NEWSLETTER MARCH 2014 - PART 2
Later in July, a celebration will be held in Goroka PNG, for Adventist Aviation Services 50yr Papua New Guinea celebrations. I don't reckon Bri or I will make it to that one unfortunately.
I mentioned in February's newsletter that if the opportunity presented, I would give flying a go, which is my next goal to reach and achieve since my accident. On the Sunday of the weekend March 2nd, a program was hosted at
Achieve Aviation, founded and owned by Mr & Mrs Garry Fraser. Garry was the ATO/Chief Flying Instructor/Director of the highly reputable and successful Avondale Flying College when it existed, before being sold to Wollongong University and then being sold by Wollongong to Garry himself. I am very pleased that the heritage and quality of flight training that was offered by Avondale Flying College for 30yrs to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Commercial aviation community continues on with the Fraser's as they operate Achieve Aviation at Cessnock Airport in the Hunter Region of NSW.
As I walked into Achieve Aviation's facility and hanger I suddenly realized that this was the first time that I had walked into an aircraft hanger since I had run out of one on fire, back in January 22nd 2013, in Goroka PNG. I had been to a few airports, but not into a hanger. Surprisingly I was at ease, but couldn't help remember my last experience.
Towards the end of the day, Garry asked if I wanted to try going for a fly.
I gratefully accepted this appropriate opportunity to try flying again for the first time in nearly 2 yrs, with Garry's offer of his time as instructor and the use of a later model Cessna C182S VH-XTX owned by Cannot Be Hidden "“ Thank you Craig! I reminded myself that 2003 was the last time I had flown a C182S, on a test flight, at my previous job with a Cessna Dealer in WA, after assembling one after it had arrived from the USA factory in a shipping container. Dad also came along, observing from the rear seat.
The trickiest bit was getting in and out with my stiff knees and getting a headset on my head, with my stuck elbows! Once all strapped in, all was quite familiar and off we went. Hope Channel film crew captured the event and interviewed us. I said to Garry that I would like to do a few circuits or Touch & Go's, as those exercises involve the repetition of the "exciting" and more technical bits of piloting generally, the Take-off and Approach/Landing.
All went well, I did a couple of circuits on my own without frightening anyone or the need for Garry to feel he had to take over the controls. He was happy.
(Garry did handle the radio communication for me though, so I could focus on the flying) It did feel good to have the opportunity to try actually flying again.
Generally until I TRY a new skill again (in my recovery) I am never really sure what my ability really is. So I am VERY grateful to Garry at Achieve Aviation and CNBH for making this opportunity a reality for me!
You may have noticed a picture on my FB page posted by Warren Scale.
This was a flight I did with Leighton Judd an RA (Recreational Aviation) Instructor in a Tecnam P2002. After I landed the C182S and arrived back from my first flight with Garry, Leighton asked me if I wanted to try flying in an Ultra-light aircraft, the 100hp Rotax 912 powered Tecnam that he had there at the Cessnock airport. I told Leighton that I had never been in or flown in anything that small, but figured why not, I had seen the aircraft flying already that day and Leighton being an experienced instructor, I reasoned that this was another good opportunity.
NEWSLETTER MARCH 2014 - PART 3
Again the entry and exit from the aircraft and the donning of a headset were awkward, but once that was all settled, Leighton ran me through the controls, check-lists, and run-up before we headed off. As I hadn't flown a P2002 before we agreed that a local flight would be the go to get familiar with it rather than going into circuits straight up. So with Leighton taking care of the radio communication, he let me take off, fly around, then do the approach and landing! On take-off it felt very light and squirmish to me, but once airborne with being gentle and light on the controls, was quite smooth and stable.
I wondered how I would handle a stable approach and landing, with it being so light, but I set up the speed that Leighton recommended and we came in nicely! So that was another unexpected opportunity to try something new and experience some more aviation which I continue to be passionate about, despite my accident. Thank-you Leighton!
Since meeting another aircraft owner from QLD who was down in NSW for the weekend, I have since been up flying along with him in his twin engine aircraft in Brisbane this month as well. At least I know I still "have it" and the basic ability and experience are still there.
Following the weekend in Cooranbong/Cessnock, on Monday I went down to Sydney for an interview with Kent Kingston at Record's studio for their "InFocus" program. To my knowledge, I have not yet seen it aired.
Next day on Tuesday, it was back up at Cooranbong, 3ABN had scheduled an interview with Mum, Dad and myself, for an hour program, but it went very, very fast! Bri struggles with the publicity part, following my accident. She supports me in whatever opportunities are presented to me, that I choose to accept, but she doesn't like being part of the publicity, if that makes sense, which I understand. Basically, Bri is always there with me, but in the audience or behind the camera/s.
Even for myself, I don't do anything publicly for my own reasons or attention. The invitation needs to met at least 2 of the following 3 criteria:
1- The invitation can show and exhibit God's care, faithfulness and goodness of His character through my recovery experience
2 - That through my experience it may help and inspire others to move forward positively through their own difficulties
3 - It allows me the opportunity to acknowledge, thank, and give credit to everyone who has supported Bri and me through this difficult time.
After spending some time with my Aunty and Cousins in Sydney, following all of these appointments, Bri and I met up with my Mum and Dad to drive us back up to Brisbane via Tamworth where my Mum's parents and siblings live.
NEWSLETTER MARCH 2014 - PART 4
The four of us managed to all fit into a little 3 door Hyundai Excel
(Accent, in the USA) which Dad bought as a cheap car to get around in, rather than hiring a car for a month or so. Bri had not yet met my grandparents and some siblings of my Mum, so it was great to spend a few days with them together as a family.
On the weekend at Tamworth SDA Church I was given the opportunity to share pictures and my story of recovery. Many people at Tamworth are good friends and have known me since I was a baby and of course knew Mum even when she was growing up, so they were interested to hear my story, after hearing of my accident.
In Tamworth I went walking up the mountain/hill bush-track up behind the lookout, so another first walking up the uneven rocky track. Going up was fine, but coming down was awkward with my knees not bending very well. But we made it without falling, so that is the main thing☺
The first half of March was living out of a suitcase and on the road a bit.
As nice as it is to go away and spend time with family that we don't often see, my routine suffers. So it was really nice to get back to our little home in Brisbane and get back into our solid routine again. I just find it hard to keep up in routine efficiently when we are away, as compared with at home, so that is why we don't get out much, or stay up late in the evenings. Things are getting easier though, so in time we may be in a better position to visit.
Next day after arriving back from our trip, I was back into physio and gym at the hospital. Due to my progress and the next cycle of patients, who are earlier on in their recovery journey moving to Outpatients, my physio told me that this would be my last week for regular visits at the hospital for physio and gym! I guess it is good progress, but felt strange to be cut loose, as that has been my full-time job up until now! But I can do it all at home and at the local gym, which I have had to join up to, so I still have much to keep up with.
Last week we had a visit from Tompaul, a film maker/Director from the USA who had been in Goroka with AAS shooting footage with them. He spent an evening in Brisbane with us, shooting some follow-up footage of me/Bri and interviewing Dad. He was last here in November 2013, so he noticed my progress and wanted some more footage to capture my story for a film/documentary, which he is working on, capturing Adventist Aviation Services work in PNG, which my story is part of. He has been up to Goroka a few times with us when I worked up there, so it was interesting seeing footage of interviews that he had taken with me before my accident and now following.
The rest of March has been taken up with Occupational Therapy (OT) appointments at the hospital, for new Second Skin compression garments
(my third and maybe my last???) which are custom made every 6 months.
It takes a bit to measure, trial, adjust and get right, as these ones I wear are made in Perth WA (opposite side of Australia)
NEWSLETTER MARCH 2014 - PART 5
I no longer wear a vest, so am down to the facemask, pants, gloves and arm-sleeves now! Not having to wear my vest has been a new lease on freedom and comfort that I haven't had for a LONG time, as I wear these garments 23hrs a day. The weather is getting cooler and hence more comfortable now for me too!
This time last year, I began going through the worst 2 months of my life.
I don't mention this for sympathy or any other reason, but just to share and document where I was at 12 months ago.
I was in the Acute Burns ward, after being transferred from my 4 week induced in ICU. This is when a patient is fully awake and being pushed from being on tubes EVERYWHERE, to transitioning back onto feeding through the mouth again, learning to use a toilet again, sleep in a "normal" bed - (my bed was actually a fancy maternity bed of which cost around $20,000 from memory I was told, it had buttons that did all kinds of stuff.) Being conscious for baths and dressing changes and of course the dreaded PHYSIO!
I was given pain medication, but it didn't help. Everyday I used to beg the doctors on their round each morning for better pain relief, that the HO in my joints were causing, JUST during physio, the rest I was handling. They reckoned they were giving me what was safe and all that they could.
We tried a few different pain relief products, but a waste of time.
I couldn't believe that in 2013, we still we didn't understand the body enough to develop a short, strong, hard hitting pain relief, that could enter and leave the body quickly (like for a physio session). This highlights to me how little we still know, after Zillions of years, yet we are so confident that our complex bodies all just evolved without ANY intelligence, design or purpose.
I hope I never have to face that pain again in my life!
My physio suspected that I may have the dreaded HO, because of my extreme pain. She ordered X-rays and unfortunately, I did indeed have the (Heterotopic Ossification) HO in both elbows AND both knees "“ a complication/trauma response of the body. Again I couldn't believe that in 2013 so little is known about HO! Why it forms, how to stop it, what the best way to treat it is etc. This had been the worst part of the whole injury and has slowed my recovery by at least a year
Anyway, in respect to controlling the pain - My only hope, best friend and marginal relief was from the Antinox Gas or "laughing gas" (I don't remember it making me laugh!) Nitrous Oxide basically I believe. I would suck a 20cu/ft bottle dry by the time (sometimes before) the approximate 1-1.5 Hr physio session was over. One side effect (among many others "“ the physio would have to log the time I was on it each session, because of the serious affect it can have with long-time use) if one sucks the Antinox too hard, is nausea, and I got it twice, the worst when I threw up my nasal gastric feed tube, then had to get another put in while I was conscious.
NEWSLETTER MARCH 2014 - PART 6
My physio was relentless and consistent, pushing me in two sessions a day, 7 days a week. It paid off, and I will EVER be grateful to her for pushing me (and sticking with me when I would push her) to the limit. My arms were stuck straight and in the end before the HO set hard, we got them to a bit over 90 degrees, which is the best place to have them stuck! Otherwise, with straight arms, a patient basically cannot do anything for themselves.
I started off not being able to even roll in bed or sit up. By the end of March I could walk in a walker/push a wheel-chair. My balance was all out of whack and I needed help to stand-up. I couldn't even stand up long enough to have a shower, even holding onto rails in the shower! But I am so THANKFUL that I NEVER have fallen since then to now. It was simply not an option for me, so was a real balancing act, pushing forward trying new things, but always acutely aware of the risk of falling.
I remember the day I was challenged to walk from my room to the bathing room, maybe 50metres / less than 200ft. It felt like a 5 mile run! The bathing room was basically a special room with a big stainless steel tank with a hiab crane that would lift me up from the trolley and dunk me in the tank, lying down in a cage "“ like fish and chips being fried in oil. There I would have my head shaved; get dressings pulled off, stitches pulled out, debridement, and washed up. I looked like a lump of meat being cooked in a big pot! I couldn't bear to look at my red lobster body, arms, legs; they looked like a leg of ham "“ something that you see in the butcher or meat section of your supermarket.
The nurses would say "you're looking REALLY well and skin/grafts are healing so well!" I used to think "I must have been a sight back in ICU, if this looks good to you"
I would avoid known locations of mirrors. Occasionally I would catch a glance and be horrified at the image in the mirror, thinking, "Whoa! Who is that? Oh, that's "me""¦"¦." The whole experience was very stressful. I had gone from being a fit, healthy, strong 33 year old, to a weak, dependent, sick and useless 2 year old. I had to depend on my Mum/Dad, Mother-In Law, Sister, Bri (they would all take turns everyday in shifts 6am-9pm) and nursing staff to do EVERYTHING for me.
If I was cold at night, I couldn't even pull the blanket up on me above my chest, much less get up to turn a dripping tap off properly that a nurse had left on, sending me insane. My temperature control was all out of whack.
(Common issue with big burns, it comes good, but takes a few months.)
I could be sweating but freezing, and go from Hot/Cold and back to Hot again very quickly for no reason.
I would be lucky to sleep for a few hours each night, and would begin a new day already exhausted. (In the last year I must have lost 1000's of hours of sleep. I feel like I am still catching up.) When I was unable to move my legs (i.e. walk around) I would be given several heparin injections each day. I only had a couple of areas of ok skin, and we would cycle between those 3 areas, because they would end up so bruised from so many needles. I felt like a pin cushion.
NEWSLETTER MARCH 2014 - PART 7
I didn't feel like eating, but I had too! Otherwise I would get the nasal gastric tube put back in through my nose. So that was the biggest motivator to eat.
But I would feel nauseas every time I even heard the meal trolley coming.
One time the OT's organised a cooking exercise and after 5 minutes I was ready to throw up. Food made me sick. I had lost 15kg (I never had much to spare before!) and even though I was being fed in ICU on the tube double what is recommended, I still lost that amount of weight! The metabolism goes crazy fast with a big burn. The body just burns up protein from anywhere it can find it "“ hence I had no muscles and was a skeleton.
I had never taken so many drugs/tablets in my life! (Up to this point I had never really taken any medication and a year later I am so thankful that I am in that position again.)
I would wake in the morning around 5.00 am everyday and hope that I could move my legs and arms again, then realize/remember, nope, they're stuck. I'm a useless blob. Why did everyone bother saving me? I wasn't told about a recovery like this before I was sent to hospital, with all of these complications!
I was baffled as to why everyone had worked so had to save my life, if this was now my life! I was at peace and would have been happy to have never woken up after being put to sleep in the ambulance at Brisbane airport "“ my last memory on 22 Jan 2013.
I remember hoping that Australia was close to passing euthanasia laws any day, so I could get someone to fill out a form for me (I couldn't even do that) and then scribble my name, for consent so I could have an injection."It was my only hope, after all" I reasoned. "I can't even kill myself if I could figure out how." At that stage my hands didn't work. I couldn't get out of bed; much less find stairs or a window to fall from. There were blades and scissors all over my room, but even if I could have gotten to them, I couldn't use themâ˜º
Such was my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual state.
I have felt deeply the meaning of, Jesus' words in the Gospel of Matthew 27:46, "At aboutÂ three o'clockÂ Jesus shouted with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is,"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
I remember thinking over and over and crying out those very words.
This was the turmoil of what was going on inside of me. I was solemn and very sad, and it was torture to be left alone in my room during the day and not be busy with some activity, to keep my mind off my situation. I felt like a caged lion or some wild/free animal that was now terrified, trapped and locked up in a useless body, in an institution.
NEWSLETTER MARCH 2014 - PART 8
Then trying to go to sleep each night, there would be the endless loop of what I remember of my accident and the nightmares from that.
I would have to force my eyes open and keep them open for as long as I could, to stop the terror. Fortunately I never got hooked on sleeping tablets,
(I was sacred and very aware of the danger of getting hooked on any of the drugs), but there were maybe 2 nights that I had to request them. The staff didn't like to give them out, but my mind was racing and going crazy. I couldn't sleep. I needed something to knock me out on those two occasions.
If you were to ask my family, nursing staff, doctors, my physio, even the hospital psych or any visitors that saw me, they would tell you that I was a patient, compliant, faithful, courteous, respectful and very appreciative, hard-working model patient, which I was on the outside.
This is a small snap-shot of what I can still briefly recall of my "life" and experience March 2013. My family could recall other details I am sure! (my Mum kept a daily diary.) I give all of you and God the credit for being able to push through that horrific time of my life.
One year on from this time, I can honestly say that I am genuinely happy to still be here! I am ever grateful to my God for having been given a second chance at life, when really, I should have died many times since 22 Jan 2013.
Not everyone pulls through such an event.
NOW I understand, why the doctors, nurses, therapists, my family and so many others worked so hard to save me, believed in me, pushed me very hard and supported me so lovingly during this time. No matter how much people would tell me in March 2013 that I would be ok again one day, I couldn't see it becoming a reality for me, from where I was then.
The only "why question" I have, especially from the news we received last week on 9 April 2014 (about the death of a fellow missionary pilot), is "why was I chosen to be saved and allowed to pull through when others haven't been saved from accidents?" It is a strange feeling, a feeling with a sense of guilt attached to it. This feeling doesn't get me down, but more am left to ponder it. As a result I feel a sense of privileged responsibility (I mean this humbly) to live the remainder of my life respectfully, purposefully, and very appreciative of all experiences and everyone around me.
I will always owe my life and current quality of life to my God, the medical team, you, and every person who has contributed to my survival and journey of recovery. Be it physically, through prayers, financial support, encouragement, friendship, or whatever else. I wouldn't still be here nor could I have done it thus far otherwise.
Thank-you for your interest in my journey, I value that very much.Your support and encouragement has helped me keep a positive attitude and continues to empower me to keep working hard.
I have NOTHING to complain about!
THANK-YOU â˜º Linden
FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER 2014 - Part One
So, seeing as I have been so far behind with these newsletters, I thought I would get February's in early, as it is a short month anyway
I read with interest on Record website www.record.net.au
recently that, for all the wrong reasons, I made it into the Silver Medal position for the Top 10 Stories of 2013, see link http://record.net.au/items/top-10-stories-of-2013
(scroll to bottom) I am happy to come in at second behind a story surrounding the Pope as I don't consider myself anywhere in the same league or of the same profile of interest as the Pope and his family.
But honestly and in all seriousness, I am VERY humbled and surprised at the overwhelming interest and continued support from each one of you.
Apparently there is a saying in the journal world that goes "if it bleeds it reads"¦" (Just take a look at the content of the news tonight to see if this is true for attracting an audience.) So the initial interest and rubber necking is kind of understandable (even though I am no one special), but it is the CONTINUED and GENUINE interest with TANGIBLE support that is what has really surprised and humbled Bri and me.
The way that you all have cared for Bri and me is what has kept me positive on this unexpected event in our lives and my tough journey of recovery since.
As it has been all over most of Australia, February has been a hot and humid month here in Brisbane. This to be expected, so no real surprises.
It is the only month where we have had to use the air-conditioning through the night. I guess living in our little concrete jungle here, even if the outside temp drops a few degrees at night, the concrete stays hot and continues to radiate the heat until the next morning, when the sun heats it back up again. Just got to bear with it for a few more months and then by next summer I will be out of this monkey suit.
Congratulations to my parents who reached their 35th Wedding Anniversary on the 11th of this month! After nearly 17 years working in PNG (7 yrs the first time and 10 yrs just completed) they have officially accepted a new position in Perth, WA. They will begin Dad's new position as Chaplain at the Rossmoyne Retirement Village in August. When he last worked in WA, Dad was on their Management Board, so he is familiar with the Village and gets on well with their CEO, so a good team to be joining.
FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER 2014 - Part Two
I was hoping to have had a second run of Steroid injections this month, on my tight face scars, but unfortunately (not for me or my other fellow patients waiting for less critical procedures) several patients have been recently admitted this month with big burn injuries. So the doctors have been doing the right thing in attending to these poor souls. Every time I hear of a house fire, explosion, or bad car/tanker crash, with injuries reported, I just feel so, so bad, for the persons involved, knowing that these are real people, not just a number, who, by experience, I know have a tough and painful journey ahead of them, and that I may get to meet under unfortunate circumstances.
I meet so many great and courageous patients and their families.
I count it a pleasure to come across these wonderful people in my life, but it is sad, I guess for us all, that we need to meet this way. Life goes on, and we are all thankful to still be here and count our blessings.
It is very clichÃ© and I hate clichÃ©s, but time really is the GREATEST healer.
Given the proper treatment, therapy and self-care practices, it is a marvel at how our bodies are created to heal. (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually)
RBWH treats directly about 400 burns patients a year, in addition to providing advice and expertise to other hospitals in metro and rural QLD.
Most burns by far are caused from combustibles e.g. Fuels, LP gas, wood, house fires, car crashes, explosives etc, as opposed to radiation, conduction, electrical burns (but they do happen). Of course, not all are Big Burn injuries, but all burns are serious! Unfortunately, not all make it but RBWH's ICU "success rate" is one of the very best around. They do all that they humanly can to preserve and save life and do it very well. Most burns patients admitted are male, probably 2/3 male, 1/3 female, as a rough guess, so, many poor girls and ladies do this journey as well.
Age is representative of the general population too.
Unfortunately same patient's burns are caused from self-harm and suicide attempts. I feel so much for these patients. The circumstances in their life that caused them to hurt and harm themselves in this way must truly have been terrible, and the future they now face is even more anxious and uncertain then before. But I have witnessed some who really look at and appreciate life like never before, after surviving their burn. They become very caring and compassionate people, who reach out to others, rather than focusing only on their own problems.
FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER 2014 - Part Three
No matter who you are or how the burn occurred, every patient gets equal opportunity/access for treatment from the medical staff, which shows the kind of dedicated, professional and compassionate people that the staff are. Having said that though, the whole burns team are a tough lot of people, a very unique and special kind. (Doctors, Nurses, Physios, OT's etc) It is a race against the clock and a case of having to be "cruel" in order to be kind. They expect a lot from us as patients. I understand why, because of the extraordinary effort, time, and resources that are administered to us as patients. Only as I look back in retrospect do I realize this.
For example, the Doctors/surgeons spend the majority of their day (or night) not in a cushy air-conditioned office or roaming around the wards, but fighting for OUR lives, in very long theatre procedures, working in well over 40'C (100'F) temperatures! One Doctor has it so hot that the theatre nurses come out even before the procedure is over with heat exhaustion! So I understand why they have high expectations, because they work so hard for us and want us as survivors to make the best of the opportunities that they have given us through their hard work and sacrifice! They are especially upset when they hear of survivors who give up and tragically top themselves, which happens a lot, even several years after. We truly are blessed to live in a country where we have access to these services!
I handed back my "Disabled Parking Permit" this year. It is not something that one gets for life. The permit has to be reapplied for if a person continues to require it. Bri was very grateful for it, when she had me in the car, because it came in very handy when looking for parking in busy public car parks. But I am thankful that I actually don't need it anymore.
Just another little (or big) goal behind us!
On the 27th of February Bri and I will head down to Cooranbong in NSW, where Adventist Aviation 50 year anniversary celebrations will be held on March 1-2 here in Australia. Later in July, a celebration will be held in Goroka PNG, for Papua New Guinea celebrations. The 50 year Adventist Aviation PNG picture history book, (that was a mouthful) that Bri has been a part of producing, will also be released and available from March 1st. Bri found some cheap flights from Bribane to Newcastle and paid for them on her Flyer points so that worked out well and has cost us cheaper than driving to Sydney!
We will spend some time visiting relatives in Sydney and then drive back up to Brisbane with my parents, via Tamworth where my Mum's parents (and some of her siblings) live. Bri has not yet met my grandparents and they have had a tough 2013 as well. Despite keeping in touch regularly with phone calls, we had been hoping to visit last year but it never panned out in the end. So it will be nice to catch up in person and spend some time with them. If I get the opportunity during this time, I might have a go at doing some flying. It will be Dual of course, not solo. It would be an interesting goal to achieve. We will see if the opportunity presents or not.
FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER 2014 - Part Four
On March 3rd, while we are around the Adventist Media Network's "InFocus TV" program, they want to interview me in person, as a follow-up to the Record article that was published in late December. So keep an eye out for a monkey in a monkey suit on TV!
This time last year, I was off with the pixies in a heavily induced coma in ICU having all sorts of wild hallucinations from the wonderful drugs.
Everyone around me was very concerned, but I was miles away floating around the world (I thought). There is an important lesson here I learnt "“
Be very careful what you say or play (music) to an unconscious patient.
Tell them positive, peaceful, comforting things, and don't play music on a continuous loop, as it all goes in and the mind does crazy things with it!
For weeks I was asking Bri and our Mum's, "did this happen" or "did that happen". The dreams were VERY real and made some sense. I had missed over a month and on top of that the mind had turned all my long-term memory and current inputs from what everyone was saying, into a "reality" that I now needed to sort - to work out what was fact and really HAD happened and what was fiction and had occurred only in my hallucinations over the last month.
It was a few days right at the end of February that I was transferred out of ICU and onto the Acute Burns ward, where I was rudely awaken from my bliss! That was when I became more aware of what kind of state I was in.
It appeared I had all my bits still (arms, legs, fingers etc), but NOTHING worked and I couldn't move! That was when all the real "fun" started "¦
But I am so very grateful to still be here a year later and to be doing as well as I currently am along my journey. My progress in 12 months has been truly remarkable, but I can't take any of the credit. I owe my life and current quality of life to my God, the medical team, you and every person who has contributed to my survival and journey of recovery. Be it physically, through prayers, financial support, encouragement, friendship, or whatever else. I wouldn't still be here nor could've I have done it thus far otherwise.
Thank-you for your interest in my journey, I value that very much. Your support and encouragement has helped me keep a positive attitude and continues to empower me to keep working hard!
Linden and Bri
Newsletter JANUARY 2014 - part 1
So, here we all are already in 2014!
2014 has started in as much a rush, as 2013 finished off, for me anyway.
My Mum is pleased to have 2013 behind us all.
Mum would often say "2013 is not over yet"¦"¦don't say that"¦"¦" etc.
Our family is in no way superstitious by any means, but we can't help but recall the drama and saga that not only my unexpected accident has brought into all of our lives, but the anxiety, difficulties and extraordinary problems that we know many of you that we know and love have faced as well in 2013.
2013 has been an extra TOUGH year for many, many of us I know.
The first half of January Bri and I were over in WA together with my parents, my sister, and her young family. It was a great trip, my first time back since my big burn accident in Jan 2013. We were very blessed with the weather. Despite being in the middle of summer, we managed to dodge most of the extreme weather in Brisbane, Perth, Esperance, and Busso!
Normally I don't mind summer, but this year has been a bit tough in this full body suit of compression garments. Although there were a few warm days in WA 35-40'c, it is a dry heat so wasn't bad.
When we got back to Brisbane mid January, we had some very humid 30-35'c days, which felt worse to me, as the weather built up to typical sub-tropical storms that Queensland experiences this time of year. This time last year Brisbane was flooding. We had the air-conditioning running more than usual, even as we slept, which we never do. We set the a/c up around 26'c so it wouldn't churn through too much electricity, more just to knock the humidity down a bit.
Anyway, we spent time with long-time friends at the various towns that I grew up in, in WA. One major highlight, a week after Christmas, was celebrating my 34th Birthday on New Years day "“ my actual birthday. My sister, with my two young nephews Taitt and Elliot, made a Ginger-bread house and decorated it all up sweet for us to enjoy! We still had plenty of "wedding cake" left over as well, from when the kind people of Esperance Seventh-day Adventist church threw a surprise wedding reception for Bri and me, at their luncheon after church.So there was plenty of cake and food for my B'day!
Some people would say that having a B'day so close to Christmas is a bit of a disadvantage, but I see it as a good thing. Because it falls in the middle of the festive season, I have only had to work on my B'day once, and usually I celebrate it amongst family and friends, as there is generally a group of us all together. So this year was no different.
Newsletter JANUARY 2014 - part 2
January 9 came around all to soon and we were catching a plane back to Brisbane to begin my second year of rehab. We had a great time in WA, but at the same time it was good to return to our little home here in Brisbane.
On holidays it is hard to keep up with a solid routine "“ but I guess that is the whole reason we go on holidays is to break that cycle and routine!â˜º
The next day, I was back into the hospital for physio, gym, OT, and all that.
My therapists were all keen to hear how our trip back to WA had gone and were VERY excited to hear of reaching my goals of driving and riding a motor-bike again! My main focus while on holidays was just to do "normal" stuff as much as possible. So whatever was going on, I wanted to be involved and not hold anyone back or have people accommodating me. This was a test to see how I would fair doing "normal", rather than just my rehab routine. But despite being involved in all the active normal stuff that we found ourselves doing, running around with my young nephews, etc, my fitness had regressed a little when I got back into my program.So it goes to show, a regular exercise and gym program DOES actually work. For example, it took a while to be able to build back up to jogging 5km/3miles again in 25mins. But by the end of January I was back up to where I was when I left for WA in mid December.
21st January, I booked in for my first "bone scan". A scan where a low radio-active solution is injected into my body and then full body scans are taken to assess the level of Heterotopic Ossification (HO) activity in my Elbow/Knee joints, which is causing them to be stuck with limited range of motion. The whole procedure takes about 5 hours total, from start to finish, with 2 full scans taken, so a little involved. 1 year post the initial injury is when these scans begin to be taken, so we were close to that. I was hoping that the results would show that my HO had reached maturity (i.e. to be inactive) because at that point the Orthopaedic surgeons are confident to operate on the joints, with lower risk of the HO reoccurring.
Two days later, on the 23rd, at my Burns Review with the "Burns Doctors" I received the report and images from the bone scan. Unfortunately the HO is still quite active in all 4 joints, so too risky still to operate. This was not the news I was hoping for and Bri was very disappointed, but I guess at the right time, when the body is ready, it will be ready. We will continue to take bone scans every 6 months, until the HO is settled. It is a shame, because if I was able to begin these orthopaedic ops early this year, I recon I would be all good by the end of 2014. Now it is more likely that my recovery will drag on well into 2015, so a bit sad. Annoying too, because one of my fellow patient's had his knee done in December and his elbow done in January, and he is going well, so I was hoping I would be in the same boat. But, as the Doc's say, every person's body is different.
Newsletter JANUARY 2014 - part 3
My Occupational Therapist assessed my healing skin and grafts in the Burns Review and reckons that over the course of this year, I can stop wearing parts of my "spider-man" suit, starting with my Vest (upper torso) straight away.
So on the hot days I have now not been wearing my vest (under my "normal" clothes) to see how my skin/remaining minor scares respond. My front and back torso (covered by my vest) is where most of my donor sites come from for my grafts, and has healed up very well, so I no longer look like a patchwork quilt with different degrees of red colour and patterns ripped off me.â˜º
Because I was a little over 50% burnt, the surgeons had lots of good options for good skin to be harvested for grafts, from my torso, buttock and upper thighs, to go onto my face, arms, hands and legs. But NO, I don't have my bum on my face as some of my friends joke.â˜º I know this, because the surgeons know which skin is more compatible with other places on the body, so my forehead and minor face grafts came from my upper torso, above the nipple line, is what they tell me.â˜º
I am fortunate that I have only my OWN skin used on me for grafts. Often chicken, cow, shark "Integra" or synthetic skin may be used, but for best results, if possible, a person's own good skin is best, for acceptance, breathing, sweating, flexibility, scaring etc. That is where the difficulty of very big burn survivors come in, as they may only have 20-30% good skin to use.
(most with over 70-80% burns don't make it through unfortunately.)
The other good news of the same week, was that I passed my Occupational Therapy Driving Test. Because my elbows are stuck at around 90 degrees (a very handy place to have them stuck functionally) I had to have a driving assessment. I had been on the waiting list for months and I still had who knows how many more to wait. I wasn't worried too much for two reasons "“
First, because I figured that my elbows may even be operated on by the time I reached the top of the list (therefore no longer "disabled") and second, because I don't really need to drive in Brisbane. We walk everywhere, or catch the decent public transport of Brisbane. (Parking is horrendously expensive in BNE too.) The only time we use our car (Bri drives) is to drive to church (as it is some distance) or if we have to transport big items occasionally.
To my surprise, I got a call a day after I got back from WA saying that a cancellation had come up and did I want to do my driving test on the 22nd of January. Perfect timing, I figured, as I had just started practicing driving again on holidays in WA, and I was to find out my bone scan results the next day.
Anyway I did very well at my driving assessment because both the OT and Driving Instructor observing and assessing me soon were quite relaxed, having their own conversations, joking, with just the odd direction given to me to turn here or go there etc. When we got back the OT and Instructor both agreed that I had passed well and wished me all the best, with all the official paperwork to come in the mail and my surgeon also signing me off. So as Bri says, "Look out Brisbane, Linden is driving again!"
In actual fact though, Bri is MORE than happy and less stressed for me to drive and for her to navigate, which she does well. Bri has found driving around Brisbane quite stressful, as it is not our home town. I would help her navigate, if I was traveling with her, but she is happy now to not be driving as much. So I believe God had His hand in that plan coming together, better than I could have planned it.
Newsletter JANUARY 2014 - part 4
So for one lot of "bad" news, we got in balance 2 lots of "good" news in January. And regardless, the healing of my skin continues, as does my strength and cardio as I keep up with the rehab despite my stuck elbows and stiff knees. Overall I am continuing to improve and I will still be able to have other miscellaneous ops on my skin as planned, just that I was hoping to be all sorted by end of 2014.
Thankfully the 22nd of January 2014 came and went without any drama for us this year. The 22nd of January is what I call my "Second Birthday", 22 days after my real birthday. One year ago, I could have easily lost my present life.
(Or in any of the subsequent days that followed in transit, ICU, Acute burns ward, rehab etc.) It has taken me until Dec/Jan to be able to even bring myself to view pictures of the damaged aircraft and a damaged me of course.â˜ºI wasn't able to honestly say that I was still happy about being here, in the first half of 2013, even months after waking from my 5 week induced coma, despite ALL of the overwhelming love, care, support and encouragement from all of you, my family, in-laws, friends etc. But a year later, I can honestly say that I am pleased to still be around to share life with each of you. God has been very good and gracious to me, in giving me another chance. I say this VERY humbly "“ I won't limit it to say "second chance", as there have no doubt been many situations I can recall and countless others where I am not aware of His intervention in preserving my life.
I have no idea why God has chosen to preserve my life and why others I have known and loved, He has allowed to now be resting from us presently.
Hard to explain, but makes me feel kind of guilty to still be here "¦ Some say "Oh, God must have some BIG plan/s for YOU". Honestly, I have no idea for what purpose He has chosen to preserve my life at this stage, but I am keen to get back into "normal" life again as soon as is practical and possible, so that in time I don't have to depend on the kindness of others but can be useful to my God, family, friends and others in the community again.All I can say is "Thank-you". I am and will always remember to be grateful to God for His goodness to me. And despite the painful, tough and uncertain future that my accident from 2013 has brought into mine and Bri's life, I am convinced and know that the reason I survived, and am pulling through with a positive attitude is because of your continuing prayers, overwhelming interest, encouragement, care and tangible support.
Bri has been busy finishing off the graphic design of a limited edition
50th Anniversary Book for Adventist Aviation in PNG - a pictorial history book from 1964-2014 covering people and aircraft that have served over the last 50 years. It has taken a HUGE amount of time and effort from several people, so it is good to see it finally coming to a close. This 80 page colour picture/caption book will be released on the 1st March 2014, for the Australian celebrations in NSW and will sell for around $50.00. Once I know more details in regard to the marketing and sale plans I will post the details. PNG celebrations will be at Goroka in July and Bri has been busy designing logo's, banners, and t-shirt designs for those celebrations. Bri and I plan to be in attendance at the celebrations to be held in NSW on March 1st, but unfortunately unlikely to head back up to PNG in July.
Bri hasn't been called in this month to the casual graphic design work that she was busy working in during Nov/Dec at one of the Universities here in Brisbane. It was a blessing to us, for Bri to be able to earn some money before the year finished, so we are thankful for that work. The university already has two full-time designers, so the work Bri was getting was only their overflow work and subject to their tight budget, so if this casual job's work is not consistent, Bri will look into other lines of work in February. Perhaps some part-time Receptionist/Admin work, as she also has experience in service type work.
Thank-you for your interest in my journey, I value that very much. I sincerely thank each of you who have and are supporting me and Bri financially, with your prayers, and kind words/thoughts throughout 2013. We really appreciate each of you very, very much! Your support and encouragement has helped me keep a positive attitude and has spurred me to work hard from day one!
Wishing you and your families all the very best as we continue in this new year of 2014!
Linden and Bri
DECEMBER 2013 NEWSLETTER (Part 1)
I am terribly behind in my monthly Newsletters! As I write this Newsletter for December, it is already February 2014!
December has been a crazy busy a month for Bri and me as I am sure it was for each one of you and your families.Thank-you for all of your kind words of encouragement and support on Facebook. I am sorry I don't always get the chance to respond to each one, but I do read them all and am encouraged by each of you!
One treatment that the Burns Doctors use and administer are "steroid injections". After my last recent Burns Review (happens every 4-6 weeks) the Doctors started looking at some of my raised and tight scares, particularly the ones around my mouth on my face. I have trouble opening my mouth wide because of tight scares around my mouth. The purpose of the steroid injections is to help soften and flatten the tight, raised scares. As we approach the 12 month mark of my recovery since the burn, the doctors are starting to bring up and talk about corrective treatment and surgeries that they can now begin to do.(Because of the maturity of the scares and my stage of recovery)
They don't bother even mentioning it earlier on and of course the less surgical intervention the better in the long run, so we work hard in the first 12 months to avoid these problems. I have worked very hard and done all I have been assigned to do by my OT's and Physios, but I have discovered the younger the patient, the more rapid the recovery and less scaring occurs.
So if/when we lose the battle in some areas, I now realize there are options and things that the Doctors CAN do to help in my recovery, so we are not yet near the end of the road with options, which makes me feel less anxious about the future! Sometimes they will do the injections just with a local Anaesthetic, but when they need to do several areas, especially in sensitive areas, like the face, when possible, they put the patient under a General Anaesthetic and do all the injections in theatre. The doctors said they would book me into theatre to have these injections, which I was happy to have done that way. Less than a week later, I got a call asking of I was available the next day for the theatre visit. I said yes and that afternoon got all pre-admitted and organised. Funny, I was a bit apprehensive about "going under".
This was my first theatre visit in 9 months, and although I had been in over a dozen longer and more complex theatre visit's between Jan-March this year, in a much more critical/weak condition, I always wonder it this could be the one that I don't wake up from. Even the Doctors say "there is no such thing as a simple or minor operation" there is risk in any operation.
6 am next morning I arrived at the hospital all fasted and ready to go.
Around 11am I went into theatre and woke up around 1 pm. All went well, was a short visit, probably only 20 mins in theatre total I guess. Had a sore upper lip for a few days, where they went in multiple times/areas, with a big needle to inject the steroid solution. It did seem to flatten and soften the scares a little, so AGAIN the doctors are right! But I do need to have at least another 5-6 courses. The Doctors repeat the same treatment every 4-6 weeks, so I have a few more to go, before that treatment has run its full trial or course on me. All things considered though, it is simple and better than more skin grafts or "nip and tucking" etc.
This again highlights the benefit of staying local and with the same team, rather than self discharging or re-locating. The doctors will continue to work with motivated patients and do all that they can for us, if we are co-operative and compliant with their suggested treatments. By staying local here in Brisbane, close to RBWH, the team knows that I can attend theatre at short notice, so my treatments are administered very efficiently and more frequently, so that I can get thru my ultimate recovery as quickly as possible.
DECEMBER 2013 NEWSLETTER (Part 2)
The other highlight of my last Burns Review was that I was given a referral to have a full body "Bone Scan" with radiology to assess the Heterotopic Ossification (HO) in both my knees and elbows! Anytime after 12 months since my injury, the orthopaedic surgeons can operate on my HO, subject to the residual activity of the HO in my elbows and knees. The bone scan is the way to determine this. Some patients are ready to go at 12 months, others can wait up to 24 months. I hope I am in the former category, as I approach Jan 22nd 2014! One of my fellow patients, who was admitted a week before me, had his HO removed from his LH knee this month and is doing well "“ walking again within 2 days on his knee, unassisted. Bit sore from the invasive operation, and the tendons/muscles are stretched and weak, but he is going fine. His bending range in his knee is slowly continuing to improve.
So gives me hope!
After a busy preparation here in Brisbane for my first trip and visit back to Perth and WA, we flew via Sydney to attend my cousin's wedding on 15th Dec. (My mother's side) It was a lovely time catching up with my uncles, aunties and cousins, some I have not seen for many years. They have all heard of my accident and been following my journey. It was also Bri's first time to meet many of my Mum's family as well, so it was a great meeting/reunion. We were hoping to catch up with my Grandparents since they also have had a tough 2013, but unfortunately, they were not well enough to make the trip. The wedding was well organised and was a very happy occasion all together.
It was a pleasure for Bri and me to represent our part of Mum's family at the wedding, along with my sister and her little daughter who was born in April while I was busted up in hospital. Eliana's birth has been the highlight of this otherwise difficult year for our extended family. Amongst the difficulties and drama that my accident saga has created for all of us, we have experienced happiness and joy from Eliana's arrival. We all stayed with my sister's in-laws while in Sydney. We are very grateful to Ray and Maxine, who opened their home to us and looked after us very well. We had a wonderful time together catching up with them both, before heading off for Perth.
I had mixed feelings flying in from Sydney to Perth. Part of me was feeling excited as we flew in over the "hills" and approached Runway 03 from the south. This was all very familiar to me and felt like coming home. But another part was sad. The last time I did this trip and was home, was a year ago, when I was better, "normal", not burnt, before my accident. Now I was coming back as a burns survivor, not able to do (at this point in time) all that I used to do and enjoy. I was also a little concerned about what reaction I would get from friends and others, who had only known and seen me before my accident. This trip would be the first time that people I knew well would see me in person post my accident. So I was a little apprehensive about that.
I have no problems meeting anyone, going out in public or public speaking, but it seems to be different when it comes to people and friends who knew me well before this saga. Inside I am still the same person, but I do look different wearing this facemask and full Second Skin suit for the time being! Even I look different to myselfâ˜ºFortunately, I had nothing to worry about. Everyone was very accepting, encouraging, kind and generous to Bri and me. So many very good friends took care of us so thoughtfully and generously. (Continued)
CHRISTMAS 2013 NEWSLETTER (Part 3)
Andrew and his family generously provided a car for us to drive around in while in WA, even picking us up from the airport. We drove approx 2000km's (over 1000miles) and then were dropped back to the airport at the end!
Gareth and Chan provided us accommodation for a week in Perth, despite getting ready to move themselves! Gav provided us accommodation at his house the last week we were in Perth. Linto and Rhiannon would take me out to the beach every afternoon in Perth and exercise together "“ my first time walking and running on a beach again! Rhonda rearranged and moved out of her house to camp in the shed out the back, so that our entire family could stay together for the week or so that we had together in Esperance over Christmas and New Year! Gerzy let not only myself and Bri stay at his house for a week, but many other friends who came and went over the Christmas/New Year period. Clint and Kate had Bri and I over several times and took me out driving in his quick ute, which I really enjoyed! Shorty let me use his bike, so that I could try and ride a motorbike again for the first time since my accident "“ a goal I had been working towards all year. Bri had a wonderful time catching up with her good friends again on her own. This list could go on and on. So many good people and friends did so much for us while we were over in WA. Thank-you to everyone for ALL that you did, whether you thought it big or small, we noticed and appreciated VERY much EVERYTHING that you did and enjoyed you sharing your time with us.
Bri and I spent the first week of our time over in WA, in Perth. Our first Saturday, we attended Livingstone Seventh-day Adventist Church in Perth, a church I attended for many years and I grew up in. A special Christmas program was organised for the day, but the leaders kindly gave me a few minutes before the special program started to thank everyone for their generosity and support through-out 2013. Livingstone church and individual members that attend there, have by far been our biggest supporting community, so it was a privilege to be given the opportunity to publicly thank them and spend time together with everyone there that day.
The second week we travelled to Esperance on the south coast of WA.
I grew up in Esperance as a teen and have many good memories.
Saturday we attended church and in the afternoon, as part of a luncheon together, a surprise "wedding reception" was organised for Bri and me, with speeches, a cake, wishing well for gifts and all! Our wedding in Brisbane back in July, was a very small, low-key affair, so our friends in Esperance wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate with us, by having an informal surprise reception while we were all together!
Third week we travelled back over to the southwest of WA to Busselton, where I had completed High School before moving out of home to begin my training and career in Perth. We caught up with many friends in Busso, not only who live there, but who also spend summer holidays there this time of year as it is a great coastal holiday destination.
Before we knew it, our holiday was over and we returned to Perth for the remaining days together as a family before we all went our separate ways for the year. We had a great time catching up together with family and friends all over WA. It was so nice to spend Christmas and holidays with my parents, sister/husband and their little family (my two nephews Taitt 5, Elliot 3 and niece Eliana 8 mths) under more favourable/happy circumstances.
It was a wonderful break, just focusing on doing all the "normal" stuff that I haven't had the opportunity to do for a long time. In previous posts I have pics and stories regarding successfully achieving two big goals that I have been working on all year "“ Driving and riding a motor-bike again, while over in WA.
But returning to Brisbane for 2014 is the right place for us to be, staying close by to RBWH and continuing my recovery with the same medical team. I also find it easier to stay focused on my rehab routine here in Brisbane, as I would find too many distractions back in WA.
2013 has been a tough year, but God and all of you, His wonderful people, have been so good to Bri and me. and has made it much more bearable.
It is a tough journey with no short cuts, but I would like to think that the worst is behind me. I reckon I am around the halfway mark in my recovery.
Thank-you for your interest in my journey, I value that very much.
I sincerely thank each of you who have and are supporting us financially, with your prayers, and kind words/thoughts through-out 2013. We really appreciate each of you very, very much! Your support has helped me keep a positive attitude and has spurred me to work hard from day one!
Wishing you and your families all the very best as we begin a new year in 2014!
Linden and Bri
PART ONE NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER:
I am terribly behind in my monthly Newsletters! As I write this Newsletter for November, there are only 2 weeks left until Christmas! November has been another crazy busy month for Bri and me.
I had another interesting experience at the bank last week in my full body suit and facemask. Although the tellers in the bank seem to know me now and are more comfortable with me banking on my own with my facemask, I reckon I may have frightened another customer "¦ I was the only customer when I walked in and was greeted by the teller and we got on with the banking I needed to do. As I was banking the other teller beside us noticed another customer walk in and as he tried to greet her, she must have seen me in all my gear and got frightened "“ maybe thinking the bank was quietly getting robbed by me? I dunno. She quickly turned and ran back out, as the other teller asked her if she was ok and needed assistance. She kept going and didn't come back, so if I did scare her. I feel bad about that! I guess I never thought how other customers may react and the impact that I may have on them in all my Second Skin garments. Generally most people out in the street are ok about me, I am just careful not to scare little kids. I do often hear kids ask their parents "embarrassing" questions sometimes when they see me, which I find amusing as I see their parents trying to answer the little ones questions.â˜º
Bri's cousin had her parents over here for a few weeks visit this month, so it was a great opportunity for me to meet Bri's Aunty and Uncle for the first time and for Bri to see them again after many years, as they work in Bolivia. We had a good time catching up and spending some time together.
One weekend we went to Kingscliff for church. It is amazing who you get to meet on the off chance. I meet a relative there at the church, as well as a former pilot and all his family, who I used to work with in PNG with Adventist Aviation Services PNG.
So was nice to catch up with them and see their little family growing up. They just happened to be there that day for a family wedding that weekend, so pure coincidence!
Bri has been battling being crook on and off this month but still manages to find the energy to look after my needs and get my garments on and off everyday! She is a trooper! I am so grateful and in awe of her dedication to my recovery. As we got to the end of the week recently, Bri was hoping she would be better so that she could drive us both to church, as I am not allowed to drive yet with my bent/stuck elbows! But as we woke in the morning, Bri felt worse, so she was in no state to drive. I decided I would find a close church to attend, one that I could catch a bus to or walk to. Bri helped me get ready and off I went on my own, to a church I hadn't been to before. It was a nice surprise as I walked into church to meet relatives of some friends of ours from Perth! As we chatted, I discovered that our friends were actually over here in Brisbane for the weekend and were at church this particular day! It wasn't long before they arrived and I met them. They were nice to me and let me sit with them so it was a good time that I experienced at this new church. It was a nice unexpected surprise for me and so good to see some familiar faces again from WA, who I hadn't seen in over a year!
Bri has had a kind friend, who she only just met at church when we were at Kingscliff a few weeks ago, offer her some paid design work."Kate" (not her real name) was also at Kingscliff just for the day, as some friends of hers were getting married that weekend.
Bri and Kate met, exchanged numbers, and discovered that they had both worked as Graphic Designer's, with Kate working in Brisbane at one of the Universities in-house design department. Kate has kindly invited Bri to attend some events and social outings together with her and her friends over the last few weeks. The other day Kate asked Bri if she wanted some paid casual design work, because at her work they are currently busy with a lot of additional design work. Bri and I were a little unsure, as this would be Bri's first attempt at going back to work since I came home out of hospital, but being casual work and fortunately the university is very accommodating, Bri decided to accept this kind offer of work. She has really enjoyed the work (so far has done around 2 weeks and we are both coping ok). The other members of the design team are all very nice and we are grateful for the opportunity to have some paid casual work. We hope that Bri can continue there if the workload keeps up and justifies Bri's position.
PART TWO NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER:
This paid work has come at a good time for Bri and me, as we are saving to head back to WA for a few weeks break over Christmas and New Years. On the way we will visit Sydney to attend my cousin's wedding. This will be a great chance for Bri to meet members of my mother's family, which she hasn't yet met. Our return tickets we bought a long time ago while they were very cheap and we were able to use our credit from our previously purchased tickets to the USA for our originally planned wedding in the US, before my accident. But holidays and Christmas always seem to cost a little bit more than first budgeted! So it is nice to have a little extra money if we need it.
This will be my first trip back to WA since January this year, so it will be nice to spend Christmas with family and see friends again that I haven't seen for a long time. Hopefully they will still recognize me.â˜º Inside I am still the same person but realize I do look different wearing this facemask and full Second Skin suit for the time being! Even I look different to myselfâ˜º I am also very much looking forward to meeting people and thanking them in person for all of their kind and unselfish support of Bri and me. Each weekend we will be at a different church, so we are going to be doing a fair bit of traveling and hopefully visit/thank as many good people as possible! You are all so good to us!
We have also been very busy with a film crew that flew out from the US to do some interviewing and capture some footage of me. The Director is making a documentary on Adventist Aviation Services PNG (the organization I was working for), its history, etc, in preparation for its 50th Anniversary July 2014. He decided that my accident and recovery so far are a relevant part of the story. So he and a cameraman flew out from the US, arrived at 10 am Sunday, and we shot footage until 8 pm Tuesday night, before they flew out early Wednesday! It was busy and intense for all of us, but we had fun and a good time working together as productively as possible, so that their trip and time was worthwhile. We enjoyed getting to know each other and did interviews with my various therapists at the hospital, myself, Bri and lots of action footage "“ shopping, out on the street, housework, catching public transport, etc. Of course all of this had to be arranged and permission sought well ahead of time, as well as on the day we were shooting, so I was busy weeks before all the footage was shot teeing up everything so the time the guys were on location would be as productive as possible. I think we achieved that, except for some files of minor footage getting accidentally wiped off a USB or computer somewhere along the line!
It is often enough of a challenge just fitting in all the "normal" therapies each day that I have to keep up with, so anything additional really adds to the challenge and pressure, but we have survived. It keeps my brain developing back to normal again and keeps me on my toes so I don't get lazy. I figure I am only going to be like this for a short time, once in my life, so if there is interest in my story and people who are interested in capturing my present experience, then why not.â˜º
The Record magazine is also about to publish an interesting story on Bri and me, so we have been working together drafting and getting all that finalized. Keep an eye out for that.
So, as I said, November has been CRAZY busy, hence my lateness at getting this newsletter done.
I sincerely thank each of you who have and are supporting Bri and me financially with your prayers and kind words/thoughts. We really appreciate each of you very, very much!
Your support has helped me keep a positive attitude and has spurred me to work hard from day one!
Wishing you and your families all the very best as you prepare for the Christmas season that is upon us!
Linden and Bri
OCTOBER NEWSLETTER FROM LINDEN: Posted in three parts due to it's length. Be sure to read all three parts. (:
October has been a busy month for Bri and me, as I am sure it has been for each one of you and your families. As I write this, there are only 4 weeks to Christmas! Halloween, a new holiday we seem to now be eagerly embracing (or being forced to embrace as part of our multicultural Australia) is over now in the shops and of course all the Christmas decorations and silly seasons are now being pushed onto us to keep the retail sector ticking alongâ˜º
The weather over here in Queensland, and specifically Brisbane, is sitting steady in the high 20's/low30's Celsius, but the humidity and some rain has started to come "“ along with it some bigger storms with hail! So it is certainly a bit cooler than I was dreading for this time of year, but the humidity is taking some getting used to in my Superman Suit.
After coming home from the gym, Bri reckons I am all "yucky" as she peels off my "Second Skin" garments, before my shower. What this bride is choosing to endure every day is inspiring to me, and I am so grateful that she is my wife!
Although Bri hasn't yet been able to go back to work, she been using her design skills in several projects - including logos for her Uncle's Pathfinder Club in the US.The other bigger project that she has accepted in her limited spare time, is designing logos for some T-Shirts and banners for Adventist Aviation Service PNG's 50th Year Anniversary coming up in July 2014. Additionally, Bri has been asked to assist in the production of an 80 page "picture book" in preparation for AAS's 50th Anniversary.
This book will be a collector's piece of Adventist Aviation Services PNG history from 1964-2014 including features on PNG, AAS's operations, all the aircraft and personnel that have been involved in AAS's last 50 yrs of history, etc. The work involves selecting from over 8000 pictures, including a hundred odd print pictures from the 60's-80's, and fixing them up digitally to a suitable quality to print. The man-hours that are going into this book to have ready by March 2014 are almost uncountable! It will be a great piece of history, so keep an eye out for it when it is available for sale next year! The sale price will be less than $50.00.
Bri is still working on designing and hand-making her own wedding dress in preparation for the "fancy dress" party, as some have called it, perhaps in late 2014. She has also re-upholstered some second-hand furniture that we bought cheap for our little apartment.
Other than that, Bri continues to keep our household going, is my at home Physio, keeping me on track with my rehab, and caring for what I can't "“ either physically or due to lack of time because of my very full days.
I have recently been issued my second set of "Second Skin" compression garments that cover me from head to foot. Every 6 moths my OT's measure me up again and re-order another set. Bri is kept busy mending by hand my expensive (nearly $4000.00 a set!)
"Superman Suit" suits because I sometimes damage or wear them out before I am due for the next issue. Particularly my gloves, as I am always exercising my hands and using them to do as much as I can. If I loose or wreck them within 6 months, I have to pay for them! So we are careful and look after them as best we can.
We have been blessed with being able to sell off on Gumtree this month things that we don't need, can't use anymore, or don't have space for in our little apartment. So that has been good for our finances.
We had a one week visit from one of our very good friends, Paul, from WA the last week of this month. (See previous post by Paul Gersbach about his time with us.) From my point of view, it was great to see my mate again and to be able to spend time out and about, walking around and doing more normal things with him, rather than him visiting me in my hospital room, all busted up and not even able to walk on my own, etc., when he last visited in April.
Other friends of ours from WA were over here for a family wedding, so it was great to catch up and spend some time with them. One of them has actually been on a tough journey over the last 18 months, battling cancer, so we had a good chat about each other's journey. Even though the experience is unique for each person (and their family) that goes through a traumatic life event, there also are many similarities with other survivor's journeys. So it was a good time just relating our individual experiences. I was inspired and encouraged by Pete's positive attitude and the way that family and friends had encouraged and supported him on his battle. Talking with and seeing Pete looking so well gave me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Although my knees are still stiff and don't bend back past 130 degrees, and my elbows are basically stuck at 90 degrees because of the calcification in the joints, I am still working hard on my cardio and general overall strengthening. I am able to jog 5km on a treadmill in 30mins and my core strength is pretty good. So I figure I can keep working hard on the things that I can and the things I can't, I just have to be patient until after surgery.
Unfortunately I had to buy a new pair of shoes this month. Over the last 6 months or so, I have completely worn out my shoes with all my exercise and walking everywhere. (We only use our car on weekends when we go to church.) I have been putting it off. I have had my old ones repaired twice and once under warranty, but when they fell apart the 4th time at the hospital and I had to have my OT fix them up for me so I could finish off the day and walk home, I decided the old ones had done their job!
I decided to pull my mountain bike out and pump up the tyres. After pumping up the tyres off the car in the car park, I thought, "What the heck, I am going to see if I can ride a real bike again!" Much to Bri's surprise I jumped on, and as she looked on in horror and was in the middle of asking, "What are you doing?" I just kinda rode off around in the car park! It was a bit awkward. Try riding a mountain bike with elbows stuck at 90 degrees, Most people, including me, can't do that for long. But it proved one thing "“ I CAN balance, pedal, and control a bike again! So once my elbows are operated on, hopefully early next year, I will get back into riding again. It gives me hope that I can maybe try to ride a dirt bike at Christmas time, if I have the opportunity. And certainly that I will be able to ride a motorbike again long-term, if I choose.
My other surprise this month for Bri, was to actually RUN out in the real world on the footpath. Funny enough, having my arms bent and stuck at 90 degrees is quite natural for running, but very AWKWARD for walking and carrying things! The small apartment that we are renting is at the top of a steep hill. Walking back from the hospital one day, I asked Bri, "Wanna race me up the hill?" She said, "Yeah "¦ ok," not sure what I was on about.
I started jogging slowly, with Bri right beside me, to see how I went. Then I went a bit faster, running a bit quicker up the hill as I went. By the time I got to the top, outside our building, I had actually beaten Bri! I don't know who was more surprised?!
The only other time I made it that quick up the hill was when both our mums and Bri ran, pushing me up the hill in a wheel chair, back in April! I was scared because I thought, "If the small front wheels dig in on the uneven footpath I am going to go over with the wheelchair or get thrown out!" My other thought was, "If they trip and fall over, I will roll back down this hill on my own, faster than they are pushing me UP!" Life is very terrifying after coming out of hospital and being pushed around in a wheelchair!
PART TWO: OCTOBER NEWSLETTER FROM LINDEN
Bri is no slouch, as she walks (almost runs) everywhere and catches Public Transport as well. I would look at Bri walk around everywhere so effortlessly and I would think, "I wonder if I will ever be able to do that again?" One of my goals since my accident has been to walk as fast and for as long as she does, so I reckon I am on that target now!
Now that I am stronger and fitter and my brain is working better again, I am going out on my own more and doing useful stuff to help Bri. Not long ago, I couldn't even make a good enough judgement to physically or safely cross the road, or remember how to get home if I went out on my own. One job I did the other day "“ after Bri and I had gone through and sorted our clothes - was to carry a big bag down to the St. Vincent second-hand clothes store, about a mile away. I must have looked funny to some, in my Superman suit, waking around our neighborhood on my own with a big purple bag full of shoes and clothes! It was awkward with my bent arms, but I got there in the end.
I often joke to Bri that I feel like I fit right in our little neighborhood of West End, in South Brisbane. Anyone who knows of the area and reputation of West End, would know that it has a very multicultural and alternative flavor, where anything goes really, and no one is surprised by what happens or is seen in West End. So I add to that experience! I have had people pray for me in the middle of the street and "God Bless" me in the street.
I often wonder if they are religious or if it is just the first thing that they think to exclaim.
Overall my interactions and reactions in public are positive. Occasionally I will "feel" someone staring and looking, (I can always tell) so I just turn and look back, which then makes them feel self consciousâ˜º Often I hear people taking quietly amongst themselves, then maybe one will pluck up the courage to speak to me. Mostly people are encouraging and polite and sometimes ask how I am going and what happened etc. Others relate stories of friends or relatives who have also been burnt and recovered as they recognize my garments. Young children off course are either mostly curious and say things that embarrass their parents, or sometimes are unsure and frightened, so I do try not to scare little kids as best as I can in my mask and suit.
It's funny, because to me the world still all looks the same and "normal," but I guess to others I am the odd one out and look strange and different. I sometimes forget that, when I notice people looking, but I actually haven't really had a drama going out in public with my mask and suit on. A lot of people ask me about that, thinking that it is a big deal or issue to me, as far as self image, and say, "You are so brave". I must admit though, I sometimes I'll see my reflection or pass a mirror and think,
"Who's that burnt person in their mask and suit"? Then I realize, "Oh that's just me!"
Earlier on in hospital though, it was more of a drama looking at my unmasked face.
It took a long time to be able to look at myself. You don't realize how many mirrors are around in life, until you don't wanna look at yourself! In hospital, mirrors were in my room, bathroom, elevators, gym, shops, EVERYWHERE!
Many burns patients report (and no doubt, it will be similar for me) that after 2 years of wearing the garments, particularly those of us who are in them from head to foot, they have more of an adjustment to make when they are allowed to stop wearing the garments! We have to get used to looking at OURSELVES "“ the real us - not covered or hiding behind the garments. But have already experienced it some, where I have not worn my face mask out and in normal clothes over my garments, and people don't even realize I am any different, until they maybe notice my gloves, then see my arm sleeves etc. So that I have found interesting.
My OT's have told me that I can't walk into a bank with my face mask on, for obvious reasons. (I hope they don't read this next story) Often, I walk into the city with Bri to do business and banking etc. She has had to stop me at the entrance to the bank a number of times and remind me that I can't walk in with her! So I just chill outside the bank until Bri has finished and comes out. However, the other day I decided to walk into the city on my own for the first time. We had a cheque to bank, so I told Bri I would take it in and see if I could bank it while in the city. Before I entered the bank, I took off my big cowboy hat and took my hands out of my pockets, but due to my stuck arms, I can't take off my face mask. I tried to look as innocent and unthreatening as possible and walked in slowly to the bank, the first time I have been inside a bank in nearly a year. I walked up to the teller guy, watching myself on CCTV and passing a few other customers. It was pretty quiet, so all good. The teller looked at me a little "puzzled" or surprised I guess was his expression, as he was probably wondering what was going to happen next! I just acted "normal" and told him I had a cheque to bank. He assisted with my request and managed to bank my cheque for me. I then thanked him and walked out all calm and that was that! I figured, "Well, I'm here to GIVE the bank money not withdraw or take money out, so I should be right!" Fortunately it was all good, but not sure whether to try my luck again or not "¦
Certainly gives an interesting perspective to life getting around in a full burns compression suit. Things I once took for granted I have to be careful now I guess.
PART THREE: OCTOBER NEWSLETTER FROM LINDEN
Another money story to finish "“ The other week Bri and I came home from church, the night of our Federal Election actually, where Mr Kevin Rudd was removed as our Prime Minister for the second time (who is also our local Member of Griffith and now we in Griffith have to vote AGAIN in a Bi-Election because he has just resigned from politics!)
Anyway, as we pulled into our driveway we noticed a bit of leather on the sidewalk.
I said to Bri, "Did you see that? Looks like a wallet." She agreed. I got out of the car as Bri was parking it, and decided to walk back up to the footpath and check it out. Sure enough, it was a wallet."It must have just been chucked away after someone was robbed" I figured. "And it's right on the footpath. Someone else would have taken it by now if it was of any value. Surely we aren't the first ones to come across this wallet." But I thought I may as well pick it up and investigate. I opened it up and found some cards and ID inside. "Poor bloke," I thought, "Well at least I can get his wallet, license and cards back to him". Then looking a bit further, I found another part to the wallet.
"My goodness! It has money in it!" I counted it out - $120.00! I walked back down to Bri with the wallet. "This poor bloke has lost his wallet and a heap of money for the night" I said. "How can we get it back to him?" My first thought was we could try Facebook . Everyone is on that now. We had his name, a picture ID of him, and his GF! But do you know how many people of the same name are on FB? We messaged a few who looked like the same guy but no one replied. No luck there, so I called the police and reported our find. "We'll come around tomorrow - Sunday - and pick it up" they said. Sure enough they did. I came out in my Superman suit with the wallet and gave them the story and showed where we found it, etc. They couldn't believe that someone would bother handing in a wallet, with all the cards, ID and ALL the money that we found in it! I said, "Nah, it's just the right thing to do and if the same was to happen to me, I would HOPE that someone else would do the same for me" The Police gave me their report and said if they couldn't find the owner (it hadn't been reported missing yet) within 6 weeks. they would advise me and I could put in a claim for it. I haven't heard anymore, so I hope Ben has gotten back his wallet safely with the $120.00 still in it!
Thank-you for your continued care and interest in Bri's and my life, as I recover from my Big Burn injury earlier this year.I sincerely thank each of you who have and are supporting us financially, and with your prayers and kind words/thoughts. We really appreciate each of you very, very much! Your support has helped me keep a positive attitude and has spurred me to work hard from day one!
Wishing you and your families all the very best!
As of today, we have reached our $50,000.00 goal for Linden and Bri. A huge thank you to everyone who has so generously donated! Your financial gifts have been such a huge blessing. However, this goal was set almost a year ago before we knew exactly what their needs would be. The doctors are estimating it will still be close to another year before Linden is able to start work. They are still waiting for the H.O. in his elbows and knees to reach full maturity before they can do surgery to remove the bone and thus restore his mobility. He will also require additional therapy post surgery to regain what he has lost due to the H.O. Under Australian law, Linden does not qualify for disability, neither was he eligible for workman's comp. He and Bri have been pretty much dependent on your donations for their day to day needs. For all our friends who live in the States, I just want to point out that the cost of living in Australia is pretty much double what it is here in the States. So while there continues to be a need, we will leave this site up. Again, I just want to thank each and every one of you for your caring hearts and generosity. God bless. Bonnie
A lot of people have said that they are inspired reading my updates etc (of which I am behind - I haven't finished Oct's Newsletter yet and Nov is almost over!)
I am ever grateful to the dedicated surgeons who saved my life and the unsung hero's - the nurses who nursed me along in ICU and on the Acute burns wards and Rehab facility.
But the real hero's who have worked with me from day one and almost everyday since (and still are) are my Physio's and Occupational Therapists.
They have helped me learn to breath again and moved my limbs around in ICU.
Then taught me how to sit and stand up. How to walk, stretch, run again.
How to make my hands work again and cook.
Have made me clever devices to eat, brush my teeth, shave.
Splints to help my skin heal and stretch.
Measure and order my "Superman Suits" the list goes on!
To give you an idea of the sort of wonderful people that "my" therapists are, (apart from raising their families) they do all this full-time and over-time at work everyday for me and 100's of others each year - and then on their time off do things like this -
Participate in a 1 week long bike ride journey from Perth2Sydney - a 4200Km Journey riding everyday at least 150Km each!
Why? For a good and worthy cause - Black Dog Institute, a fundraising ride, raising awareness for Depression.
Check out - "perth2sydney.gofundraise.com.au"
My OT was just one of only 5 female riders among a team of around 30 gun male riders.
On the ride they would ride across the desert of Australia, 150Km each, covering 600km/day total, then camping on the road and prepare for another big day.
Each day began at 5am and finished often at midnight!
Relay teams of 4 riders will attempt to cover the 4,200km distance between Perth and Sydney in one week in November 2013. Each rider will cover over 1000 kms whilst raising money for Black Dog Institute
Ms Smith I will call her, just completed the ride on Sunday and was back at work on Monday!
Definitely a big tick off her "bucket list" she reckons!
Each rider has a target to raise $3000.00 each. Ms Smith has not quite reached her target, but has completed her ride, so if anyone is interested in supporting contact me for detail to donate thru perth2sydney.gofundraise.com.au
So far the ride has raised nearly $200,000.00 in total.
SS - Thank-you for your tireless, dedicated efforts in helping me on my burns recovery and congratulations on COMPLETING Perth to Sydney across on your bike! - For a great and worthy cause.
You inspire ME and are a hero!
Paul Gersbach: After recently spending close to a week with Linden and Bri I am truly amazed by how far Linden has come. It was mid-March when I saw them last "“ the day Linden was allowed outside the hospital for the first time since the accident. At that time it was taking him about 5 minutes to stand up from sitting in a chair. The day I arrived on my recent visit we walked into Brisbane CBD and back, around 3km return, and just before we got home he asked "Do you want to go for a run?" and I agree and say "yes". It turned out to be a couple of hundred metres uphill and to be honest, I had to put the hammer down to keep up with him - this is Brisbane on a 30 degree day where the humidity is quite a bit higher than home, not forgetting he is wearing a pressure suit covering basically all of his body. While it was a day off any rehab, physio, gym and OT appointments there was no day off for him. It was truly inspiring to see him continue to do his exercises, stretches, splints etc and to see what he goes through with little or no complaint. One day I went along with Linden to his gym session, which lasted close to 2 Â½hrs. While there I chatted to his gym therapist and she said something similar to "I wish all our patients did their exercises with as much determination as what Linden does. He puts in so much effort!" I had a go at a few of the exercises he had been doing and they were no "˜walk in the park'.
While the above makes Linden sound like a supreme athlete, he is!! especially when you consider how far he has come in nearly 10 months of hard work. I'm certain we are all looking forward to when the HO (calcium growth) in his elbows and knees is removed and he can regain movement in his elbows and increase movement in his knees.
Please remember to keep Linden, Bri and their families in your thoughts and prayers and also to support them with friendship and financially as well.
Linden and Bri, I'm looking forward to catching up and spending more time with you both soon.
Linden in his full body "second skin" pressure suit.
Part 2 September Newsletter:
I saw Matt up at Redcliff the other Sunday cooking away, which is his former profession and still passion.He is also awaiting Orthopaedic Surgery on both his elbows because of Heterotopic Ossification and it still being active. His elbows are bent with limited range at around 90 degrees similar to how mine are.Unfortunately I didn't get to meet him as he was quite busy both times struggling away with his bent arms when I saw him, but one of my fellow patients has spoken with him quite a bit. Great people who are all very generous and are moving on with their lives as best as they can after such tragedy!
This month I was reminded how fortunate I am to be alive, as I heard of respected aviator and well known local identity - Gerry Gould's plane accident on Wed 18th Sept at Geraldton Airport in WA.
He suffered 70-80% burns but sadly passed away only two days later on the 20th Sept 2013 in Royal Perth Hospital. His burns would have been an extremely tough recovery, but from what I hear of the man, he would have given it his best shot!
Last month I spoke of going to the Orthopaedic Knee Specialist about my HO in both Knees. This month I got to go see a very highly regarded Upper Limb Orthopaedic Specialist, who is experienced with HO, regarding my bent and stuck elbows at 90 degrees - actually a "very good" place to have them stuck for functionality. I worked VERY hard with my tough little physio in the early days to get my stuck straight elbows to bend up at 90 degrees and that was where they ended up stuck! I am seeing the struggles one of my fellow patients is going thru with his elbows still stuck basically straight "“ you can't do hardly ANYTHING in that position. Anyway he got me to take some more recent X-rays on the spot, cause my last X-rays were in March and May. The difference in HO Calcium bone growth was very noticeable and obvious as to why my elbows are all but stuck!
He took it in his stride and even without Bone or CT Scans, reckons he can Cut, Grind, Scrap and Pick it out so I can get back to at least 80%-90% range again! So was a very good visit which encouraged me very much and gave me some much needed hope!
Most medical people give very pessimistic diagnosis' generally, so was a nice change!
From here (as with the Knee Specialist) I have to wait at least until Feb 2014, which will be around the Anniversary of my accident. Surgeons won't touch HO for at least 12mths from the initial injury. If they go in too early it can flare up and come back again more aggressive. So Feb 2014 I will have a Bone Scan done to detect the level of activity of the HO
(I am praying that it will be no longer active)
If it is still active I go away with my stuck elbows and wait another few months and then have another Bone Scan etc. Most people are good to go after 12mths, but some "“ like poor Matt Golinski -are close to 2 yrs waiting for HO activity to settle down!
If at Feb 2014 the Bone Scan says the HO activity is NOT active - I have X-rays and CT Scans done to cover the knees and elbows, which the surgeons can then make a plan as to how they will enter the limbs and go about the surgery to remove the HO from around the bones, joints, tendons, nerves etc. The more HO they can remove, without damaging and causing trauma to other parts inside, the better will be the ultimate result, after I work hard again with physio to get the limbs working again straight away. Going in as a Private Patient, I will be able to have surgeries done within weeks of the above Scans I am told at this stage. It will likely involve at least two Operations, maybe more. I am hoping the two surgeons can do a Knee and Elbow each respectively in 2 ops. Otherwise it will be 4 operations, as they won't do all 4 or a set in one operation, as it will be too immobilising for me. Ideally the plan is "“ RH Elbow/LH Knee followed by 6 weeks of Physio, Then LH Elbow/RH Knee with another 6 weeks of Physio on them. Done that way so I can still get around using crutches. Then maybe some skin grafts and release operations, if the skin around elbow won't stretch. We think the skin around Knees will be ok??
This Hetertopic Ossification (HO) has been by far the biggest and most painful complication with my Burn! It is what is holding me back the most from progressing more quickly back to employment again. But I just have to keep working hard on what I can that DOES work. Bri reckons I am getting better, cause I am advertising on Gumtree (like Craig's List) some of our things that Bri and I are not using or that we can't fit in our little one bedroom apartment. Those of you that know me a bit would remember that I am always selling off stuff that I don't want or need anymore on Gumtree.
I figure better to sell off things that we don't need or that I can't use (for a time at least) rather than have them deteriorate and go rusty etc. Helps keep money ticking in to our little household as well. So far we have been successful in selling off most of it for a reasonable price.
But on a more serious note, I do feel my head is clearer now and I can start doing more on my own without Bri's help. In the early days I found it stressful to make a simple decision. Even crossing the road was a big deal and VERY confusing to me to make a sound judgement. I was very concerned about it, but I seem to be mending up ok in the head department as time progresses.
South Queensland Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church has had it's Annual Convention, known as "Big Camp" which ran for 10 days or so.
It has been my first in "Big Camp" attendance in 9 years, as I have been working in PNG. Bri and I attended just on the two Saturdays, due to my rehab schedule. Many people were game and bold enough to respectfully come up and say Hi after recognising me and Bri. I was blown away by how many people have been following my progress and recovery, as well as telling me that they had been and are raying for Me and Bri! So very humbling and encouraging!
I account my survival and positive recovery so far, to each of you who have and are faithfully praying for me and Bri. God has seen fit to answer our Prayers! He is alive and at work in people's lives I can say!
Due to the interest in my story from the first Saturday we were at "Big Camp", the organisers gave me and Bri the opportunity to be interviewed in the Big Tent just this last Saturday for approx 10mins. It was by far our first BIG public appearance. We were catered for ashamedly well by the Superintendent of the Convention, organising parking in the main camp area which is an exclusion zone to any traffic on the days we attended. The South Queensland Conference has adopted Bri and I so very graciously and have been very kind to our family. The leaders of the Conference began visiting my family, Bri and myself from the moment I arrived in ICU, and supported us all after I was on the Acute burns ward. Their Chaplin has visited me throughout my recovery and we remain in contact even now. Several Retired Pastors of the Conference keep a look out for Me and Bri and have been VERY good to us.
But my sincere thanks has to go to each of you who have and are supporting me and Bri financially, with your prayers, and kind words/thoughts.
We really appreciate each of you very, very much!
Your support has helped me keep a positive attitude and has spurred me to work hard from day one!
I am hoping to post a heap of pictures soon of different things in the coming posts, as I have time.
I encourage you to view first before showing younger people perhaps though.
Wishing you and your families all the very best!
Linden and Bri
Newsletter SEPTEMBER 2013
How fast is this year going?!
September has been a busy month for me and Bri as I am sure it has been for each one of you and your families, so as a precursor, this newsletter may best be read thru when you have some time.
As many of you may have noticed the weather over here in Qld and specifically Brisbane has been warming up with many spring records being exceeded. The projected forecast looks like we may be in for an above average summer. Usually I anticipate the warmer weather each year, but this summer could be a tough one for me for two reasons . The first being that I wear a full "Second Skin" compression garment/suit. Although it does breathe quite well, it is still a complete additional covering on my body that I am not used to wearing.
Secondly my grafted skin "“ 50% of my total body area, predominately my Legs and Arms - does not breathe or sweat as my normal skin does. Fortunately my donor skin site (for grafts) on my Front/Rear Torso are healing up well and do still breath and sweat. I figure this will be my toughest summer, but should be right there after, with my body better healed and not needing to wear my pressure suit garments.
My pain management is going well, I am off all Opiods now. My remaining medications are very low dosages of Lyrica (for nerve pain) Indomethacin Anti-inflammatory and Omeprazole to look after the stomach from the Indomethacin.
I am very happy with this because it is saving us money being on low dosages of medications and the Opiods are Prescription drugs, so meant I needed to go to a GP every week for the Opiod Prescriptions, but more importantly, the less drugs going into my body the better. Opiods can be addictive too, so glad I didn't get hooked. I know some patients over two years since their accidents and burns, who are still on very high dosages of medications and addicted to the Opiods. I have been undoubtedly BLESSED I believe!
I don't know if the body gets used to the pain, or the healing of body, probably a combo. To give perspective to pain thresholds "“ women who have suffered a Big Burn with Hetertopic Ossification (HO) in limbs, AFTER giving birth to their children, have reported that the pain level associated with the burn and the HO particularly, is much worse.
So ladies, I guess have a better understanding now, than I once would have, of the pains you have gone to have your children. (:
With skin growing/healing and the wearing of the Compression face I need to be careful of Foliculitus -
(Infections associated with little hair follicles getting infected on my new skin) particularly in my beard line on the face. As a result I need to keep my head shaved every week and my beard line shaved every second day. If that still doesn't work, one way to control the foliculitus is by plucking out the hairs from the infected skin area "“ as advised by my top surgeon. After the other pain I endure, plucking hairs from my beard line is a non event fortunately.
So I guess my body has gotten used to pain, as plucking hairs from my face, is not something I would have endured well before!
I attended another Burns review with the Burns Doctors and Surgeons who did my Operations earlier in the year. They are all pleased with my recovery and progress. The top surgeon is stoked I am off Opiods already, particularly because I not only have pain from Burns, Donor sites and Grafts, but the dreaded Heterotopic Ossification in Both Elbows and Knees, which by far is/has been the cause of my biggest pain!
My original Occupational Therapist also did my review that day and is also very happy with my recovery to date, which she puts down to my hard work with the splints and therapies that Bri and I do. I have found that the more diligent and hard I work as a committed patient to my rehab, the more effort and help I receive from the Medical team overseeing my recovery. So win win for us all!
I also received at the Burns review, my first new issue of garments "“ every 6mths I get 2 new sets of garments. If I lose or wreck them within 6mths, I have to pay for them. I wear each SET, every second day 23 Hrs a day (the other Set is washed and dried everyday.) So after 6mths of wearing them every single day, they get loose (relatively) and pretty worn.
I am still going into the RBWH Hospital Mon-Thurs for Physio, Gym and Occupational Therapies. Usually takes care of 2/3's of a day. The other days Bri is my Physio at home. My balance, strength and endurance/cardio are all improving.
I now walk, jog, cycle and row at least a mile every day. I can now climb steps two at a time (haven't been game to go down steps that way yet!) I can now get myself off the floor unassisted, which sounds easy, but with arms and knees that don't bend much past 90 degrees, is quite tricky.
It has been a tough slow journey. Where I started in late Feb 2013 was learning to/getting strong enough to breathe again! (After being in an induced coma for 5 weeks.) From memory it took a few goes before I could breath on my own and a few touch and go nights. I remember the Physio's yelling at me "Breath Linden, Breath" after the tube was pulled out, and me trying as hard as I could to keep breathing!
The other issue I had which is common with Burns patients is a crazy fast metabolism and a racing heart rate. At night my heart rate was usually up at 130BPM, the highest was 145 one night. Around 135BPM (from memory)is when the Emergency Button is pushed and suddenly in my room is Doctors, Nurses, Physios etc and I am getting hooked up to ECG machines then whisked off to have Heart scans and all sorts of stuff in the middle of the night. After a while the team got used to my high heart rate, but it took months to go down below 125BPM at rest.
My Chiropractor is seeing my posture and leg length even out now "“ I had one leg longer than the other which was messing up my pelvis and causing lower back pain. He has also given me exercises to do, so I keep very busy! He reckons I am one of his most committed patients so that is why the good result there he says.
I am at the stage now where I can encourage, inspire and give some hope to other Burns patients who are earlier on in their recovery from myself.
I can relate to their current predicaments, pain and feelings, cause I have been there. Even though I (and my peer patients) say the same kinda thing as the medical staff, when I/we speak to the patients, it seems to actually have a better impact and taken on board more. I can only guess, because they perceive that I/we have already been there and pushed thru, doing what our therapists told us to do. i.e. They will get a similar good result as what they perceive in me (or my other peer patients) if they put in the hard work and push thru the pain.
One guy who is struggling with bad HO as well in the elbows told me the other day "Linden, You give me hope!"
In the end we all encourage and inspire each other.
I look up to others ahead of and behind me, and they do the same, because we are all on our unique journey to recovery. One guy lost both his arms below the elbow "“ no hands now. One girl in Yr12, lost her Dad and Step Mum in a house fire that she and her sister just escaped (with Burns.) Matt Golinski (Celebrity Chef "“ Burned 40%) lost his wife 38 and young family of 3 daughters 12 and 10 "“ including twins on 26th Dec 2011. Turia Pitt at 24 lost her former beautiful body and now struggles with a deformed body, both in appearance and function. (Burned Sept 5th 2011 in the Kimberlies of WA) Google these names, they are inspiring people.
Turia, 2yrs after her burn has just released a book "“ "Everything to live for!" I missed getting along to the release in Brisbane on 10th Sept, but I imagine that it would be an inspirational read!
I saw Matt up at Redcliff the other Sunday cooking away, which is his former profession and still passion.He is also awaiting Orthopaedic Surger
From Linden: I was asked by my physio therapist to write out what a typical daily routine looks like for me. I thought some of you might be interested in an insight into what I get up to each day. This is how it generally looks.
Remove LH Thumb splint
Remove RH Arm splint
Dress in Outer Garments "“ Normal Clothes/Shoes
Remove LH and RH Second Skin Gloves to remove Finger Splints
Re-moisturise LH and RH hands, install "Day" Second Skin Gloves (Bri Assistance)
Take Morning Medications
Mix up Protein Drink
Prepare and Eat Breakfast
Clean up dishes and put away Dry dishes from Night before
Organise things to take to Hospital for the Day
Leave home, Walk to Bus Station "“ 1km
Catch Bus to Hospital
Prepare for Physio Stretches
Exercises in Physio Gym
Occupational Therapy "“ Upper Limb Group
Depart Hospital to Bus Station and Catch Bus to Cultural Centre
Walk Home "“ 1 Km
Prepare Lunch and Eat
Put away Breakfast Dishes
Clean up from Lunch and Wash Dishes
Chiropractor Exercises (currently 30mins/Day)
Prepare Medications for following day
Return missed phone calls while at Hospital
Take care of Business "“ Check emails, Banking, Tax, Shopping
Appointments "“ GP for Medical Prescriptions, Chiropractor etc
Blog Progress Updates
Remove Dry Second Skin Garments from Clothes line
Arrange Clean Garments, garment installation aids, Moisturiser, Silicon and other creams/dressings for getting redressed after shower
Bri Assistance "“
Remove Second Skin Garments
Inspect body/skin for wounds, skin break-down and infections "“
Pluck infected facial hair/s, Deal with infected follicles.
Put Second Skin Garments in washer
Shower and Dry
Bri Assistance "“
Dress any wounds
Moisturise whole body skin
Apply Silicon to Scars
Redress in Clean full body suit of Second Skin Garments
Remove Second Skin Garments from Washer
Hang out Garments to Dry
(Bri Prepares Tea while I am Showering)
Clean up/Wash Dishes from Tea and Cooking
Take Evening Medications
Fit Mouth Splints "“ 2 Types 30-40mins on each minimum
Fit LH Thumb Splint 1.5-2.0 Hrs
Fit RH Arm Colello (Supernation Splint) 1.5Hrs
Remove Gloves, Re-moisturise LH and RH Hands,
Bri Assistance "“
Install Thumb or Finger Splints for the night,
Reinstall LH and RH Gloves
Facial Skin/Scar Massage and Re-moisturise
Fit Face Mask
Apply Ointments to Upper Lip and Eyes
Readjust Face Mask
NON Hospital Day
Several nights per week, I struggle to get 6-7hrs of sleep and often get up 2-3 times per night, so I try catch up on days when we don't have an early start at Hospital or for other Appointments
I find I need more "“ i.e. 9-10hrs sleep than I did prior to my accident to maintain a balance of positive attitude and general endurance/stamina to perform my daily routine consistently without getting very run down.
8.00 "“ 10.00
Remove LH Thumb splint
Remove RH Arm splint
Dress in Outer Garments "“ Normal Clothes/Shoes
Remove LH and RH Second Skin Gloves to remove Finger Splints
Re-moisturise LH and RH hands, install "Day" Second Skin Gloves (Bri Assistance)
Take Morning Medications
Mix up Protein Drink
Prepare and Eat Breakfast
Clean up dishes and put away Dry dishes from Night before
Chiropractor Exercises (currently 30mins/Day)
Walk to Local Shops and/or Walk to City to do other Business
E.g. Groceries, Buy Medications, fix shoes, post mail, banking etc
Prepare Lunch and Eat
Put away Breakfast Dishes
Clean up from Lunch and Wash Dishes
Prepare Medications for following day
Return missed phone calls/Make Calls
Appointments "“ GP for Medical Prescriptions etc
Blog Progress Updates
Physio Stretches at Home with Bri (currently 2-3 times weekly)
Remove Dry Second Skin Garments from Clothes line
Arrange Clean Garments, garment installation aids, Moisturiser, Silicon and other creams/dressings for getting redressed after shower
Remove Outer Garments - Shoes/Clothes
Bri Assistance "“
Remove Second Skin Garments
Inspect body/skin for wounds, skin break-down and infections "“
Pluck infected facial hair/s, Deal with infected follicles.
Put Second Skin Garments in washer
Shower and Dry
Bri Assistance "“
Shave Head or Hair to prevent Infections (weekly)
Clean/Check Ears for Infection
Dress any wounds
Moisturise whole body skin
Apply Silicon to Scars
Redress in Clean full body suit of Second Skin Garments
Remove Second Skin Garments from Washer
Hang out Garments to Dry
(Bri Prepares Tea while I am Showering)
Clean up/Wash Dishes from Tea and Cooking
Take Evening Medications
Fit Mouth Splints "“ 2 Types 30-40mins on each minimum
Fit LH Thumb Splint 1.5-2.0 Hrs
Fit RH Arm Colello (Supernation Splint) 1.5Hrs
Remove Gloves, Re-moisturise LH and RH Hands,
Bri Assistance "“
Install Thumb or Finger Splints for the night,
Reinstall LH and RH Gloves
Facial Skin/Scar Massage and Re-moisturise
Fit Face Mask
Apply Ointments to Upper Lip and Eyes
Readjust Face Mask
Does not include the following which we have to fit in around our schedule as best as we possibly can -
Burns Review at RBWH appointment every 4-6weeks
Occupational Therapy Garment Reviews
Pain Doctor Appointments at Brisbane Private Hospital
Knee Orthopaedic Specialist Appointments at Brisbane Private Hospital
Elbow Orthopaedic Specialist Appointments at Saint Andrews Hospital
GP Appointments in City for Prescriptions
Spending time/Visiting with Relatives/Friends
It was brought to my attention that Linden's August 2013 letter was too long and it got cut off in the middle of a sentence. Apparently there is a limit to how much you can post here. Sorry about that. I am posting the last half again.
Linden's August 2013 letter continued:
This month I have had another Burns Review with the medical team of Skin/Burns Surgeons, Physio's and Occupational Therapists, as I do every 4-6 weeks. I actually had this time, as my doctor, the surgeon who did several of my operations and skin grafts. He is a very well known Professor in burns, etc. This was the first time he had seen me in 7months or so, and was happy with "his work" on me and the progress with my skin and rehab in general for the stage that I am at on this journey. It was good to meet again under much better circumstances for us both, than the last times in ICU and Acute burns ward.
One of my goals in physio is to learn to run/jog again. We have been working up to that with improved walking "“ 2 miles a day - and balance and strengthening exercises, etc. I reached that goal this month and am now jogging 1 mile a day, amongst all my other gym work, exercises and stretches. Still slow progress, but considering I couldn't stand up on my own in March or lift a pillow, it is good to look back and see where progress has been made.
Bri was in with me on one of my physio sessions and the physio mentioned that vacuuming would be good exercise for me "¦ Bri was quick to pick up on that and seeing that I am more balanced and stronger now has put me to good work every Friday vacuuming our carpets! But in all seriousness, it is good to keep finding things I can do to help and it makes me feel not so useless and a burden, with my stuck elbows and stiff knees.
We have continued to try and make it along to church as often as we can again. I can never remember being away from church as long as I have been so far this year, so it has been good to head back again. It has been hard though, to be regular, just because by the weekends we are just so worn out and fatigued. But I am slowly getting more strength and endurance. Everyone has been so kind and supportive and it is humbling and overwhelming to meet people for the first time who come up and say that they have/are or will keep praying for me! This has been by far the biggest reason for my continual positive recovery so far.
Last week I did my postal vote for our Federal Election here in Australia on 7th Sept. I look forward to a better next 3 years as compared with the previous disappointing government of the last 6yrs. So by the time you read this we will all know who our next government and leaders will be.
One of my goals with my Occupational Therapy is to get driving again.
But due to my significant current injuries/disabilities with my elbows and knees not working properly, my OT has recommended an OT Driving assessment test for insurance and legal purposes, because of new laws in Australia after a person was not able to control his car well and killed a 2 year old child.
(Crazy "“ according to Centrelink I am not disabled "“ so no financial assistance from government while I am not able to work, but then another government department says I have a permanent disability so can't drive unless I pass a $500.00 driving test!) I have been put on a 10 month waiting list for that, which is ok, because hopefully by then I will have had my elbows and knees operated on and should be even more mobile and functional anyway. Otherwise, it is a $500.00 test if I don't wait and do it privately! So for that money I reckon we can afford to wait! In the meantime I am walking and catching buses to hospital/home every day during the week, as the patient transfer service has now expired for me.
Many of you may have seen the Story of Turia Pitt recently on Channel 9's 60 minutes program, which many people have been talking about this month. She suffered 70% burns to her young body in late 2011 up in the Kimberlies of Western Australia. I remember seeing her story in early 2012 and being profoundly impacted, not knowing I would be on a somewhat similar journey 6 months or so later! I even prayed for her and Michael for several months after seeing the first story about her on 60 minutes. So it was good to see her progress as she and her heroic partner Michael keep journeying together! Their life has been shattered and changed forever, but they keep moving forward TOGETHER showing us what real love looks like and means despite the injustices of this life. It reminded me that our husband/wife/partners are the REAL heros in our recovery journey. Not everyone is so blessed and fortunate, as in the case of the TV Chef I mentioned earlier, who lost his wife and 3 children in their house fire the day after Christmas 2011. Anyway both good stories to look up online sometime if you have the chance.
I have been trialling a product of skin lotion to moisturise my skin with "“ as I have to everyday after my shower. The product is Macadamia Naturals "“ Professional Lotion manufactured down the road locally by Macadamia Oils of Australia. They are trying to break into the health care industry with their product so a relative of Bri's, who works in the Macadamia farming industry, supplied some to me to trial and after trialling all the other recommended natural lotions and moisturisers by my therapists, Bri and I both agree that we like this General Purpose Moisturiser best. The company asked me to write about my experience and a testimony on the product, which I have done, so one of the testimonials on the Macadamia Oils website is my experience.
It is working well for me and is economical - $24.00 for 1 Litre, as we go thru a 1 Litre every month, so that had to come into it for us at least. We have been blessed to have found and been supplied with a very good high quality moisturiser. Anyway we have been very happy with the lotion as a moisturiser and nice to support a local company as well, so if you are looking for a good natural moisturiser have a look online "“ www.macadamiaoils.com
This month Bri and I enjoyed a one night "Honeymoon" since our Registry Wedding in July. Some good friends from church asked if we had had a honeymoon, after hearing of our wedding, but we said we didn't have money, time, and weren't up for it, etc. They thought that this was just not a good thing, so they booked and paid for a nice room in a lovely city hotel for Bri and me on a Saturday night this month. It was so nice to go somewhere different from the hospital or home, even though it was in the same city. We enjoyed our little "honeymoon" and are so appreciative of the thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity of good people! Thank-you!
I will finish on one last good story of how we are being blessed. Since coming out of Garu, the Rehab facility, in May, I have been fortunate to have had a patient transfer service transport me to my Outpatient rehab session back at the RBH Hospital where I had all my initial surgeries. During the time traveling, the drivers and I would chat to pass the time. Garry, on one Monday, asked if I had seen a Rugby game on the weekend. I said, "No." He asked, "Why not!?" I said, "We don't have a TV because money is tight and I figured a TV was not a necessity." He couldn't believe it! Shocked, he said, "I have a TV that I'm not using for at least 6 months." He said he would bring it round that weekend if we wanted.
I was overwhelmed by this generous offer and didn't know how I could accept, but he was genuine and wanted us to experience some entertainment and know what was going on outside of hospital etc. So that Sunday he carries in his TV and sets it up for me and Bri!
Again we thank God for taking care of us and for each one of you who allowed God to work thru you, knowingly or unknowingly. It has made a difference to help make this difficult journey tha
Newsletter AUGUST 2013
Hello from Brisbane,
August has been a busy month for me and Bri as I am sure it has been for each one of you and your families, so as a precursor, this may best be read through when you have some time. (:
Apologies for the lack of communication from or to us, as this month we have gone through 3 different phone providers! As we have no internet, we rely on the small data pack of our phones to provide us internet, so we have had blank weeks this month with no mobile phones or internet!
We switched from our original provider that we have used for several years because when Bri relocated us to Brisbane in April we were only receiving a signal when our phones were basically out the back in the common courtyard of our little apartment, so we would miss calls and text messages when we weren't leaving our phones out there! We switched to a provider which was using part of Telstra's network, which worked brilliantly. A week after we switched to them, they fell over when Telstra didn't renew a contract with a 3G satellite company or something.
We had 7 days to weigh up the options of which company to go with that would give decent coverage and service for a reasonable price before we lost our numbers. In the end we have tried another new company that the previous provider has recommended we try, so fingers crossed we hope we don't have to change providers again anytime soon. It has been VERY frustrating for Bri sorting all this out. Our numbers are all still the same, but if you have tried to call or text last month and we haven't replied, then that is our explanation.
This month I saw a very good and well known Orthopaedic Knee Specialist.
You may be wondering why, being a Big Burns patient? Previously I have mentioned that my biggest and most frustrating issues following the burn is that my knees and elbows are severely restricted in range of movement causing me SEVERE pain and discomfort "“ more than the burns.
After a big burn, one trauma response of the body is to turn tissue cells around joints "“ particularly hips, elbows, shoulders, and knees - into calcium or bone! Unfortunately I have this Heterotopic Ossification (HO) in both elbows and both knees. So basically I have new bone where there should be soft tissue. Once the doctors are sure that the body trauma response has slowed and stopped "“ usually 12-18 moths minimum, Orthopaedic Surgeons can then dig out and grind away the calcium or bone that has formed in the wrong place. Then, with more hard work and painful physio, hopefully more range can be gained and less pain suffered from the joints affected.
Currently I am "only" 8 moths down the track since my burn, so I wasn't expecting any great new news, but just wanted to have all my ducks lined up and start getting into the system so we would be all good to go early next year. The first thing the Surgeon said was, "congratulations on being here and alive!" I thought, "That was a strange thing for an Ortho Knee Surgeon to say", but then turned out that earlier in his career he had spent a lot of time as a burns doctor and working in the RBH Hospital where I had been flown to.
So he was acutely aware of the odds and the typical journey that someone in my situation has been on so far. Just another reminder to me of how blessed and fortunate I am to be alive, thanks to all of your prayers on my behalf and God seeing fit that I am still here, I believe.
Anyway he looked at my knees and said, "%^$ there are some *^&((^!* big lumps in those knees!" No kidding I thought! I haven't been making up this pain. (: He was really good and reckons the effort I have been putting in and the good work of the physios so far has been very good, so he is confident that he can improve things down the track.
In Jan/Feb I will have some bone scans taken to ascertain the HO activity. Hopefully by then it has stopped laying down bone, so I can go into an operation as soon as possible after that! If they operate before the activity of HO has stopped it can come back and come back more aggressive, so everyone has to be very confident that it has stopped doing its thing first. This is a HUGE lesson in patience and coping with pain for a while longer!
A fellow burns patient, who also is a famous TV Chef, is still waiting nearly 2 years since his burn, to have his elbows operated on because his HO is still active. I can talk about him because he is on TV and regularly has articles of his progress in Woman's magazines "“ hint. Look closely at his elbows in the pics, mine look like his. He is a top bloke and has pulled thru a tremendous physical and emotional battle so far. He is a better man than I.
September I see a very good and reputable Elbow Orthopaedic Specialist for the same HO issue with my elbows, which are stuck at basically 90 degrees now, which is awkward, but functionally they are the "best" position to be stuck in if there was a choice! Words can't describe the discomfort and PAIN it took for me and my physio to get them to that position early on this year, but I am grateful for her efforts now!
I see patients now in the same situation I was 7 months ago and am grateful for the progress I have made so far, but am so very sympathetic to what they are struggling with presently, so have been given the opportunity to encourage them on their own journey. My Occupational Therapist (OT) said the other day, "I can say the same thing a hundred times and it doesn't make a difference, but you and (another fellow patient - a young burns guy in a chopper prang in Jan) speak to X and he responds positively straight away! It made X's day to meet you guys and talk with you both!" It's good to help other burn patients along on their own tough and uncertain journeys. We all have a lot in common and understand things that others "“ even the medical staff - don't know or have experienced.
I know I will be given a similar plan as the knees, from the elbow surgeon, but again, it is a case of getting in early on their program, so there will be no delays when the HO is under control according to bone density and CT scans.
Bri has been keeping busy and saving money with the following projects "“
Reupholstering an old 2 seater couch that we bought second-hand.
Her next big project, amongst looking after me and keeping our little household running, is to make her own wedding dress for the "fancy dress wedding", as it has been called since our simple Registry Wedding last month that we squeezed in around my rehab as an Outpatient. She has also modified some of my long sleeve shirts that I can no longer wear as I can't get the sleeves around my 90 degree bent and swollen elbows. Bri has cut the sleeves down to short sleeves and modified the top buttons with clever Velcro because I can't reach the buttons above my upper chest. But to look at, the shirts look 100% normal! She is a clever girl!
We have had one of Bri's good friends from Perth come over for a week and stay with us. So that has been nice to see Eloise "“ a familiar face from WA and to hear all the news from over there. She and Bri had a good time together walking around Brisbane City, South Bank, and going on a free ferry ride up the river. Bri showed her some good shopping spots and she found some good sales to stock up, as it is much cheaper and better shopping in Brisbane compared with Perth, the girls tell me. It was sad when it came time to say goodbye. She was almost convinced to move here!
This month I have had another Burns Review with the medical team of Skin/Burns Surgeons, Physio's and Occupational Therapists, as I do every 4-6 weeks. I actually had this time, as my doctor, the surgeon who did several of my operations and skin grafts. He is a very well known Professor in burns, etc. This was the first time he had seen me in 7 months or so, and was happy with "his work" on me and th
Linden continues to march forward in his progress ... or should that be jog forward? Last week he actually started jogging at his therapy sessions. For a guy who couldn't even walk 6 months ago, I think that is pretty impressive! I have challenged him to run a marathon with me some day. (:
He is booked to see a knee specialist mid August and an elbow specialist in September. After they have assessed his situation they will schedule him for surgery (probably not until January or February) in order to remove the H.O. and hopefully help him regain full mobility to his joints.
Over the past several weeks Linden has had the opportunity to visit with other individuals who were in situations similar to him with debilitating H.O. and after corrective surgery they have all had almost 100% return to normal mobility. This is extremely encouraging to Linden and Bri.
In the meantime, Linden's OT has made up this new pronation splint to encourage rotation of his right wrist. He has to wear it every night for 1-2 hrs, twisting his wrist in a clockwise direction, palm up.
Please pray for Linden and Bri that they will be patient and encouraged during these long waiting periods were progress can seem minimal at times. Pray for Linden's surgeons, that they will have the wisdom and skill they need to prepare for his future surgeries. Pray for Linden's therapists as they work with him on a day to day basis. And pray that Linden can have some relief from the constant pain that he has to endure.
As Linden recently wrote to me, "We stay positive and keep moving forward BECAUSE so many good people and family are supporting us, praying for us and loving us. We also acknowledge God as our ultimate provider and the One who gives us the right attitude in all this."
-- Bonnie Norton
Linden's newest splint
Hello from Brisbane,
July has been an interesting exciting month in many ways"¦
July 22 was exactly 6 months since my unfortunate and dreadful accident in Goroka PNG working to fix a fuel leak on Adventist Aviation's newest P750XL aircraft, where I suffered big burns to over 50% of my body - burns to my legs, arms and face/head.
Looking back on a day-to-day week-to-week or even month-to-month comparison, it is so hard with burns recovery to notice the improvements.
But in looking back over the last 6mths I can definitely say that by God's grace I have improved a HUGE amount!
Unfortunately with burns recovery, the improvement and recovery is not a nice linear gradient shaped graph.
It is more like the stock market trend graph, which now days doesn't follow any of the traditional rules or laws of trade.
By this I mean "“ just because I put in a good consistent or even extra hard effort one day or week, it doesn't correlate with a better result the next day or week etc.
Sometimes I actually go backwards!
Which makes a big burn recovery so difficult mentally!
They say the key to a successful recovery is a constant positive attitude.
This can be hard to maintain when I don't see continuous improvement in direct proportion to how hard I work.
But the only thing to do is KEEP working hard CONSISTENTLY and not get discouraged. Then over the months looking back and from other people's feed back I realize that I am improving little by little very slowly "“ the nature of a big burn recovery"¦"¦"¦"¦.
Jared my brother stayed with myself and Bri in Brisbane for a bit over 2 weeks on his holidays from Norway where he works in a Boarding High School/College looking after the Boys with his mate Rob. He also drives the school buses and does some relieve English teaching there at the school as well.
Was really great having Jatz here with us and we were sad to see him leave on the 18th as was he.
During his time with us he helped Bri with a few Boy jobs that I am not up to doing like servicing the car, etc.
He also would come in to the hospital with me and that would then allow Bri to catch up on other things as home.
We practiced catching the bus together to and from the hospital and walking as a spotter with me in case I tripped or lost balance.
My door-to-door patient transport is due to expire end of this month and we can't afford $50.00 each day on return taxi fares.
So a 2 km walk to the bus station from the little apartment we are renting and a return fare of $7.00 is our better option.
While in at the hospital Jatz would again spot for me on the equipment during my rehab in the gym and try out the equipment himself! He was a good personal trainer actually by encouraging and pushing me along.
He talked with my physios and got to know more about my complications while watching me get my physio stretches done.
It was good having him there to see what the difference was between the level/weights I am currently doing on the equipment verses what Jatz could do "“ showed me how much I had deconditioned with my injury, and how far I have to go to be somewhat normal again with my strength levels.
Jatz also got to know my Occupational Therapists and Assistants as I did my Upper limb group class and he tried out a lot of that equipment too!
So was a good insight for him to see what I get up too everyday during the week and he bought a lot of fresh stories and humor to all my therapists so we all enjoyed his company and time with us.
Many of my therapists recognized Jatz's talent and reckon he would make a good OT or Physio Assistant as they gave him a few jobs and things to do and he did very well!
After the time Jared was here with us I feel confident now that I have the strength to walk and balance to catch buses safely to/from the hospital when my patient transport service expires end of July. Thanks Jatz!
Mum and Dad have also spent time with us between departing and returning from their trip overseas with Dad's sisters and family.
Dad has come into hospital a number of times with me and seen what I get up with my rehab these days so has been good having him spot for me in the gym and walk/catching buses with me etc.
The most exciting event of July is that on the 16th myself and Bri legally married
At the Marriage Registry in Brisbane's City.
We had planned to marry in the US on 25th Aug but decided to postpone that wedding due to my injury and intensive rehab program.
We decided that a private ceremony was our best alternative in the meantime, and was all we really had the time and energy to organize around my rehab schedule.
Getting married in this way was certainly not our ideal or first choice, but we felt it right to legally marry this year as we had planned and work with the hand of cards we have presently with my injury.
It was a short, simple and small event with Jared my brother as witness and Bri's cousin Katrina, who lives in Brisbane as Bri's witness.
My mum and dad, who just arrived back from their holiday overseas, came as well as my mate Ben, who lives in Brisbane but works in PNG for a helicopter company. After hearing the explosion on the day of my accident he came over to where I was working and tore off the burning clothes I hadn't gotten off and put the fire out on me.
He then did the right 1st Aid and got me under cool water for the next half an hour. So was nice to have him back in Brisbane on his break from PNG.
On our wedding day I went into hospital in the morning to do all my rehab work then at 3pm all 7 of us walked down to the Marriage Registry's Function Room from our place, got married and walked home again.
Some good family friends in Brisbane organized a surprise dinner at their house for the evening, which was very nice with all the elements of a reception "“ very touching and good of them.
Next morning was life as usual with me going back into hospital the next day for rehab.
It is right and nice to be married to Bri "“ she is an amazing girl, I am so, so blessed and fortunate to have her in my life!
We still plan to have the "proper" wedding hopefully next year in the US subject to my rehab and surgeries. Bri is making her own wedding dress, and we are really looking forward to that party when it happens!
We plan to all meet up with my family in Perth/WA for Christmas, so myself and Bri are really looking forward to catching up with all of our friends back in WA.
Thank-you so much each you for all your support, prayers and financial assistance!
Bri and myself appreciate the huge team of support that we have behind us!
Without you this journey would be so much more stressful and difficult!
We are so humbled and overwhelmed with all your support and love.
I give thanks everyday to my Heavenly Father who is so faithful and gracious to me and Bri throughout this journey as He works through each of you too in expressing His love.
I can say that it all makes a difference and is much needed. Thanks for remembering us in your prayers!
Hello from Brisbane,
Sorry for the lack of updates on Go Fund Meâ˜¹
Our lives have been full of business, good days and bad, as has been each of yours.
Since last post, Bri and myself have successfully done a trip to the USA for Bri's younger sister's wedding in California.
We had both had our airline tickets since Nov last year.
We were away for a bit over a week, as we couldn't afford to be away longer from my Physio, Gym and Occupational Therapy (OT) rehab program at Royal Brisbane Hospital.
This was my first "break" from my rehab since my accident in Jan 22.
When I asked my Physio and the Doctors they were happy to let me go as I have worked hard with them all in my rehab and figured I was trustworthy enough to do my stretches and exercises while away.
So many of Bri's family on her mother's side and friends are Surgeons, Doctors and Nurses so figured I would be in good hands if anything went wrong.
Thankfully my knees behaved on the 14 something hour-long flight over and back with no more drugs than the usual I take.
We were in Economy and tried to sleep as much as possible to pass the time.
On the way back we had a seat between us so were able to spread out more on the way back.
Due to the many wedding preparations "“ as the wedding was at an outdoor venue in the hills behind Redlands at a YMCA camp, Bri hit the ground running when we arrived in the US.
As the day drew closer to the Friday 7th June wedding, more relatives from all over the US arrived and we were all camping at one of Bri's Auntie's.
Was a busy and full house with everyone helping out in their area of specialty for the wedding preparations, but nice to all be together and meet more of Bri's mother's side of the family for the first time and catch up again with others I had previously met.
I kept out of the way doing what exercises I could on my own and catching up with whoever was also keeping out of the wayâ˜º
Bri's mother who came out to Brisbane and spent 3 mths with us during my time in ICU, Acute burns ward and the start of my time at the rehab hospital.
She was pleased to see my progress since she last saw me and was good in keeping me on track with my stretches and exercises while I was in the US.
She was adamant that I didn't go backwards with my rehab while I was away for the wedding!
When I got back to rehab again my physiotherapist was very happy and a bit surprised that I hadn't gone backwards!
She was kind of expecting that I would loose some ground"¦"¦..just cause of the long flight etc.
The wedding went well (but very fast) and was good to meet some of Bri's friends from Uni that I hadn't yet.
The professional photographer said that he had been to many an expensive wedding that still was not as well decorated and nice as this wedding was, which all the family decorated and organized themselves on a budget!
Everyone was really nice and were pleased to meet me and talk, as many of them have been following my progress with interest.
One thing I learnt from one of Bri's doctor friend who is has worked in burns, is that the chances of victims with over 50% big burns pulling thru are in the minority.
He also mentioned in passing that most victims die within 3 hrs if not intubated as the throat/wind-pipe closes up and shuts off air to the lungs.
Needless to say he was surprised I had pulled thru when he learnt of my 14 hrs without being intubated!
Weather was quite hot and dry in California, but when evening came the day of the wedding it cooled off nicely.
After the wedding we headed to San Diego where Bri's uncle lives and stayed with him and his wife.
The girls went shopping with Bri and bought some clothes on sale "“ Bri stocked up as prices are much cheaper in US compared with Australiaâ˜º
The rest of us went over the Midway "“ an aircraft carrier ship of the US Navy now set-up as a museum with choppers, planes and everything else they have on board!
Bri's uncle has passes for that ship. It actually was the command ship for the Iraq war in 1991. It has an interesting life and history which I won't bore you with but can Google if interested.
So was good therapy and exercise climbing up; and down all the stair/ladders, climbing thru bulkhead portholes and just walking around all over the super structure!
After leaving the US on Monday night, we returned to Brisbane on the Wednesday I had one day to get over jet lag and get back into my therapy on Friday at the hospital.
All things considered I pulled up well after the long trip back home.
My physio was interested to hear how our trip had gone and was happy to hear that I had kept p with my stretches and exercise while away.
It's hard to lie to a physio cause they can soon tell whether or not I have been faithful in doing my part!
This is a long, hard and tough journey, but each of you have made it that little bit easier for me to endure it!
There is nothing romantic or fun about a big burn recovery, but the doctors are happy with my progress.
Again it is the HO Calcification in my Elbows and Knees that is causing so much pain, holding me back and slowing my recovery.
But every burns victim has his or her own unique challenges and story.
Thank-you once again each of you, for your continual interest, concern, thoughts, kind thoughts, support and prayers!
It all makes a huge difference to keep me positive and working hard to get back my strength and mobility.
Bri and Linden enjoying some downtime with their friends.
Linden made the trip out to California without any difficulties. Bri states he managed to sleep for most of the trip. (-: It was so wonderful to spend the week with them and our extended family was delighted to finally have the opportunity to meet Linden. The wedding was beautiful, as all weddings are. I was amused as the music started playing and Bri walked up the aisle as maid of honor, Linden softly whistled as she walked passed. He had eyes for Bri only!
The day after the wedding we took Bri and Linden down to San Diego where my brother lives so he could tour the Midway, an aircraft carrier turned into a museum. There were lots of interesting aircraft to see and just the fascinating history of life on a "floating city." Linden was required to negotiate many tricky narrow little staircases throughout the ship in order to see everything he wanted to see. I was truly amazed at how well he did! We jokingly said it was his "therapy" for the day.
Bri greatly enjoyed this opportunity to take an emotional break from the intensity of rehab and recovery and catch up with her family and friends. It is with sadness that we say good-bye as they head back to Brisbane tonight.
Ron Green (Linden's brother-in-law) writes:
It is amazing to look back over the events of the past 5 months and remember the milestones that have been achieved.
I remember the sick feeling I felt when we were told that Linden had been involved in an accident in PNG that had left significant amounts of his body burned. I can't imagine what his sister (Deslie), parents, brother or fiancÃ© felt when they were told the same news.
Linden went from talking in hospital in PNG to being glad wrapped like a school lunch and flown to Brisbane, over the top of the cyclone that flooded the east coast, where he was put into a coma for a couple of weeks.
When he woke up he discovered that the areas of skin that survived the fireball had been peeled off him and stretched over the burned areas to encourage healing and to reduce scarring. To top off an already bad day it was discovered that his body had deposited, and was still depositing, calcium lumps in his major joints, making movement not only difficult, but extremely painful.
It has been said that some of Linden's physio was a loud experience, despite sucking on "˜the gas' like he was in childbirth. At that time Linden couldn't even feed himself or scratch his nose and this physio was instrumental in the success of his progress.
Linden's fiancÃ©, Bri Norton, willingly gave up a secure, well paid job with Lexus in Perth to move everything that she and Linden had all the way across our continent to Brisbane so that she could become Linden's fulltime carer. This shows the commitment and love that Bri has for Linden.
We have now arrived in June and in the last 3 weeks we have seen Linden leave the rehabilitation centre, he can now raid the fridge at anytime, walk distances, attend to his needs and get himself dressed (mostly). Linden and Bri even have plans to travel to the USA for Bri's sister's wedding in early June. To even attempt this shows the progress that has been made and no doubt will be a mental morale booster.
I believe that Linden's journey is an example of how prayer to a loving God can bring about positive results. Our God is like a loving father who is waiting to give good gifts to his kids. They just have to ask. However, like a normal dad, not everything asked for is given to His children. Being a Christian doesn't automatically create a bubble of safety around you. We are the same as any other people who we come in contact with on a daily basis. It is true that there are times when God has intervened in events in a miraculous way, but this doesn't always happen. We are, however, blessed to have our requests for Linden answered in God's way and in His time. Linden has been given the power of mind and body to endure his ongoing rehabilitation. He has been provided with a caring and supportive family and future in-laws as well as friends, who can encourage, assist and lift him up. Linden also has some financial assistance thanks to numerous individuals who have reached into their pockets to lend a hand.
Scans recently showed that the calcium is still being deposited in Linden's joints, however it is believed that when this ceases, doctors will investigate ways to assist Linden's recovery by making it as pain free as possible.
We now look forward to Linden's progress reports as he continues in his recovery and rehabilitation and want to thank you for your continued prayer and support.
Hello everyone! Sorry it's been a while since we posted directly. We've had a few busy weeks with lots of changes. Linden came home from Rehab on Thursday and launched straight into his new outpatient routine Friday morning. We now travel to the hospital 5 days a week for physio and OT sessions.
Linden is continuing to improve, and he's enjoying being out of the hospital and being able to raid the fridge at leisure.(-: He did make a lot of positive gains while at Rehab and worked hard to make the most of his time spent there. The medical team there were very happy with his progress and impressed with his positive attitude and self motivation. He has gained a lot of weight and strength back, and is walking much better than when he first went there. We spend a lot of time on weekends walking down along the river and practicing walking up and down stairs. Linden also helped me go grocery shopping and cook this weekend, and is enjoying just getting to do normal type activities.
Linden is healing up really well and making good progress, except for movement in his knees and elbows. They took another set of x-rays last week and there has been a lot more calcium deposited in his joints, which is severely hindering his movements and causing some nerve pain. He's working hard with his physios to keep the range of motion that he does have, and we'll just have to wait until the calcium stops depositing before the doctors can assess and hopefully remove it surgically, which could be a year or two away still.
We both want to say a big thank you to our family, friends, church family, and aviation family for your continued support and prayers. We love hearing from you and we continue to see the positive results of your prayers.
Bri and Linden
Carol Millist writes: Hi All, Roger and I caught up with Linden and Bri in Brisbane last weekend when we both flew in separately from Darwin and PNG. They were both at the South Brisbane train station to meet me in the morning and Roger in the afternoon when we arrived on the airport train. Their apartment is about 3 blocks from South Brisbane station, a nice walk to the station. Linden has put on weight since I last saw him a month ago, and definitely walking more confidently. Bri has mastered the art of getting his stretchy garments on in record time. Linden was to be discharged from Rehab on Thursday, May 16 but haven't got the word on that yet. Roger and I are sitting at Dubai airport waiting for our call to board for London and then we start a 21 night Baltic Cruise on May 18. Talk again later.
Carol Millist (Linden's mother) writes: It's 15 weeks today"¦. I look back on the journey so far "¦. Tues 22 January, the accident, (thanks Dave, Roger and Pachel boys for acting so swiftly), Goroka Hospital (thanks Dr and Mrs Boone and staff), the call to SOS, Careflights (you are so appreciated), Royal Brisbane Hospital Emergency "¦ Burns to 50% of the body, - intubation, induced coma, debridement, (the debrief .. 6-8 weeks in Burns Unit after ICU and 18 months to 2 years to full functionality), ICU, ongoing skin grafting, Burns Unit, more surgery, nursing care, physio, occupational therapy"¦.walking!! (thanks to all the fantastic doctors, nurses, physios, OT's and supporting medical and non-medical staff of RBWH Intensive Care and Burns Units and GARU Rehab facility). So, on behalf of Roger, myself, and our family"¦ Thanks to all who have been our support on this journey "“ we appreciated the many offers of assistance from friends near and far, the spiritual support of pastors and chaplains, our family and friends who've visited and supported Linden, the many phone calls, sms, emails and facebook messages of love, Fleur and her friend's initiative in setting the facebook site, for your PRAYERS that have been and continue to be offered world wide, the financial assistance for Linden and Bri that has been gifted so generously through the Gofund site. Then here's to the unsung heroes, silently working behind the scenes"¦ friends in the aviation maintenance industry, supporting Linden's father, Roger, and the AAS Team in PNG by stepping into Linden's boots and keeping the maintenance schedule up on AAS's one remaining aircraft, P2-SDE, and packing up P2-SDC ready for shipment to NZ for rebuilding. Thanks guys, you are the best! And to our God who has heard and answered our prayers, we give you honor and praise and thank you for your mercies.
I just got off the phone with Bri. She and Linden are in good spirits. He had another hospital visit on Thursday with his doctors and therapists. They continue to be happy with his progress...so much so that they have granted him permission to actually fly to the States first of June for my daughter Betsy's wedding. Bri is Betsy's maid of honor and so she and Linden had already purchased their tickets for the trip before the accident occurred. We assumed that Linden would not now be able to attend. However, there has been the on going concern about who was going to take care of Linden during Bri's absence, since he is scheduled to be discharged from Rehab the middle of May. It was because of this concern that the conversation came up with the doctors and to our great delight they couldn't see any reason why Linden couldn't attend the wedding with Bri and in fact thought it was such a great idea that they told him it was "doctors orders" for him to make the trip! I am thrilled. The trip will be a bit of a challenge to be sure, but I know they are up to it. They are both tough and resourceful.
Bri has just finished her last week of work and can now devote herself full time to caring for Linden. She says while the improvements continue to be very small the important fact is that every day it seems just a little bit easier. Healing continues to take place.
Remembering the good times. This is called group therapy. (: We are all helping give Linden a pressure massage - all at the same time! (ordered by O.T. to help reduce scar tissue buildup and skin tightness.)
One of the big concerns in Linden's recovery has been his hands. They are his livelihood and were badly injured in the accident. When he first came out of ICU he was barely able to twitch his fingers and making a fist was physically impossible. After months of physio and stretching exercises, he has been able, for the first time this week, to touch his fingers to his palms completely on his own and to touch his thumb to the tip of each finger, all tasks that were impossible in the past. His grip strength has also been increasing daily. One of his personal goals has been to dress himself. While he is able to pull a shirt on he has not been able to button it. (A pullover T-shirt is not an option with his bent/locked elbows) A few days ago I bought several cheap shirts and replaced all the buttons with large oversized buttons and resewed the button holes to be extra large and loose so the buttons can slip in an out easily. Using one of his new shirts, he was able to button up his shirt completely on his own yesterday. It still requires a button tool to accomplish the task with the top buttons as his elbows can't bend enough to be able to reach those buttons, but he found the button tool too difficult to use with the small buttons and tight button holes. Now he can easily grasp the large button and pull it through. Small steps towards recovery and independence but exciting all the same.
This weekend we were given a full weekend pass for Linden versus just the 24 hour pass we got last weekend. So we were able to bring him home from Friday evening to Sunday evening. Unlike last weekend, the weather was absolutely perfect so we spent much of that time outdoors. Sabbath we took him to the botanical gardens and enjoyed walking along the river. Sunday Bri had to go back to work, but I took him to the Queensland Museum and we spent several hours there looking at the many interesting exhibits. Then we had a picnic lunch along the river before heading home to get ready to return to Rehab. It was a lovely and relaxing weekend. My last with Bri and Linden. I leave on Friday and am going to miss them terribly but they are strong and determined and of good courage and I have absolutely no doubts that they will conquer this challenge in their lives. I feel very much at peace.
During the acute phase of Linden's recovery every day seemed to bring big changes and exciting progress. Now we have entered the long grueling phase of just day to day maintaining and the challenges that come with that. It is like a newborn where everyone wants to hear every little detail about the baby's development"“ the first smile, the first crawl, the first walk, the first word. And then"¦you sort of lose interest.
Moving from the hospital to the rehab unit took a bit of an adjustment on all our parts. I will admit to coming home in tears the first night. While in hospital during the acute phase, our energy and focus was on the fact that Linden was critically ill and we just needed to get him well. Now in rehab we are hit over the head with the long term reality of what he is facing. From here on out, it is just day after day after day of spending literally hours and hours in physio and occupational therapy trying to regain lost mobility and function. The gains are small and it is really more about maintaining and not going backward from this point forward until he can eventually have surgery to remove the calcium deposits in his joints, and not until then will he probably regain most of his normal mobility. In the meantime, his elbows remain permanently bent, his knees refuse to bend fully, and his hands continue to lack fine motor skills! The pain will probably be chronic for many long months to come.
The other major goal ahead of us is controlling the amount of scar tissue and skin shrinkage that naturally occur with a burn. Both can be very disfiguring and in the process severely limit mobility if not controlled. So it is critical that we continue to follow the regime that is laid out for us by the Burns team. A burn victim's skin will continue to shrink and create scar tissue for up to one year or even more after a burn. For this reason Linden is required to wear a full pressure suit, including a face mask and gloves for at least a full year and maybe even longer. Every day after his bath we have to rub his skin down with a special cream to keep it soft and pliable, then we cover him with protective soft cotton garments and then literally squeeze him into his super tight pressure suit. They call it a "second skin" for a reason. The whole process takes at least 1 hour to complete. Then there are all the splints and stretching exercises that are required as well as weight lifting and rubber band exercises to regain strength and muscle.
Yesterday Linden had an appointment with the burns team at the hospital. They are very pleased with his progress. The occupational therapist says she has never seen someone's skin healing as well and quickly as his. She credits it to the fact that he faithfully wears his pressure suit and splints every day. She said many patients just don't want to be bothered or they feel embarrassed, like with the face mask, so they quit wearing the needed devises and then have to pay the consequences. Linden is so faithful and conscientious to do all that he is told. He works so hard in the gym and gives it his all.
As you know, Carol left a couple of weeks back and I have only one more week left before I have to head home. This puts all the burden of care on Bri. They are expecting Linden to be discharged from the rehab unit in about four weeks. Then he will be required to go to outpatient rehab on a daily basis. We have been told this can take up to four hours a day with both physio and occupational sessions. He cannot yet travel alone but needs somebody to take him to rehab every day. He also cannot cook for himself, and as I mentioned earlier, he cannot dress himself in the pressure suit or apply his own splints, etc. While he can walk, it is with some difficulty and pain and he tires quickly. He also loses his balance easily as he cannot bend his joints to make the small compensations that we take for granted to keep our balance. Sitting down and standing up remain a big challenge because of his knees. For this reason Bri has put in her notice at work so that she can take over his care when I leave. Thanks for your continued prayers and support. We will do our best to continue to keep you updated.
P.S. The photo is of Linden's finger and elbow splints.
The doctor gave us an overnight pass for Linden so we were able to bring him home for Sabbath. Sadly a weather system moved in and it rained non-stop all day long! We had planned to take him for long strolls in his wheelchair along the river and the botanical gardens so he could have a break from staring at four walls all day but no such luck. However, we made the best of the situation and spent the morning listening to a sermon and music and then enjoyed a delicious Sabbath lunch (he can hardly tolerate hospital food any more) and an afternoon visit with Katrina and Jarod as we watched the rain pour down. It was good for him to have a break from hospital/rehab routine and just have a nice quiet Sabbath rest "“ rain or sunshine!
We got Linden successfully transferred over to Rehab yesterday. We were able to meet his new therapist. She is a lovely person and seems very knowledgeable. I have no doubts that she will successfully take Linden to new horizons in his recovery process.
Carol Millist writes:
Hello everyone, just letting you know that I left Brisbane on Tuesday, 9 April and arrived in Katherine NT today to be with our daughter, Deslie, as her 3rd babe is due 11 April, by her dates. Just after I left the hospital on Tues, Linden was told he would be transferred to GARU, the rehab unit, the very next day.. He was also supplied with his new made-to-measure stretchy body suit. I had hoped to have seen Linden settled into his new routine at rehab before I left, however Linden and I did get to visit GARU last Friday and meet with the unit manager so I at least have a mental picture of where is. Bonnie continues to visit Linden each day and assists him with the few things he is yet unable to do for himself, eg, help him get his new stretchy body suit on and off for showering. Bri visits after work in the evenings. Linden has been asked to set new personal short term and long term goals and will continue to work on achieving those with the help of his new physio and occupational therapists. Please continue to pray for healing in Linden's elbow and knee joints that are currently still very stiff and painful due the Hypertrophic Ossification (HO). We praise God for His goodness and mercy and for His healing so far. Thank you all for your love and support.
Bri is back from Perth so my niece and her husband invited us all over for pizza last night. Linden's first time getting in and out of a car. A fun night for all.
Date night for Bri and Linden.
Carol and Linden on the bus.
One handsome boy!
The two little girls that spontaneously gave Linden some money.
Sorry, but I have to keep bragging on Linden. Yesterday his occupational therapist told us that she is absolutely amazed at how well his face is healing. Linden has been so faithful in doing all his face exercises and stretches that it is significantly reducing the amount of scar tissue and shrinkage that is trying to form. She said in all her long career she has never seen anything like it before. I know that God has had a hand in this too! Thank you so much for your faithful prayers.
I decided Linden needed to be rewarded for all of his hard work so I arranged with his nurse to get a day pass, and last evening Carol and I took Linden for a night out on the town. It was a great adventure. We took him on the public bus to the city center and celebrated with yummy Italian ice-cream. As we were eating the ice-cream, two little girls came up and handed him a ten dollar bill. They had an auntie who had been burned and they immediately recognized him as a burn victim and just wanted to do this for him. We were so touched by their sweet gesture of support.
After the ice-cream we bought an Aussie bush hat for Linden, to protect his face from the sun on future outings. Then we took him over the bridge so he could see the pretty city lights reflecting off the river and from there it is only another 10 minute walk to Bri's new little apartment, so we just kept going so he could see what hopefully will soon be his new little home.
It was a wonderfully fun, relaxing evening together and I think after 10 weeks in the hospital was just what the doctor ordered to break up the boredom of the daily grueling routine.
After a long Easter weekend of no physio for two days and reduced physio for two days, the therapist came back to find that Linden is actually ahead of the game. She was amazed. Usually patients lose ground if they go without their scheduled physio. But Carol and I haven't let up one moment with Linden, helping him do all his stretching exercises to face, mouth, arms, hands, and legs twice a day, encouraging him to walk and bicycle (stationary) multiple times a day, and then the stairs! Yesterday his therapist was able to bend his knees to 135 degrees! Usually 120 is the most she has ever been able to bend them. We were all ecstatic. She said 140 degrees is the most she has ever been able to bend a joint on someone with H.O. and she never expected him to get to this point so quickly. All the prayers, exercising, and moving is paying off. How can it not? Last evening Linden and I went outside for an hour-long walk, with no assistive devices (i.e. wheel chair or walker), negotiating several sets of steps along the way. The weather was balmy and beautiful and it was a lovely evening "“ a perfect ending to a wonderfully encouraging day.
Yesterday Linden and I were taking a stroll around the hospital when Linden suddenly announced that he wanted to try walking up the staircase to the second floor. I was shocked as just trying to bend his knees as he walks is painful and difficult, much less trying to conquer a staircase. But I said, "Ok, let's go for it." And conquer it we did! And we did it not just once, but twice. It was slow and painful but such a huge accomplishment. I can't wait to share it with his therapist today. She will be as proud of Linden as I am.
Update from Carol: Hi Everyone, Another big milestone coming up in the near future. Linden has been assessed by and accepted for transfer to a rehabilitation unit which is an annex of RBWH, and a short drive (or bus ride) from RBWH. The rehab unit has its own team of physio's, occupational therapists, doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, etc, however, I understand that Linden will occasionally return to RBWH for appointments with his current burns unit physio, occupational therapist and surgeons in order for them to assess his ongoing progress. Will keep you posted when this takes place. Happy Easter everyone and thank you for keeping Linden and all of us in your thoughts and prayers.
Yesterday was probably Linden's best day ever. It seems he has made a breakthrough with his stretching sessions. For the first time he was able to bend his elbows enough to touch his nose with his thumb without any assistance from his physio therapist. She was so amazed she stood there clapping in delight. Three weeks ago it would have taken all her physical strength to manipulate his elbow into that degree of a bend. He can still only accomplish the task with the help of strong pain killers but it is a huge leap in progress that he is able to accomplish this task in his own strength! All his hard work is paying off. He faithfully does all his exercises between therapy sessions and if at all possible tries to do everything for himself without our assistance, even if it is awkward or painfully slow. Every spare moment is spent walking, "bicycling", or stretching. Don't take me wrong "“ he is still severally limited in his mobility and ability to care for himself, but when I look back over the past several weeks I am amazed at how far he has come! It is so encouraging. Thank you, Jesus, for hearing and answering our prayers.
His right ear dressing was removed yesterday and we are very pleased with the excellent work the doctors did in molding a "new" ear for Linden. They shaped it very nicely and while it is a bit smaller because of the dead tissue that had to be removed, it really does look nice.
Thursday, Bri will be heading back to Perth to pack up all of her and Linden's things and a friend will help her drive their vehicle and trailer across from Perth to Brisbane. That should prove to be a bit of an adventure. Send up a prayer for them for safe travels.
Another Sabbath afternoon walk in the park.
Linden made pizza in occupational therapy yesterday. I think he was quite pleased with himself. He shared it with Bri and me for lunch and I have to say it was a pretty good pizza! Bri informed him that now that she knows what a good cook he is, he will have to be doing a lot more of it in the future. (:
Linden's surgery went well. The doctor whom Roger (Linden's Dad) spoke to was impressed with what the surgeon did with Linden's ear. He has a firm bandage covering it for now and the dressings will come off in a day or so. Thanks everyone once again for your constant prayers and encouragement. It means a lot to us all. God is certainly blessing every day and guiding each step of the journey. (Posted by Deslie)
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Linden seems to have turned the corner and every day sees improvements. I jokingly told him yesterday that he is working so hard and doing so well I will soon be out of a job! He still has major challenges to overcome with his joints still frozen up due to the H.O. He is only able to bend them to about 90 degrees and that is with much sweat and effort. But he never quits trying and I have never seen him getting frustrated, angry, or depressed about his limitations. He has such a beautiful attitude and has been a true inspiration to me. He is scheduled Thursday for some more surgery to his right ear.
Linden has now "graduated" to the big gym. (There is a small gym on the burns unit versus the larger gym in the physio department.) He walked all the way there pushing his wheelchair and then walked several times back and forth between the parallel bars without ever having to reach out and grab them to steady himself. Then he did several weight lifting exercises for arms and legs. This was a big boost to his confidence that he is regaining muscle mass and strength. The dressings were removed from under his eyes and the doctors are pleased with the results of the skin grafts.
This has been a great week for Linden. We have seen much improvement. He is now able to feed himself with special cutlery. His arm movements are much more fluid and the left elbow especially has seen marked improvement. His hand and finger strength and dexterity are greatly improved. Bri reports that Linden can actually "hug" her now and squeeze her hand. (: He can push himself up to a standing position and walk for short distances without a walker. He is spending more time sitting up in a chair. The pain level during therapy has diminished a bit in his elbows but continues to be very painful in the knees. Today, for the first time, he sat in a wheel chair and we took him for a Sabbath afternoon walk. We went outside and sat under the trees for a while and then gave him a tour of the hospital. I think he enjoyed getting out of his hospital room for the first time in 7 Â½ weeks!
Linden's op ended up starting at 2pm and finished at 4.30pm. Bri, Bonnie and I visited just after he was returned to his room at 7pm. He has a small graft to the bridge of his nose and one on his right cheek. He has some small rolled up dressing pads in place under his lower eyelids covering the grafts there and these dressings look as though they are sutured in place, but will get the official word on all this tomorrow. Linden's eyelids are aligning nicely when he closes his eyes and he was awake and reasonably comfortable and talking (as usual). He had physio under anaesthetic, so that would account for his complaint of a painful knee. Thank you everyone for your prayers. xx Carol
I am so humbled today as I notice we have passed the half way point on our fundraising goal! I cannot thank each one of you enough for your love, prayers, and support for Linden and Bri. Your generosity has lifted a huge load from Bri's young shoulders as she attempts a major move on her own, carries the financial burden of supporting herself and Linden, and manages all the details of her and Linden's lives for the present and the future. Not having to worry about finances leaves her free to put all her emotional energy into staying strong for Linden and helping him on his road to recovery. I have had many long conversations with Linden, and he is often moved to tears and expresses his amazement that so many people have been willing to reach out to him in this way. He is deeply grateful and thankful. It relieves his mind immensely to not have to be worrying about his precious little Bri and allows him to put all his energy into getting well. From the bottom of my mother's heart, I thank you!
Here we go on the roller coaster ride! Yesterday was a much better day then Saturday. PTL. Physio went well with all needed exercises accomplished. Pain level was less. Linden had more energy and strength. His heart rate was down to 108 which is great for him. It has been averaging 120 and spiking up as high as 145 at times. And for the first time he actually was able to feed himself without my assistance. Usually I have to support and direct his arm, but he did it all by himself! He tires quickly and only got through half the meal this way, but it is a great step towards independence. Well done Linden!
We have been warned that Linden's recovery would be a bit of a roller coaster ride with good days and bad days. I guess we are seeing a bit of that in action.
Yesterday was not one of those good days. I recently posted that there had been a small breakthrough in his pain level. Unfortunately that was short lived. Therapy yesterday was absolutely brutal as his joints seem to have totally locked up. It took the therapist one and a half hours just to bend each knee three times! I cannot even describe to you the pain that Linden suffers as they try to accomplish this task. There are no words. No human should have to suffer such intense pain day after day after day. He was so exhausted after therapy he pleaded with me to let him just rest in bed and not make him sit up and try to feed himself or make him do his afternoon exercises. I decided Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest and honored his request!
On the positive side, Linden continues to make gains. His labs have showed that he is now able to eat enough food for his body to produce the large amounts of protein required to build healthy tissue instead of cannibalizing his own muscles for its protein needs. He has actually gained back some of the weight he lost. For this reason they were able to remove his feeding tube this week. Every day he gets a bit stronger in his ability to roll, re-position himself in bed, stand up, and walk. They are also very pleased with the increased strength and dexterity he demonstrates with his hands during gym sessions.
Linden is scheduled for surgery this week for some minor skin repairs to his face. They say that surgery always sets the patient back in some of the gains they have made. Please pray for Linden this week that his setbacks will be minimal and that his joints will loosen up so that he does not have to suffer so much pain. Thank you.
Yesterday was another good day. God has been answering our prayers and it seems like Linden has suddenly made a small breakthrough in the level of pain he has to endure throughout his therapy. I emphasize small but a breakthrough all the same. Morning therapy continues to be excruciatingly painful due to his joints resting all night, but as we continue to do gentle passive ROM exercises "oiling" his joints up for his afternoon session it seems to be making a difference. The last two afternoon sessions, while still extremely painful and requiring full on medication and gas, have not had the same bone breaking intensity of the past. This is so encouraging. His gym session went great. After two tries with gentle assistance, he was able to push himself up off the chair and stand all alone for about a minute with no assistance and no walker to hang on to. He also did some new activities requiring hand dexterity and strength and is making small gains there as well. He continues to practice feeding himself at meals with a special feeding apparatus. It takes so much effort just to get one bite of food into his mouth that I have jokingly told him that he burns off all the energy gained from that one bite just trying to get the next bite in. That being said, his dietitian told us that he is now able to eat up to 80% of his nutritional needs and they are going to start weaning him off his tube feeding.
As of last week, Bri has moved over permanently from Perth and started a new job in a flower/coffee shop. We have been praying that God would help her find just the right apartment in a timely way, and He has done just that. Last night we moved over into her lovely new apartment. She will not be moving her things over from Perth until Easter weekend, so we are "camping" for the moment. Thanks to my niece Katrina, and her husband Jarod, for loaning us all their camping gear "“ blow up mattresses, bedding, camp chairs, dishes, etc. We have all our basic needs met.
We believe the paypal account is back up and running. Please notify us if you have any troubles trying to make a donation. Thanks for your patience and your continued support.
Unfortunately Linden has developed heterotopic ossification. HO is the abnormal development of calcified bone in the soft "“tissue location around major joints causing severe functional limitations. For unclear reasons HO is a rare but high profile complication of burns, occurring in 1% to 3% of patients. Because of the abnormal calcification it can be physically debilitating causing complications such as bone deformation, loss of range of motion, and joint immobility. While many theories have been put forth to explain HO, the true mechanism of how ectopic bone forms around a joint remains uncertain, however many factors are considered to relate to the genesis of HO, such as percentage of burn (50% or more mean TBSA,) full-thickness burns, location of burn (HO usually develops in joints with overlying burn,) period of immobilization (86% of affected patients have spent several weeks in ICU and received ventilator support,) immature post-burn skin cover, genetic predisposition, and male gender.
Linden has been positively identified with having HO in both elbows and knees. This is what has been causing him such extreme pain during his physio sessions and limiting his ROM abilities. However, in spite of this major obstacle, he bravely continues to make progress. Yesterday, with some physical assistance on my part and a hand brace holding a fork in place, he was actually able to move his fork to mouth during his meals. His ability to bend his elbows has been seriously compromised by the HO and so this was a huge accomplishment! Several days ago he simply could not perform this task, no matter how hard he tried. He also was able to actually grasp some soft blocks and pick them up instead of simply wedging them between his fingers as he has done in the past.
Hey everyone, there has been a slight glitch with our account that is being fixed at the moment. So sorry for the inconvenience, we will let you know as soon as we get it fixed. Thanks so much for your continued support and please continue to keep us in your prayers. Much love -Bri
Update by Deslie Green (Linden's sister): Elliott and I arrived in Brisbane on Friday and were kindly met at the airport by friends, Matt & Anna Allen and their little chap, William. They drove us to where Mum is staying, in a little flat near the Royal Brisbane Hospital in Herston. Elliott dropped off in his car-seat within minutes of leaving the airport and transferred nicely from the car to his bed when we arrived at Mum's! He was a good little traveler on the plane too.
Later in the afternoon we headed up to the hospital to visit Linden. His fiance, Bri and her mum, Bonnie were there when we arrived so I was glad to get to meet them both for the first time! Elliott had brought some craft items that he and Taitt had made for Linden and Bri so that was a nice way for him to connect with them and he didn't seem too phased seeing Uncle Linden with his hair shaved off and his arms and legs all wrapped up in dressings etc. Linden was alert and greeted Elliott by name as soon as he entered the room even before I got in there. He spoke to us for a short while, taking the time to explain about the 'contraction' process that his skin is experiencing where it continues to tighten, requiring constant movement and stretching in order to counteract this. Linden then underwent his mouth-stretching regime, which Bonnie helped him with, where an adjustable wire guard is placed in his mouth and gradually widened to full stretch over the course of 5 or 10 minutes (he did 10 mins that time and was still able to talk around it, clever chap!). Elliott watched all this with interest and was later copying the mouth exercises that Linden did after the guard was taken out (pursing lips and stretching them wide like a smile).
The physio had asked that Linden begin moving his arm (simulating feeding himself) during meals, so a holster was velcroed to his left hand and fork placed inside it while Bri helped him move his arm as far as he could then put the food in his mouth - quite a grueling way to eat a meal. He's so committed to doing everything he needs to in order to progress on towards a full recovery; in-spite of the pain and extreme difficulty of the tasks, he does his very best to complete them. His days are very full, from meal times and 3 sets of his personal exercise routine which his family members help him with, to intensive physio sessions twice a day, a visit to the burns bath and various checkups with the hospital staff.
I have been very impressed with what I've seen of the way in which Linden relates to the nursing staff, how he kindly greets each one by name whenever they come into the room, politely communicates his concerns and tries hard to cooperate despite the unpleasantness of the tasks. He is very humble, amazingly positive, fully surrendered to and depending upon God and is often deeply moved when he hears of how people are supporting him through this ordeal in various ways. Big brother, you inspire me!
Bonnie, Bri, Mum, Elliott and I participated in a special anointing service for Linden yesterday afternoon with Pastors Bob Possingham and Darren Parker, who read encouraging verses from scripture and gave us opportunity to say something to/about Linden then prayed for Linden's complete healing, trusting that God can do anything - however He chooses to do it. To God be the glory!
Saturday some pastors came and held an anointing service for Linden. This was a special time of encouragement for us all. We claimed the promise of Isaiah 40:31 " They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Notice the word "wait." Linden's journey towards recovery will require patience. Right now he is still very weak and tires quickly. Even the smallest movement on his part requires all the energy and strength that he has. To get up and walk is a slow and very painful process. But every day sees a little more strength gained, a little more distance conquered, a little more endurance demonstrated. We have God's promise that Linden will renew his strength, that he will mount up with wings like an eagle, and that he will run and not grow weary, walk and not faint! PTL :)
Another great day for Linden. For the first time he sat up in a chair for lunch, managed to walk all the way to the therapy gym and back, peddled for a few minutes with the leg bicycle and picked up soft blocks with his hands and dropped them in a basket. These are all activities that we take for granted. For Linden, due to severe pain, muscle loss, and weakness, it takes heroic effort. Nothing comes easy for him.
Linden is blessed to have a wonderful physiotherapist. She is both tough and tender. She pushes him to the limit of his endurance and yet always with the utmost gentleness. What a difficult job that must be to have to inflict excruciating pain on someone, knowing it is ultimately for their own good. I just want to take a moment to thank all the physio/physical therapist out there in the world who, because of their dedication, have restored the lives of countless individuals. God bless each one of you! The good news is that Linden walked twice as far yesterday as she thought he was capable of walking. We are all rejoicing over that! It took everything he had in him to do it, but he did it! He was also able to touch his nose with his left hand yesterday. That took heroic effort on his part. Unless you see him doing these things and realize the sheer force of will it takes to work through the pain just to accomplish these small feats, you cannot truly appreciate how amazing these accomplishments are! Linden, you are incredibly courageous.
Bri flew back in from Perth in the morning and when she walked into Linden's room his face just lit up and he managed a small smile (the skin is very tight around his mouth so it is hard for him to smile.) This is the first time I have seen him smile since the accident. They were able to spend several hours together alone to "catch up" and it was good for both of them.
Linden was moved to the burn unit yesterday. He is fully alert now and talking up a storm - trying to catch up from a month of sleeping I suspect! Tears trickled down his cheeks as I shared with him the enormous love, support, and prayers that have been pouring in for him and he is deeply touched. He would like to personally thank each one of you. His therapy sessions are incredibly painful and almost more than he can humanly endure but he keeps a good attitude and is so cooperative. The medical staff are wonderful and doing all they can to help manage his pain. Continue to pray that God will give him the courage and endurance he needs to face each day on the hard road to recovery. "“ Bonnie
Linden's nurses continue to report that he spontaneously will burst out singing. Proverbs 17:22 "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Good job Linden!
Linden is really doing well. As of today he has been in ICU for 1 month but they hope to move him to the burn unit soon. He is fully conscience and off the respirator now and able to communicate with us. He enjoys listening to music and his nurse yesterday reported that he even tried to sing along for a bit. :) Bri has been reading a humorous story to him and he will start laughing at all the funny parts even though I imagine it must hurt a little bit to laugh! But he loves having her read to him. He goes back to surgery today for one last small skin graft to his face and then hopefully this will be his last surgery for awhile. Thank you for all your continued prayers and support. -Bonnie
Only my Linden would organize flowers for Valentines two months in advance :-) These were delivered to my desk at work today with a card from him. I'm the luckiest girl in the world♥
Wednesday, February 13: Linden reached a milestone at 5.30 pm this evening. The breathing tube was removed from his mouth and he has a voice! He surprised the medical staff with his stats, maintaining 100 per cent oxygen and able to use his voice straight away. Thank you Jesus! We expect that he will be moved out of ICU to burns unit by Friday. Thanks to you all for your messages of love on Facebook, cards that we have pinned up in his room in ICU, emails and donations. We appreciate so much your love, support and concern and your ongoing prayers. Roger and Carol
This is one of the airplanes, hard at work, that Linden maintained for Adventist Aviation Services. Thank you Linden for your many years of unselfish commitment to AAS and the thousands of lives that have been touched by the ministry of these airplanes.
Linden is scheduled to have his last skin graft this morning and may be off the respirator by the end of the week. He is a fighter and each day sees improvement. There have been a couple times this week where he has been slightly less sedated and has clearly been able to follow our conversations with him, nodding his head to questions asked or in agreement to statements made. We have let him know that he is being surrounded by all of your love and prayers. - Bonnie
Thanks so much for the lovely messages and support and prayers. Linden is continuing to do well, and is slowly healing. The grafting surgeries have been successful so far, and he is stable and sleeping. We have put up cards and pictures in his room from everyone, so when he wakes up he will be able to see how much you all love him! I have been coming and going from Perth every week for work, but Carol and Roger have been here with him every day. We are looking at renting an apartment so we will have a home base here in Brisbane for us and any friends and family who come through to see Linden. Several people have voiced concern that this site takes a small fee out of the donations given. We are aware of this and have discussed it at length, but decided it was still the best way to go because it is a very safe way to donate and we wanted it to be easy and safe for international donations. And this way we get to stay in contact with each of you and keep you updated on Linden's progress, and you get to see how your prayers and support are making a difference for us. I can never thank you enough for your generosity, it means so much be able to stay by Linden's side and God has heard your prayers for healing and is holding us all in His arms. Much love, -Bri
Wednesday, 6 February 2013:
Linden underwent his third skin grafting operation today which went well. Doctors are happy with his progress so far and anticipate that he will need just one more operation to complete the grafting process.
It has now been just over 2 weeks since Linden was admitted to Royal Brisbane Hospital to undergo treatment for burns. He remains in the Intensive Care Unit on a respirator, heavily sedated and in a stable condition.
Linden Update from Roger Millist "“ Tuesday, 5 February 2013:
I visited Linden tonight on my own. When I prayed with and for him, just before I left, the ICU nurse said, "He heard that prayer." When I asked her how she knew, she said that while I was praying his breathing changed and the monitors registered a response from him. He is scheduled for another long session in theatre tomorrow morning.
Keep praying, it is bringing results.
Linden's dressings on arms, legs and face were checked and changed again today. He will have a rest from procedures tomorrow. His Dad arrived from PNG today.
Thank you so much, everyone, for your amazing support and generosity. It means so much to Carol and I to be able to stay by Linden's side right now. He is stable and doing well, all things considered but he has a very long road ahead of him. Please continue to pray for us, we're still taking things one day at a time on this journey. Much love and God bless, -Bri
This is a short video which features Linden and his work at Adventist Aviation Services PNG, where he has been serving since 2004. It has been put together by Tompaul Wheeler. We hope this helps you to know Linden and Adventist Aviation Services PNG a little better. Again, we thank you for your continued prayers and support for Linden and his family at this time.
Update from Deslie Green - Wednesday, 30 January 2013:
Linden had a skin graft to the back of his right hand today. He was heavily sedated when Carol visited. He is expected to undergo further surgery in 3 to 5 days.
I chatted with Bri on Skype today. She is so courageous and has such a positive attitude. We are still planning an August wedding! :) We have faith that Linden will be well on the road to recovery by then. She said he is doing as well as is possible considering the circumstances. The grafts to his legs seem to be doing well, with only a few trouble spots. Bri said they were ready to begin skin grafts on his hands and fingers - Tuesday night for America, Wednesday noon for Australia. They have been faithfully washing his face and putting cream on it every two hours to remove dead skin and are hoping his own skin will rejuvenate without having to do very many skin grafts. This will reduce the amount of scaring. Please pray that the skin grafts to his legs will continue to heal well, that the surgeons will have exceptional skill as they work on his hands, and that healthy, new skin will grow on his face. I am leaving for Australia next Wednesday to be with Bri, Linden, and Carol. God bless each and every one of you. We have been overwhelmed by the love and support that continues to pour in.
Linden's younger brother, Jared, arrived in Brisbane late last night and was able to visit Linden today, along with Carol and Bri. Linden was still sleeping. Doctors will inspect his legs tomorrow. They say he's doing good.
Linden Update: Carol and Bri went in to see Linden today. The swelling in Linden's face continues to go down. The dressings on his arms have been changed and he is heavily sedated due to the recent surgery. The doctors say he is still stable and doing well. They are happy with his progress.
A message from Bri: Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support, I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond to each personally but I have passed on comments to Linden and let him know you are praying for him, it means so much.
HEADS UP: From Bri: Ok, Paypal should be up and working in 24-48 hours. I just took and uploaded photos of my drivers license and passport that I had with me, and then called them and they looked at it all and said it looked good and that the holds on the account should be removed in 24-48 hours.
Our apologies to everybody who has attempted to make a donation and failed. Paypal was apparently suspicious of the international activity going on and promptly put a hold on Bri's account until she could verify that she truly was who she said she was. So please, give this two days and then try again. Thanks
Apparently due to international activity, Paypal is making Bri verify her identity before they will process any more donations. We will let you know when it is up and running. Hopefully very soon! Sorry for this delay.
Carol and Bri visited Linden this morning at Royal Brisbane Hospital. His face looked less swollen and he was able to hear them and nod in response, as he was slightly less sedated. His lips were moving a little as if trying to talk (he is still on a respirator, although they had backed the machine off somewhat so that he was doing most of his own breathing). They completed grafting skin to both of his lower legs, using skin from his thighs and abdomen. Said they will do arms in a few days time.
Linden will be having surgery today for his first skin graft. Pray for his doctors that they will have exceptionally skilled hands as they work on Linden and continue to pray that he will remain infection and blood clot free!
On January 22 2013, Linden Millist, a young missionary serving in Papua New Guinea, with Adventist Aviation Services PNG, was severely burned to over 50% of his body in an aviation engineering accident. Linden was airlifted out to Brisbane Australia, where he spent five weeks in ICU, and many more months on the Burns Unit at Royal Brisbane Hospital. He continues to receive ongoing therapy and treatment from Royal Brisbane Hospital. Unfortunately, Linden's recovery has been a long and painful journey and due to complications from the burns he has ended up with heterotopic ossification (calcium buildup) in both of his elbows and knees, leaving him with serious mobility disabilities. However, Linden does not qualify for permanent disability (as you have to be disabled for longer then two years to qualify), neither did he qualify for workman's compensation as the accident took place in Papua New Guinea. Linden's wife, Bri, had to quit her job in Perth and move to Brisbane so she could care for Linden. It will be at least 2015 before Linden is able to return to work. He must undergo several more surgeries on his skin, as well as orthopedic elbow and knee joint surgery, to remove the calcium buildup, followed by more rehabilitation therapy. Linden and Bri have been dependent financially on the generosity of donations during this past year and will continue to be so until one of them can return to work full-time. As we pray for God's healing, we can meet their practical needs by supporting them financially. Thank you for your love, prayers, and support.