Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Beyond FEASTING: What I’m Thankful for This Thanksgiving

While my girls might feel slighted to see their brother and cousin pictured in this post, they’d agree that the health of their cousin Ryan (on the left) after the many surgeries he’s had to endure this year is one huge reason we all feel very blessed and thankful this Thanksgiving.

Ryan turned 16 in May. He’s always been a very (very!) bright kid with a wonderful, outgoing personality and a great sense of humor; he was looking forward to a summer full of swimming and ultimate frisbee. Unfortunately two weeks after his birthday at an end-of-school-year party, Ryan went under an indoor trampoline to retrieve a rolling basketball. At the same time another party-goer jumped onto the trampoline from a second-story window and hit Ryan in the back of his head, causing his nose to hit the concrete floor with considerable force and shattering his nose into more than 25 pieces.

Ryan underwent surgery a few days later to reset his nose. He also had a CT scan done that same day, which showed his cribriform plate to be broken. A piece of bone had pierced his spinal fluid sac and was resting where the right and left hemispheres of his brain meet. He was hospitalized and kept immobile in the hopes that his spinal sac would seal around the bone to stop the leaking of spinal fluid. When his nose packing was removed, it was clear a fluid leak remained. The decision was made to perform cranial surgery to remove the bone and seal the leak.

Initially, Ryan seemed to recuperate well from the cranial surgery. Then he started to notice a watery discharge coming from his nose each morning, indicating another spinal fluid leak. Ryan had another surgery to insert a shunt into his lower back so the shunt could drain the fluid around his brain, allowing the leak to dry out and seal on its own. The absence of spinal fluid to protect his brain caused him to suffer from severe headaches for months.

When the leak failed to dry out and seal on it own, last week Ryan had yet another surgery to patch the leak, followed by the placement of an exterior shunt to again dry out the area in his brain that needed to heal. He’s finally home with his family. As long as the location of the exterior shunt (in his lower back) remains dry and heals, his pain should subside as the amount of spinal fluid around his brain finally returns to normal. Hopefully that will be coupled by the full success of this last cranial surgery and Ryan will never have to endure anything like this again. We’re very thankful that Ryan not only is recuperating but is in good spirits and is surrounded by (lots!) of loving family members this Thanksgiving. We’re also thankful for everyone who’s showered him with love this year and offered to help his mom and dad whenever they needed it. It’s obvious that Ryan is loved by many; he’s also cherished more than he’ll ever know by friends and family located in cities and towns all over the country and around the world, including a certain little suburb of Denver.

May all your stories have happy endings this holiday season and throughout the New Year. Happy Thanksgiving!


Blogger Sherry said...

Karen, this is a remarkable story of strength and courage and fierceness. This young man (who is the same age as my son) has endured more than people 3-4 times his age. Your post is such a tribute of love to this boy...many positive thoughts and prayers for his continued healing and may he, you and your entire family have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

4:59 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

What a remarkable story and what a courageous boy your nephew is. This is an amazing tribute to his spirit and his will and the love of his family and friends.

We are reminded of all that we have to be thankful for and it is sobering, indeed. Thank you for sharing his story with us and I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

You ladies sure know how to make an aunt feel good. :) Thanks so much and many wishes to you both for a fun, relaxing Thanksgiving! K.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Jen P said...

Wow that is fascinating. He's going to be a famous motivation speaker one day and influence thousands of lives. I can see it! Have yummy turkey today!

9:07 AM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Oh my goodness! What an amazing, courageous young man! Am so glad he's doing better. This is a poignant reminder that we are truly blessed in so many ways and should never take our health for granted. Thank you for sharing Ryan's important story. Wishing him - and you and your family - all the best on Thanksgiving and every day.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Thanks, Jen and Tara! Ryan's now planning to go to pre-med with his sites set on becoming a neurosurgeon. Wouldn't be surprised if he eventually coupled that with motivational work, though. He's a terrific student and a great kid. Not that I'm biased! :)

5:24 PM  
Blogger Carleen Brice said...

God bless Ryan! What a strong young man!

7:57 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

He really is, Carleen! Stitches came out Thanksgiving day and he's able to walk a little now. Miracles never cease. K.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

What an amazing story. And what a handome fellow he is. Hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

9:02 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Thanks, Jenn! K.

9:24 PM  

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