Since the wee hours of Tuesday morning, September 4th, 2018, Zach has been fighting the battle of his life. He spent 56 days in the hospital fighting an infection and the devastating damage it caused to his brain. Zach had been completely unresponsive during his time in the hospital. With the doctors giving parents Barry and Cara little hope for recovery, Zach was transferred to hospice care and moved to a nursing home closer to home to receive comfort care for his final days.
After only a few weeks at Norris Health and Rehab Center in Andersonville, Zach started to respond, first subtly by wiggling his toes on command, then later opening and closing his eyes to answer yes and no to questions, and sticking his tongue out on command. He graduated from Hospice care to Skilled Nursing and intermittently (insurance battles are real) received rehabilitative care. Over the last several weeks Zach’s progress has given everyone hope. His cognitive abilities seem to improve daily, and he now participates in physical, occupational and speech therapy. Zach provides so many indications that he is “in there” and willing to fight!
This week Zach graduates again – he has been given a very important opportunity. He has been accepted into The Shepherd Center for extensive rehab! Improving will be Zach’s full-time job! It won’t be easy. When Zach enters Shepherd this week he will be admitted fully dependent on others for every activity of daily living. He’ll receive hours of rehab per day which will be taxing on Zach and his caregivers. The goal is to get Zach to his highest possible level of functioning! Shepherd only admits patients who show promise and progress, and whose goal is to discharge to home.
As the family turns this corner for the next phase of Zach’s recovery, we know this will place a great burden on all of the family’s resources. Traveling to and from Shepherd in Atlanta frequently and preparing the family’s home for Zach’s return (which will include ensuring all aspects of accessibility are in place) will require great expense. Zach will likely require adaptive equipment such as a specialty wheelchair, bed, and perhaps even a speaking device. We are told the wheelchair alone could cost $15,000.00, and not covered by insurance.
Zach’s family has not wavered in their faith. God will provide. As Zach’s mom Cara reminds herself frequently, “I will fix my thoughts on what is good, pure, and noble. And even in this I will be thankful.” Phil. 4:4-9.
Before Zach fell ill, he graduated from MTSU in December of 2017 with a RNBSN, and was a perioperative nurse in the operating room at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Zach is a musician, playing the ukulele, piano, and anything percussion. He enjoys playing magic cards, exercising, hanging with friends, and he loved his job!
Please join us in prayer for him and please consider a donation to support the family in Zach’s journey back to a full life. All donations will go to the care and needs of Zach. Thank you for your love, prayers, and support.
- KIM HELFER
Organizer and beneficiary
Dotty Sheldon Bollinger