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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"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)


Mom said...

Dearest Ellsworth family,
Your family has always been very precious to ours. Joe is one of the strongest human beings that I have ever known. He will do everything in God's power as well as his own to make a full recovery. Please kiss him for me, and kisses to each of you. I will continue my prayers. With much love and hope,
Sue, April's Mom

Cyndi said...

It's so good to have this blog to check up on Joe! We Love You Joe! We hope you make a speedy recovery, we are praying for you!
Love, Russ & Cyndi

Erica said...

Dear Ellsworths:
You are in our prayers - what an ordeal! But Heavenly Father finds so many ways to bless us in times like these. We want you to know that we love you, pray for you, hope for Joe's full recovery and know that the Lord will bless your family. Erica, Brandon's Sister

Richard said...

mein bruder mein bruder! ich leibe dich and would trade places with you if it were possible!
On Friday evening I felt inspired to put your name on the Los Angeles temple prayer roll. So now you have lots of prayers from California, too.
love, R

Richard said...

We love you so much! I told Rebecca on the phone that I would put your name on the prayer list at the LA temple, but I see he beat me to it!! We are praying for you and will keep on. We especially hope the pain will slack off very soon.
Love, Emma

Anonymous said...

Joe and family...we love you all so much and wish that we could be there with you at this time. I want to thank the girls for doing such a great job on setting up this blogspot, it really is a great source of information and inspiration. I know you will have a full recovery,joe...and I'm glad that you have been able to keep your sense of humor through all of this. I have found that laughter is really the best medicine of all...love, angie (beck's sister)

Kris said...

Dear Ellsworth Family-
Please know that we love you and are adding our prayers to the many friends and family that love you guys!!!
Hang in there and we know Joe that you will make a full recovery and all will be well.
Love Craig and Kris