On the morning of February 18th, my father, John Ettinger was struck by a car while going for a run in Bloomington, Indiana. He was hit hard enough to be thrown into the middle of the street, where thankfully a police officer was nearby and able to call for paramedics. My mother, Deb, and my sister Marcella had gone out to pick up coffee and happened to pass by the scene of the accident on their way back, where they saw Dad injured in the middle of West 3rd Street. They immediately got out of the car to check on him and then followed him to the hospital in Bloomington.
Paramedics quickly realized that Dad was very seriously injured. He couldn't move the left side of his body. The initial assessment when he reached the hospital showed that he had no major broken bones, but a CT scan showed that he had sustained a very serious brain injury and there was significant bleeding in his brain. A few hours later, another CT scan showed that the bleeding was continuing. The neurologists in Bloomington feared he might need emergency surgery and Dad was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. At this point, none of us were sure Dad would make it through the night. The injury was so severe that the doctors couldn't make any promises.
My Mom, Miranda and Marcella quickly packed their bags and followed Dad to Indianapolis. They arrived there Sunday night where they stayed with him at Methodist Hospital. It was determined by the neurosurgeons that surgery would be too invasive and could cause more complications. Since Sunday night, the doctors and nursing staff have kept a close eye on him, monitoring his cognitive functions, vitals. On Friday, he was moved out of the ICU and was thankfully accepted into the best rehabilitation program for his type of injury in the state of Indiana, (RHI- Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana).
This does not mean he is in the clear. Over time, his body should naturally absorb the blood that pooled in his brain and as that gradually happens, the symptoms of his injury should begin to diminish. In the mean time, he is obviously in A LOT of pain. His head, ribs and right hip and leg constantly hurt and he has been suffering from back spasms and soreness from being in bed for a week straight. He is still not able to sit up, stand up or walk on his own. Due to the weakness on the left side of his face compounded with his difficulty breathing due to the rib injury, he is on a diet of only thickened liquids. (I've been told that he really enjoys the strawberry flavored ensure shakes.)
Moving forward from this nothing is guaranteed. Once released from Methodist Hospital, Dad will be treated at RHI in their Traumatic Brain Injury unit. This entails constant care and rehab from a team of occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists. He will likely be there for two to three weeks, maybe longer. There is no guarantee how much he will recover. Brain Injuries are extremely unpredictable and it is still too early to tell what kind of progress we can expect.
What we can expect is that the recovery process will be long, difficult and demanding for Dad and the rest of our family. My Dad is currently unable to go back to work. My Mom and sisters have taken steps to apply for disability for the short term but there is no guarantee how long he will be out of comission or if he will ever be well enough to return to his job at Zimmer Biomet. My mother has barely left his side since the injury and has missed over a week of work now. My sisters have also made significant sacrifices taking time away from their jobs to be with my parents. It has been difficult for me, living in Los Angeles to find a way home, but I was able to secure time off work and in a few weeks I will be joining my family in Indiana.
We have no idea how long this recovery process will take or what exactly it will be like, but we know for sure that we will need help from all of our friends and family. Dad has good insurance, but as we know all to well, having insurance does not necessarily make necessary healthcare affordable. On top of compounding medical expenses in different hospitals and the future costs of his rehabilitation, there are added costs for transportation. My Mom is unable to work right now because Dad needs constant attention. He is still not well enough to take care of himself and keep track of everything going on. Through his recovery, she will need to be with him to take him to appointments, doctors visits, and physical therapy.
There could also be the need for my parents to make renovations to the house to make it accessible for Dad. This could include wheel chair ramps, hand rails and renovations to make the bathrooms more accessible to him if he has continued physical issues. We honestly have no idea what to expect at this point. It is so early in the process that there will inevitably be setbacks we are unprepared for.
All of the money gathered from this campaign will be handled directly by our family and used only to help pay for my father's medical expenses and expenses related to his rehabilitation and recovery. We would not be asking for help unless we were sure we needed it. Dad has always been the bedrock of our family and a source of guidance and stability for us all and it is of the utmost importance for us all to support him now.
For those of you who know John, you know that he is an honest, gentle, generous and truly good man. Excluding certain Big Ten basketball officials, (I'm looking at you, Ted Valentine,) he has never wished harm on another person. I know many of you have been helped by him directly in times of need great and small.
Well, now he needs our help. Let's work together and show him how much he means to us all by helping him through the biggest challenge he has faced in his life. We all want to get him back to feeling like himself as soon as possible.