look to the left. My shoulders and upper back were in a huge knot, and I began referring to myself as the Huntchback of Huntington Beach. I was quite the pathetic sight.

Evie being the sweetheart she is told me to sit on her bed "so I can take care of you, Mama." She loaded me up with blankets and put dollies in my arms to cuddle on.

When I walked into Jeff's room to help him with something and gave out a weak little cry every time I bent down or reached my arms out, he looked at me and said, matter of factly, "I told you to go get a massage on Mother's Day. Now you're all jacked up."

For two days, I fooled myself into thinking this was going to get better on its own. Finally, with no relief in sight, I caved and went in for a massage.

During the first 10 minutes of my hour-long session, the massage therapist commented THREE times how tight I was. Then asked in a bewildered tone, "You just woke up one day with this tightness?" I knew she knew something else was going on. So I told her the abbreviated version of our situation. How I was caring for my paralyzed husband. She was very sympathetic and said that made much more sense why my back was so incredibly tight.

In the end, I'm so glad I shared our story. I then asked if they do massages on people with fusion in their necks (Jeff's C3 through C6 vertebrae were fused following his accident).  I explained Jeff's situation, the receptionist checked with the lead therapist, and I was told they would absolutely accommodate our needs. So within the next week or so, Jeff and I plan to take another trip to the masseuse for a shoulder, neck, and head massage for him. We're hoping this will greatly help Jeff with his chronic pain.

I have to admit I was pretty (well, extremely) sore after my massage yesterday. But today I am finally getting some relief, though I'm still sporting an ice pack. I plan to go back in a couple weeks for another round. I've decided I need to listen to my body when it tells me something.

Taking care of myself has been one of the hardest things for me to do. If I go down for the count, the chain reaction it would cause would not be pretty.

So I'm learning to listen to my body.

Excuse me while I ice my back.

Rockin the ice pack

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our Amazing Evie

Everyday, our girl reminds us how extraordinary she is.

She just takes everything in stride, especially this new life we're leading.

It's been almost a year since Jeff's injury, and she has handled everything so well. Sometimes she talks about things she and Daddy used to do together before the accident, but there's never sadness associated with it. She talks about how Daddy used to take her through the car wash and turn on the air vents full blast so they could smell the bubble gum-scented soap. She also talks about how Daddy used to tickle her. But now she reaches out to him, puts her little fingers on his arm, wiggles them and says, "tickle tickle tickle."

Jeff has two ventilators at home. When we transfer Jeff from his bed to his chair (and back), we disconnect him from one vent, and hook him back up on the other vent. He breathes on his own during the transfer, which takes about 30 seconds to get him from one vent to the next. The transfer routine requires some important timing. We need to have both vents on at the same time to ensure there is adequate air for Jeff. Then when he's moved from one vent to another, the one he's no longer on has to be turned off or else it will alarm like crazy.

Evie's job is to operate the vents during transfers.

And she does it like a pro.

Yesterday when we were getting Jeff from his chair back into bed, I made note to watch her while she completed her task. As my mom and I were getting the sling around Jeff and began to lift him using the manual lift, I called out, "Evie ... we need you!"

"Coming!" her little voice chirped from down the hall. Soon we heard her quick footsteps patter toward us. Her first stop was Jeff's room. There she removed the vent cover, turned it on by pressing and holding one button, waited for the vent to activate and begin blowing air, then pressed the silence button. She put the cover back on then came out to Jeff's chair in the living room to work on that vent.

My mom disconnected the tube that runs down the front of Jeff's chest, and gave Evie an"Okay" so Evie knew when she could turn off the chair vent. I began wheeling Jeff in his lift away from the chair and toward his bedroom, but this time I watched Evie while she worked. Her face was serious and her bright eyes scanned all the buttons on the vent, searching for the two she would need. And just as quickly and confidently as she had turned on the first vent, she turned off the second one.

By this time, Mom and I had Jeff hooked up to the bedroom vent. Evie passed us as she made her way, nonchalantly, back to her room. "Thank you Hunny Bunny," Jeff said to our little girl.

"Welcome," she said as she skipped away.


Last week, when my mom picked up Evie from school one day, she came home and told me and Jeff the most heartwarming story ...

When Nana walked in to Evie's preschool classroom, all of the kids were sitting around a table eating their snack, and Nana was surprised to find all of the kids focused on Evie who was telling them a story. By the time Nana got close enough to hear them, this is what they were saying ...

Friend: "So your Daddy can't move his legs?"
Evie: "No."
Friend: "Can your Daddy move his arms?"
Evie: "No. He can only move his shoulders and neck like this" [Demonstrating]
Friend: "So your Daddy can't hug you?"
Evie: "No, he can't . . . But I can hug him."

And with that, Evie opened her arms wide, hunched her shoulders, and held tight to the air, showing her classmates exactly how she hugs her Daddy.

Friday, July 4, 2014

(Cr)happy 4th of July

I wish I could say that our 4th of July was great, but honestly, it was a pretty crappy day.

Jeff is battling yet another UTI (urinary tract infection). It's his third one in a row, and he's pretty tired of feeling like crap. It was a beautiful morning, and while Evie was playing in the pool with my parents, Jeff and I were stuck in his room attending to stuff like cutting his hair, trimming his beard, doing breathing treatments, and administering medications.  Neither one of us wanted to be there. We wanted to be out in the backyard swimming with our daughter - not relying on my parents to do that for us.

In the afternoon, I took Evie to a local park to celebrate the 4th with lots of festivities. Jeff still wasn't feeling good, so my mom stayed home with him. Evie had fun playing in the bounce house and eating a sno cone. I had fun watching her have fun, but what I really wanted was for Jeff to be there with us.

Not Jeff in his chair ... I wanted the old Jeff there.

I wanted to have the kind of fun we had last year when we went to the HB parade and spent the whole day hanging out with friends and watching fireworks. It was one of the last normal family things we did before the accident.

I watched as the families at the park interacted with one another. Kids running around screaming. Parents standing around talking to one another. Folks rushing here and there. There were hundreds of people at the park today. And not one of them was in a wheelchair.

I looked at them with jealousy. Just last year, I was one of those people. I know you can't judge people by just looking at them. Everyone is going through something. But in just viewing them from the outside, I felt like I was glimpsing back at myself and my family and how we used to be a short year ago.

Evie and I got back home, and Jeff could tell something was off with me. At the end of the day, he looked at me and said, "I'm sorry." He was apologizing simply because he knew I was having a bad day. That's what is so great about our relationship. When I'm having one of these days, Jeff knows that I'm not upset with him. Instead, he knows I'm angry at this injury. I'm angry at how unfair life can be.  And today, I was just having an "I miss our old life" kind of day.

Thankfully, our night ended with watching fireworks both on TV and outside our back window. Evie was happy. Her reactions to the fireworks were a precious reminder that for her, this 4th of July was fun and magical. No comparisons to the past. She just looks forward.

Tomorrow is a new day, and our weekend has just begun. I'm excited to see what it will bring.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Outpatient Adventure

Today Jeff had an outpatient appointment to place a suprapubic catheter. We've been wanting him to get one for a while (oh the things you get excited about when you have a spinal cord injury!), and today was the day.

The procedure lasted 30 minutes total. Packing up, driving there, surgery prep, recovery, driving home, and getting Jeff settled back into bed took an additional 6 hours. Good thing I took the day off work today.

My mom went with us which was a huge help because we had to take a lot of stuff with us. When I called to make the appointment, the nurse I spoke with went down the list of standard stuff with me:

Nurse: "Make sure he has someone to drive him home."
Me: "No problem."
Nurse: "Make sure he wears loose clothing."
Me: "Of course."
Nurse: "Be sure to arrive 30 minutes early."
Me: "Ok. But I want to be sure that you know my husband is a quadriplegic and is on a ventilator."
Nurse: "Oh..."

After several minutes of checking with other nurses, it was decided that we should probably arrive at least an hour to 90 minutes early, bring our back-up ventilator to be used once he's on the gurney, and our Hoyer lift to transfer him from the chair to the gurney.

Here's what the van looked like when we got packed:

Yes, Jeff is in there too!

I wish I would have gotten a picture of my mom and me trying to fit the vent and lift into the van. Talk about a comedy of errors! At least we discovered this trip that the lift comes apart for easy, convenient ... transportation, which is good to know for future road trips.

Jeff's procedure was done at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. I have lived my whole life in Southern CA, and I've never been to Hoag - neither had Jeff. When we entered, I thought we were checking in to a 5-star hotel. The ladies at the registration desk wore suit jackets, not scrubs! The decor was superb, and the people were overly nice.

After checking in and getting Jeff into the pre-op room, I noticed that the gurney had a base on it that wouldn't allow the lift to fit under it; therefore, we wouldn't be able to transfer him using the lift (after all that breaking down, cursing, and sweating my mom and I had done!) Luckily there were some strong guys in the radiology department who were able to get Jeff from his chair onto the gurney. Whew!

Everything went smoothly. The procedure itself was probably the quickest part of our day.

Here's Jeff afterward. Happy from the "relaxation medication" they gave him.

He's so cute!

Once he was cleared to go home, we did everything in reverse ... got Jeff dressed, switched vents, more heavy lifting courtesy of the radiology staff, back into the chair, and out the door.

We took a moment to pause outside the hospital. Jeff enjoyed getting warm in the sun.

All in all, it was a good trip. It was the first time we got to drive our OWN van to a doctor appointment, which was a great feeling. And we even stopped by Del Taco on the way home. Yum.

Now Jeff is back in his own bed, resting, trying to warm up from being in a cold hospital. Tired, but happy to be home.

It was certainly a lot of work getting there and back, but such is the life of a quadriplegic and his family. Nothing happens fast any more. But at the end of the day, we had a successful outing and a sense of accomplishment.

Is it time to go to bed yet? :)