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                             Archive of Facebook posts from the beginning

Jan. 1  Hello Friends, I posted the following this morning on my son Jackson's page, but I think it's important to share this information with my friends as well as some family that haven't been able to access his page. I will post an update after this. 
Hi friends and family of Jackson. This is his parents posting. Jackson was a passenger in a car that had a serious accident last night. He is currently in surgery for a spinal cord injury and to repair his broken nose. What we know right now is that his spinal cord is badly bruised and one of the vertebrae in his neck is pushing on it. Hopefully, this surgery will relieve that pressure and in time he will regain use of his arms and legs. Right now, he has no feeling below the nipple line and limited mobility in his arms and hands. He has several broken ribs, bruised kidneys and liver, lacerations to the face and head, a concussion. He is mentally sharp as a tack and even has a glimmer of a sense of humor. We'll do our best to keep you updated as we learn more.
Jan. 1   After a long and stressful day, starting at 4:00 AM here is a hopeful update.
Jackson is out of surgery and we’ve just spoken with the neurosurgeon. There was a fair amount of tissue injury around the broken cervical vertebrae, but when the surgeon opened it up, the spinal cord “blossomed” and “was really quite impressive.” Because of the number of fractures, they have inserted screws and rods in Jackson’s neck to keep it stabilized. His blood pressure, which could have been very erratic during this procedure, was stable throughout, so Jackson’s famous strength is serving him well. At the moment, he is intubated and sedated, so he’ll sleep through the night. Because there is also a significant fracture and ligament tearing lower in his back (the area of his spine roughly across from his solar plexus), he will be going into surgery again tomorrow morning, so the plan is to let him sleep and heal between now and then. The pause between the surgeries allows his lungs to recover somewhat from the anesthesia, decreasing the chances of clots or pneumonia. Tomorrow’s surgery will be a long one, too, but we’ll know more about it tomorrow afternoon. So there’s good news in all of this. There is still a long waiting period - several days to a week or more - before we know anything about returning sensation in his arms and legs.  Thank you so much for your thoughts and comments. We’ll be sharing them all with him.
Jan. 2   First off we want to thank every one of you for your love and support. It means the world to us and especially to Jackson. All of his crew in the Navy have offered any and all assistance and we feel so lucky to be a part of that extended family. Jackson is currently still in surgery for his lower back and we will provide updates as we learn more.

Jan. 2 Here's the latest update on Jackson from John Sherry:
Sorry for the news blackout! Things have been going fairly fast and furious since we got here. The neurosurgeon was pleased with the latest operation on Jackson's lower back. So Jackson now has 10 screws stabilizing the lower vertebrae. He was strongly sedated because he was intubated He really hated it. His mother, Jeannie is here with him as are Joyce and I. They took the tube out about an hour and a half ago and that was fairly dramatic. He had some weird episode about 15 minutes after it came out then he bounced back and is on fire making jokes, asking questions, relating what he remembers about the accident. We've just been reading him his Messages from Facebook and he's resting now.

Jan. 4  It’s been some long days, but we’re taking this moment to catch up everyone. It really became clear yesterday just what an emotional roller coaster ride this is going to be. The day started with Jackson being able to move his right arm about an inch off the bed and feeling slightly increased sensation in his hands, arms, and torso. For most of the day, though, he was having trouble coughing and clearing his throat and lungs. Lots of phlegm. It made him a little panicky and the oxygen mask was making him claustrophobic. He had a fever of about 102 which wasn't helping him focus. Even strength and determination like Jackson’s can fail a person at a time like this, and all of us are learning to make big adjustments with the ups and downs. Eventually the trauma doctor told us all we needed to go home. That was about 9 o'clock. The trauma doctor warned us to be prepared for lots more of this and to approach it with patience and tough love. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

Jan. 4  Jackson just had a serious episode of not being able to breathe and now is again being intubated. This was an emergency fix and now unfortunately he will need a tracheostomy. He just doesn't have the strength in his chest to breathe deeply or to cough to relieve his lungs from the build up of fluid. We had to vacate his room to let the trauma team work...he quit breathing entirely and was turning blue, which is about the scariest moment so far. The tracheostomy tube will not only help him breathe but will also help them remove fluids. In the event he has another episode they can also administer oxygen without causing him any more stress. The tube does not have to be permanent.

Jan. 5  Today was overall a much quieter day with fewer ups and downs, but nonetheless a lot of activity. His drainage tube from the back surgery came out. He's been log rolled to give his back some relief. The nose plugs supporting the repair of his broken nose came out this afternoon, meaning there will be much less irritation to his mouth and throat. It has also been necessary to put a feeding tube into his stomach as he isn't yet able to swallow. They took sputum, urine and blood cultures to find out what's causing his 102 degree fever. He has been able to lift both arms today, but his fatigue is palpable. With the various drugs and surgeries and the immense amount of stress that he must be feeling but cannot, at this time, express, he sometimes becomes confused between what’s happening now and what he possibly dreamt. On the up side, his sister Sisarie got into town today and is looking forward to seeing him tomorrow. Frances Atkins, an old friend, came by to visit and told great stories, the Navy Chaplain from Monterey stopped in, and one of Jackson’s good buddies from the boat flew in from Cincinnati to SF and drove down to spend this evening and tomorrow with him. To round out the day, the Naval Hospital at Bremerton got in touch and is getting all the info to "Big Navy." We are all feeling very supported by them and all of you, and we are keeping him abreast of all of your support.

Jan. 6  Another day of forward movement. What’s important, as articulated by Jackson’s neurosurgeon: Being pessimistic is easy and being overly optimistic is easy, and both are absolutely the wrong path to follow. We are taking each new development as it comes and remaining positive in our overall outlook. 
Later in the day, Jackson came off the ventilator and was breathing on his own. Comfortable breathing has been one of his biggest challenges so far due to too much fluid, but gradually, that situation is improving. As a mixed bag, his fever was still high today, but he could actually feel that he was hot. This, plus the increased movement of his arms showed some improvement in the spinal cord. He was able to lift his right forearm and bring it down under his own steam, turn the palm over, and raise the arm from the elbow with assistance. The left arm was even stronger. He needed less help raising and lowering the forearm and turning the palm over, and raising the whole arm from the shoulder was completely pain free, though he still needed a good bit of help for such a large motion. Unfortunately, he can’t yet grip with either hand, nor does he have sensation in the legs. 
He was so happy to see his shipmate, Theo, both last night and today, and kept egging him on to tell us stories of Theo’s hometown (Lou-uh-ville) and their time together on the boat. His longtime friend Karen, who had a lunch date with Jackson today, made sure to keep it by tracking him down at the ICU. Most important, his sister got to spend some time with him, too. At one point, there was a total of six family and friends in the room. One of his nurses looked at him and said, “Your family really loves you!” He responded by mouthing, “That makes me happy.” At different points of the day he had all of us laughing. Sometimes he gets frustrated with us because we can’t understand what he’s trying to mouth or whisper, but he makes sure we can understand him when he gripes, “You guys are killing me right now!” He threatened to yell at Theo when he gets his trach covered and can use his vocal chords again. We left late afternoon (he needed to rest after all the activity), but Theo was able to stay until 8 p.m. before heading off to the SF airport to go back to Kentucky. He filled us in that Jackson, though he was “pretty much over it all,” was sitting up more than he was able to earlier and his fever had broken. We hope he can get some rest tonight and take a few more all-important baby steps tomorrow. Again, thank you all who have been posting such great encouraging words. We are reading everything, and we want you to know that we appreciate all that you are doing and saying, even if we don’t reply individually. Your words are buoying us all.
Jan. 7  Jackson is down to one IV tube and the feeding tube, plus oxygen support, but he’s breathing completely on his own. Even when he was sleeping, he was breathing perfectly! The ICU doctor came in this morning and determined that the tube draining the fluid outside his lungs was no longer needed. He started off by pulling the adhesive bandages away from Jackson’s chest. He rolled Jackson onto his side, then told him to take three deep breaths, and on the third one, he pulled the tube right out of Jackson’s chest. The part that came out was a good four inches long, but it pulled out cleanly with no bleeding. He patched him up with a couple of adhesive bandages and everything was hunky dory. Later in the day, when the nurse removed the central line, she used the same count to three tactic, but this time, he had to hold his breath. If you know how, um, hairy Jackson is, you can imagine what ripping adhesive bandages off of his chest might entail. His main nurse today, very smart and knowledgeable and clearly one of his favorites so far, says that his attitude is great and he is especially polite, that a lot of young men aren’t accepting of such a female dominated environment. That’s our boy!
One of the more exciting moments was getting to hear Jackson’s voice again as he practiced, briefly, bypassing the breathing aspect of his tracheal tube so that he could send air through his vocal cords. He did this both morning and evening. The tricky thing about that is that when it opens the airway, it also opens up the possibility of aspiration of saliva into his lungs. It’s a complicated maneuver and he has to learn how to do that, but he was able to count to ten in the morning and say “Hi” to the big world.
We also had a lot of contact with a variety of Navy personnel, and we continue to be so impressed by and grateful for their unqualified support, professionalism, and kindness. They made it crystal clear that no matter what happens, they are with him and us for as long as it takes.
Jan. 8  Jackson was able to get his tastebuds working again! He enjoyed a lunch of Ensure (he really loves that crap, especially if they add some protein powder), applesauce (that he hated—they tried to disguise some medicine in it), Jello, broth (that he gagged down a few bites of), and tea. Whoo-hoo! Swallowing is a very big deal. It means he’s closer to being able to use the valve that bypasses the tracheostomy tube, allowing him to speak. He may eventually be able to get rid of the tube altogether. The other major event was a barium x-ray of his throat. This may sound simple, but it involved gathering up all of the tubes, IV medications, fluids, oxygen feeds, and other paraphernalia, transferring him from his bed to a gurney, and wheeling him down to the first floor. And of course, the procedure and the return trip. Between this, physical therapy on his legs and arms, speech therapy, skin checks, and log rolling, the remains of the day went to some necessary rest. Even so, he rallied for a brief visit with his friend Frances, his shipmate Jesse, and three of the fabulous nurses who first took care of him at the CHOMP emergency room and the Natividad Trauma Center. He did a little Facebook, text message, and email reading between times, activities which gave him a good morale boost. Rumor has it he’ll transfer out of ICU tomorrow. Jackson has a schedule in mind, and he’s doing everything he can to stick to it.
Jan. 11  The last few days have been rough with a little progress, but setbacks with his breathing and a persistent fever that has made him delirious at times. From hour to hour he can be frustrated or anxious (an obviously natural reaction to pain, struggling to breathe, and paralysis), though he can also be upbeat and joking around. He had to go back on the respirator, but this afternoon, they took him off again. The team did a bronchoscopy to see if they could figure out if there is a lung infection causing the fever, or whether it is neuropathic or a reaction to the steroids they used to reduce the swelling of his spinal cord. There is some big news today: When Joyce was with him, he moved each leg...the tiniest bit. He told her to watch, then asked her if she saw them move, first the right and then the left, just the smallest wiggle, but actual movement! He has not been up to seeing visitors for the last couple of days; he’s just working hard on increasing sensation and mobility, and that’s exhausting. His spirits, especially earlier in the day today, were great. He is eager to see all of the therapists—physical, respiratory, speech, occupational—and get to work. He enjoys reading everyone’s Facebook feeds as that keeps him a bit up-to-date on all of your goings-on. It has been amazing for us to see the deep connection between him and his shipmates. It’s truly a brotherhood, and his desire to be back among them is a great motivator for him.
Jan. 14  The most meaningful development of the day is the reduction in the size of the trach tube, going from the 8 to the 6. This is the first step of the process towards removing it altogether. At first, he practiced talking with the speech valve and tolerated it a whole lot better than the first time. But the more exciting thing was that he quickly realized, after the speech valve was removed, that he can talk around the trach much more comfortably than with the valve. It isn’t as loud as talking with the valve, but it’s pretty close, and he can freely communicate. We might have mentioned that the speech therapist was most impressed when he was able to do this earlier; she said it’s very rare that someone can talk around a trach tube. As usual, the day involved multiple therapies (PT, respiratory, etc., etc), checking in on Facebook posts, Snapchat, text messages, Instagram. This is where social media is quite the boon to someone recuperating in the hospital. In other developments, though his appetite has not been great, he did manage to down a few bites of baby food that his mom procured for him: Who doesn’t like mangoes and blueberries? He also watched twenty minutes or so of The Grand Budapest Hotel before falling asleep (all the world’s a critic). :-)  Actually, he will probably watch the rest in installments over the next few days. Right now, we are waiting anxiously for the Palo Alto facility to have a bed available. Once they do, he’ll be immediately transferred and be able to begin his active rehabilitation. There has been the unsettling suggestion that he might go somewhere else if a bed doesn’t open soon, but given the proximity of Palo Alto to his family, friends, and cherished shipmates, we’re doing everything possible to ensure that he goes to Palo Alto. We’ve said it each time we’ve posted, we think, but it can’t be repeated too often: Your comments and support are more powerful and important than you can even imagine. Thank you!
Jan. 17  First off, the VA Hospital here in Palo Alto is truly top notch with a one to one nurse to patient ratio. He has been in the ICU here only because they haven't had a bed available in the Spinal Rehab; he will go there on Tuesday (bad timing for a long holiday weekend). 
We (John, Joyce and Sisarie), are staying in a local motel but long term housing is being provided to Jackson's mom by Fisher House right here on the VA grounds. His best friend from the boat, Wyatt, flew down and is staying in the Defender's Lodge and hanging out with Jackson. In a few minutes, Jackson's going to get a big surprise: Three of his closest friends have driven in all the way down from the northwest and will be arriving, unannounced, in his room. That should be a terrific boost! 
His spirits have been overall good, but it's been difficult for him to get comfortable due to the pain from his neck and shoulders. It's been an on-going challenge to find the right bed position and/or pillow configuration so that he can rest comfortably. Still, all the conversation and activity yesterday allowed him to get a full night's sleep last night - a first. It's good to be up here as it feels like a step forward. Everyone, especially Jackson, is ready to get to work on the rehab floor. He is eager for activity and a task. That said, he does tire quickly, and they haven't yet been able to track the source of his on-again-off-again fever.
Jan. 20   It’s been a few days since we left Jackson in the care of the VA Hospital in Palo Alto. When we left, he had just been moved out of the ICU into a regular room where he stayed until he was taken yesterday to the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) rehab facility. Moving out of the ICU was a big deal as he was able to shed several of the tubes and monitors that have been part of his whole experience since the accident. Finally on Tuesday morning his fever broke! It had been up and down constantly prior to that time. It’s been tough not being there for each of the new developments and changes, but we’ve had updates from his mom and also from the nursing staff, as well as his case manager; everyone has shown such an incredible level of competence and care! Joyce and I had a conference call today with his case manager, a very experienced nurse that has been working at this SCI rehab facility for 24 years. One of the most powerful pieces of information we received is that because the spinal cord is in such a narrow channel between the vertebrae, the swelling can take 6 months or longer to go down…as has been said before, this is a long journey. At the same time, we appreciate being reminded of just how long a journey, as his primary doctor in the rehab facility has warned Jackson that he may never recover the use of his legs. Both time and Jackson’s will are determined to prove him wrong. As so many friends have said already, if anyone can triumph over this, it’s Jackson. Such a challenge just makes him ornery. Today, he had a visit from the captain of his boat who presented him with his mid-point award and told him, “You will always be a part of the crew, no matter the future."
Jan. 28   We haven't updated folks for awhile, but Joyce and I have been getting up to see Jackson every few days. We were able to go together today. His goal for the week has been to sit up in his wheelchair for an hour, and as usual he is killing it. His OT (occupational therapist) says he's an overachiever. Though he just started working on this two days ago and was able to last for five minutes due to the extreme pain in his neck and ongoing blood pressure issues, today he hit the 45 minute mark.
Unfortunately last night his fever returned, but unlike the fevers of the first few weeks, this one was responsive to Tylenol, which is really fortunate. The team has taken samples to try to isolate the cause of this fever as it's likely due to an infection. It, and a sleepless night because of it, left him fairly fatigued today, but he still gave his best to physical, occupational, and respiratory therapies. One of the tough things about visiting him during weekdays is that he is constantly occupied with various activities and tests.
He really enjoyed watching a video recorded by a dear friend in Germany, sending and receiving texts from dear friends closer to home, and reading Facebook posts, and these helped keep his spirits up. On a humorous note, the plastic surgeon at Natividad said he wouldn't be able to move his right eyebrow due to the laceration and resulting scar, but Jackson was showing off some of his signature eyebrow manipulations for us and all systems are go! He told us that the Palo Alto plastic surgeon stopped by to look at his forehead and offered to do something about the scar from his broken nose, but Jackson said he'd keep the added character.
Feb. 4  The last time we saw Jackson was over the weekend with Joyce visiting on Saturday and me going on Sunday and staying on through Monday afternoon. On Monday, he was able to sit in the wheelchair for an hour and fifteen minutes (yesterday he was up to 1:45) and was able to lift his right arm and place his hand on the control stick ten times in a row. Also on Sunday, during PT he was able to push outward with his left arm from a raised position, which means that, for the first time, he used his left triceps. Before that, the physical therapist couldn’t “find even a spark” from that triceps. All this new activity is exhausting for him, and he often needs a nap after PT. Naps are really all he has a chance for because every 4 hours he gets a breathing treatment, and there are also various other necessary pokes and prods throughout the day and night. When Joyce saw him on Saturday, he was pretty tired due to a fever the night before, but he rallied as he had several visitors. He's had a number of bouts of low grade pneumonia because of his inability to express fluid from the lungs. His doctor thinks this is manageable for now, but hopes to get him out of the hospital as soon as possible; infections can be common in hospitals. In the last two days, he’s had the chance to drive the hallways and go outside for short periods as he learns to manipulate his chair. It’s a challenge, but some great progress. 
On the homefront, we’re trying to get everything in place for the remodels that need to be done before Jackson comes home. It keeps us busy, but helps a little bit in taking our minds off how hard it is to be away from him all week.
 Feb. 11  Today was the big meet up with Jackson's rehab team. It was an hour-plus long meeting with fifteen people in the room and two additional folks teleconferencing in (3 doctors, a psychologist, OT, PT x2, 2 case workers, a social worker, a Navy liaison, a nursing supervisor, a representative of Wounded Warriors, and three family members, plus Jackson himself). We went around the table introducing ourselves and our roles on Team Jackson. When it came to him, of course, he introduced himself as Jackson Sherry, Patient Extraordinaire! We heard reports on every aspect of his care, progress, and next steps. The message that came through loud and clear in the meeting was the fondness and respect for Jackson that every member of his team holds. We have a projected date for his return home, but that is dependent on several factors; the two major issues are his continued ability to breathe comfortably and his maintaining a normal blood pressure. After the meeting, he approved all the choices for the remodel of his bathroom, so we will get the various pieces ordered and be able to start the actual work soon. All told, he spent three hours in the chair today, despite a haphazard schedule due to traveling to another building for x-rays of his lungs, then later an ultrasound of his leg to check for blood clots, and in between a visit to the technology lab to work with a tablet and an extended stylus. His energy level during all of these activities shows that his stamina is really improving. After only a quick nap, he was back to visiting, chatting, and discovering the wonder of Smitten ice cream.   

Feb. 22  Just got back from a Sunday through Monday visit with our boy. I had several hours of training each day for all the various aspects of his care that we'll need to perform once he's home. I’m scheduled for more of these hands on training sessions during the next two weeks. The two nurses who worked with me are so smart and capable and are excellent teachers! We have a target date of March 8 for his return, but it is only a target. There are many issues to resolve before he can safely come home, like having reliably stable blood pressure and proper lung capacity. 
His doctors' underlying philosophy for his release is that he will remain at the VA while he's still making progress in his rehab and will not go home till they think he has hit a plateau.
We (Jackson, Joyce and I), don’t think he is anywhere near that point because he is now really just starting some of the real physical work due to the fact that he’s had so much trouble with his lung capacity and blood pressure. There is also the possibility that the Navy could simply decide they want him at the rehab facility in San Diego…So, we are nonetheless preparing for March 8 by getting the house ready, educating ourselves on his treatment, and researching various resources for his continued recovery once he’s in our care.

Jackson update 3/3:  We haven’t been quite as regular with our posts, and that has to do with daily events mellowing out to some degree. Jackson continues to improve both medically and physically. His chief medical issue is the continuing congestion and fluid in one of his lungs; it's been very slow to abate. This is why he must have a breathing treatment every four hours and is also a very good reason for him to stay put there at Palo Alto. On the upside regarding his breathing, his tracheostomy tube is capped for pretty much every waking hour except during his breathing treatments. He really wants the tracheostomy tube gone before he leaves the facility. He works hard in the gym and his arm muscles are improving daily. He can now quite joyfully give hugs to us all! It’s been fun to see him raise his arms high enough to scratch his own nose and rub his itchy beard. On Wednesday, Jackson was able to feed himself for the first time! Another thrilling development is that his doctor discovered movement in his right thumb. In general his right side is improving faster than the left. There are still some scary moments intermixed with all of this great progress. Today, he experienced the negative effects of autonomic dysreflexia (or AD) which can lead to all kinds of dangerous physical responses. It comes on when a part of the body that doesn’t transfer sensation to the brain is under duress. The body still reacts in a fight or flight kind of response, even though he can’t feel the pain. Today’s stress was brought on by something that was easily fixed, but the discomfort resulted in a day-long bout of chills and nausea. By dinner time, Jackson was back to his normal, upbeat self and able to eat dinner. The work he’s doing up there in Palo Alto is so important and his progress so positive that his discharge date has been moved to the middle of March, though that, too, may change.
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