Get Him to the Hospital
Pat texted his wife Kerstin a picture of himself in front of the Chattahoochee National Forest at 6 on Tuesday night:
"one more long down hill ride until I come home ".
At the time, he didn’t know just how long that trip would take.
Not long after he sent that text, Pat was on the side of the road, lying on his back with his legs on the railing. He couldn’t move. We don’t know how long he was there until he was found by another cyclist who found him and called 911. Paramedics arrived by ambulance shortly. They found him with his helmet smashed, in shock. They called life flight to pick him up by helicopter.
The life flight took Pat to Northeast Medical Centre in nearby Gainesville. Kerstin and Pat’s oldest son Elliot met him there. Overnight, he had MRIs and sensation tests. The next morning, the doctor came in to tell us what he had learned.
“I hate to meet you all this way,” he said. “Your dad can’t move his legs or hands. He can’t feel anything from right below his shoulders down. If things get worse, he won’t be able to breathe on his own.”
The rest was a blur—the words that stick out are “learning to live with his new deficits
” and “your dad’s life just changed completely.
Why him? How could this happen to a man who lived for getting up every day and taking his bike out on long rides? The doctors at Northeast Medical Center didn’t have much confidence that a surgery would help, but we weren’t going to give up. Get Him to Grady
Pat knows what it is like to fight to get it all back again. In 1992, he had Guillain-Barré syndrome. He couldn’t breathe on his own and was paralyzed from the neck down. He was living in Brooklyn at the time and was flown to be treated at Emory. Over time, he regained all of sensation and motor function. After months of recovery, he was back up on his bike. He’s been cured for 24 years.
His family has decided this time won’t be any different. We spent all of that first day working on getting him transferred to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta – the best trauma center in the state and the best for neurological and spinal care. We were able to connect with people who helped find a bed for him and after what felt like days of waiting, he was on his way.
At Grady, the doctors performed a laminectomy and did a spinal fusion from his C3 to T2 vertebrae. They were hopeful to be able to remove his breathing tubes the next day and that he’d be able to move his hands again soon.
That’s where we are now. Pat is in the ICU recovering from surgery. We know he is surrounded by the best medical team possible and is surrounded by an incredible community. Our friends and family have already done so much to support us in ways we never could have imagined. You have stepped up in immense ways – from the bystander who found him on the side of the road, to our friends who brought us food and held us when we needed to cry and those of you who have spread Pat’s story to your communities to help him get the best medical care possible.Get Him Back on the Bike
Pat is covered by insurance, but so much of what this will cost him is still a huge unknown.The National Spinal Cord Injury and Statistical Center estimates the first year of care at $769,351 (source: UAB Medical
). Aside from the direct medical costs, there will be the indirect costs of home modifications, rehabilitation and loss of productivity. We are hoping to raise $100,000 to help defer some of the costs.
Pat is going to fight through this, and we’re going to be here to help him every step of the way. Even the smallest donation can help us #gethimbackonthebike.