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Heath & Angela Frazier

$19,635 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 223 people in 5 months
Created August 12, 2018
Cam Vessels
on behalf of Angela Frazier
On the morning of August 12, 2018 Heath was involved in serious car accident. The following is from Angela's Facebook post: He is on the ventilator but is doing a fair share of the work which is a positive sign. He is currently moving all four extremities spontaneously but is not yet showing purposeful movement. He does have several brain bleeds and most likely a fractured skull, the extent and effects of those which are still unknown. So far there is no major swelling which would cause more damage, so we pray that stays that way. He does have a broken sternum and wrist, and quite a bit less hair than he did from abrasions. We are unsure at this point if he has a pulmonary embolism or not. His injuries are very serious but we are hopeful that he will recover, and will take care of getting him back to the same character you all know him to be. The first 48 hours are the most critical as his injuries evolve, so we are nowhere near out of the woods.

8/12/18, 930 pm Update: It has been confirmed that he has multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms.  They are unsure at this point if he also has a DVT (which could have caused the PE's or all could be from the trauma). He will remain ventilated until his neuro status improves.  They have placed an ICP monitor, and for now his pressure is stable. At this point the effects of his head trauma is unknown. They anticipate his ICP will likely rise in the next 3-5 days, and the ICP will determine if he will require NeuroSurgical Intervention.  There are concerns that he is having subclinical seizures and they will be addressing that tonight.  They splinted his arm and he will have surgery on it in the next couple of days. 

Many have asked how we can help the Fraziers and currently donating to this GoFundMe Campaign would be most helpful.  We will be putting a meal train together in the next week, or so, once Heath stabilizes. Luckily they have family support to help care for the kids, while Angela is at Heath's bedside, but this will be an extended recovery and we will need many helping hands. We are unsure what the future holds for Jug Creek Distillery, but we will update you as plans unfold.
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Update 27
Posted by Cam Vessels
1 month ago
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UPDATE 2 OF 2 from 11/27/18

Aside from financial instability of both our family and business, I continue to have the internal battle of amazement at his progress, and continued grief. He has improved so much cognitively in his independence and ability to do things without being prompted or walked through the actions. Physically, he is not walking independently, but is stronger every week, and I fully believe will walk unassisted within the next few months. We are heavily focusing on stability and rebuilding his core after losing almost 50lb of mostly muscle. His left arm and hand have improved probably 75% but he will require Botox for his elbow and possible tendon lengthening surgery down the road. He has developed double vision and some left visual field loss that makes written work difficult and is very strenuous on his eyes, as well as frustrating. I write this as Heath sleeps the afternoon away, completely physically and emotionally drained from a doctor's appointment this morning. The act of riding in a car and going through the activities of the appointment took all of the energy his body could give for the day. His brain has simply said that's it and it can't do anything else, and yet he is apologizing to me because he doesn't want me to be disappointed that he couldn't do therapy (not that I would be).

Sometimes when he talks to me, he is the same man I married. He still has his sense of humor, twinkle in his eye, smirk of a smile, and love for me that has withstood this battle. He says he likes his friends to visit that will still be assholes to him (you know who you are) because he doesn't want people to look at him like an idiot or with pity or be nice to him because of his injury. He just wants to be treated like he always was, and sometimes that's hard for people to do. But sometimes, he is still very child-like for lack of a better word. He struggles to keep track of time, critically think, organize or sort, and perform executive functioning that we all take for granted. Day-to-day activities that we do automatically without even thinking about, he has to work hard at accomplishing. I am ever the cheerleader, often recognizing his accomplishments better than he does and reminding him of his progress. He feels like he has missed parts of our kids lives, because his memories aren't all there. This should continue to get better, but we really don't know what his permanent struggles will be. Sometimes I remind him 7 or 8 times a day of what his daily timeline looks like, which is usually similar to the day before but still hard for him to remember. For a not very patient person, I actually don't get impatient with him and help him daily with all these tasks, no matter how many times he asks me the same thing. It stings me back to reality each time a question is repeated. I love him now as much now as I ever did, no matter his deficits, but he is struggling to love himself with who he is now. When he stumbles moving from the bed to the wheelchair, and I see panic in his eyes because he can't protect himself from a fall, it reminds me of how fragile he is. This man that moved barrels and mended fences and lifted 50lb grain bags over his head cannot stand without a spotter and has nearly fallen when his legs did not hold him up suddenly, and he absolutely hates that. When he apologizes to me because of his physical or mental inability to do something because he feels like he is letting me down, I die a little inside. When he asks me if I'll still love him if he is useless and handicapped forever, a lump in my throat chokes me. When he looks at his hand in disgust and only sees what it can't do, rather than how much it has improved, I wish that he can see how much more hope I have for it than he does. Seeing him clench his teeth and hit his head with his fist in frustration because he can't complete a grade school cognitive task that he knows would have been easy before is heartbreaking. He is now aware enough to realize that he cannot do the things that he used to be able to do, and for a very proud man, that is hard to accept. When your husband asks you why he lived but with brain damage and why one of his best friends died, there is no easy answer. When he tells me he had to get better so that he can take care of Kendra, because that's what Carl told him he needs to do, my love for this broken man grows even more.

One hundred and seven days into this I still addressing my own feelings of why this senseless and stupid tragedy happened and how we will face the consequences of someone's bad choice for the rest of our lives. I'm still weeping quietly in the shower so he doesn't know how bad I still hurt, because even in this state, he is still trying to comfort me. I'm still closing my eyes and seeing the scene where I found my friend dead and him nearly so. I still hear my voice begging him to keep breathing, and hitting my knees in prayer behind the closed doors of the ambulance that I wasn't allowed inside of. I'm still holding tight to Kendra, both of us acting as each others life line and beacon of light as we try to navigate our way together through a dark forest, even though we take different paths we cling to each other with the hope of coming out together and healed. I'm trying to be as good of a friend to her as I can as she fights through her own hell even worse than mine, every day wishing I could take her pain away and that Carl was here. Heath is approximately 90 days behind us in trying to grasp and comprehend all of those details and his mourning is still very raw and new. He asks why and asks questions that there are not answers to. He retreats into his mind to try to process emotionally with a damaged brain what I can't seem to do with an intact one. I see the pain in his eyes and his unspoken words speak volumes. Sometimes he just shakes his head while somewhere else in his mind and I know exactly what his demons look like. His future is uncertain, but the present is just fucking hard.

Alllll that being said, our plan is to be discharged next Wednesday! He has several more appointments this week and I am busy trying to get the house ready and safe for his return. He will need some home modifications for his mobility and a safe environment to minimize his chances of injury from falls. Basically even if the team feels that he needs more time, he will be going home, even if he has to enlist someone to kidnap him! Emotionally I think it will be healing and I also think he will improve more in a familiar home setting. It is time for both of us to go home to our family and start trying to figure out how to live this new life. We are now on a T-7 day countdown to home! We would not have gotten this far without the help of many people. There are many more people in our village that I have not mentioned, but please know we very much appreciate every single person that has helped us in the last 107 days. Please continue to keep us in our thoughts, keep reaching out because you never know when that one message or phone call could make or break someone's day! We continue to appreciate any generous donations that can help with ongoing bills and unexpected expenses.
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Update 26
Posted by Cam Vessels
1 month ago
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PART 1 OF 2- 11/27/2018

It has been a bit since I have updated on here since I started the Instagram page @itsheathfromjugcreek but I realize that not everyone follows that so I thought it was time for a good in-depth update for everyone. Many people want to know how we as a family and individuals are continuing to do, so here goes, clear some time in your schedule, it's going to be a long one! Apparently after writing this, GoFundMe also limits their posts, so please read both updates from today.

It has been 107 days since our lives were changed forever. After 19 days in Vanderbilt Trauma ICU, 7 weeks at a specialty hospital, and now 5 weeks at inpatient rehab, it still seems like it was just yesterday. I say "our" but I also include many more people in that than just Heath and myself. I think people looking from the outside in don't realize how this has affected our whole village. Heath's dad and step-mom, who had only recently moved in with us with Heath's sister Lawson, have now gone from parenting one to four kids, in addition to doing 85% (+ give or take) of the day to day running operations of the distillery. Donna, has stopped working as a nurse and taken a substantial pay cut to try to keep Heath's dream alive at Jug Creek, all while pretty much learning day by day on the job how to do it all! This is in addition to them maintaining a plethora of animals both at home and the distillery, while trying to keep the chaos of both places somewhat organized, and all kids fed and accounted for. My parents took Livvy, who was just 18 months and 2 weeks post weaned when this happened, into their home, and have gone back to life with a toddler at a time in their lives when they were just starting to try to retire and enjoy life. While they no doubt have loved bonding and spoiling her, sleep training a toddler that has never slept a good night in her life is no joke even for mom and dad, much less Grandma and Grandpa! The kids miss having Livvy there, although I know she misses them, Livvy really likes all the one on one attention she gets too. Livvy and Addy have a very special bond, and when they see each other it is evident how much they need each other. Livvy is at a special age where every day brings new accomplishments, and every time I am not there for one of them I feel my heart break a little bit, even though there is no one in the world I would trust more than my parents with her. Addy, our empathetic old soul of a child, said recently that she feels invisible. Amongst the shuffle of the last 3 months, she has struggled to maintain the emotional and physical connection she has always needed from both Heath and I. Likely, it's due in part to all she has had to go through in life, but this child just feels deeper than most children or even adults, and she has really struggled internally. She and I recently had her yearly heart checkup in Boston and she really seemed to benefit from the mommy-daughter time we shared. Maci has always struggled academically, and amidst the chaos, her grades are nothing short of dismal, but true to her resiliant and upbeat nature she doesn't seem to upset by it and continues to roll with whatever comes at her, although Donna and I may lose a few years off of our lives from this alone. Hunter, stuck somewhere between a boy and a man, has struggled to find the right place of helpfulness without taking advantage of the situation, while trying mask his ever present anxiety that easily overwhelms him. Even Lawson, Heath's sister, has had to go from being an only child to sharing Mom and Dad all the time, and that must be a huge challenge in itself. I pretty much feel like a terrible mom for basically leaving my kids for the last 3 months, even though they are well cared for, I know it has been hard to have both Heath and I gone and hope that they will understand how important it is to our future.

Throughout all of this, I have remained with Heath nearly 100% of the time. I have many feelings about this. I feel it is my responsibility and that no one can advocate for him like I can. He is my soulmate, and celebrating our ten year anniversary this year without him knowing it, I know that I am intended for no one else. People tell me I'm brave and strong and the best wife for being there for him. First of all, I couldn't imagine NOT caring for my spouse when they needed me. Um, in sickness and in health... are some people so self absorbed that they are really incapable of that? Yes I may have a higher developed skill set than most, but never could I just leave him here on his own. And honestly, at no point in this have I felt brave or strong. I have felt many things, but not those. In the beginning, my focus was making sure everyone was medically doing all that they should, and doing it right. He didn't know I was there, but I was making sure no detail went unnoticed and that he had the best care anyone could have, even if I, rather than the staff, did it. At the same time, having to make life changing decisions for him absolutely crippled me in fear of making the wrong choice.

Now, the days are physically easier, with him relying on me a little less for every single activity from eating and dressing to rearranging his blankets and putting his glasses on. But the days are emotionally hard. Early on, my emotional struggles were primarily focused on the uncertainty of whether my husband would ever wake up and talk to me again, know who we were, or be able to ever do anything for himself again. I was consumed by grief for the loss of our friend Carl and the helplessness of not being able to help Kendra when she needed me. It was covered in a veil of numbness and constantly reminding myself this was really happening and disbelief of how we got here, but for the most part I could only emotionally handle the here and now. As we have moved through that stage, Heath has finally gained more physical independence and awareness daily. One major source of emotional struggle has been focusing on the uncertainty of our future as a family. A large part of that is financial uncertainty. As I prepare to go back to work in a few weeks, I am uncertain who will take him back and forth to therapy 3-5 times a week, who will stay with him when at home, and in general, just how the hell are we going to manage (oh and our toddler will be back home too). Heath has not been approved for disability or Medicaid so with the new year we also struggle to know more medical expenses will be coming out of pocket and that insurance options continue to be limited. We have not shared much, but as many can imagine, Jug Creek has struggled without the creativity and passion that Heath brought to the distillery. Being a new business, things were hard enough before the one that made it so special was ripped away from it. We are very thankful for those that have stepped up and helped, for without them we would be lost. It is uncertain at this time when or if Heath will be able to return to work even at the distillery, and that is problematic to say the least. While I have to work to maintain a household income, I only have limited time to dedicate to fill the gap of what we have missed without Heath. If I am forced to quit my job to care for Heath, I have not quite come up with a solution of how we will live.

....continue to part 2 of 11/28/18 update...
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Update 25
Posted by Cam Vessels
3 months ago
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Day 66- Today has been a hard day. I've cried more than I haven't. Damn my emotions, once I start I just can't stop. I have tried to be diligent of updating about Heath's progress along the way from the beginning. I do this for myself, as well as family, friends, and those we have never met that may find hope or support in our story. I haven't shared a lot of my most personal feelings on here, only trusting those to written pages or the few people in my life that have to bear all my innermost fears and tears. I have thought long and hard about my post tonight and whether to share it with my friends. We have had such support that have rallied behind us in times of frustration at lack of progress, facility and insurance issues, and even greater support during times of progress. But this recovery isn't always pretty. I don't think most people have a clue how difficult it is and that's what prompts me to share, because while recovery can be beautiful and uplifting, it's also ugly and hard, with the end date and outcome indeterminate. My friends with their own personal battles have helped me to realize that strength can come from transparency and admitting we are all broken in some way, shape, or form.

My husband choked me today. Three days ago, he slapped me and grabbed my shirt. We have been married 10 years, and prior to this, Heath had never laid a hand on me in anger. I'm not going to lie. This is the hardest shit I've ever been through. I get texts daily, " how are you doing" and "are you taking care of yourself". How do I answer this. Most days, I'm ok, staying busy taking care of him and trying not to dwell on the past that was or future that could be. Today, I have felt desperation, hurt, fear, and just raw pain that is indescribable and makes me want to crawl in a hole and disappear until my real life returns. Want to know how I am? Pull up a chair and clear the next 3 hours of your schedule, make sure to bring some whiskey and tissues with you.

Let me fill in the blanks by explaining what happened today. He was frustrated and hurting today because occupational therapy was stretching his spastic hand which is done several times daily and is extremely painful. So rather than lashing out at the person doing it that he doesn't know well, he put his hand around my throat... the person he loves and trusts the most. This is extremely common, with brain injuries or not, we are most likely to hurt the ones we love the most. This inability to control his impulses and frustration is directly related to his frontal lobe brain injury. I stepped back, walked out, and attempted to process rationally what just happened. When I came back about a half an hour later, he looked at me with his innocent eyes and asked why I was crying. He had already forgotten his actions. I explained that I was hurt because he choked me. He looked at me as he processed that information and pulled me to him saying sorry over and over. He said he loved me and asked for kisses. And hurt as it does, I immediately forgive him, because none of this is his fault, and it's not him I'm angry at, but this situation that we are in. It's not fucking fair, but that's a topic for another night. I can only hope that with coping strategies, therapy, healing, and time these impulses will be controllable again. Tonight though, I sat in a booth by myself at the Mexican restaurant down the street and wrote while trying to wish our situation away with cheese dip and a margarita. Taking that time for myself to reset my emotions and refocus my energy. Then I returned to my brain damaged husband whom I love so much, kissed his forehead while he slept, and covered him back up with his blankets. Tomorrow is another day.

***For those following our story on here that have noticed no recent updates, please see my Facebook page (Angela Thornton Frazier) or Instagram @itsheathfromjugcreek for more frequent updates! They allow for easier sharing and more pictures of his progress***
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Update 24
Posted by Cam Vessels
3 months ago
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Short update on here because I know not all of our loved ones have FB or Instagram. I have created an Instagram page to follow his journey that allows me to share more pics and updates easier than this platform, but we will leave this going for occasional updates and for donation purposes. Follow us on Instagram @itsheathfromjugcreek

He was finally cleared of the C-collar today! It took much longer than it should have but we are so glad to be done with that! He also got a haircut today bc he was pretty damn shaggy. The hope is that the trach will come out this weekend or at the latest on Monday.

Our insurance has agreed to reconsider a single patient agreement to send him to Shepherd Center for rehab now that he is ready to go. We anxiously await and pray often that we will receive positive news next week.
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$19,635 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 223 people in 5 months
Created August 12, 2018
Cam Vessels
on behalf of Angela Frazier
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