Graham's Road to Recovery Fund

Graham's Road to Recovery Fund

From Dallas Dobbs

Graham was in a terrible accident. His head was run over by a car while playing at a friends house. Please give so his family can focus on his recovery and not on their finances.

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Recent Updates

Update #42

almost 4 years ago

I wanted to let everyone know, in case you missed it on the blog or on social media, that Graham is coming home today! He will be greeted by many friends and supporters dressed in superhero attire. This difficult road that Graham is journeying down has not ended for him nor for his family, but we are so happy that they will be able to spend time together as a family in their home. Graham is a special boy and I'm excited to see what other great things God has in store for him.

I hope you have all been able to feel God's love for his children here on earth while the Kormylos opened up the doors to their hospital room and allowed us to watch Graham's progress. It's amazing to see how far Graham has come in such a short period of time. Through the power of God, a loving family, countless prayers, and an amazing personal will, Graham has overcome the odds and recovered after such a horrific accident. Thank you all for all that you have done to help ease the Kormylo's burden through your prayers and donations. PLEASE read the Kormylo's most recent blog post and watch this video!

Here is their last blog post at truesuperhero.blogspot.com:
Graham Update Day 87
One thing Lindsey and I have consistently tried to do is help Graham understand why he is in a hospital. He now understands that he was in an accident. That a car ran over his head. That he has been in the hospital getting better. We've also told him that we share his story on the computer, and that lots of people have been praying for him to get better.

Last week Graham asked how badly he got hurt by the car. So we slowly, and with lots of warning, showed him some pictures from early on in his recovery. We emphasized how great it was that "Heavenly Father helped you get all better!" and that so many people praying for him helped him get better quicker. At that point, Graham asked the following questions:

"Have all the people praying for me seen my pictures?"

No Grahammy, they haven't.

"Why not?"

We didn't want to show everyone pictures of you without your permission. Do you want them to see the pictures

"Yes!"

Why do you want them to see the pictures?

"So they can see how much better Heavenly Father made me!"

So after prayerful consideration, we have decided to honor Graham's wishes and let you all see how much better Heavenly Father has made Graham. Just a warning - some of the pictures in the video are graphic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O10-5Lvodhs&feature=youtu.be

More Info

A Letter From Graham's Mom

Friends and family,

Yesterday our sweet son Graham was in a terrible accident. His head was run over by a car while playing at a friend's house, and was life-flighted to the hospital. While his lower body is in near perfect health, Graham does have extensive skull and facial fractures, as well as multiple contusions on his brain. Yesterday evening neurosurgery placed a drain into the center of his brain to help with swelling and pressure, and a team of doctors is currently planning his next major surgery, to take place later this week or early next. His vital signs are all good right now, although he is sedated and on a ventilator in ICU at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. 

We love Graham with all our hearts, and are so grateful to the outpouring of prayers and support that he has already received. Last night I felt a wonderful peace as I came to feel that all of our prayers were already being answered, and that our loving Heavenly Father is pouring his blessings out on Graham and the rest of our family. 

I ask all of you and yours to pray for Graham, that his pain will be lightened, that his doctors will perform with absolute expertise, and that his healing will come with speed in accordance to God's will. 

Lindsey Roth Kormylo

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 87: GRAHAM IS COMING HOME TODAY!!!

I wanted to let everyone know, in case you missed it on the blog or on social media, that Graham is coming home today! He will be greeted by many friends and supporters dressed in superhero attire. This difficult road that Graham is journeying down has not ended for him nor for his family, but we are so happy that they will be able to spend time together as a family in their home. Graham is a special boy and I'm excited to see what other great things God has in store for him.

I hope you have all been able to feel God's love for his children here on earth while the Kormylos opened up the doors to their hospital room and allowed us to watch Graham's progress. It's amazing to see how far Graham has come in such a short period of time. Through the power of God, a loving family, countless prayers, and an amazing personal will, Graham has overcome the odds and recovered after such a horrific accident. Thank you all for all that you have done to help ease the Kormylo's burden through your prayers and donations. PLEASE read the Kormylo's most recent blog post and watch this video!

Here is their last blog post at truesuperhero.blogspot.com:
Graham Update Day 87
One thing Lindsey and I have consistently tried to do is help Graham understand why he is in a hospital. He now understands that he was in an accident. That a car ran over his head. That he has been in the hospital getting better. We've also told him that we share his story on the computer, and that lots of people have been praying for him to get better.

Last week Graham asked how badly he got hurt by the car. So we slowly, and with lots of warning, showed him some pictures from early on in his recovery. We emphasized how great it was that "Heavenly Father helped you get all better!" and that so many people praying for him helped him get better quicker. At that point, Graham asked the following questions:

"Have all the people praying for me seen my pictures?"

No Grahammy, they haven't.

"Why not?"

We didn't want to show everyone pictures of you without your permission. Do you want them to see the pictures

"Yes!"

Why do you want them to see the pictures?

"So they can see how much better Heavenly Father made me!"

So after prayerful consideration, we have decided to honor Graham's wishes and let you all see how much better Heavenly Father has made Graham. Just a warning - some of the pictures in the video are graphic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O10-5Lvodhs&feature=youtu.be

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

All Updates on Graham have Moved to truesuperhero.blogspot.com

Graham Supporters,
I first want to apologize for not assuring that all of you were up to speed on where Graham updates can now be found. I assumed everyone was on Facebook.com/prayers4graham following the updates...I have since found out that many of you don't use Facebook to track the updates and rely on these emails. After inquiries from a few of you about Graham's progress, I wanted to make sure everyone knew how to get Graham updates in the future as I will not be posting them on the fundly page which automatically sends out these emails. Please visit the website http://truesuperhero.blogspot.com where the updates are now posted. You can get updates automatically sent to your email... just visit the website and type in your email address in the top right of the page where it says "follow by email" and click submit. I believe you will need to do this through a computer web browser. For some reason when I go through the link on Facebook on my cell phone, it doesn't give me the option to do this.

Katie and I were able to visit Graham a couple weeks ago. We were amazed at his progress from that first time we visited just a couple days after the accident to now. Its amazing what prayer can do, as well as having two dedicated parents fighting for you in your corner with the support of so many behind them. Graham looks great and has made amazing progress but still has a long road ahead of him. Thanks to all of you for caring about Graham and for your donations. Keep those prayers coming...he still needs them! -Dallas

Donations will still be accepted through:
https://fundly.com/graham-s-road-to-recovery-fund

Again, updates are at:
http://truesuperhero.blogspot.com

You can also receive the updates through Facebook at
facebook.com/prayers4graham

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 29 (7/7/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 29 (7/7/14)

(Quick request for Boise Friends and Family – If you attend the Prayers4Graham night at Chile’s on Broadway tomorrow starting at 4:00 pm, – please take some selfies and send them to Graham at Prayers4Graham@gmail.com . Put “Chile’s” in the subject line and we will open them and read them to Graham and show him any pictures your send. Thanks!)

Graham’s recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. His brain surgeon this morning said “He’s doing better than I ever thought he would.” That is a lot for a man who, while warm and caring, goes light on superlatives and rarely refers to anything as good or bad. The last time I heard him say something like that was one he was describing the success of Graham’s brain surgery (“I think it looks GREAT!”). So for him to say THAT reaffirms what we know – Graham is a fighter who is being blessed beyond comprehension by an amazing medical staff and a loving God who answers the prayers of so many. Yet even a fighter like Graham is not immune to setbacks.

Yesterday started off as a great day for Graham in terms of his therapies. It freed him up to leave his room recreationally for the first time. We went down to the trains and he loved it. He gave us directions by pointing all over the place as we pushed him from train to train to see the different figures they carried. He saw Star Wars, Hulk, Ninja Turtles, and was particularly captivated by one train with a rather large tiger on it. His therapy also went very well – He can see all different colors, throw with either hand, and play with his toy dinosaurs.

The highlight of the day was without question a visit from his Grandma and Graham’s whole family. He got to play lightsabers with his brothers and karate with Dad. He also got to hold his baby sister again, which he absolutely loved. Everything was going just fine – until he pulled his feeding tube out again, at least partially (4 inches).

Graham had done that several times in the past week or so, and they had always been able to reinsert the tube without too much difficulty. Last night was the first time, though, that he had done it since being REALLY awake and alert, and you can only imagine that a feeding tube is a much easier pill to swallow when you are asleep than it is when you are awake. His nurse told Graham she had to put it back down, and little Graham, not 10 minutes removed from swinging a lightsaber around and smiling ear to ear, obediently obliged. She tried to coax Graham into relaxing his throat or swallowing it down, but there is only so much that 6 years of a world-class gag reflex will tolerate. The tube curled, bunched, and pinched in the back of Graham’s throat, but it did not go down, and he was left dry-heaving.

At that point his nurse let out the slack in the thin plastic tube, regrouped, and asked for Graham to try again. This time a very frightened 6 year-old did the only thing he knew how – he clenched his teeth and fought off the alien experiments. She pleaded for a minute or more, but Graham wouldn’t budge, and there was no smile to be found. Finally, I asked Graham if he could give it one more try for me, and like the amazing boy that he is, he sat up, faced his fears, and opened his mouth again. But again, as he obediently held his mouth open in spite of the gags, he was left with a tube curled up in the back of his throat, not one inch closer to where it needed to be. They called in for an x-ray to see if the placement would suffice, and it would not. This was a problem - Graham had not eaten anything by himself since the last time his tube was out, and he wasn’t about to start now with that thing in there. And I don’t blame him – I wouldn’t be swallowing anything with that in the back my throat either. So we rolled the dice with his feeds and sodium, put Graham on an IV drip, and pulled the tube out for the night.

Graham was certainly happy with the result. No sooner did it come out than he grew a huge smile on his face and started whispering “mama” again to Lindsey, and even talked in his sleep. Graham had moved between feeds and IV fluids before though, and the result was always trouble for the endocrine team. Controlling his sodium and DDAVP (pituitary drug to control urineflow) was our ticket out of the ICU. Losing control could be his ticket back in. This small setback – pulling out his feeding tube – could grow into something bigger.

As morning came, our fears were confirmed. Graham’s sodium had spiked. Too out of control, and it would require only the acute level of care that the ICU could provide. Fortunately for us though, his body reacted in a very normal way to a different IV fluid that they tried after his first lab result came back, and things quickly came back in line. But a healing boy with rehab cannot thrive on IV fluids alone. So what were the options?

First, there was the status quo – sedate Graham a bit, get his feeding tube back in, keep his hands in mittens, and see if he could gradually work up to eating over the tube. If he could, then we would pull the tube out of his mouth and he would eat on his own like normal. If he couldn’t, then he would have the surgery that they had been talking about for weeks – the G Tube – and he would feed that way and resume his therapy. Lindsey and I were not keen on this though. That would mean AT LEAST 3 more days of that thing in his throat. More and more the feeding tube feels less like medicine and more like torture. Everything that Graham has endured did not solicit so much as a whimper from Graham, but trying to reinsert that tube last night made him cry. No, we were not going for that approach. We would not lay down and accept 3 more days of hell for Graham. We always defer 100% to the wisdom and judgment of the medical staff, but last night we decided we would argue hard for an alternative to putting the feeding tube back down his throat.

What Lindsey and I thought would be the best approach would be to get the surgery scheduled ASAP. Once “on the board, “ keep the feeding tube out, and work with speech therapy to determine if Graham could eat safely and eat enough to sustain himself. Then try up until the surgery to get Graham to eat enough on his own – 1400 calories a day, plus at least 12 ounces of water. If he could do it – then we would cancel the surgery. If not, then he would get a second “belly button.”

This morning Dr. Braga and the neuro team sided with us, Lindsey and I were relieved, and Graham’s smile seemed stuck on his face the entire day. Speech therapy came and for the first time in a few days, Graham ate. A little yoghurt. Some sips of water. And a lot of PediaSure (a meal replacement about the consistency of thick chocolate milk, but vanilla flavored, and full of nutrients). His speech therapist was shocked at how well Graham could eat. Her reaction bordered on disbelief. Her eyes were big and her smile was bigger. She cleared Graham to eat with our supervision alone, and so it was time to get to work. Graham ate slowly at first – holding sips of his “smoothie” in his mouth for 10-20 seconds at a time before swallowing. But eventually Graham powered through – eating exactly ½ of his daily requirement over the next six hours, PLUS a vanilla milkshake. In other words, he cleared the bar easily on his first attempt. Graham is eating like a champ, and after all the fuss, postponed, and cancelled surgeries, it turns out that our little fighter may have bobbed and weaved his way out of the surgery altogether.

So the rest of today was really bliss. Therapy went well – he stood up and threw balls at us (with help to balance) and kicked beachballs as well. He walked more than he has at any point since his surgery, and has the strength to sit himself up in bed. He is also talking a lot more. At one point I spilled some PediaSure on his chin while holding his cup and straw in place. I told Graham “Just say ‘ you’re a sucker dog, Dad!’” He popped a huge smile and said it word for word, almost in a whisper. You’ll need to ask my dad what a sucker dog is, because I don’t really know. But it is now widely used by a third generation of Kormylo boys, and it was a delight to hear Graham say it today.

For the past 28 days Graham has had five leads stuck to his chest and another to his finger to monitor his heart rate, breathing, and oxygen level. Those have now gone the way of the feeding tube as well, much to Graham’s delight. So with only an IV in his arm, and without a surgery anywhere on the horizon, Graham is just eating, smiling, and ramping up his rehab. Next stop? Baylor Children’s House (inpatient rehab). ETA? Possibly the end of the week. God is good.

#Prayers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 28 (7/6/14) (From Micah, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 28 (7/6/14)

Short update tonight, but we should have a lot to share tomorrow but in terms of Graham's progress and where he is headed in the coming days and weeks. But here are some of the highlights from today, with more details on each of these tomorrow:

*Graham took his first road-trip to the train station today.
*Threw bean bags at Dad - 100% accurate.
*Picked up colored objects on command with Mom. 100% accurate.
*Had a light saber fight with his brothers.
*Played with dinosaurs that his friends from school brought him 3 weeks ago.
*Struggled with his feeding tube. Can't wait to get that thing out!
*Watched Frozen.
*Wrestled with Dad's head by pinning Dad's head down - first with his arms, then with his legs. That boy is Strong!
*Opened both of his eyes even more.

Graham is a fighter! Thank you all for your prayers and support. It is awesome to share in the miracles of Graham's recovery with so many. Lindsey and I really hope you all understand how much you increase our faith and lighten our load. Thank you! — at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 27 (7/5/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 27 (7/5/14)

Today was a very quiet day for Graham in terms of treatment and physical therapy. His urine flow and sodium continue to be right where his doctors want them to be, he’s off all pain medication and seems to be done withdrawing. He had the day off from physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, although all three will resume hard and fast again tomorrow as they try to ramp up and get Graham ready for Baylor Children’s House for his inpatient rehab stay.
For the first time since saying “mama” several times the day after he came off his ventilator, Graham has started to purposefully speak again, at least a little bit. And that’s amazing considering he still has a tube down his throat. The first occurred when we were talking with Graham about dinosaurs while reading him a dinosaur book. I said something to the effect of “you know all about dinosaurs, right Graham?” And he responded with a very throaty “right.” We repeated that exchange a few more times as we discussed Dinosaurs and Star Wars. Eventually we came to the topic of food. I asked him if he wanted some vanilla pudding, which he’d had two days prior. I kept asking him to give me various hand and arm gestures to make sure that’s what he wanted, and eventually he just got tired of my thick skull and gave a throaty “I want it.”

We know that more speech will come with time – Graham’s mind and understanding are ALL THERE. But there are certain times when speech is not even necessary. Often times we will ask Graham if he wants something, and before we can come up with a way for him to say yes or no, he is smiling ear to ear. One such time came this morning.

The ICU made things a little bit complicated because they limit both the number of visits (4 only) and age of visitors (3 and up). Totally understandable for an intensive care unit. But it is nice to be done with those restrictions, because Graham got a very special visitor for the first time since his accident – his baby sister! When we asked if he wanted to hold her, there was no need for thumbs up or folded arms or fist bumps to say yes. Just that huge Graham smile. It was so sweet to see big brother hold his two month-old sister again. And it was great to be together as a family again – it was the first time in 27 days that we were all in the same room together.

The swelling continues to go down in Graham’s face, and he looks more and more like himself every day. Today he looked especially good, and towards the end of the day we got a wonderful treat – Graham has started, ever so slightly, to crack open his RIGHT eye. Just yesterday we had a conversation with his physical therapist about how being blind in one eye could affect rehab. She said that one of the best therapies for losing sight in your dominant eye is golf. Immediately I had visions of LOTS and LOTS of “therapy” with my son over the next year or forty. But who knows what the future holds? Graham opening his right eye is a great sign, and golf therapy might never be prescribed. The only thing we know for sure is this – Graham has and will continue to amaze us with his fighting spirit and ever-optimistic smile. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful son, and to have so many people who love and care enough to pray for and support him. Thank you all for everything you do, and keep please keep praying for Graham.

#Prayers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

Michelle Kuras commented on a blog post:
almost 4 years ago
Amazing! Continuing to pray for this amazing young man and his family!

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 26 (July 4, 2014) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 26 (July 4, 2014)

This will definitely be an Independence Day to remember. As we celebrate the courage of our founding fathers, and honor all those who have died and risked their lives to protect our freedom, Graham gained a lot of freedoms and independence for himself today.

The first came in physical therapy. It was timed perfectly – Brode and Rocco came to see Graham for the first time since his surgery. Graham was so excited to SEE both of his bros for the first time since his accident, and was eager to work hard for them. He got the biggest smile on his face as Brode and Rocco told him stories, acted silly, and even got up into Graham’s bed and laid down next to him for a photo op. Brode spent the entire afternoon with Graham – reading him books, telling him stories, and even watching part of a movie with his brother. It makes us so happy to see the best buds in the world playing together again. Brode was so encouraging as Graham walked out of his room for the first time and clear down the hall. The medical staff, many of whom had not seen Graham walk, cheered him on and watched in awe as Graham powered down the hall. Graham was actually uncharacteristically appreciative of the applause, stopping on command to show off his guns (finger pistols) and his pipes (bulging biceps). He even managed to “force” the occasional foe – Jedi Style. Brode kept telling Graham “you look so good! Graham you are AMAZING! Graham you are a TRUE SUPERHERO!” Absolutely heart-warming to see, and great for Graham to gain “freedom” from the confines of his ICU room.

Only it doesn’t stop there. We had a good conversation with Graham’s doctor this morning, and he let us know that even though “we’re kind of getting used to you guys” and “we’ll be sad to see you go,” Graham would be leaving the ICU today! Bittersweet for sure – sad to leave such an amazing team of people who saved Graham’s life and cared for him so greatly. But awesome that our little fighter is moving on!

So shortly after two o’clock we move to the neuro floor. In terms of “amenities” and convenience it will actually be a step up, which makes leaving the ICU behind much easier. We can now bring Graham’s baby sister into his room, which means Graham will be able to see his sister for the first time since his accident and brain surgery. He also has a bathroom IN his room, which means Dad doesn’t have to leave him anymore and share ONE shower with every parent on the ICU floor. Graham can also take a shower, although we’re not quite sure how that will work logistically just yet. Finally, we can also eat in Graham’s room, which is something else that will enable us to spend even more time with him, as opposed to eating all of our meals outside the ICU in the family waiting area.

Graham’s day-to-day life will be different as well. In the ICU the nurses check on him at least hourly, which means he gets “bugged” a lot, for lack of a better word. On the neuro floor his nurse is stationed right outside his room door, but only performs medical evaluations every four hours, which means he will get much better rest. Graham is no longer anchored to his room either. He has a little wheelchair, and we are free to move about the hospital. We can see the train room, the art room, the Ryan Seacrest recording studio, the Troy Aikman football memorabilia room, various playrooms, the library, and go to the gym (with physical and occupational therapy). All we have to do is tell his nurse, and we are free to roam. Seeing how happy it made Graham to walk outside his room and scoot around a bit on his wheelchair in the ICU gives us just a glimpse of how fun it will be for Graham to continue to get better in this amazing place.

We are seeing more and more of “Graham” with each hour that passes. Just a little bit ago, while he was watching a movie with Brode, Lindsey referred to Graham as a “fighter.” He got a HUGE smile on his face. I held up my fists in a playful fashion, and his dampening smile came back quickly in full force. Graham put up his dukes, and was ready to go. I was, of course, more than willing to offer up my head for a punching bag, and Graham proceeded to playfully pound on the top of my skull with a tremendous 16-punch combination, alternating lefts and rights with all the speed and agility of a trained boxer. Graham is back, and freedom is written all over the huge smile on his face.

We love Graham so much. We have prayed and fasted for him, as have many friends, family and wonderful people all over the world, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. His life and recovery have been a string of miracles, made possible only by an unbelievable ICU and a loving Heavenly Father who saw fit to answer the prayers of so many. Graham still has a lot of hard work and rehab left so we ask for your continued prayers. But please also take minute to rejoice with us and give thanks for his amazing recovery thus far.

#Prayrers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 25 (7/3/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 25 (7/3/14)

Riding the high of yesterday’s amazing milestone (our boy can see!), Graham didn’t let up on bit and continued to ‘wow’ us through the remainder of last night and today.

Graham was very alert last night, which right now is bitter-sweet: We love that he is awake and active and can show us his personality. And it was awesome to hold up one, two, or three fingers and have Graham replicate the gesture ON SIGHT correctly EVERY TIME. But it’s hard to watch him “kick” his old habits – after more than three weeks on methadone, morphine, and other opiates, Graham seems to be withdrawing just a bit. Nothing too serious – the medical staff did a great job of weaning him off the sauce. But he does seem to itch pretty much constantly, and I can only imagine how frustrating that must be. It is scary to watch too – until late this morning he still had his catheter in, and when Graham would head down for those manly itches – we could only hold our breath and hope he didn’t do to his catheter what he’s done to his feeding tube four times: pull it out.

Thankfully THAT never happened, although Graham did pull his feeding tube out again this morning. It turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise – Speech therapy used his time sans-tube to work on eating. We asked Graham if he wanted apple sauce – that was a negative. And no surprise – the boy has never liked it! Then we asked him to give 1 finger for vanilla pudding and 2 fingers for chocolate. He wanted vanilla. So over the next ten minutes, Graham felt cool water in the back of this throat for the first time in almost a month, and downed about a tablespoon of delicious vanilla pudding. His and our favorite nurse is off today, but actually called just a few minutes ago to check up on Graham and even she was blown away that (a) they let him eat, and (b) he did so well. We were surprised too – we have expected all along that Graham would make a remarkable recovery, but we honestly never thought it would happen as fast as it has over the last 48 hours. Setbacks are expected, and progress is expected to wax and wane. But Graham has been such a consistent little fighter that his progress has almost never slowed – each and every day since the accident has brought with it great progress. What an amazing little boy.

He wasn’t done with a little bottled water and a few bites of pudding. When occupational therapy was in, they had him sit up on the edge of the bed wash his face with a washcloth. It was a good show of multitasking by Graham as he worked his core and cleaned up at the same time. When he was done, his therapists both gave him fist bumps. Not wanting to be left out, I asked for a fist bump as well. Graham and I bumped knuckles, and then he hit my fist again, and then playfully brought both of his fists up like he was going to fight. This is something we see all the time in our house – there is always tons of wrestling and play-fighting. But to see him act so playful was a real treat for us and for the whole medical staff, who had just happened to gather outside his room for rounds in time to witness the exchange. I have never seen so many smiles in an ICU as I saw on the faces of all those wonderful doctors and nurses who have worked so hard to save Graham’s life and nurse him back to health.

Physical therapy was great was well. Graham spent about thirty minutes sitting up, standing up, and walking. He held his swollen little head up high the entire time – much different than the last two days when he frequently had to rest his little chin on his chest. He walked between his bed and the couch and had a wonderful pit-stop on the couch, where he sat up and chilled right between Lindsey and me. It felt so good to just sit there with our little guy – he is so strong and his personality is coming out so much. While he was sitting there we asked him to show us his guns, which he did by extending two fingers on each fist and holding them up in the air like Wyatt Earp himself. Then we asked Graham to show us his “pipes,” i.e. flex his muscles. He happily held his arms up and bore us his biceps, his arms quivering just a bit as he exerted himself to show off maximum mass and definition. Not only is Graham walking, talking occasionally, eating, and seeing more like a normal little boy again, but he is doing many of the things that make him our Graham Hopper. We know he never left, but still, it’s great to have him back.

The doctors have nearly dialed in his DDAVP (urine regulation drug), and he is supposed to get his G-tube on Monday. Every day we get just a little bit closer to leaving the ICU, which will actually be bittersweet. The doctors and nurses here in the ICU saved our son’s life, they shown so much love and care for Graham, and it has literally been home away from home for the last 25 days. So we are grateful for Graham’s progress, but we will be sad to leave these amazing people when the time comes. They, with their care and expertise, combined with the faith and prayers of so many friends, family members, and wonderful people all over have carried our family and willed Graham back to health. We are so grateful for everyone who helps our family and prays for our son. And even though he had made miraculous progress in the last 25 days, he still has a long way to go. To that end, please keep praying for Graham and his continued recovery. We will do the same!

‪#‎Prayers4Graham‬

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 24 (7/2/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 24 (7/2/14)

Good things happen with Graham when Lindsey is in the building. Graham’s first words. Graham’s first thumb-war. Graham’s first snuggle.

Today we had some more firsts.

It all started in physical therapy. We got Graham on a bench again to practice standing up. He again did an amazing job of standing up using his own strength. Big things happened, though, when his physical therapist at one point asked him if he was ready to sit down: Graham pushed everyone’s hands away, and slowly sat down under his own balance and power. It was amazing body control for a 6 year-old who just had brain surgery four days ago. I never could have imagined that he would progress so quickly. What a fighter!

Emboldened by Graham’s progress, his physical therapist felt that Graham could handle some more – his balance and strength passed the standing and sitting tests with flying colors. So we decided to take a big step forward and see if Graham could walk. Lindsey held a hand, Graham’s physical therapist positioned herself behind Graham with her arms under Graham’s armpits (just in case), and his amazing nurse held all his tubes and wires. We asked Graham if he could walk towards the bed – and our little fighter picked up his little foot, thrust it forward a couple inches, and put it back down. It was Graham’s first step. Then he inched his other foot forward. And then, as Graham hung his head apparently to rest his tired neck, ran into an obstacle.

Graham has a Foley catheter in so that they can carefully measure his urine. There is a clear tube that runs out of his little diaper and into a small bag that hangs in the side of the bed. After taking two tiny baby steps, that hose was resting on the ground adjacent to his left foot – about four inches in front and to the left. The tube wasn’t resting on any part of Graham’s body, so he really had no way of feeling its presence or position. As Graham faced due north and gathered himself after taking his second baby step forward, he lifted his left leg for step number three. Only this was not going to be any normal baby step, and he was not going forward. Graham lifted his left leg high into the air, and instead of moving it due north in the same direction of his previously shuffle, he thrust it northwest at a 45 degree angle, stepping cleanly over his catheter hose. There was immediate confusion in the room – how on earth did Graham manage to step so purposefully and cleanly over the tube? And then we noticed his eyes: his right eye was still swollen shut, as it has been every day since brain surgery. But his left eyelid, for the first time in 24 days, was cracked open on Graham’s own accord, and blinking occasionally. How did Graham step over the tube so cleanly? Easy – he saw it and stepped over, just like any of us would. Graham, the 6 year-old whose head was run over by the front tire of an SUV and who pulled himself out to safety, can walk, talk, and see. All just four days removed from brain surgery. His apparent vision was later confirmed from a resting position in his bed when Lindsey stood away from Graham in another part of the room, his nurse asked Graham to point to his mom, and he extended his long arm and tiny finger exactly in his mama’s direction.

24 days ago Graham was in an accident that many people thought would kill him. But immediately prayers and the priesthood went into action. Before Lindsey and I could realize it, people of diverse faiths, backgrounds, and nationalities were praying for Graham. 4 days ago Graham had brain surgery. 2 days ago friends, family, and our congregation at church joined us in a fast for Graham’s sight to be restored. And today, after three and a half weeks in the ICU – Graham opened his eye for the first time and saw. It is an absolute miracle. Thank you all so much for pleading with God on Graham’s behalf. Lindsey and I are absolutely filled with joy, and we owe it to an amazing medical staff and the faith of friends, family, and wonderful people we’ve never even met. Prayer is real and powerful. God loves us all. The world is good.

‪#‎Prayers4Graham‬

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 23 (7/1/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 23 (7/1/14) – PLEASE SEE THE BOTTOM FOR A SPECIAL REQUEST

I realize that there are lots of things in life I take for granted. Great parents, an awesome wife, the ability to see and hear, a safe country, food, clean water. I take them for granted every day, even though from time to time I actually think about the fact that I underappreciate them. I realize that I should be more grateful for them than I am, and yet I am not. I think most people can relate to this.

Peeing is not something I have ever thought about in that way. I have never stood at the toilet and thought to myself, “I really should be more grateful for this nice steady stream of adequately-concentrated, properly-colored, well-timed urine.” Never once in my life has it ever crossed my mind that THAT is a great blessing in the same way that food, sight, and safety are. Well, I think that way now, because every day Lindsey and I spend in the ICU we learn more and more just how complicated peeing is. And it continues to be a small stumbling block as Graham tries to work his way out of the ICU.

We had an interesting morning. We learned yesterday that Graham would be going in TODAY to get his G-tube put into his stomach so that they could finally take the feeding tube out of his throat. They had him on the board for the first surgery of the day at 7:30.

Then we got a call from the surgeon who said his surgery was being moved to 12:00 or 12:30, but that it would be done TODAY.
Then we got word that they would do an MRI at 9:00 and his surgery at 10:00.
Then we found out that they would do his surgery at 9:00 and his MRI right after.
Then we found out that he would not be going into surgery at all.

Why no surgery? Urine flow! More specifically – Graham is still having trouble managing it, and as the medical staff has sought to get him regulated, he actually became a bit dehydrated. That is a problem for anesthesia – if you are dehydrated and you get medicine to knock you out, the medicine, being absorbed by a lower volume of fluid in your body, is actually more concentrated and becomes TOO effective. In short, anesthesia in a 6 year-old already poses some risk, and they didn’t want to expose him to any more risk than necessary. We are very grateful that they are so expert in what they do and so careful with our son. He’s definitely not just one cattle in the herd moving from gate to gate. So we are back in a holding pattern in the ICU. And that’s ok – he’s still making great progress with his physical therapy, he’s alive, and sooner or later we’ll get his pee under control. In the meantime, Lindsey and I are very grateful for the amazing medical staff here, and for our own nice steady streams of adequately-concentrated, properly-colored, well-timed urine. Here’s to hoping Graham finds his again soon!

On to progress: Graham has been moving. A LOT. We saw some of it in his therapy – where he stood up three times today under his own power, with just some help to balance. And a lot of his movement is coming as he wakes up more and more. He is clearly getting more cognizant of the fact that all these tubes, wires, stitches, diapers, and abrasions are not as comfortable as versed and morphine made them out to be. Couple that with the fact that he is now off of methadone completely (and perhaps withdrawing a little bit), and you have a six year-old with proverbial ants in his pants. That boy is ITCHY. No restraints can keep that boy from wiggling his hips up to his hand to pull on his diaper and scratch around the edges, or from sliding down in the bed to the point that his little fingers can scratch that itchy head of his. It’s great to see him have such a normal reaction and to see such skillful movements, but it does make you nervous every time he reaches for his Foley catheter or his feeding tube.

We had a great day of thumb-wars as well. At one point we did about 15 rounds, with Graham winning 14. He clearly got into it. Every time we would ask if he wanted to do it again – he gave an immediate thumbs-up. At one point he pressed REALLY hard as he went in for the pin, and it made me giggle. And the more I giggled, the harder he pressed! He was clearly showing his dominance, and enjoying the fact that Mom and Dad realize just how strong he is.

Graham is also learning to use thumbs-up for yes, and a closed fist or open palm for no. He has shown it to PT when asked if he is tired of sitting up, and he uses it when we ask him if he wants to play thumb-war or listen to music again. Then today we started asking him more questions.

“Can you hear me?” Thumbs up.
“Are you sad?” Fist.
“Are you happy?” Thumbs up.
“Do you feel ok?” Thumbs up.

We are so grateful for the blessings that Graham has received as a result of everyone’s prayers. That moment when asked if he was happy, and seeing his thumb shoot up, relieved so much worry that we have about the pain and suffering he is going through. His road is hard, but he is surely being blessed to be able to bear his burden well. For that, we thank all of you and a loving Heavenly Father.

Lindsey and I both see the silver-lining in this tragedy. We are becoming better people. Our little family is becoming stronger. Graham will have an amazing story to tell. We hear of lots of lives that Graham is touching. And Graham has shown us that the world is full of kind and wonderful people. The world is good. We see that.

One thing we worry about, though, is that with time it will be difficult for even a boy as amazing as Graham to see that silver lining. Lindsey and I keep a journal in hopes that he can draw strength and understanding from it as he grows up, but there is one thing we would ask of all of you, and it’s this:

If Graham (NOT LINDSEY, MICAH, BRODE, ROCCO, or ANYONE ELSE) or his experience has touched your life in any positive way during the last 3 weeks, or if he does at some time in the future, please let Graham know. Send Graham an email to prayers4graham@gmail.com , and let him know if he has touched you or someone you know. Maybe you pray more because of him, and it feels good. Maybe he inspired you to run a race or be more kind or have more faith. Maybe you thought of a funny joke that you think he will like. If he has helped or inspired you in any way, please just take a minute sometime in the coming weeks and let him know. We won’t open any of these emails until Graham is out of the hospital, and/or until he seems like he needs an emotional pick-me-up. So don’t worry about sounding lame or cheesy. You can send a line or a novel. Just email a note to an awesome 6 year-old.

Thanks in advance if you are able to take the time to do this, and thank you as always for your prayers. They are working, so please keep them coming!

#Prayers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 22 (6/30/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 22 (6/30/14)

Today was unquestionably the best day that Graham has had since he came back to his ICU room from his operation. His heart rate stayed within the norms – a good sign that his sympathetic nervous system is working well again. He had good periods of alertness, had a few “firsts,” and has almost regained completely the progress he had made in physical therapy before his surgery. We also got a lot of great feedback, opinions, and education from the doctors. I’ll share some of that education here, but I’m not sure it makes any sense at all so feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.

Graham’s endocrinologist sat down with me for about ten minutes to better explain what was going on with Graham’s vasopressin (hormone in the pituitary gland that controls urine), why they need to do what they do now, and what it means for Graham going forward. He gave a great analogy, which I will try to relay now: So pretend all the water in your body is represented by water in a bucket with a hole in the bottom. Water gets poured in the top (drinking through the mouth) and comes out the bottom (peeing it out). Now imagine there are baseballs in the bucket – that would be your sodium. When the water in your bucket is at a nice happy medium, you have a normal ball-to-water ration. Same goes for your body and sodium – medium water retention – normal sodium level. Now imagine you release a LOT of that water from the bottom of that bucket and don’t replace it – the number of balls in the bucket remains the same, but there is less water – so ball the ball ratio is up. So when you pee too much, and don’t drink it back, your sodium level goes up – because the number balls in the bucket (or sodium in your body) is the same, but the ratio is higher compared to the amount of water in the bucket (your body). Same thing when the water in your bucket is too high and you don’t pee enough – you now have a TON of water compared to balls in the bucket, and so your sodium level goes down.

Graham has not been producing the hormone that tells his body: DON’T PEE! And so what his body wants to do now, absent his naturally occurring hormone, is pee like a racehorse. When he does that, his sodium level goes up because there is less water in the body, since he is peeing it all out uncontrollably. So they give him a drug, and he pees a normal amount until his DDAVP wears off – and then he pees like a racehorse again. In a normal situation, someone with Diabetes Insipidus (Graham’s current condition – despite the name it has nothing to do with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes) can just drink a bunch of water to offset the massive flow of urine, and if their doses don’t come on time it’s no big deal. But right now, Graham’s not in a position to get up and grab a bottle of water or even say he wants one. So they measure the volume of his urine output every hour, they measure his sodium, and they measure the specific gravity (density) of his urine to determine when he is “breaking though,” or peeing like a racehorse. They can’t just give him too much of the drug either, because then his body won’t pee enough, he’ll retain water, and his sodium will get too low. That’s why they are searching for the perfect dose that can be given every twelve hours while maintaining a health sodium level and proper specific gravity of his urine. They do all that so when he leaves the ICU and goes to the neuro floor and the rehab hospital, they can give him his doses at regular intervals and he will be fine.

Now for the English portion of Graham’s update. We spoke with his attending physician this morning, an amazing guy who cared for Graham during our first week here and hasn’t seen him since day 7. He was VERY happy with Graham’s progress, and we had a good conversation about Graham’s eyes. There is a nerve in your head which is part of your peripheral nervous system that controls both the muscles that dilate your pupils AND the muscles that open your eyes. These are both things that Graham is NOT doing today, but he does seem respond to light and things crossing his presumed line of sight when we open his eyes for him. So his attending physician feels like Graham has most likely pinched or otherwise damaged that nerve. If that is the case (big if at this point), that is really great news. Why? Because that nerve is part of your peripheral nervous system (think all the nerves in your fingers, arms, legs, etc), not your central nervous system – which includes the brain, spinal chord, and optic nerve. People pinch nerves in their peripheral nervous system all the time playing football or doing other activities and they heal JUST FINE. We get small cuts, and nerves grow back together. This is not typically the case with the optic nerve. It has 1.7 million individual fibers, and when there is damage to that, it’s a problem.

So we are very happy if this idea from Graham’s doctor proves to be true. If it is, then like a pinched nerve that sidelines a quarterback for a few weeks, time could heal Graham’s nerve and therefore his eyesight. Or it make take a little bit of prompting, in which they could actually tape Graham’s eyes open so start firing things across that nerve and stimulate it to heal. Either way, it leaves us very hopeful, and has us itching to try some more “experiments” to see test the health of Graham’s optic nerve and see if it really is just a peripheral nervous system issue.

Graham did great in his rehab today. At one point we had him sitting up on the edge of his bed, but holding his head up tired him out very quickly. And that’s understandable, given that it’s currently swollen up to about twice its normal size. So tired Graham started to swing his legs up onto the bed, and his therapist read his body language which was screaming: I want to lay back down! So she asked him, “Graham, can you give me thumbs up if you want to lay down?” Immediately, in a motion that would have made Billy The Kid proud, Graham pulled his hand up from his side and thrust his thumb in the air, jiggling his hand as if to say “lay me down NOW!” It was unquestionably the fastest draw this side of the Rio Grande in the last 200 years. Graham is a true Texan.

In addition to that show, Graham has resumed the rest of his normal pre-surgical tricks. When asked, he wiggles his toes, sticks his tongue out, give thumbs up, gives two fingers; all that good stuff. But the highlight of the day came just a few hours ago. Lindsey decided, while holding Graham’s hand, to have a thumb war with him – a favorite Kormylo pastime. The first time she went through the motion “one two three four I declare a thumb war” Graham was an easy pin, as he didn’t move his thumb at all. But then the competitive juices in him woke up the beast! He moved his thumb side to side with the subsequent cadence, and when Lindsey – clearly intimidated by Graham’s superiority in the thumb war realm - surrendered by setting her thumb down on top of their hands, Graham happily accepted the pin, and the victory. And then he did it again.

So lots of promising things from our little fighter. He continues to get better every day – a real testament to the best medical care in the world and the best group of people in his corner, cheering him on and praying for him, from all ends of the earth. Thank you so much for you prayers and support – they really are working. And hopefully we’ll have more exciting progress to share tomorrow.

#Prayers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 21 (6/29/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 21 (6/29/14)

Last night and continuing on into this afternoon, Graham had some irregular patterns in his vital signs. It would usually begin with a little bit of coughing – which is very normal and healthy for him –followed by Graham holding his breath for 5-10 seconds, exhaling, and then having his heart rate jump up to 180-200 beats per minute from his current “normal” rate of 120 beats per minute. This freaked us out the first time it happened, but he would always recover from it within seconds, and his breathing and heart rate would quickly get back to normal. The cardiac team looked at his complete vitals record for the past 12-24 hours and determined that this was a very normal reaction given his recent surgery. It’s likely that coughing is putting some pressure on his head – which has sort of been put through the ringer recently – and then because his sympathetic nervous system is just a little out of whack from the surgery, his heart rate goes into “fight or flight” mode as he feels pain. It’s definitely nerve-wracking, but as of now it is no cause for alarm, and has gotten less “severe” as the day has gone on.

Aside from that it has been a very quiet day. Graham’s face is now doing its best Rocky impersonation – he looks like he just finished the 15th round vs. Apollo Creed. His eyes and parts of his head are quite swollen and a bit red. But this was completely expected, and compared to how he looked during his first week in the ICU, Graham looks ready for a GQ photo-shoot. Today has also been a very sleepy day – not a lot in terms of movement or responsiveness, but that is probably just the brain surgery, valium, methadone, hydrocodone, and morphine talking. I’m sure once we get a few days past all that he’ll be much more active like he was before the operation.

In the wake of Graham’s surgery, the efforts of the endocrine team to regulate his vasopressin (pituitary hormone that controls urine flow) have been thwarted a bit. They want to get Graham to the point where his doses last him exactly 12 hours. They know when a dose wears off because when it does he “breaks through,” which is ICU-speak for “pees like a racehorse.” Before his surgery they had him on doses that lasted very close to 12 hours on the dot, but since his surgery they have been all over the board. This is very common and does not indicate any risk to his health; but that magical, consistent, 12-hour dose IS Graham’s ticket out of the ICU. And given his now-recent history of surgeries messing with his responsiveness to the drug, the endocrine team now prefers that Graham remain in the ICU until after his G-tube surgery, when they will seek once and for all to get him normalized. That should surgery should take placed Wednesday, so if things go as expected he should be out of the ICU at the end of this week or early next week.

We are grateful for all those who fasted for Graham’s recovery and his eyesight today and for everyone who prays for him continually. Graham has been blessed so much thus far, and we are confident and hopeful that as he recovers from his surgery, he will be able to pick up where he left off with his physical therapy and open his eyes for the first time as well. We have seen so many miracles with Graham already, and look forward to seeing more in the coming weeks. Thanks again for your prayers, and please keep them coming!

#Prayers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 20 (6/28/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 20 (6/28/14) - 1 day after brain surgery

Today started with a scare. I woke up to an unfamiliar voice doing a lengthy exam on Graham. Calling his name a lot. Asking Graham to do various commands over and over. Then asking me, still half asleep on the couch-thing near the foot of Graham’s bed, if I had noticed anything unusual during the night. I said I hadn’t but that I was mostly asleep so I probably wasn’t the right person to ask. By this time I recognized him – it was one of the neurosurgery residents. He instructed the nurse to hold all his meds, hold everything until Dr. So-and-so came by (someone filling in that morning for Dr. Braga). And then he left.

I asked the nurse what all the hub-bub was about, and she said that following Graham’s CT at 5:00 this morning, the resident had checked the CT scan and found a fairly significant clot in the front of Graham’s skull. Immediately my heart sank. I asked if that was something they would try to remove, and she said “well it’s not a really big clot, but apparently it’s not small either.” I asked if that was something they would need to remove surgically, and she said “maybe, or they might just let it dissolve.” Either way – it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize you do NOT want blood clots in your skull.

The resident came back later with Dr. So-and-so, and after checking out Graham he looked at the CT scan and said “that is NOT a clot. That’s just fluid – it’s something we expect to see and that we almost always see. No cause for concern, let’s restart his meds, and it’s back to business as usual.” So it was a total false alarm, and I’m grateful that the well-intentioned resident proved that he still has a lot to learn.

Aside from that it has been a slow, quiet day – which is exactly what we hoped for and expected. Graham’s face is swelling quite a bit as expected, and we are still waiting for him to open his eyes, which are honestly probably to swollen to open right now anyway. How swollen? Let’s just say that if Graham were in a Rocky movie, he would be telling Mickey “cut me” right about now.

As we settle into our normal stride following the hurdle that was Graham’s surgery, I’m glad to have a quiet moment to reflect on all that is and has been done for our family. The number of people that have worked and sacrificed to be there for us are almost too many to count. A lot of people have asked – how do you guys handle this so well? The answer is easy – when you have so many people praying for you and reaching out to help and support you, how can you not?

One thing that is happening that we thought we should mention is courtesy of Amy Sanford, a former coworker of Lindsey’s from many years ago. Amy now manages the Chili’s Restaurant on Broadway Avenue in Boise, Idaho, where Lindsey and I met and started our family. Even though we haven’t seen Amy in many years, she took it upon herself to have a Prayers4Graham night at her restaurant. Many thanks to both Amy and the Corvette Club of Idaho for putting this on, so feel free to attend on July 8 starting at 4:00 to hang out with others that are on “Team Graham.” We’ll be grateful for the prayers and awareness, and I know Amy will be grateful for the business that she definitely deserves.

One thing that we are still concerned about is Graham’s eyesight. He has not opened his eyes since the accident, so starting tonight our family and congregation at church will be fasting for Graham’s eyesight. We’ll skip two meals (essentially 24 hours without food or drink) and pray earnestly for Graham to be blessed so that he will open his eyes and see. So tonight and for the next day as you pray for Graham, please do so both for his recovery in general, and specifically for his eyes.

Thank you all so much – we could not do this without you.

#Prayers4Graham — at Chili's Grill & Bar.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 19 (6/27/14) Brain Surgery Recap (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 19 (6/27/14) Brain Surgery Recap

Obviously a huge day for Graham. I’ll recap his surgery – what they found, what they learned, what they fixed – and explain Graham’s next steps from here.

The morning started off with Graham getting a good head-scrub in bed; tons of different attending doctors, fellows, residents, and nurses coming to check on him; people bringing things for us to sign; and Surgeons explaining exactly what they would be doing to help Graham. They had the Operating Room scheduled for 7:30, although they didn’t leave until after 8:00 and they didn’t actually make their first cut until right about 10:00.

To prep Graham down in the O.R., they basically returned him to the state he was in when he got to the hospital – sedated, anesthetized, central and arterial lines in, and breathing on a ventilator. Once they had him all hooked up to everything and the anesthesiologist had his vitals and consciousness in a good place, it was time to cut.

They incision they made to access his skull and face was made with a wavy line (wavelength about 2 inches, with a height of about an inch) that went from ear to ear across the top of his head, so that his scalp was pretty well divided in two pieces. They left the hind piece in place for the duration of the surgery, as Graham had no damage to the back half of his skull. They then peeled the front of his scalp forward towards his face; pulling it all the way down to reveal the bridge of his nose and his orbital bones. This uncovered Graham’s entire forehead, which had been broken in one piece, more or less, from temple to temple – across his orbital bones and the bridge of his nose – and rounding up around the front part of his forehead. When his plastic surgeon explained his role to us before the surgery this morning, he said that actually fixing Graham’s nose was very minor, and that his role was mostly consultative because Graham’s break was so odd. He said they almost NEVER see a break like his, and so it was helpful for Dr. Braga to have a plastic surgeon present, given that plastic surgeons typically deal with orbital bones more often than brain surgeons do.

After removing Graham’s forehead, they began to inspect the areas around the brain. Graham did in fact have significant rips in the dura, which is the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Graham’s was torn at both temples, which Dr. Braga fixed by stitching patches into place. The dura was torn in a third place as well – clear at the base of the skull, which made for a tricky repair. You can’t just lift a brain out of the skull like you see in cartoons, which means Dr. Braga would not have direct access to the tears in the base of Graham’s dura. So he carefully slid a patch underneath Graham’s brain, held it in place as best as he could with three stitches, and then sealed it in place by peeling flesh from other parts of the interior of Graham’s skull and using it to seal the patch in place. He also made a flap from the same skull tissue to seal of the frontal sinus, which had become exposed during Graham’s accident.

All those soft tissue repairs took about 2.5 hours, and so then it was time to reconstruct his skull. When a piece of the skull breaks away from the rest, it loses tension and actually shrinks just a bit. It happens every time, and it happened to Graham. The result is the piece of skull (Graham’s entire forehead) that they were trying to put back in place no longer fit just right – it was too small. So they cut the bone from Graham’s forehead into several smaller pieces, and then left space between all the pieces as they put them back together – allowing for them to grow together over time. All these pieces were held in place using polymer plates and screws which will dissolve over the next 1-2 years. Once the skull was put back in place, plastic surgery worked on his nose a bit, and they stitched him up.

When Dr. Braga came to explain how the surgery went, he sat down in a rolling chair at the nurses desk in Graham’s near the foot of his bed room (Graham was still downstairs), rested his elbows on his knees, and began to explain all of the above to us in his usual stoic fashion. Clearly, having your hands in someone’s brain for four hours left him somewhat drained, but he did a great job of explaining everything to us. After covering the soft-tissue repairs, he start to say everything went pretty well, but then he stopped himself. Our stolid brain surgeon perked up with pride, put on his brightest Brazilian smile, and said “I think his skull looks GREAT!” And it does – Graham looks like himself again. His skull and face are no longer oblong, but rather nice and symmetrical. If you ignored the stitched waves across the top of his head and some still-healing abrasions on the right, you almost couldn’t tell Graham had been in an accident when he came back to the room. That will change over the next few days. He’ll get really blue in the face and swollen, but I can promise you he’ll look better than you would if you got your face peeled off your skull!

Dr. Braga also discussed Graham’s brain injuries now that he got a better look at them. He clearly had contusions on his frontal lobe and frontal cortex. But these really didn’t concern Dr. Braga at all – those are parts of the brain that often get pieces CUT OUT of patients entirely who are undergoing various brain operations, and those patients won’t lose any functionality at all. He also reviewed Graham’s CT scan, and said he did not SEE anything that made him think Graham would have any long-term deficits as a result of his accident. But looks can be deceiving.

Dr. Braga went on to say that there could be damage that wouldn’t be visible to his eye or a CT scan. This damage would be caused by the coma that Graham entered in when the accident first occurred (news to us). Comas are ranked on a scale of 3-15. 3 is what we typically thing of when we see someone comatose in a movie – no movement, no response to stimulus, no purposeful movement. 15 would be you and me, walking around with no head injury whatsoever. At the time of Graham’s accident he was a 5, which a quick Google search will tell you is in the range that includes very high risk of death. They don’t know how long he would have been in that coma, because they purposefully sedated him for a time after the fact. But anytime you enter into a coma, you run a risk of losing brain function long-term. So what is the prognosis for Graham? Same as it has been – only time will tell. It may be as long as a year before we fully understand what the future holds. But after seeing how blessed Graham has been in his recovery thus far, and with the thousands of people praying for him across the world, would you bet against him?

So now our little fighter is resting in his bed. He returned to his room breathing on his own, sans ventilator, and when asked he happily gave some thumbs-up and even stuck his tongue out. He is now resting peacefully with a nice cocktail of morphine, Tylenol, methadone, and valium, and getting ready for the next big hurdle – a long road of rehabilitation. He’ll get an MRI and a G-tube next week, and once they get his urine regulated to the point where his doses of DDAVP consistently last 12 hours – no more, no less – he will be released from the ICU and eventually make his way to Baylor Children’s Rehab Hospital in downtown Dallas.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers and support. Neither one of us slept much the night before the surgery. We were anxious, nervous, probably a little scared. Lindsey put it best – no six year-old should have to get brain surgery. But when we think of Graham and the fight inside of him, and then when we think of a loving Heavenly Father and the masses invoking his name on our son’s behalf, we knew Graham was in good hands. Thank you all for increasing our faith, and blessing our son through fasting and prayer.

#Prayers4Graham.
— at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 18 (6/26/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 18 (6/26/14)

Graham made more progress today in terms of his therapy, and we learned of some changes to his brain surgery tomorrow.

When one of Graham’s doctors came in to check on him at the end of the day yesterday, he stood at the foot of Graham’s bed, stared at Graham, and said, “I wish I knew what you were seeing and what’s going on in there,” referring to Graham’s eyes. So that made us wonder – what exactly is going on? Graham is known to hate his eye checks – which is completely understandable when you have two fractured orbital bones and strangers come in all day and night to pull your closed eyelids apart. Every time they do it he squints and grimaces as they quickly run the flashlight across his pupils, but still - they have to do it. His doctor’s comments stuck with us however, and so after his night nurse checked him for the first time yesterday evening, we made sort of a pushy-parent request: “Next time you check his eyes, try holding them open to see if he will tolerate just having his eyes open, and THEN run the flashlight across his pupils.” They always sort of do it all in one motion to end the pain as quickly as possible, but we wondered if it was the light in his eyes or the touch to his eyelids and orbital bones that caused him to squint and grimace. The next time he was due for a check-up, she tried it, and sure enough it was the bright light that makes Graham squint, not the touch. So clearly there is light getting in through his pupils, through his optic nerve, and to his brain. This is a wonderful sign and a direct answer to prayers. We still want him to open his eyes, track things with his eyeballs, and have his pupils respond, but we’ll take whatever we can get while still praying and fasting that his eyesight fully recovers.

Graham had a wonderful day of physical therapy. He kicked his legs from his bed on command and hit the outstretched hands of the medical staff. He also started waving “bye.” We had a few different visitors that he knows today, and when they left I told him they were leaving and asked him to wave bye. Of course he did just that, ever the polite and obedient little lad that he is. He also crossed his fingers on command like you would if you were lying to someone or hoping for good luck. Then another time when we asked him to cross his fingers, he extended both of his index fingers and made a perfect ‘X’ with them in front of his chest. He also did a great job of showing the staff what T-Rex arms look like by curling two fingers on each hand and pulling his hands up high to his chest. So lots of great things to see in terms of comprehension, coordination, proprioception, and dexterity.

The highlights of the day came during and shortly after physical therapy. Graham has had time sitting on the edge of his bed for each of the last two days – working on his core strength and head control. Today he did the same thing, only sitting on a short bench on the floor. The thinking was that since (a) he’s had a head injury and (b) he’s got his eyes closed, having his feet on the ground would give him a better sense of balance. It worked like a charm. He had long periods of holding himself upright and balancing his core. And then came the really fun part – Graham stood up! They helped him balance his chin on the way up, and placed hands on his knees and lower back to make sure nothing caved in unexpectedly, but when they asked him to do so he immediately fired his quads and stood himself up, with very little help. As he did so he popped his chin up, and everything seemed to click. He had a little help to balance but otherwise help himself up entirely on his own until he got tired, at which point he carefully sat himself back down. Then he did it all over again, needing even less help balancing. It is a miracle – a direct result of fasting, prayers, and God’s protection - that this little boy went through an accident that would have any of us pushing up daisies just two weeks ago, and yet here he is standing up. I don’t think Tchaikovsky himself could have composed a more beautiful series of movements than that little fighter standing on his own two feet.

PT then sat Graham in his chair for a while longer, and then it was time to move him to his bed. Usually they recline his chair to a laying position right next to his bed, and then using the sheets underneath him three or four people perform what can only be described as a gymnastics maneuver to slide him onto his bed carefully while simultaneously getting out of the way on the near side, and reaching from the far. Graham’s newfound progress standing up made me very confident, however, that I could just pick him up myself without hurting him – just like I do all the time at home. So I cleared it with his nurse, and held my boy for the first time in nearly three weeks, and then returned him to his bed. Hold your children tight whenever you can, because waiting two and a half weeks is entirely too long.

Now the news: Graham’s big surgery is tomorrow – a well-planned, coordinated production starring Bruno Braga (neurosurgeon), Christopher Derderian (plastic surgeon) and of course Graham. Yesterday we learned that neurosurgery would do their thing to Graham’s skull and orbital bones, and that plastic surgery would be assisting but otherwise holding off and doing their part a few months down the road. That has changed – they are going to everything they need to do in one fell swoop. So I’ll try my best to explain everything that Graham has going on, and what will happened tomorrow.

Graham has a massive skull fracture that actually runs across his entire forehead. If you were put your finger on your left temple, and then draw a line across your left eye, the bridge of your nose, right eye, right temple, and then circle back around the top of your entire forehead – that is one big piece of Graham’s head that is broken off and shifted to the left side of his face. The breaks are clean through the skull and orbitals, but pretty messy in the bridge of his nose and in his left temple. He also has breaks in the base of his skull & opening into his frontal sinus, and small cracks in both of his cheekbones and behind his left upper jaw. So there will be three main parts to Graham’s surgery:

First, they will address the breaks in the base of his skull and into his frontal sinus. Those breaks are lined up nicely, and the bone will heal on its own with time. They are concerned that the break in the base of his skull could cause another tear in membrane surrounding his brain (the dura), so they will reinforce that area with sort of a synthetic membrane over those breaks. The best explanation I got is that they will just “slide it in” however they manage that. His frontal sinus is a bit different. This area is typically filled with air, but in Graham it filled with brain fluid when his dura tore and leaked out through his nose. Having that exposed poses a risk of infection even two or ten years down the road, so they will take some tissue from inside his skull, create a flap, and seal it off. This entire first step is a change from what we understood at the end of the day yesterday.

Once the interior parts of his skull are shored up, they will essentially lift out the big, broken off part of his skull, “sand down” the edges that have started to heal, put it back, and plate it together using polymer strips which will slowly dissolve over the next 12-24 months. Repairing his skull in this fashion is what we heard would compose Graham’s entire surgery when we spoke to medical staff yesterday afternoon. That is a major event in and of itself, but steps one and three were added to it today.

The last thing they will do is repair the bridge of Graham’s nose. His cheekbones and the area behind his left upper jaw are stable and aligned well enough that they will not need to address those surgically.

So that is it. 4-6 hours from scalpel to stitch, then bring him back to the ICU, let him recover for a few days, get his g-tube put in, and it should be time for a transport to the rehab hospital and a whole lot of rehab. At one point I said that Graham would not need brain surgery, and that has proven to be only partially accurate. He will not need surgery ON HIS BRAIN, but because they are doing so much around his brain, Dr. Braga was very clear – Graham is having brain surgery tomorrow. It’s a big deal even though it is not emergent in nature. It is complicated, and carries with it many risks. We are praying and fasting that Dr. Braga, Dr. Derderian, and the entire medical staff will have steady hands and clear minds. And we’ll fast on Sunday again that his vision will be restored. We are so grateful to all who have prayed for and supported Graham during his entire recovery thus far, and we ask that you pray again for Graham and his doctors as he prepares for this next big hurdle tomorrow at 7:30 central time.

#Prayers4Graham
— at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 17 (6/25/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 17 (6/25/14)

Lots of news today, and a little bit of action.

We started off the morning with rounds and news from the Doctors: Graham is on the surgery schedule to get his G-tube put in. Hallelujah! No more obtrusive, gagging, irritating tube stuck over his tongue and straight back into his throat. I told his nurse “I’ll believe it when he see him rolling out the door” because their surgery schedule here is so fluid, and it totally makes sense that he would get bumped for someone who comes in needing life-saving surgery. Still, as the day wore on he stayed on the board for a 3:15 date with the operating room. His Nurse Practitioner did let us know early on that he had pretty major surgeries on the docket both before and after him, so it was possible that he would get bumped but that it “WILL happened today.” Unless it doesn’t. At 2:00, as his nurse was preparing him for a “road trip” when we were informed that the surgery before Graham’s was taking too long, and his surgery would NOT be taking place today. So we’ll keep that tube in for a bit and Graham will continue to roll with it like a champ.

Also during rounds someone announced that they discovered during his evaluation that Graham had lost his loose baby tooth. This was news to us, and sort of a bummer. Graham’s been waiting for that thing to come out for MONTHS, and he will definitely be bummed to learn that is was lost. They even checked his past chest and stomach x-rays to see if they could find it hanging around somewhere, but to no avail. We were a bit skeptical of this news, however, so we went into their little supply cabinet, unwrapped a sterile tongue depressor, and took a peak. Sure enough the tooth was still there, it was just hanging down a bit below the top-line of his other teeth. So we chased down the team of doctors as they moved along to the next room to let them know the tooth was still there. They acted a bit shocked, but then one of them wheeled back around and pulled it out. So Graham has a very expensive rendezvous with the Tooth Fairy at a date TBD. Brode was here building Graham a new Lego set (more on that later), so I was sure to set the stage that the Tooth Fairy paid more for teeth lost in the hospital, so as to not be suckered in to paying Brode the same ridiculous amount that Graham is going to get.

Speaking of Legos, Graham’s favorite nurse brought in a wonderful surprise earlier in the week – a new Star Wars Lego set for Brode and Rocco to build for Graham. We sort of decided that the likelihood of it coming back to the hospital in one piece after being exposed to Rocco at home was really low, so instead we brought Brode back into Graham’s room this morning for a few hours to build Graham a new Star Wars set – complete with Anikan and R2-D2. It was very cute to watch Brode build and tell Graham all about it as he did. All of Graham’s nurses are great, but this one in particular deserves some sort of national award, and not at all because she bought him a gift. She is so caring and gentle with Graham. She dotes on him and treats him like you would expect an overtly loving mother to treat a sick child. We are so grateful for her and the entire staff. But especially for her.

Graham continues to make great progress in physical therapy. Two days ago he sat up on the edge of his bed for the first time, although with lots of help from PT stabilizing his core and head. It’s a lot of work, and there are some great exercises he can do from there. If you are sitting in a chair right now, and you pull yourself to the edge, you’ll probably notice that you round your back and shoulders. Graham’s natural posture right now is no different. The cool thing today is that when prompted to sit up straight and hold his chin up, he did so almost immediately, and so perfectly that you could have rested a board flat against his back. Must have been all those times singing “The Penguin Song” and marching around like a penguin. Once in that position, he was able to anchor his arms to the bed and hold himself in place, untouched and unassisted, for a few seconds. Great feat of strength from our blessed little fighter!

One silly thing that we always do with our boys is ask them at random times: “Who’s my boy?!” They have been we-trained to fire back in an excited voice: “ME!” Today we asked Graham “who’s my boy?!” he fired back in less than a second by shooting his hand straight up in the air, leaving no doubt to anyone in the room as to who’s boy he is. The traumatic brain injury cat may temporarily have Graham’s tongue, but his mind and reflexes are as sharp as a tack.

The biggest piece of news has actually been pouring in through the medical rumor mill for a couple days now, but has finally been confirmed and (knock on wood) set in stone. Graham will undergo his major reconstructive surgery on Friday June 27, 2014. So the timetable went from 1 to 2 weeks to 1 to 2 days. Well, 2 days. OK 37.5 hours but who’s counting?

The primary function of the surgery will be to reset Graham’s skull and fasten it in place with plates and screws. They will also repair both of his upper orbital bones. Neurosurgery will perform this part of the operation, with plastic surgery on hand to assist. Most of the damage to Graham’s mid-face occurred in bridge of his nose, and they are actually going to wait 2-3 months to put that back together, if it is even needed at all. There is a chance that once they properly align his skull, things in that area just sort of fix themselves. So Graham will be out of his room for 10-12 hours, although the actual time spent by the surgeons from scalpel to stitch will be about 4 hours. This has been confirmed as of 5:00 by his neurosurgeon, although the information we got starting earlier in the week varied quite a bit. We heard everything from a surgery that would be done in two completely separate parts by the neuro and plastic teams, to a massive surgery that would address EVERYTHING and last up to 12 hours. At any rate, we are relieved that Graham has progressed well enough to be ready for surgery, and that we have removed a lot of the uncertainty that we’ve (very understandably) had since arriving two and a half weeks ago.

Please continue to pray for Graham and his eyesight. And if you can spare a few extra seconds, pray for his surgeons on Friday as well. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support – we have really had our burden as parents lifted as a result.

#Prayers4Graham
— at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 16 (6/24/14) (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 16 (6/24/14)

It had been a very busy 24 hours for Graham. Let’s just say we are glad we got that EVD (brain drain) out yesterday and not a day later, but more in that in a minute. In general things will be busier with Graham each and every day – they are ramping up his visits with Physical, Occupational, Massage, Respiratory, and Speech Therapists. I will also take more frequent afternoons away from the hospital to trade places with Lindsey and spend time with Brode, Rocco, and Isla. So expect to see fewer updates on Graham. No news is good news though!

We realized yesterday that Graham was inching his way around his bed, seemingly to pull at unsavory things stuck in his head, like feeding tubes and EVDs. It was more a joke than a real concern, until just before midnight yesterday when I heard the nurse say, “Graham, did pull out your tooth?” (we’ve been watching his loose tooth)
Me: “He pulled out his tooth?”
Nurse: “Yeah, it’s in his hand.”
Me: (shocked) “That’s great! That’s awesome!”

Only HE didn’t say didn’t say TOOTH. He had said the queen mother of all bad words (when it comes to Graham pulling things out). The T-Dash-Dash-DASH. Graham had pulled himself closer to the bottom of his bed to gain some slack in his restraints and pulled his feeding tube out. I had misheard – it was his TUBE, not his TOOTH, which was in fact resting in his victorious little paw. It is a blessing though that it was his feeding tube and not his EVD that he pulled out. That would have been a medical disaster, and thankfully that is no longer possible since it was removed yesterday afternoon. I’m so grateful it wasn’t in a day longer.

Taking the feeding tube out is still a problem though. Because of all the breaks in his mid-face he is a “difficult insertion.” He also needs to keep his nutrition up to prepare for his surgery. Still another reason: switching from a feeding tube to the nutrition he would get from an IV would throw a wrench into the work they are trying to get done as they zero-in on a proper dose for his DDAVP (for urine regulation, which affects his sodium), which would also delay his departure from the ICU. So leaving it out was not an option – they had to force Graham to gag it back down, then give him an x-ray to make sure it was placed properly. Long night.

Things did not slow down in the morning either as we met with both the neurosurgeon and the plastic surgeon. His plastic surgeon was very nice, and answered a lot of questions about how his surgery will go. Typically with a patient like Graham, they need one of two solid foundations to build upon as the reconstruct his face – the skull or the lower jaw. In Graham’s case his lower jaw is in tip-top shape, while his skull obviously isn’t. That would make it seem like the jaw would be a great thing to anchor to, but there is one big problem. To anchor to Graham’s lower jaw, they would need to wire it shut. Not an issue, except that in doing so it would compress the rest of his face – not something you want to do when you have a broken piece of your orbital bone resting on your eye as Graham does. So anchor to a repaired skull they will, and the plan is still for it to happen all in one surgery.

The meeting with his neurosurgeon was good also. He said he is looking at the end of next week for Graham’s surgery, provided he can coordinate it with both the O.R. and the plastic surgeons.

One funny thing about Graham’s neurosurgeons – they always seem to come in when Graham is in his deepest sleep, and therefor never responsive. WE can see thumbs up and wiggling toes and speech, but since THEY have to go on what THEY SEE and not on the words of a hopeful parent, they always leave the room saying they want to see him be more responsive before they operate. Today was no exception – Graham had received his 12-hour dose of methadone just a couple hours before his doctor showed up, so we didn’t expect a whole lot. His surgeon said “Graham. Wake up. Graham – can you give me thumbs up?” Nothing. “Graham, can you hold up two fingers?” Much to our surprise, he INSTANTLY flashed his best peace-sign. “Graham – now can you do the other hand?” Boom! Another peace-sign. The doctor left satisfied, we had seen a new trick, and we were moving on with our day.

Graham had successful visits from his massage, speech, respiratory, occupational, and physical therapists. And in the midst of it all, he did it again: he inched his way down his bed to gain some slack in his restraints and he pulled his dang feeding tube out. We like that he is alert and coordinated enough to do it; we just don’t like that he ACTUALLY does it. And this time, when his nurse tried to put it back in, he was awake enough to fight off reinsertion. He fought so hard that he actually opened a small bleed in the back of his throat. After that the thought initially was: let’s leave it out until they put the G-tube in his stomach, but that was shot down because they are very concerned about him keeping his nutrition up in advance of the “big” surgery. So they eventually tried again to reinsert his feeding tube, and this time they were successful.

In advance of his surgery at the end of next week, Graham needs to get several things done: insert his g-tube into his stomach, bypassing the throat for direct feeds; get a CT-scan so they can get a better look at his skull and mid-face now absent his swelling; and also get an MRI so they can take a closer look at his pituitary gland, optic nerve, and the rest of his brain. Graham’s CT-scan will take place tomorrow morning at 5:00, and they are still trying to schedule his G-tube and MRI. Mix in a whole lot of therapy, and he’s gonna be a busy little man!

Speaking of MRI – one thing that they do plan on looking at is his optic nerve. Graham has sporadically flickered his pupils under light, but hasn’t done so for a few days. As of tonight he has not moved his eyeballs or opened his eyelids since his accident. The one exception is the occasional crack in his right eyelid, but that it more likely caused by a broken bone pressing on the back of his eyeball than it is him actually opening it. As time goes on and other parts of his person begin to recover, this makes the medical staff increasingly concerned that he may not regain his sight. Obviously, as his parents, it worries us too. A lot. The thought of Graham unable to ever see his Legos, brothers, light sabers, or dinosaurs again rips us apart. It is a thought we try to cast aside, because it’s still too early to know anything for certain. But when doctors tell us they are worried, that’s a concern.

At the local congregation (ward) of our church on Sunday, we will be praying and fasting both for Graham’s recovery in general, and specifically for him to open his eyes again and see. If anyone of you should mention him in your own prayers, Lindsey and I would like to ask that you also ask for his sight to be blessed.

Thank you all for your prayers and support – they are working in a big way!

#Prayers4Graham
— at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 15 (6/23/14) pm (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 15 (6/23/14) pm

Today was a very big day for Graham. There was some old news and some “new” old news. A first. A milestone. And a fresh new look.

The “old news” is the timeline for his surgery. I met with his neurosurgeon and the new attending physician today, and after chatting a bit we found out that his surgery will take place in…… 1 to 2 weeks. Actually 1 ½ to 2 weeks. So at least they are switching things up a bit. We understand the complexity of the situation and that everything is being done in Graham’s best interest, but it is still frustration. Lindsey came to the conclusion, and I agree, that from now on hearing the phrase “1 to 2 weeks” will evoke a PTSD-esque response from us. 1-2 weeks for that shipment? THROAT PUNCH! Follow-up visit in 1-2 weeks? THROAT PUNCH!

The “new” old news is that they are again looking at doing Graham’s surgery in one step instead of two. In fact, they never were considering doing it in two steps. We just had a rogue medical staffer spreading some mis-information. We did learn a little more about how his surgery will go, which is nice. They will make an incision that basically runs across the top of his head from ear to ear. It will zig-zig through the skin, so as to not make the scar as noticeable through his hairline as a straight line would be. They will first repair his skull using permanent plates. Then they will repair his right orbital bone, since that is pressing up against his right eye a bit today. Then they will repair his other orbital bone, and continue down the rest of his face, still anchoring to his skull. They are also proceeding this Wednesday with a g-tube directly into his stomach for nutrition, and another CT scan sometime between now and his surgery for his surgical team to review.

Graham has had a few periods in the last few days when he has been really awake – times when he responds to every command, communicates by giving thumbs-up, and even talking. These have generally come in 60-90 segments, occurring 2-3 times per day. His medication and injury-related fog seems to be lifting a bit though – today Graham had a really good “awake” period from about 7:30 this morning until about 2:30 this afternoon. That’s a huge stretch for that boy. And towards the end of it, Graham sat up on the edge of his bed for the first time! He of course had help from his physical therapist balancing both his torso and his head, but he really did a good job holding himself up and in place using his own strength. It was incredible for us to see him with his legs hanging over the edge of the bed as he held his head up and fired his abs to hold his torso in place. The highlight of that event was being able to hold his hands and help him pull himself up, and eventually slip our heads into his chest while he draped his arms around our heads with a big Graham hug. Graham’s recovery will be long and hard, but if it is full of hugs as rewarding as that I think we will all manage just fine.

The big milestone of the day was unquestionably attempting to get his EVD (brain drain) out. As Graham has become more and more active, it has become more and more of a worry to Lindsey and me that he might actually try pull it out – and I cannot even begin to tell you what it disaster that would be both in terms of infection-risk and damage caused by leaking spinal fluid. There are times when his hands are free during physical therapy and occupational therapy sessions. He has also become quite adept at worming his way down his bed and increasing the range of motion in his arms, relative to his head. Those factors, combined with his trouble-free ICP (brain pressure) and lack of leakage meant it was time to pull that sucker out. They applied some numbing cream at about noon to the area around his drain, which is flexible tube only slightly thicker than a coffee stirrer. Two hours later they cleared his room, sterilized the environment around his head, pulled out the stitches that held it in place, and pulled out the tube that ran clear into the center of his brain. They then stitched him back up, and Graham got the royal ICU salon treatment with a thorough hair and face-washing. The result is an all-new Graham: his abrasions look like mere scrapes now and his face is all clean from surely-delightful mixture of dried blood, dried brain fluid, bodily secretions, and hospital ointment.

For the next few days we will ramp up Graham’s physical therapy, and begin a rather unorthodox treatment that I’m certain will prove very effective. The medical staff has been rotating Graham from his left side, to his back, and then to his right side. His “side-time” has really been mostly on his back though – he’s just been sort of propped up towards his sides a bit with pillows. His back and the back of his skull have been on his bed 24/7, more or less, and as a result Graham has developed a little bit of a soft spot on the back of his head. That calls for a lot of time directly on his sides, which is now possible thanks to the absence of his EVD. There is just one problem – Graham does not like being on his side, and eventually squirms his way back onto the comfort of his back. So Graham is going to be receiving a steady dose of his unorthodox treatment per his neurosurgery team: Snuggle Therapy. In order to convince Graham to stay on his side, they are prescribing Lindsey and I to lay in bed with him and snuggle him. We reluctantly (NOT!) started this advanced regimen at 6:00 this evening, and it was a wonderful success. Graham started out facing me on his side, a few inches away from my chest. He folded his arms across his body, and slowly began to squirm – not onto his back – but closer to me. Before I knew it his forehead was pressed gently against my chest. This actually made me quite nervous since he is just a little bit tender in that region, but his nurse reassured me that if he felt any pain, he would let me know. Graham quickly fell into a deep, obvious sleep, and eventually I dozed off a bit as well. At one point I can remember waking up just a little and hearing Graham’s classic loud nighttime-breathing, and feeling my sweet little boy curled up next to me. It reminded me of all those times he would ninja his way into our bed at night, and slowly squirm his way into a full corpse press. It was awesome to feel like it wasn’t hurt Graham lying next to me. It wasn’t healthy Graham lying next to me. It was just Graham – our blessed little fighter, getting a well-deserved nap after a hard day’s work.

We are so grateful for Graham’s progress. We attribute it entirely to both an expert medical staff and a loving Heavenly Father, who is graciously answering the prayers of friends, family, and perfect strangers far and wide. We will continue to pray for Graham’s recovery, and are very thankful for everyone who chooses to do likewise.

#Prayers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 15 (6/23/2014) am (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 15 (6/23/2014) am

Last night at his usual time (11:00) Graham was very alert. He was moving his arms a legs a lot, which I always love to see, and then I noticed he was really fighting with both of the restraints that kept his hands from pulling out his EVD (brain drain). So I went over to him and said “Graham, you were in a little accident. We’re in a hospital, but we are going to be just fine. You have a little tube in your mouth to help you eat and the doctors don’t want you to pull it out in your sleep. So these things hold your arms back.” I said it slowly and very deliberately, but he seemed to understand because as soon as I explained the nature of his restraints he seemed to calm down immediately.

He went on to give us thumbs-up on command, wiggle his toes on command, and squeeze hands on command. Then at one point he seemed to get really frustrated. I didn’t really know how to calm him down, so I just asked him if he wanted a hug. Immediately he stopped moving. I then put my head on his chest, and almost immediately his little hands were on the back of my head. Anyone who knows me knows I love to hug my kids, but I think that one has been the best one yet.

Yesterday afternoon we noticed that Graham was really tugging at his little diaper. He actually unhooked the tag on one side. Not wanting to be sprayed or worse, we quickly secured it in place. But then he did it again. At the point the nurse checked his diaper and he was wet. So Graham was just messing with his diaper to get it off because he was wet and uncomfortable. Or was he?

This morning as the nurse practitioner was checking on him, she noticed he was tugging on his diaper again. She immediately checked him, and he was dry. We figured she would just fasten his diaper back in place, but instead she grabbed the little bedside urinal and held it in place. I then said, “Graham, your nurse has a little bowl for you to pee in. Go ahead and go.” And the yellow well sprang forth! We wouldn’t have seen a more beautiful water display at Trevi Fountain or the Bellagio Hotel. Graham really has his wits about him, and each and every he takes moves forward.

They are late doing rounds today and Graham has been very active so I don’t have much by way of time or content to report, but it’s going to be a BIG DAY for a lot of reasons, so I should have a lot for his update tonight. Thank you all for the prayers- they’re working!

‪#‎Prayers4Graham‬

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 14 (6/22/14) pm (From Micah Kormylo, Graham's Dad)

Graham Update Day 14 (6/22/14) pm

More positive progress for our blessed little fighter Graham. They clamped his EVD (brain drain) this morning and he shows no signs of increased brain pressure or leakage. He has thus far responded well to the drug that regulates his urine flow, which is his last major hurdle before being ushered out of the ICU. Graham also cleared what must surely be one of his most relieving hurdles: they removed his foley catheter. That’s right – Graham is peeing on his own again!

Graham did scare us at one point today. We actually had visitors in the room when his heart rate jumped about 50 points rather suddenly – so much so that it triggered the alarm for the nurses. A few seconds later he stopped breathing. His chest was no longer moving. The white line on his monitor that goes up and down with as Graham breaths in and out flat-lined. 1 second. 2 seconds. 3 seconds. 4 seconds. 5 seconds. 6 seconds…. And then suddenly you could hear Graham grunt as he slowly exhaled. Graham was actually just doing something we all do every day – he was pushing out a poop! No need to fear, bowel movements are here.

Aside from Graham having to…uh…work (it) out for the first time, it was really a pretty sleepy day. Had a few times where he was pretty alert and moving around, but for the most part he rested. He has started to crack his right eye a bit, and one of our visitors (you know who you are!) suggested that Lindsey and I move ourselves into his field of vision so that he could see us. We did, and sure enough our entrance and exit from what we assume to be his line of sight was greeted with lots of movement and vocalization from Graham. Probably too soon to know if he was really seeing us or if it was just a coincidence, but it certainly wasn’t a bad sign.

One thing I use to gauge Graham’s progress is the language is DOCTORS use. I’m going to do the non-pc thing and stereotype for a minute: The nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals who work closely with Graham every day are all very bubbly and friendly. They are absolutely experts in their fields, but they use everyday language, and they get really excited when Graham makes any progress – just like you and me. Being such caring individuals, and working with parents who are justifiably train-wrecks every day, I assume they have a tendency to spare my feelings. His DOCTORS on the other hand, very stoic personas. They are highly analytical, pragmatic, and rarely show any emotion. They come across as absolute truth-tellers. So when THEY use superlatives, one way or the other, my ears perk up just a bit. Today one of his doctors, who you can tell cares as much for Graham as anyone and whom I respect deeply, also happens to be one of the most stolid. So when she said “Graham’s recovery the last few days has been amazing” it really warmed my heart. Graham has been so blessed, as has our whole family, by all the prayers and support we have received. As I dad and as a believer – I see what I think to be miraculous progress. Scratch that – I know it’s miraculous. Even still, it is good to know that the medical description (as I interpret it) of Graham’s recovery is “AMAZING.”

The plan for tomorrow is as follows:

(1) Continue to monitor his EVD (brain drain – now clamped). If his pressure looks good and he shows no signs of leakage, they will removed his brain drain!
(2) Continue to monitor Graham’s urine output and sodium. If they are able to get him in a healthy, consistent place for the next couple days, Graham will get his ticket out of the ICU.
(3) Meet with the plastic surgeons. We are far enough along in the game that I really need to wrap my head around what his surgery looks like. It made Lindsey and me nervous when Rocco got put under for 35 minutes about a year ago to have a tiny blister-like cyst called a mucus seal removed from the inside of his cheek. And even though I’ve been hardened a bit by living in the ICU now for the last two weeks, I’m still nervous about my sweet little Graham going in for skull and facial reconstruction. So I need to meet with them for my own sanity, if nothing else.
(4) Sit Graham up on the edge of his bed! That’s right – our little fighter is gonna workout his core and neck muscles with physical therapy tomorrow. And yes, I will be THAT parent, and remind them that Graham is a wee bit tender north of the neck tie.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. It really, really helps.

#Prayers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

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Dallas Dobbs posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Graham Update Day 14 (6/22/14) am

I absolutely love the windows of clarity that I see in Graham occasionally. There are moments when a lot of the fog from all his drugs and his injury clear, and I get a really good look at my son. This morning at 7:30 when I woke up Graham was very active: he was raising his legs towards his chest, moving them around to get comfortable, and finally crossing one left over his opposite knee – his signature “comfy-cozy” pose that we often see as he sleeps in the top bunk at home.

We are seeing these windows more and more – usually towards the end of a drug dose and just before his next dose of valium or methadone, both of which make him very sleepy. I did miss one such window at 5:00 this morning – he was planting his legs into his bed and lifting his little bum clear off the bed. His nurse said that he was moving so much that she actually had to gently restrain him. He was not moving in a frenetic fashion, but rather just consistent, deliberate moves to get comfortable. Graham, true to his fashion, wears two different boots in the hospital – one to keep his heel off the bed and keep his toes raised towards his shin, and another that inflates and deflates with air to help with his circulation and prevent blood clots. They switch these boots between his feet every two hours, but now he is moving so much that they are talking about getting him out of the boots.

As you may have noticed, Graham’s managing Graham’s sodium has been a constant battle. It’s been sort of like trying to balance a golf ball on a tooth pick. You might get it right where you want it for a bit, but then it quickly rolls off to the other side. This reason for this has been tied to his urine output, which is controlled by the hormone vasopressin, produced by the pituitary gland. Graham has been given this hormone through an IV drip intermittently at widely varying doses, and they have yet to reign it in to where they want it. So now the endocrine team is involved. They checked his thyroid and some of the other hormones produced by the pituitary gland and all of his levels came back normal. They have also taken him off of the vasopressin drip and put him on the synthetic drug DDAVP, which can be taken via a subcutaneous shot in the stomach or orally with a pill. We don’t know how long-term he will have to take this – perhaps for a few weeks or maybe for his whole life. But for now we are hopeful that it will regulate his urine and sodium in a good way. This is actually the only thing they are currently managing acutely – meaning they are looking at in through a short-term window and micromanaging with ICU attention. That acute management is actually the only thing keeping Graham in the ICU for now, so once they figure this out and are able to manage it chronically he will move on to either the endocrine floor or the neurosurgery floor.

Speaking of neurosurgery – Graham thankfully still does not need it. They have now clamped his EVD (brain drain) and will monitor his ICP (brain pressure) non-leakage for the next 2-3 days. If all goes well, he will have his EVD removed this week. The only “invasive” tubing Graham will have in him at that point will be his feeding tube and his standard intravenous lines. Big, visible progress!

I asked about surgery again this morning, and got the typical answer: 1-2 weeks. What did change is they are now talking about doing his skull reconstruction and facial reconstruction in two different surgeries. Their thought-process has changed for a couple different reasons. First and foremost – Graham is doing great. His ability to breath and move around shows his great strength, and makes the doctors more convinced that he can endure two surgeries. That leads to the second reason for this recent change in his prognosis - in the big picture for Graham two really is better than one. Reason being that by fixing his skull first, they will have a solid foundation to which they can anchor as they reconstruct his orbital bones and some of the other bones in and around his mid-face.

So for now it looks like our next steps are to leave the ICU, then get skull surgery, follow that with facial surgery, and top it all off with a nice health dose of rehab and recovery. I’m so grateful that Graham has been blessed so much, without question in direct correlation to the countless people praying for him. We are so grateful for everyone who loves and supports Graham, as well as a caring and expert medical team. Should be a nice quiet day, so we will continue to pray for him to get healing rest.

#Prayers4Graham — at Children's Medical Center.

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