Jeff's Road To Recovery

Jeff was found unresponsive on February 27th at 1:00pm at his home. It was estimated he had been there since around 9:00pm the evening before. He was transported by ambulance to Faith Regional in Norfolk and was immediately sent to CT. Following CT there was fear he wasn't able to protect his airway and so he was intubated. The CT came back negative for stroke or bleed. Jeff was sent then to an MRI to rule out a brain stem stroke. The MRI came back negative. Jeff was then transferred to ICU for ongoing tests. The first night in ICU, Doctors were trying to map out what was going on and why Jeff still wasn't waking up. They decided to start dialysis because his kidneys had clearly shut down. Jeff came in with what is called Metabolic Acidosis where the pH in his blood was severely low and the CO2 in his blood was severely high. The dialysis helped with this after one round butJeff still was not responsive and he began having seizures. The seizures were mostly electrical and hard to catch. He would have rapid eye movement, his thighs would twitch, and a toe would twitch in sync indicating a seizure but these were really hard to catch. After 2 days, and no answers in Norfolk Jeff was transferred to Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha where he could have a continuous EEG done to monitor seizure activity. Doctors were not hopeful about any sort of recovery. We were unsure of the amount of brain damage Jeff had sustained while he laid unresponsive. We prayed and prayed and cried and prayed some more that he'd open his eyes. Jeff remained on dialysis every other day in hopes his kidneys would begin to recover. He had a repeat CT done and it showed no signs of anoxic encephalopathy (brain damage due to poor oxygen perfusion to the brain), they found a very small occipital stroke. On Sunday the 4th of March, the internal medicine doctor told us he believed he was brain dead and our family needed to start discussing terminal extubation. We were now 6 days in and didn't wat to give up on our sweet dad. Neurology came in and then told us to have some hope because they didn't see any reasons he shouldn't be waking up. So the emotional roller coaster continued. Doctors shouted in his face and we begged him to open his eyes but there was no response. By now the seizures had stopped, and we were praying for a miracle. On Monday the 5th, around 7:30 pm, we stood around his bed talking to him and telling him we loved him. As we were standing there, his eyes started to flutter and he opened them for about 10 seconds. His eyes were not fixed on anything but we take small miracles! On Tuesday the 6th, Jeff started opening his eyes on command to his name. We had no response to hand squeezing or toe wiggling, but when Tegan asked him to raise his eyebrows to say "I love you" he responded! Progress was made throughout the evening and on March 7th, doctors decided he was ready to trial off the vent. So after dialysis, they started the trial. The ventilator no longer would initiate the breaths for him but would help his lungs after he initiated a breath. Doctors were not completely positive he'd pass extubation, but we went for it. Jeff was extubated around 12:30 pm! His muscles were so weak and he had no voice, but he was breathing on his own, something we never thought we'd see again! We were helping him with raising his arms to itch his face and we were working on asking him questions to help strengthen his vocal chords. He made small improvements every day. On day 2 of extubation, speech therapy came but he wasn't able to tolerate anything by mouth yet. His oxygen was an issue as he could not keep his saturations above 90 without about 55% oxygen by mask (for reference, you and I breathe 21% oxygen). On March 8th, Jeff was moved from ICU to the MedSurg floor to continue gaining strength. March 9th we moved from nothing by mouth to thickened liquids and puree diet! Jeff was excited and drank roughly 3 Pepsi's within the afternoon! On Sunday, March 11th, the doctors found fluid on his chest from his chest xray and they were concerned, they told Jeff that Monday they'd try to pull it off with dialysis but were unsure if this would be successful. On Tuesday, Jeff was down to 6L of oxygen and breathing much more comfortably! Speech therapy came in and he was approved for regular food and thin liquids! We've had steps forward and steps backward all the while reminding ourselves God has a plan. Jeff's next step will be to attend inpatient rehab in Norfolk for some time to restore his strength and function. He will require dialysis for 2-3 months to restore his kidney function as well. We're so thankful for the progress Jeff has made. He's come a long way from where this all started. But as you know, the intense treatment he's undergone comes with large medical bills. Bills will continue to add up as Jeff continues the next few months with rehab and further treatment. The purpose of this page is to keep family and friends updated as well ask for any donations you'd like to make to help him with his bills so he is able to focus on a full recovery. Thank you so much for taking time to read about his journey so far, we will be sure to update with progress Jeff continues to make. If you choose to donate, feel free to use Gofundme, or stop by an local Midwest Bank branch, and just tell them you would like to donate an amount to Jeff Karella. Midwest Bank will also accept donations by mail to any of their Norfolk locations. Thank you for your calls, texts, and prayers these last couple weeks. Our family appreciates them more than you will ever know. As always, to God be the glory for our miracle of dad!
 

Donations ()

  • Linda Sheppard Ridder 
    • $50 
    • 26 mos
  • Stephanie Scheele 
    • $50 
    • 26 mos
  • Bethany Cox 
    • $50 
    • 26 mos
  • Mike Moss 
    • $100 
    • 26 mos
  • Karen Knapp Halpin 
    • $25 
    • 26 mos
See all

Organizer

Tegan Karella 
Organizer
Norfolk, NE
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