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Ralph Lanigan's spinal injury

$38,110 of $40,000 goal

Raised by 422 people in 4 months
Created August 15, 2018
Lynn and Ralph have contributed to many GoFundMe accounts in times of tragedy, And unfortunately, it is they who are now in need.
On Thursday, August 9th, 2018 and while on vacation in Hawaii, Ralph was hit by a rogue wave, tossed and slammed in the surf, and knocked unconscious.
Thankfully, bystanders pulled him to shore, where he regained consciousness,  but he suffered a serious abrasion to his head and trauma to his neck and spine.  He was taken by ambulance to the local hospital to be stabilized and then airlifted to Queens Medical Center in Honolulu and their Neurological Trauma Center ICU, where he remains today.
On August 12th, the neurosurgeon surgically implanted screws in his C3 - C6 vertebrae to stabilize the neck.  He's currently on a ventilator, but they hope to be able to wean him off that as his breathing improves.
Each day, we rejoice in small improvements in his condition.
We don't know when he will be able to be moved, but after discharge, Ralph will need months of physical therapy and may never regain full use of his arms and legs.  Thankfully, he suffered no damage to his brain, and he remains the Ralph that we all know and love.
Being so far away from family and home during this time is hard on them and it may be weeks, or even months, before he can be moved.  Lynn is hoping to stay in Honolulu to be with Ralph and keep his spirits up, but that will be an expense that is not covered by insurance.
Lynn has been staying at a reasonably priced hotel nearby and walking to and from the hospital, but it's not safe to walk at night and even using Uber, the expenses are adding up quickly.
If you can donate, whatever amount you can will help defray the expenses for Lynn to stay with Ralph, and then whatever medical expenses for Ralph  that are not covered by insurance (transportation back to the mainland  for rehab and then back to their beloved home in Florida, home modifications required for wheelchair access,  and things we haven't even considered yet).
It will be a long road ahead and we appreciate any and all help that you can give, including prayers.

For more information, please contact either Lynn's sister Noranne at noranneo@yahoo.com or Ralph's sister Carol Lanigan LaMarr at carol.lamarr@hotmail.com.
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Today, Kyle and Carolyn brought Cameron, Colin, and Cole to see their Papa. It was an emotional visit, but a happy one for all.

Lynn and Ralph want to thank everyone for the cards, and especially those who have sent multiple cards. We read each card to him and show him them, and he really enjoys them.

We also want to thank those who have contributed to the Go Fund Me account. Your generosity has really touched us and we are very grateful.
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11/30/2018

Lynn and I visit Ralph every day, and sometimes when you’re watching so closely, you miss the big picture.
This week, I got a fresh perspective on Ralph’s continuing progress in recovery. I recently had the flu and was unable to visit him for 2 weeks, and when I went with Lynn this week, there were so many wonderful things to observe!

His voice is stronger. When they downsize the tube in his tracheostomy, there’s naturally “leakage” of air around the tube in his throat, which causes his voice to be weaker. Whether the gaps have closed up, and/or he’s strengthened his voice muscles, the result is that his voice is a bit stronger now. They are encouraging him to sing, to further strengthen those vocal chords.

His arms and legs are building up again with muscle. Being bedridden for almost 4 months caused his muscles to shrink and almost atrophy. With increased physical and occupational therapy as the bedsore heals, the muscles are building back up again. When they use the Electric muscle stimulators on him, we can see the muscles moving in his arms, which means the signal is getting from the brain to the arms, even if he’s not consciously driving it. His legs continue to be his strongest appendages, and they believe that when he leaves Spaulding, he will walk out!

His cough is stronger and he’s better able to clear his lungs, and therefore, he doesn’t need suctioning much at all. He easily manages having the tracheostomy capped for 7 hours at a time, including during occupational therapy, and most often, without any additional oxygen.

His appetite has increased, and he’s been cleared for more meals and more foods as his swallowing muscles have strengthened. Today, he ate 1.5 stuffed shells for lunch, and he put me on the hunt for popsicles – the 2-stick ones in lime, cherry, or root beer – no easy challenge.

His range of motion with his arms and hands is greater, and he’s now working on his hand grasp. Yesterday, with help from Krista, his occupational therapist, he was able to bring his left hand up to his face and hold a plastic cup of ice water and drink from it through the straw! When Krista finishes his OT session, she positions his arms at a slight bend, and he loves to tease her by moving them.

The bedsore is getting better (very slowly, but healing). It could be another month or two before it’s healed. They are still using the wound VAC on it, and based on his progress, this week they switched out his Clinitron fluidized air water bed for a new Immerse bed mattress. They also switched his wheelchair model to one that provides more torso support, but he still can only withstand 1 to 1.5 hours in the wheelchair.

Overall, he just looks more like himself to me.

His love of music comes through in unexpected ways. Today he was thinking of the Gene Chandler song “Duke of Earl”, so Carol had to pull it up on her iPhone and play it for him. He gave his nurses, Jamie and Damon, a homework assignment of listening to Chet Atkins play guitar. They’re young kids, in their twenties and had never heard of Chet Atkins before.

Ralph misses his grandsons terribly (even though we show him pictures and videos, it’s not the same as seeing them and touching them) and he has finally agreed to having them come in to visit him this weekend. Kyle and Carolyn will be bringing Cameron (9), Colin (8) and Cole (2) in on Sunday. Although he can’t really hug them as robustly as he would like, they can hold his hands and see that Papa is okay and getting better.

Hopefully, this will lead to him approving more visitors in the near future.
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The benefit held by Ralph's musician friends was a great success! Over 300 people attended, we had about 35 items for the silent auction and the winner of the 50/50 raffle won $346. Carol Lanigan LaMarr read a speech that Ralph had dictated to her, telling how much he loved growing up in Hudson, MA with all of his Portuguese cousins, and how much he loved teaching at Assabet, and playing in the bands, and thanking everyone.
And this week, Ralph (figuratively) kicked that darn ventilator machine to the curb! He has done really well breathing on his own with just a small boost of oxygen, so it was time to say goodbye to it. The respiratory team also downsized the tube in his trach from an 8 to a 7, which is one step closer to getting rid of the trach completely – eventually. They have also been capping the trach, which makes it like he doesn’t have the trach at all – for longer periods of time. Yesterday, he did 5 hours capped, with no issues at all. He was even capped during Occupational Therapy.
They have been debriding his bedsore manually/surgically, and also using an enzymatic cream, and it finally reach a point this week where they could begin using the Negative Pressure Wound VAC on it, and we’re already seeing results. The wound VAC flushes a solution through the wound and then pulls it out, which helps bring healthy tissue to the surface.
Ralph’s spinal injury is a “central core injury” of the C3, and the way the body heals is typically with the feet and hands first, then the legs, and finally the upper arms. Ralph has followed that prediction exactly, though they can’t predict exactly how much functionality he will recover. It is different for everyone. However, he has been working hard with Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy to increase his range of motion and strength in all areas. They had him in an Easy Stander last week, supporting his legs but forcing him to use his torso muscles to stand. They’ve used an electric muscle stimulator device on his hands and forearms, with success. They plan to bring him to the gym again and have him on the sitting bicycle machine. His movements are slow, but controlled, and progressing every day.
Again, thank you all for the cards and comments, and the donations and prayers and support. He is still not quite ready for visitors, but we feel like he will be within the next few weeks.
In the meantime, if you want to send a card or note, please sent to Lynn Lanigan at 476 Sudbury Street, Marlboro, MA 01752.
Thank you.
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Just a reminder that Ralph's wonderful musician friends are hosting a Fundraiser for him at the Elks Club in Hudson, MA on Sunday, November 4th, from 4:00 - 8:00 pm. We will have food (thanks TJ's of Ashland and Tony Frias!!), a silent auction with great items, a 50/50 raffle and lots of great music!! Hope to see you there!
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$38,110 of $40,000 goal

Raised by 422 people in 4 months
Created August 15, 2018
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