Beautiful photo of Kevin with his daughter, Hannah. Please continue to lift Kevin and his family up in your prayers.
Important conversations with Daddy
Emily asked for specific prayer yesterday. Please see her post from Thursday................
Today's surgery update is a bit of a boring one...but boring is good in our world! The doctors say that Kevin Reichert's wound still looked much the same as it did Monday. While we always hope for cartwheels, we are still in a great position. The majority of the wound looks good. We are still waiting on some areas that are small but significant before we can skin graft.
I was speaking with a friend earlier this week and she was telling me how important it is to be specific in your prayers. My prayer for the coming week about Kevin's wound is about these small areas. The doctor explains that we need granulated tissue over each of them to make a skin graft viable.
I would humbly ask that if you have moments in the next few days before our surgery Monday that would pray specifically for the Lord to do what He sees fit with these small areas of Kevin's wound. I know from all of our family that Kevin has made every prayer list and prayer group between El Paso and Baton Rouge. Pass this request on if you would so that we would see some movement with these areas over the weekend and through next week.
Bring on the next phase of this journey...we are ready Lord!
An update from Emily on Tuesday evening:
Happy Chilly Tuesday!
Kevin Reichert resides on the 6th floor at Parkland Memorial and while our walking treks are getting more frequent and a bit longer, he is comically out of touch with the outside world!
This morning, after a challenging juggling act that began at 5:40am between our own children and all of our sweet Upstream Learning babies, he had this look if pure innocence when he said, "How's your morning been honey?" Our day today was much less challenging than most of yours no doubt!
The surgery update from yesterday is that we are still being patient! In Gods time the mesh will be covered completely...I know this. Waiting for that news is harder some days than others. We are using our time wisely by keeping Kevin moving to build up strength and some endurance so that he will be strong for the next leg of our journey.
Happy Snow Day! I hope you are all snuggled in for the night!
Post from Emily on Friday night.........
Today was a big day in Kevin Reichert's world! We started the day with some physical therapy...another two laps....way to go honey!!! So proud!
He had no more than laid down from his work out, when we were notified that there were two firefighters being brought to the Burn ICU and they needed to move Kevin because he was their "most stable patient"....I say this means we were making an "A" in the Burn ICU so we had to have some more fierce competitors! Needless to say, we happily handed over our home of the last 13 days to the more needy...praying for those men!
We are now in full operation in an alternate ICU in room 622! We got all moved in and then came the most exciting part of our day!
The doctors have told me that I am very stubborn...I.KNOW.THIS.
Yesterday, they were hesitant to put the wound vacuum back on because they were feeling that the wound needed some topical treatment that they are unable to do because of the seal on the vac. I fought for the wound vac because Kevin has made so much progress with it! This morning, the sweet Chief Resident comes in to tell us that he had done some thinking the night before about how to meet his need of treating the wound topically, and satisfying my requirement! HA! He contacted the company and they sent out a rep to help us! So today, Kevin got an even more advanced vacuum installed that will not only do what the other one did, but also can instill an antibiotic cleansing solution every six hours. The (insert a good car analogy here) of wound vacs! So happy!
The gentlemen also explained (because I am a touch research oriented and did a smidge of grilling) that this vac has a 45% higher/faster rate of healing than the vac with no instilling properties.
Cherry on the day is that I got to come home to our sweet girls and Kevin gets to spend the weekend with some other adorable women! Thank you to Robin Wainright and Cindy Lewis for everything! You both are wonderful!
Message from Emily earlier today:
Kevin Reichert is out of surgery. The docs removed and reinstalled the wound vacuum while in the OR so he didn't experience the pain! They said they had to debride around the entire perimeter of the wound, but a very small amount of the edges. They also told us that the area on the exposed mesh had not changed in size, so they were able to leave it alone again for now.
I did talk to the doctor about our timeline. He said of course he could not predict the future, but that he felt that they would continue in the same fashion for another few weeks. Continue to debride and watch the mesh. At some point in February, they would begin to think about the skin graft for the wound. Of course the skin grafting will not be an easy process because the wound is so large. They will have to take quite a bit of skin from his thighs and calves, which is no fun but has the best possibility of attaching.
Kevin is hopeful, but the time is wearing. He is most ready to be at home and see our girls. We will continue to pray for physical and mental strength through this. He is doing great and has made massive progress! Thank the Lord!
Great day at the Olympics for Kevin Reichert! He made it two laps around our floor today and sat in a reclining chair for about two hours. We are geared up for the debridement surgery tomorrow...second on the OR docket! Prayers for the doctors hands that it will be another good day! Also, praying that we will continue to be able to stay away from the mesh that is holding his hernia!
Thanks so much for a fun dinner with Gloria Triana Tanguay and Mike Tanguay with our sweet girls in Georgetown! I know they are having big fun as I type. You guys are wonderful and we so appreciate everything you've done for our family!
Great news from Emily today!
Kevin Reichert had an Olympic style day today! He got up and ran laps...well not exactly...but he did walk for the first time since our arrival at Parkland! He was able to walk down the hall to the restroom and back! This took it out of him, but I was very proud!
He also got a great bath and hair washing! He feels like a new man all around! We had a fun lunch with a friend of mine from high school, Alison McCleskey Zvolanek, and settled in for the evening!
Hope you all had an equitably productive day!! Love you!
Monday morning update from Emily.......
Our toughest hour of the day is over! The wound vacuum change for Kevin Reichert was hard, but not as hard as last week. The pain management group was here the whole time and were able to give him IV meds to help. I know it is all relative, but he is still hurting which I just hate!
The positive is that last week the process took up to 3 hours. Today they were able to do it all in about 50 minutes...so at least if he was in pain....it was for a shorter amount of time.
Thank you for the prayers this morning...much felt and appreciated. I hope he will just be able to rest for the remainder of the day and then we will have a good day tomorrow!
A quick shout out to Linda Reichert for keeping our sweet girls this week! We are so grateful for the wonderful care for our babies...it sure makes all of this easier!
For those of you that would like to drop Kevin a note or card.....
Kevin Reichert c/o Burn Unit ICU
Parkland Memorial Hospital
5201 Harry Hines Blvd
Dallas, TX. 75235
Hey Salado/Georgetown/Austin area friends and family of The Reicherts! If you would like to bless them with a meal over the next few weeks, please click the link and enter:
CALENDAR ID : 170466
SECURITY CODE : 3392
I know they would appreciate it!
Kevin's family is the reason he is fighting so hard to heal and return home. Hannah and Grace are beautiful girls with infectious smiles!
Hannah and Grace
Emily provided an update last nite........... praying for a fantastic Friday for Kevin!
Hello Friends and Family!
Today's a great day at Parkland. Kevin Reichert had a rough night last night, but today brought a new dawn and we were excited to have him a little more lucid and awake for most of the day!
The Physical Therapist came in and worked with us to get him out of bed and standing for a few minutes. He sat in a chair for about 30 minutes and ate a few bites of breakfast and lunch.
Some of his blood levels were low, so he did get another transfusion today. He also was asked to eat SALTY food...get that...and to slow his water intake! Ha! The doctors said his sodium levels were low and needed to come back up fairly quickly.
Additionally, he is needing to get double the amount of calories right now because of the wound and because he has lost 62 pounds over the last 6 weeks. Talk about a CRASH DIET! They will keep his feeding tube in for the time being to ensure this amount of intake.
Tomorrow will bring a lot of information. We will have the first wound vacuum dressing change, find out about the next surgery for debridement, and see if any further information is gathered about the viability of the hernia mesh. Pray for good news on all of the above!
TGIF...have a great one!
Update from Emily:
Today's update is coming earlier than usual because I am a touch tired tonight. Kevin had another challenging day today. The doctors installed a wound vacuum on his abdomen. Truthfully, we've had this done two different other times over the last four years to increase healing, but because of the size of Kevin's wound, it was a monstrous task and very painful.
They gave him additional pain medication, but there just aren't meds strong enough for that. I was able to stay in the room for this and hold his hand and talk to him while it was happening. He was brave, but it was a hard morning.
Kevin's sweet friend Kevin Deaton came in with a gallon of sweet tea following the procedure. We had some much needed distraction! The afternoon was without incident, except they did have to reinstall his feeding tube which is no fun.
I read the posts from yesterday as well as messages left on the site set up by Melanie Bartlett Kirchmeier! All made him smile and others choked him up a little, but know that he heard every word.
Linda Reichert and Jimmy Reichert stayed the day. Linda and I came home a bit early and Jimmy stayed at the hospital with Kevin for some alone time. A friend from Salado, Clayton Capps, is coming in to see him this evening. They can have a "guys night in" while we are dozing at the hotel.
Love to you all and hope you had a great day! Can't wait to see you again!
Kevin's story as told by Emily:
Four years ago in 2009, Kevin had his fourth abdominal hernia surgery. Unfortunately, this one proved unsuccessful as the others had and the hernia recurred after a very short time. This hernia was the size of a basketball and caused Kevin an extensive amount of pain. Because the hernia recurred after such a short time, he still had open wounds from the surgery. These never healed over the course of the four years. We sought all kinds of help and medical opinions. Each time we were met with news that the doctors just did not know what to do. Through hyperbaric treatments, skin grafts, and multiple other treatments, we kept hitting stone walls.
Finally, Kevin and our family began researching options across the country. Kevin's mother, Linda Reichert, found a procedure she thought might be a solution. We did an extensive amount of research and talked with Dr. Andrew Elkwood's office in New Jersey. This doctor was doing a new surgery called the BARS procedure where patients with recurrent hernias could come for a surgery wherein the mesh used to repair the hernia was anchored in bone rather than other interior weak layers of skin.
On November 20, 2013, Kevin and Emily traveled to New Jersey to begin the pre-operation requirements for the surgery. Dr. Elkwood communicated that the hernia and other issues were life threatening and the surgery needed to be done immediately. The BARS surgery was performed on Monday, November 25 prior to Thanksgiving. Dr. Andrew Elkwood and Dr. Frank Borao spent approximately 8 hours with Kevin in the operating room. Upon completion of the surgery, they communicated that Kevin had much more wrong internally than initially thought. He had three hernias, one of which was over 17 inches wide. He had an internal hernia where 38 feet of bowel had moved through interior skin of another organ. The doctors executed an appendectomy because Kevin's appendix was flattened like a pancake and was not functioning at all. He had three pods of infection the size of tennis balls around old sutures and mesh as well as an abdominal abscess. In short, he was a mess! They fixed all of this as well as cutting out all of the open wounds on the exterior skin. This left us with a 16" scar running horizontally across Kevin's abdomen.
This is where the real trouble began. We stayed in New Jersey following the surgery for over two weeks. Dr. Elkwood did one debridement of the wound and was able to close the wound. We came home in mid-December for about five days. After sending multiple pictures to New Jersey of how the wound was looking, we returned there for another debridement. This time the news was not as good. The had to debride a smaller portion, but were not able to close the wound because the interior layers of skin had begun to knit together and there was not any additional elasticity. After staying in the hospital for a week, the doctors released us to return to Texas feeling that with the wound vacuum we would be healing fine.
On December 19, we landed in Austin and began our at-home care. Christmas was coming fast and our two girls had been with their sweet grandparents for a month (thank the Lord for supportive parents!) We saw local doctors the week of Christmas and had home health nurses coming to change the wound dressings and vacuum. Things were going downhill. During the week of the New Year, Kevin was running temperature and the wound was looking progressively worse. Kevin was withdrawn, depressed, and getting sicker by the minute. Though we had many doctor visits, nothing seemed to be turning around. Finally, enough was enough. At the recommendation of our home health providers, we got an appointment with the Advanced Wound Care Center in Cedar Park.
On the morning of Friday, January 3, we walked in to the Advanced Wound Care Center in Cedar Park and were immediately told upon inspection of the wound that Kevin needed to be admitted to the hospital. The trauma surgeon on call, Dr. Hawthorne came in to the Cedar Park Hospital, took one look at the wound, and said that Kevin needed to be taken to a Level 1 Burn Unit...options being San Antonio or Dallas. After a very trying day and somewhat frustrating timeline, Kevin was flown by EMS in a medical helicopter to the Dallas Parkland Memorial Burn Unit and put into their ICU. This occurred about 1:30AM and family followed quickly behind by car.
At noon on Saturday, January 4 Kevin was taken to the operating room for a massive wound debridement. After a short 20 minutes, the medical director of the burn unit, Dr. Brett Arnaldo, came to his room in ICU and told us that Kevin was much more ill than first thought. He explained that they were not worried about the hernia or the debridement, but were in the operating room to save Kevin's life. He told us that he would most likely be removing all of the mesh put in by the New Jersey doctors and that the wound upon return would be a minimum of three times its current size.
The world stopped turning in that moment for Emily. Such a long and hard journey for Kevin, and now hearing that not only will Kevin be in a Burn Unit ICU for months, but on the other side, he will be back where he started with a hernia.
Thankfully, when the doctors returned from surgery, they had not had to remove the mesh. The wound was increased as they said it would be, but the mesh had granulated tissue about a centimeter high above it and was not infected.
Today, Tuesday, January 7, 2014 brought another surgery to debride more tissue from the wound that became necrotic. Unfortunately, the news was not good with regard to the mesh. In some fairly large places, the mesh is showing and the tissue that had been above it had to be removed as part of the surgery. In collaboration with our doctors in New Jersey, the staff here determined to keep the mesh today, but feel there is a good possibility it will still have to be removed. The mesh is not infected, but at this point there is not any tissue above it so the chance of infection increases.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 8, they will install a wound vacuum on the entire wound. The doctors feel that this is the logical next step and has the best chance of keeping the mesh. Truthfully, their hopes at this point are realistic rather than high.
We have had two good days this week where Kevin really began acting like himself. He is a fun loving, sweet, kind, and God fearing man who is the most wonderful husband and father the girls in his life could ask for. Grace (7) and Hannah (4) are being "brave for Daddy" as grandparents and friends help to keep them settled and comforted at home in Georgetown.
Our family as a whole has been so thankful and humbled by the outpouring of support and prayers for Kevin. We continue to be hopeful for a positive turn and uplifting spirits for Kevin as he faces a hard road. The Parkland Memorial team feels that Kevin will be an in-patient for a minimum of two months with additional months as a strong possibility. We know this is a marathon not a sprint and though we are winded from the lengths we have come thus far, we will all strive to keep our heads and hearts in the right place. The Lord will take care of all of this in the way that He sees most fit.
We love Kevin and whatever it takes to help him, we will do....simple as that.
Update from Emily Reichert........
I'm excited to report another good day on the books for our sweet Kevin Reichert! His pain is being managed very well by the staff, the dressing changes and wound cleansing went so much better today, and he even made a joke or two!
The nurse came in with her stethoscope and said, "Kevin, I need to listen to you for a minute."
Without missing a beat, Kevin said, "Do you want me to sing you country music or something else?"
She was so surprised...he was smiling with his twinkly eyes, and then they both started laughing. So cute...
We go in tomorrow for another debridement. Kevin is anxious, but we know it is all a means to an end. The doctors continue to be hopeful for a full recovery, but say we have a long road ahead.
We appreciate Linda Reichert and Jimmy for coming down today! Hoping for a good day tomorrow!
My cousin, Kevin Reichert, and his family have a journey of healing in front of them. Kevin is currently at Parkland Burn Unit in Dallas. His sweet wife, Emily Reichert, is traveling back and forth from Georgetown where they reside with their two girls, Hannah and Grace. Medical bills are increasing but also the travel expense, hotel stays, and meal costs are starting to build.
Kevin's family has felt the prayers of their friends and family. This is a way for us to show our support for a wonderful father, husband, son, brother, and friend.
Also, if anyone wants to send a check to Kevin and Emily......please send to Melanie Kirchmeier, PO Box 1030, Salado TX 76571 payble to Kevin Reichert. We will be sure to hand deliver them.