Help Elisa Hays Come Home To Recover
On March 1, 2014, Elisa was driving on I-35 in Oklahoma, just south of Wichita, Kansas. She and two of her actors, Mo and Joy, were on their way to a three-week gig at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, traveling from her home in Puyallup, Washington. Unfortunately, a bad snowstorm was coming in right behind them. Just over a hill, their truck and trailer hit black ice and ended up jackknifed across the interstate. Elisa got the truck stopped, but traffic was rapidly coming over the hill toward them. Despite her best efforts to maneuver the truck off the road, she quickly realized their best chance meant fleeing the truck for the safety of the grassy median. Mo and Joy were able to get out of the truck and thankfully escaped serious injury, but Elisa was not so fortunate. Although she got out, a semi slammed into Elisa, leaving her upside down, crumpled against the highway median cable guard. She was found unconscious, critically injured and bleeding to death. An ambulance raced her to the nearest Level 1 trauma center in Wichita, 60 miles away.
Thanks to heroic life-saving surgery by the trauma team, and many units of blood, Elisa survived that horrific night. Now over a month later, with many surgeries and complications along the way, she remains in intensive care, and is slowly - but surely - improving. Elisa faces many months of inpatient hospital care and treatment before the hard work of rehabilitation can even begin. The Wichita trauma team says that in a couple of weeks she could be transported by air ambulance back to a facility in the Northwest for further hospital care. Elisa's insurance, however, will not pay the cost of the air ambulance, which by itself is anticipated to be about $30,000, and air ambulance is the only way she can be transported back to Washington.
Elisa desperately needs to be near her family during the weeks and months ahead. Please help bring her home by contributing toward the funds needed for the air ambulance and the high cost of her continuing care. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
After transferring from Regional Hospital to Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup (5 minutes from their house!), Elisa spent several more weeks there working on more advanced physical therapy. After reaching a point where she could get around with a walker that carried her wound vac, she was released to go home with her family. What an amazing joy that was. Naturally, much work remained.
Kidney dialysis has continued since returning home, but we're hopeful for more improvement with time. The really great development has been the recent removal of the wound vac that has been her pigtail for months. With that gone, Elisa can finally do some basic things like relax in a bath. With her strength and balance improving, and no longer needing the walker to haul the wound vac, she is able to get around with just a cane for support.
Stamina has been steadily improving with such great effort on Elisa's part continue physical therapy and push her limits. Amazingly, she even went to the gym to exercise on equipment there. Just unreal! A matter of months ago, this kind of recovery seemed such a long ways away.
Our family so dearly appreciates the support you have all shown Elisa throughout this terrible ordeal. It is a gift beyond words that we will always cherish.
On Good Friday, heading into Easter weekend, Elisa flew home via private medical airlift after seven weeks in the ICU in Wichita. Your donations and prayers carried her back to us for the best Easter resurrection since the first one. For most family members and friends, this was the first chance to see her since the accident and it meant more than words can adequately describe. Once back on the ground, she was transported to Regional Hospital, a long-term acute care center, in SeaTac to continue her recovery. Having her about an hour away sure beats the separation of half a continent.
On April 24th, Elisa stood up! This was an enormous accomplishment. Several ongoing issues made this extra difficult. The broken bones in her left hand and wrist, her right wrist remaining non-responsive, and left leg unable to bear any weight all meant that she was basically standing on one leg that had atrophied for two months. A walker was rigged with forearm braces to provide her some stability as she stood.
Over the ensuing few weeks, her progress continued. Various attachments (tracheotomy port, IV lines, catheters, etc.) were disconnected, allowing her a bit more comfort and mobility. Physical therapy sessions began with very small, but challenging movements. As she's able, these sessions push her limits further. Occupational therapy is underway to help her learn to independently manage basic activities of daily life. Step by step, these tidbits of self-reliance are putting her in a postion to resume a more normal life.
On May 14th, she spent the day at Harborview Medical Center getting more x-rays and consulting the surgeon who does pelvic reconstruction. It was very encouraging and Elisa received the green light to begin bearing some weight on her left leg, left hand, and right hand as long as her wrist is in a brace. The pelvic repairs done in Wichita appeared to be healing nicely, though some questions persist with respect to her sacrum.
Many other issues remain unresolved at this point, however. The wound on her left hip is still open and connected to a wound vac machine, which continuously flushes the damaged tissue as it heals from the outside inward. Kidney dialysis is still necessary several times per week. Double vision has plagued her since she woke up in the ICU. She still has no ability to move her right wrist; it's just limp. The list goes on. It suffices to say that all of these challeges will be met with the same unwavering strength and faith that brought her back from the brink of death to where is now, which brings us to the most exciting part of this update . . .
On Wednesday, May 21st, Elisa walked over 100 feet!!! She went 68 feet, then rested in a wheelchair before going another 43 feet. To top it off, she got back in bed by herself. This was her first time lifting her legs back onto the bed without someone's assistance. Her physical strength is slowly, but surely, catching up with her psychological strength. Although she uses a walker now, the physical therapist has suggested she may eventually graduate to just needing a cane. Given her miraculous recovery thus far, I refuse to rule out anything she sets her mind to achieving.
On behalf of our entire family, thank you for the support you have given. Elisa is alive and recovering near home thanks to the amazing efforts of countless doctors, nurses, therapists, friends, and family. Our gratitude goes out to you all.
Elisa has had some rough days in the SICU in Wichita, Kansas. Thanks to your help, we are much closer to coordinating with long-term healthcare facilities in Washington state and working to set up air ambulance transport to bring Elisa back home. It takes some real effort though and we still have a long way to go.
First, the good news! The medical team and SICU nursing staff at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita is nothing short of outstanding and Elisa is continuing to heal nicely. You may not have known that they have never been able to completely close her initial wound sites because of infection, but lately the doctors and Elisa have been making significant process. They use something called a wound vac to put negative pressure on the wound while concurrently irrigating it. This helps to clean the injury site while bringing it closer to closing. This along with regular wound care and antibiotics have done wonders to help close this wound. Monday (4/14), Elisa is scheduled to go into surgery where they will install a device that will allow them to gradually help pull the wound together over a period of time. I am really not sure of the timeline, but it is a very positive step.
We have been told that her healing will be slow and Elisa will have to spend a large amount of time hospitalized. Probably months for healing and then inpatient rehabilitation. She will have significant obstacles to overcome as muscles have been removed from her left hip and backside area that are needed to assist in mobility. It is easier for all of us to face knowing that God's faithfulness, Elisa's incredible strength, and your love, encouragement and prayers are with us.
From the beginning, Elisa has been in a fight for her life and even in the last couple weeks has faced issues involving a blood transfusion that had us all very concerned. She is still on antibiotics to combat the sepsis and any other infection, but doctors seem to be feeling pretty positive about her progress, although some infection still exists. She is also still on dialysis as her kidneys have not started responding yet, but there is an incredible kidney specialist looking after her. She is an amazing fighter and God has been so incredibly good to us through all of this.
Another odd occurrence is that her right hand has stopped functioning properly. She has experienced in the last couple of weeks a phenomenon known as wrist drop. She is unable to lift her wrist or open her right hand at all. Elisa is, of course, right handed. This is a new occurrence as she didn't seem to have a problem with this hand until this developed. We believe it may be a nerve injury of some sort and hope it will straighten itself out. If not, we will add it to the list of items to take care of after her ICU stay.
The rough part lately has centered around a setback that all too commonly affects people that spend time in an ICU. It is called ICU delirium and specifically hits people with trauma, people that have spent a lot of time on a ventilator, people with hip injuries, people with sepsis.... The list goes on, but if you have been following Elisa's progress, you will know these are all things Elisa has had to deal with. It does not mean anything is wrong with her brain, but all the above issues, combined with a lack of real sleep and an absence of the common touchstones of normal living, can really confuse the way the brain works. This problem of ICU delirium can cause longer stays in the ICU, severe feelings of panic and an inability to focus well or associate normally with the world around the patient. It can also become a very serious health problem. Elisa has begun to really experience this over the last couple days which makes things very much harder for her. The doctors are treating this and, in typical Elisa fashion, she seems to be rebounding.
I wanted to share all of this with you because it is so clear to me how many people love Elisa and are praying for her and rooting for her. It would be impossible for me to convey to you how much your support in donations, prayers, well wishes and time have meant to us. So many of you have given your love, your time, your funds and your encouragement. Please know that we are more grateful and encouraged by you than you will ever know. You have meant so much to us. Thank you! We have so much love for you all.
Thank heaven Elisa is doing well. Sending her love
She is home for Easter praise The Lord and there was a smile on her face ! We are all blessed she made it home ! Healing will be faster I believe being near family and friends . Happy Easter blessings and any more to come
Praise God! Tears of joy - and basically speechless!
WOW! What joy it brings to see this becoming a reality.......thank you to everyone!
With God all things are possible! Praying for Elisa's full recovery, and for you and your family!
I am so very sorry I am praying for you Elisa and your family. Miracles happen daily and my hopes are for blessings on you and your family. Love you all Cindy
Thoughts and prayers to you and your family. We miss you and hope for a speedy recovery.
Our prayers and thoughts are with you continually. Love to Steve, Elisa, Alex, Sarah, Zach, and the Sullivan Family. Let us know if you want us to pick up the kids for the Easter doings etc.
I wishi you all the best for a speedy recovery and trip home
Wishing you all the luck. Someone in the family might look into angel flights where they will often do them for free or very reduced costs for situations like this... That way you all might be able to get her home sooner... God bless.
Nothing is too big for our Lord. With His help we can do this!
Thank you everyone for your donations! It is amazing the outpouring of help and prayers. I continue to pray for the Hays/Sullivan family. Let's get their daughter, sister, mom, wife home! xoxo