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Sunday, November 30, 2008


Today they started Dad on the pirate eye patch! They are switching it a couple times a day but Dad says it helps him concentrate on things, especially on people's faces.

He was able to be taken off of the IV heparin so instead of three IV's he now has only ONE!! This morning I was able to comb his hair a little and make him look "nice" for his visitors. He ate some eggs with cheese... of course, and said they were ok. He said tonight that lasagna sounded good... so maybe that is something we will try tomorrow. But he didn't have much of an appetite today. I think he looks like he is wasting away in the bed. He will just need to eat more ice cream when he feels better to put back on the pounds. I don't think he will mind.

The Wilcox' brought the sacrament to Dad tonight. This was so sweet of them and meant so much to all of us.

Dad said he had a really bad headache today and wasn't able to do much in regards to moving around and such. We think it is because they reduced his steroids dose too soon. The doctors are saying that he will be discharged this week but we don't know exactly what day. He will still need to go to inpatient rehab for a few weeks. We are going to try and work out all the details for that tomorrow. We want him to go to the VERY, VERY best. Thank you for all of your comments and suggestions about different rehab facilities Lindsey is checking up on some places. We will let you all know where he will be going.

Keep praying for our dear dad. He is starting to get really bored.... what are fun things to do in a hospital bed when you feel dizzy, tired, and are in pain? Thanks again for everything you are doing for our family. We cannot begin to tell you how much we appreciate it.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday -- Nov. 29 -- good day!

Hi everyone, this is Rebecca. Today when I got to the hospital about 11 or so, Joe had just had a real live shower, and was so happy about it! Yet he was also exhausted and his head was pounding. It makes me realize how long all this recovery is really going to take. They gave him some pain killer and within about 45 minutes he was much much better. He had several visitors and they really perked him up...Dave Black, Laura, Bobby, Bradley Antonio and Brittany Harrison, and of course Steph, Brandon and cousin Jeff. It wasn't long until he was cracking jokes and laughing! It made me very happy. The doctor stopped by and said the cat scan showed no change, and that he could most likely be moved to the rehab facility around Tuesday. Oh, and he ate almost an entire cheeseburger! I tell you, it makes me so glad to see him have an appetite. His vision is still blurred a bit, and he is dizzy still, and thinks he is leaning to the right when he tries to stand or walk.

Lindsey went by on her way to work around 5:30 and Doug Hulme was there also. Linds says he was doing alright, still really tired and didn't feel like having any dinner. I now worry that he'll have a bedtime of 7:45 pm for awhile!

I have to say again how very grateful we are for all the prayers, food, cards, gifts, and love. It touches my heart deeply, more than I can say. Of course Joe feels the same way. His family was having their annual after thanksgiving pizza party in Utah and called to be able to wish him well while they were all there.

We have the best friends and family in the world. (P.S. We tried the Greek place across the street, Dave...very yummy.)

And here is a picture of Steph and Brandon with Joe in his new room.

much love forever,

Friday, November 28, 2008

He moved to the 9th floor!

Today they moved Dad to the Neurology floor (9th) of the hospital. He is happy because they took out the IV's in his left arm... but he still has the ones in his right. He did some occupational therapy today which he said completely wore him out. He was exhausted all day. Just like yesterday, he said he started off feeling better, but then his head started to hurt really bad again. We got him to eat a full plate of macaroni and cheese though. This is the largest amount of food he has consumed in one sitting, even though it took him an hour and a half to eat it all. We got him another eggnog shake today, which he enjoyed.

He complains that his neighbors are loud and he can't sleep, ha ha. We all know he is a light sleeper! He has color in his face today again, but he says his face is still numb. We decorated his room to feel more "homey" which we hope will lift his spirits.

He wants me to tell you all how much he loves you and how much he appreciates each and every one of you visiting, emailing and calling. He feels bad for worrying everyone, but appreciates the kindness everyone has shown. This is a trialing time for him and he needs you all there for him.

I would also personally like to thank you all for supporting him and praying for him. I have always been amazed by the connections my parents have made and the kind hearts of the Littleton community as well as our whole family. He is a very lucky man. And I know that he can get through this. He is the strongest, most faithful man I know. He is truly my hero. And I am so proud to call him my Dad.

Love Steph

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today we helped Dad sit up and eat by himself. He certainly struggled, and we had to help him some, and he put up a fight while doing this, but he had nurses and 3 daughters who continuously encouraged him and told him it would really help him. We are so proud of him. They switched his pain medication and we hope it will help his pain. We got him an eggnog shake, which is his favorite thing. He had a big smile when he first tasted it and said it tasted so good! We then left and went home to eat a big meal with the 9 of us here. Our Grandma made the most amazing meal ever and we are so thankful she was here and willing to cook for practically 24 hours straight for us. She made about 10 pies!

We then went back to the hospital and brought Dad some mashed potatoes, one of my Mom's homemade rolls (which she only makes once a year at Thanksgiving), some more of the eggnog shake, banana cream pie, and lemon meringue pie. He loved it all. He just says it really hurts to sit up and to swallow. He kept apologizing for ruining our Thanksgiving, which was very sad. We keep telling him he has nothing to be sorry for.

Note from Rebecca November 27, Thanksgiving Day

I want to sincerely thank everyone for your sweetest kindest well wishes and prayers. It is what gets us all through and we have the best friends and family anyone can ever ask for. You have stayed beside us for five and nearly six years through the toughest tragedy there is to bear. We will get through this and Joe will get better. It appears it will take awhile and I have been clueless how much it entails but I am learning day by day.

Today the nurse told us that Joe can't have any more than one person in the room, and we should limit visitors. They were planning on moving him from CCU but he has taken some down turns during the past 24 hours and isn't ready. They want him to just have complete silence and no stress on his brain to even have to think until he can get out of the CCU and on to a "regular" room. THEN, visitors will be more than welcome to stimulate his brain to regain it's strength. It is so hard for Joe, or me, to have to admit this. But hopefully it will just be for another day or two and he can get on to the next stage of recovery!

We love you all so sosososososo much!

Wednesday Update

Today was up, then it went down. The Day started off with Dad saying he felt better. He explained how the last three days he has felt like a 0 and changed to a .5. A small progression, but still a difference.

He gained color in his face and he is able to open up his eyes more, but can only focus on one spot or else he "swims." I fed him some more food. He actually ate a fair amount and said it tasted really good.

He had 3 therapy sessions today which completely wore him out. He sat all the way up in the bed with his feet touching the ground, but this killed his head and made him feel sick. He also had a writing test, where he had to write his name, and sign his name, and then draw a clock. These things did not look that great and it made us all laugh.

We went and looked at 3 of the possible rehab facilities that my Dad can go to and they are pretty much nursing homes with the average age of 90 or so. This was really discouraging. We know that this would make Dad feel really sad. We are still trying to talk to the insurance liaison to see if there are any other options. Let us know if you have any suggestions or options we can follow up on.

So the nurse told us that they were going to move him from Critical Care tomorrow morning to the 9th floor of the hospital in the Neurological Center. But plans have changed.

Tonight my Dad was talking to Ray Goodwin and all of a sudden started saying something was wrong. He then started dripping sweat, felt really dizzy and extremely nauseated. The nurse calmed him down, cooled down his body and gave him more pain medication and nausea medication. She said it is nothing of big concern but it really scared us. Dad said it was just as bad as Saturday night. When we left tonight, he was sleeping but said he felt so awful.

We hope he will feel better in the morning and make more progress. We feel as though some progress had been made earlier in the day but now we are back at the beginning. Keep praying for him he needs those extra thoughts and prayers right now.

We hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving with all of your loved ones. We are so thankful that our dad is alive and stable. We pass by so many other patients in the critical care unit who are on breathing machines and in comas. We are so grateful for our wonderful father. He is so strong and brave and loved so very, very much. Over the last couple days I have been constantly reminded of the wonderful man he is and what a blessing he is in ALL of our lives.

Lindsey and Stephanie

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Night Update

We just left the hospital for the night to come back home to eat and catch some rest. Dad had many more visitors today. Here are some main points:

1. Dad has had many visitors stop by to see him. This means so much to him. He just cries every time he thinks about the time people have taken out of their holiday and busy schedules to visit him. However it really wears him out if the visits are too long, so the doctors have asked us to limit all visits to 5 minutes or less. They also have rules that only 2 people can be in the room at a time, and no visitors are allowed between 2:30 and 4:30 everyday. Rules are rules we hear.

2. Today Roy Jones and Grant Larsen stopped by and I asked them to give Dad another blessing. Like I said in the last post, he complained today that the pain was worse than before. So we thought that he needed another blessing. I knew my Dad would never ask for one, since he would never want to ask for help or inconvenience anyone either. But I walked in after and he just cried saying how thankful he was for the blessing and the second they laid their hands on his head and started the blessing, he felt peace and calmness. The power of the Lord is evident in my Dad's life. We are so blessed to have the gift of the priesthood during this time. Grant also brought him some books on tape for my Dad to listen to on his ipod and his music player. When we left tonight he asked for us to turn it on for him.

3. We got him to eat something tonight! This is so exciting! All day he said everything sounded so gross to him and he didn't even want to drink since it hurt so bad to swallow. Well as some know, my Dad LOVES mashed potatoes, especially fake ones since that is what he grew up on. And he also loves meatloaf. So that is what they brought him for dinner. So he told us that this sounded good. So he ate and swallowed the meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy very well. He washed it down with some orange juice. We then brushed his teeth. We sat him up to almost 90 degrees. He said this hurt his head really really bad, but he did well.

4. He is getting another cat scan at 6:30 AM and will be done around 8:30 AM or so. This will show if he has made any progress. We will let you know the results. They want to keep him in Critical Care for at least until Thursday. Then if he makes progress, he will be moved to a regular room in the hospital for another 3 days or so.

5. We have been blessed by so many friends, neighbors and loved ones, who have stopped by to bring us food. This means so much to us. We just had a dinner of completely prepared food. Thank you so much.

Thanks again for checking up on our sweet father.

Love Steph and Linds

Pictures and updates

Several of you have asked me to post some pictures. Here is a picture of his MRI. I took a picture of the computer screen, so sorry it's not the best. And the picture is flipped. So the left side in this picture is actually the right side of his brain. You can click on the picture to make it bigger.

The bright part of this picture is the cerebellum. The brighter white part on the left part of this picture is actually DEAD and not functioning. The little circle above the cerebellum is the brain stem and a small part of that is also white, which means it is DEAD. There is not a large portion of the brain stem damaged, but still a significant amount for its size.

This next picture is of his room and my Mom talking to him next to his bed.

So I got here yesterday, with my Mom's parents. We drove in and arrived around 6:30 at night. I got here and he had so many visitors here for him. He is really loved. My Mom is completely overwhelmed and she describes herself as if she is in a "fog" and doesn't comprehend what is going on. Within 30 minutes, she had 10 missed calls. I have tried to take over for her. So please call my phone and I will try to answer. 303-903-2105. She has been updating visitors, taking them back to his room, guiding people around.. so she is very busy.

There is no change with my Dad. They sat him up this morning and he got so sick from the change in levels. He complains that his mouth is very dry, since he is talking so much. He took 3 sips of apple juice and then had to stop because he felt so nauseated. He says nothing sounds good to him. So he doesn't want to eat. They gave him anti-nausea medicine but he says he feels worse with it. He won't even move his head because he says it hurts so bad.

The doctors have told us it would take 3 days for him to start to feel any better, and today is the third so we have high hopes.

He has asked me about 4 times to read all the emails from everyone to him, but right now he is just so tired he can't even get a full sentence out. But please keep writing. I have all the comments from the blog and emails and text messages saved to read to him in a few minutes.

I wanted to add a note for everyone to KEEP praying. THE PRAYERS ARE WORKING. As some of you know, my Dad found out about a month ago he would be laid off at the end of December. Well his boss, Scott, (what an amazing man.. he is here now visiting my Dad again. He is so thoughtful and caring.) came to tell us yesterday that they are going to extend his employment until March and give him severance pay for 3 months after that. What a blessing! I hope that will take some of the stress off of his shoulders. He has been so worried about his job. I am afraid that might have something to do with this condition.

Thanks again everyone. We love you.
Love Steph

"Brain Attack"

We had the idea of creating this blog as a way to update and inform all of our family and friends on Joe's progress. First of all, we want to thank all of you for all of your love and support. We hope that you all know how much you mean to us and how much your love and support has helped us over the last 5 1/2 years. We have received so many sweet visits, emails, phone calls, and texts over the last couple of days. Thank you so much for your constant prayers, fasting, and support. We love you all so very very much.

On Saturday night, November 22nd, Joe and Rebecca went to Chatfield High School's talent show to watch Brittney perform. She did great, of course, so the three of them went to Dairy Queen after the show. Later that night Joe was bending over to place his shoes in their designated spot when he started to feel very dizzy, nauseated, and sweaty. As he tried to stand up, an intense pain began in his head behind his right eye and everything was "pulling to the right". Rebecca was immediately at his side, knew something was wrong and called the paramedics. Ten minutes later Joe was carried down the stairs and was rolled on a stretcher to the ambulance.
At the hospital many tests were performed. At first everything seemed alright until the on-call neurologist came and looked at the CAT scan. It seemed as though a blood vessel supplying oxygen to Joe's brain had been torn and oxygen was unable to get to the cerebellum and a small portion of his brainstem causing the brain tissue to die. A stroke, otherwise known as a "brain attack" occurred in this part of his brain. The cerebellum is involved in the coordination of voluntary motor movement, balance and equilibrium and muscle tone. The official diagnosis is vertebral artery dissection, which is a tear in the lining of the arterial wall. The tear can begin to heal and a scab (clots) form along the tear which can cause a blockage in the artery. Or blood can build up inside the lining of the artery and cause too much weight or pressure which may also block the artery. The doctors are unsure what caused the tear in the first place. Trauma or chiropractic work are the two most common causes of vertebral artery dissection but, Joe has had neither of these and he doesn't have other risk factors for a stroke. The damaged or dead portion of his brain is permanent but the doctors make it seem that the brain will begin to compensate for the dead area and a full recovery can be expected. As the doctor explained it to us, " he had a large stroke to a small part of his brain."
The doctors say that the next three are the most critical. He will be kept in the critical care unit at Swedish so that he can be monitored closely. Damaging concerns at this point are bleeding into the brain, swelling, and accumulating extra fluid between the brain and the skull. These things peak within 72 hours but usually would occur in the first 5 days. He has many IV's.... including one that goes directly to his heart. He is on heparin, a medicine that thins his blood so other clots are not forming and spreading to his brain or lungs. He is pale, tired, and has a very terrible headache. The doctor and nurses assure us that these are all "normal" signs after this specific area of the brain is damaged. He is alert, awake, and able to talk well. He even throws around a few jokes now and again. He is able to move all four extremities, but the right side of his body is weak. The right side of his face feels "numb and tingly like after visiting the dentist". It is very hard for him to move around in bed because of the horrible headache but he is making little efforts to please us and the hospital staff. The pain is also making it hard for him to sit up or stand. So in a couple of days occupational and physical therapy will evaluate him and his deficits that he has. The doctors have explained the importance of quick and aggressive rehab and recommended that he stay as an inpatient on their rehab floor once he is medically stable. This way he will be able to do many more hours of therapy a day. The doctors say that he may need to stay in the hospital for a few weeks but at this point it is hard to really give any type of timeline.
Brother Hulme and Brother Persson came to the hospital on Sunday and gave him a blessing. They blessed him with strength and health. They blessed the doctors who were caring for him. They blessed our family and friends with strength, understanding, and faith. It was a really great blessing. Many other visitors have come to see him. It is hard for him to keep his eyes open because he starts to "spin" but we know he appreciates the thoughtfulness.
Again, we are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. We will never be able to tell you just how much you all mean to us. We don't know what we would do without your support, prayers, love, and faith. We love you all.

The Ellsworth Family (Lindsey)