Baby Steps

Another big week for Matt!

Matt is able to sit up all on his own these days.  They allowed him to remove his neck brace to get his hair trimmed.

Matt is able to sit up all on his own these days. They allowed him to remove his neck brace to get his hair trimmed.

Matt remains in good spirits and for the most part he also remains in a very alert and cheery state– whereas before he was sort-of drifting between moments of alert and a sleepy or aggravated state.

He is quite hilarious making everyone around him laugh, including his nurses.  He has so many private jokes with his close friends and he remembers them all and is loving to use them when opportunity presents itself.  His buddy Aguilar was visiting and he introduced him to his nurse David.  Matt started saying in a funny voice, “He’s a real good boy, David is a good boy” and Aguilar picked up on that he was saying a line from one of their favorite movies, Caddyshack, which over the years they’ve watched together probably hundreds of times.  Aguilar’s response was, in an equally funny voice, “Now I know why tigers eat their young…” Which is the next line Rodney Dangerfield says in the cult classic movie.

Matt and Aguilar laughed so hard and Matt immediately got choked up, saying, “It feels so good to laugh from way deep down in my belly, it feels so good.”  There were two other visitors in the room (Summer and Stephanie) and there was not a dry eye among the bunch of them.  Their response was that it felt so good to have the opportunity to laugh along with Matt.

In typical charismatic, well-mannered Matt fashion, he introduces everyone who walks into his room to his nurses and attendants.  Everyone who works on his floor stops by his room to wave and say hi, the doctors, nurses, janitors, medical assistants…. everyone wants to get a glimpse of Matt’s bright eyes and contagious smile.  Matt has always had this effect on people, they are just drawn to him and now is no exception.

Matt’s nurse David talked about how amazing it has been to see Matt make such dramatic progress during his stay.  He said it was people like Matt who make his job worthwhile.  He said that there was a whole team of people who have worked with Matt since he began waking from his coma and they all happened to be in the same room while Matt was in physical therapy yesterday.  Matt was doing so wonderful, making so much progress his Physical Therapist  teared up and started to cry.  The nurse David looked over and saw the physical therapist working with Matt and he started to cry as well.  He said it was a chain reaction and soon every person in the room was crying.  This is what they saw……..

Matt stands and has started taking steps!

Matt stands and has started taking steps!

Matt is blowing everyone’s minds with his progress.  He is beginning to walk, taking baby steps!  He is talking more and more.  He has confirmed what we all already know about him….. that sky is the limit.

Matt also is riding a bike.  How cool is that?!

Matt also is riding a bike. How cool is that?!

Matt had two swallow tests done this week.  He did pretty well, and is now allowed to eat pudding and applesauce!  He said it was the best pudding and applesauce he has ever had.  He usually chooses chocolate or vanilla flavors.  He says he is STARVING all the time and he can’t wait to eat more food.  Hopefully that smoothie he craves is just around the corner.  He said the muscles in his neck and throat feel tired from not being used for such a long time.

They started taking Matt outside this week.  He said it feels so good to feel the sun on his skin.

They started taking Matt outside this week. He said it feels so good to feel the sun on his skin.

His memory is getting better and better as the days pass but still is not quite back to normal.  Often if he is asked what year it is he will say 1999 or he just won’t be sure.  He does know how old he is and remembers lot’s of details about the recent visits he has with people in the hospital.  On occasion he gets a little confused about the passage of time, thinking he was “asleep” (in the coma) “for a whole week” (it was 5+ weeks) or he feels like visitors stayed for longer or shorter periods of time than they really did.  His memory and general function seem to be improving steadily though.

outside 02

Matt is improving so rapidly that he is almost ready to move to the next phase of his treatment.  Shortly, potentially in a week or so, he will be transferred to an acute care facility.  He is currently working very hard to build up his endurance so he will be able to participate in the rehabilitation he will be required to do once he transfers.  At the acute care facility he will be required to do a minimum of three hours of rehab per day.  This includes occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy.  The goal is for him to work up to six hours of therapy per day, at which time he can be transferred to a Post-Acute Rehab facility which specializes in working with people with brain injuries.

outside 01

With this goal in mind, Matt is putting all of that amazing strength and willpower we all know he has into his current daily rehabilitation.  He  gets very tired because each day he is doing more and more.  By the evening Matt is truly exhausted and appreciates some quiet time for himself.  If planning a visit with Matt, keep in mind that lately after 6:00 pm he is often very tired.  He becomes so physically and mentally worn out it can become difficult for him to interact.  If planning a late visit it may be a good idea to call ahead to make sure he is up for it.  Matt loves seeing all of his family and friends and gives them a tremendous amount of credit, knowing he is doing as well as he is due in part to all of the support he has received.  He feels the love of everyone around him and expresses how grateful he is every chance he gets.  Because the stage of recovery he is in now requires so much physical and mental exertion, it is important to keep visits brief if he seems tired and aim for visiting before 6:00 pm if possible.

Next week Matt might be getting his Trach tube removed which will be so wonderful for him!  He also has an appointment with an orthopedic doctor who will be looking at x-rays of his neck and spine.  This will determine how much longer he will need to wear his neck brace.

Matt wants to say a big “Thank you!!” to everyone who has been following his story and sending prayers.  He really feels the support and it has helped him so much.  Matt’s story has been such an inspiration and so heart warming.  He is filling up the souls of his friends, family and followers with so much hope and happiness, inspiring so many people in so many ways.  For that we all say a big “Thank you!!” right back to Matt.

As always, thanks to everyone– Friends, family and strangers who have been so generous to donate money and to share Matt’s fund-raising link.  Thank you to everyone who has offered the many, many thoughts and prayers.

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4 thoughts on “Baby Steps

  1. So happy to see Matt doing so well. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with Matt and his family as they watch Matt improve daily. What a great story of courage and faith.

  2. He has given us all a great lesson…never give up …..on anything or anyone!

  3. Wow!!!!! Best update EVER! I’m so excited for him. That photo of him made me tear up happy. He looks so proud. Good job Matt! My parents & I are praying for you buddy! Keep it up!!! Stay strong & keep smiling.
    Big Hugs,
    Tiffany Polito Coyne
    Tom & Judy Polito

  4. Mt husband Chico and I have been “groupies” of Matts at Santa Monica Seafood on Fridays for a long time and had to visit. We were so happy to see his smile when we walked in, it lit up the room! What a beautiful spirit he has, shared lots of smiles and laughter with him, he’s a genuine miracle:-)

    Chico and Trixie Nispseros

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