Posted Sep 15, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
It is with joy in my heart that I relay the news that we have been hopeful for and prayerful about. Jonah‘s surgery yesterday to replace the VAC was successful. The doctors were pleased with how the tissue is settling in and have indicated he is ready for grafting.
While every day in the hospital has seemed to be it’s own month, it is a miraculous joy that we have officially completed the 1st mile of our marathon. Give thanks to the ultimate healer!! Tomorrow Jonah will go in for skin grafting. It is not a process without pain. His doctors have explained that it is like wiping out on the road wearing nothing but your underwear. While it is somewhat comical to imagine, the pain will be all too real.
My heart, while full of joy that we are now to this step, is also heavy contemplating more pain that Jonah will have to endure on top of what he already has.
I have been continuously humbled by the outpouring of support that Jonah has continued to receive on this journey. As we look to tomorrow, it was comforting for Jonah to receive the care package from his homeroom classmates at Lakeside. Notes of encouragement, some well appreciated snacks, and devotions to help him maintain his eyes on God. He also received a box of cookies meant to provide encouragement as much as they are meant to satisfy his sweet tooth! Tonight’s picture is a glimpse of those treats.
Prayer warriors, you have faithfully stood by us in thought, by email, by hugs from those we know and those we are just meeting for the first time. Please pray for strength. This is a process we must go through and with the strength and perseverance of one greater than us we will go forth in faith. It is times like this when the pain, the fear, and the helplessness descend on you and almost paralyze you from being able to take the step you know you need to take. It is an ever present reassurance when I know it is in those moments that we simply need to close our eyes reach out our hand and the hand of our Savior grabs hold to help take that step forward.
Please send forth prayers to heaven for perseverance and patience. Jonah is determined, though he knows the road is painful. Please keep his name on your heart tonight and tomorrow as we get ready for what may hopefully be the last surgery he has to endure for some time.
Our lives are never really just our own. Our life is a gift and what we choose to do with that life is the gift we return to God. In times of difficulty, tragedy, and great pain, it is reassuring to remember that while our life is not about us, our lives are truly all about God. We remain steadfast in the knowledge that He will use this for His glory.
When I look back at all that has happened, and remain confident of what He can still do, I know He already has.
Expect the Unexpected
Posted Sep 13, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
First of all, let me start by saying it’s not a scary thing that I’m posting with that title. Instead, it is to simply stop and take stock in the unexpected people and things that happen while on this journey.
Jonah continues to be stable although he is encountering more pain. We remain vigilant to help him work through it. We have also encountered hurdles that are simply a side effect of our time spent in the hospital. The hospital never really experiences down time. It’s never really closed, the lights are never off, and the people are always on site. Being limited to a bed can create a situation where you start to switch your days and nights. You find yourself dozing off during the day, to be more awake when you would normally sleep, and you end up staying up later and later into the night. We are working to keep Jonah from slipping into that mindset—although as a teenager, staying up late is certainly easier than it is for his parents!
Something else unexpected is the gracious kindness of total strangers. It was Saturday night and Jonah and I were hanging out. Jonah is on a high protein, high calorie diet and quite honestly, he gets tired of hospital food. Thanks to the gracious outpouring of food cards and gift certificates for GrubHub and other meal delivery companies, we have been able to keep his appetite thriving by basically offering him anything he might be hungry for. Saturday night, we utilized one of these meal delivery systems and it completely fell apart. The meal was not delivered to us even though we checked multiple places in the hospital. So I contacted the restaurant we had ordered from and it was there that the kindness and selflessness of the manager made me take stock in the unexpected gifts of strangers.
When I contacted the manager to relay what had happened, he asked his staff to fire the grills to remake our meal, despite the fact that his store was closing. He personally delivered that meal to us and furthermore delivered a gift for Jonah specifically with a note to encourage him to stay strong. That man got a very personal note of appreciation from Jonah, but he truly has no idea of the kindness he bestowed on us. He showed to Jonah that kindness exists and it doesn’t have to be provided to someone you know and have a relationship with. It’s a lesson I believe Jonah will take to heart to pay forward.
Another unexpected event happened on Sunday morning when Jonah and I were listening to the live stream of the church service. We were watching on my laptop when a nurse walked in and commented that he felt goosebumps, big time goosebumps! When he asked what it was that we were up to, we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and commented the we were simply attending church. Another unexpected moment, it reaffirmed that God sends the expected with His word, and sometimes he sends the unexpected with strangers.
Jonah is learning to appreciate all the little things that have happened during his stay here in the hospital. It is a blessing for us to see them and it is an affirmation that we do not walk alone.
Tomorrow, we return to surgery yet again. It is another milestone for us to contemplate the next step. If the surgeons like what they see, they will replace the vac system and on Thursday, he will go in for skin grafting. Please keep Jonah in your prayers that tomorrow sets him up for the next step. Please pray for strength and guidance, patience and perseverance.
As you go about your day, and your week, I would ask you to also notice the little things that happen in your life. As we have come to learn, expect the unexpected.
PS: Wondering about the restaurant? The Shake Shack on Midvale.
Posted Sep 11, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
As parents, John and I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions. From the original shock, to the ensuing horror of realizing the road ahead, it's been a journey any parent would pray never happens to them.
It's in those times when I remind myself the path God has us on is for very good reason. The full outcome of the accident is still unknown. The full extent of recovery is likely years down the road. And it is because of that realization, I have come to appreciate each and every milestone in the middle. Jonah's working with tutors in the hospital to help him with his math classes at Lakeside. Therapies to help him maintain strength and learn how to function when he's released. Music therapies to help him pass the time. Attached is a recent 'jam session' held with the music coordinator....yes, that's a ukulele.
Yesterday's surgery was thankfully 'routine.' I hate that word. But after 9+ surgeries and more to come, it is the life we live right now. The doctors were once again looking at the leg to be sure all continued to look healthy and they were pleased with what they saw. Seeing healthy tissue settling into place helps them consider the next stage of recovery.
The VAC system provides the mechanism for the fluid that comes from an injury like this to safely be drained from the body. It's another level to reduce the risk of infection. They have tubes hooked up to the leg from behind the knee and the other draining from the hamstring area. Yesterday, they added another drain. This drain is a negative pressure 'grenade' vac. Basically it's an oval ball the size and shape of a hand grenade with a tube coming out of it. The ball is compressed and then allows the tube to pull the fluid from the area connected to it. When the ball is full of fluid, it resumes normal shape so it is then drained, all the air squeezed out, plugged up and the process continues. The tube is now in place on the lower leg/calf area to drain fluid. The fluid accumulated in the area because it has no place to drain to. The lower leg has no further open wounds, they have been stitched up, and now with the resulting fluid, the grenade vac was added to remove the fluid from that lower leg to further reduce risk.
Ortho surgeons who have been following Jonah's care and recovery were in the surgery room yesterday as well. They also are incredibly pleased with progress.
Tuesday's surgery coming up will be the final check to be sure if the leg is ready for skin grafting. The amount of fluid draining from the leg must be at a low number that surgeons feel is safe to proceed. If they are confident moving forward, Thursday they anticipate skin grafting. If not, they will reevaluate to reconsider when that time could be.
While meeting with our plastic surgeon, we discussed how far Jonah has come. I have come to respect him more and more, and yesterday I was able to see a glimpse of the human being gifted with so much talent and even more so, compassion. I discussed with him the fact that I had been in the ER when Jonah was there and being assessed. I saw the injury to the leg and it is a memory I will have to the end of my days. You can never 'unsee' it. However, you CAN learn to heal from it. On Friday, the surgeon, Dr. Bentz, gave me such a gift. I knew in my mind the horror of the accident. But with Jonah's leg in constant dressing you don't really 'see' it. Quite honestly, I lack the knowledge to know what 'good' looks like to a surgeon. However, the picture I was able to see of the injury without dressing (the vac was in place of course) was nothing short of miraculous.
The picture took my breath away and immediately took my memory back to that night in the ER. But seeing this picture of recovery and the incredible steps these surgeons have taken, gave me even greater HOPE. Hope for something relating to functionality, Hope for healing of his mind, heart AND body, Hope for moving forward with more light at the end of the tunnel. It was very emotional for me to see that picture, but I needed it to see beyond the one that existed in my memory. Through my tears, the doctor hugged me and assured me we are moving in the right direction.
And that is why once more, I take stock of the blessings on this journey. I am humbled more every day that God interacts with our family in very human ways. Doctors, the best in the industry, who work on him and follow his recovery. Resident doctors (Dr. Dev and others) who have befriended Jonah, who reconnect in unlikely places like pre-op and post-op. Nursing staff who reach out to reconnect from the places he has visited in the past (Leah from the PICU). Operating Room staff who he has seen during his many visits there who know him, interact with him, laugh with him and allow him to be gregarious with them...he has a running record to see how long he can hold out before he finally goes 'under' before the procedure. It's jokes like these that keeps the mood light.
Most importantly, all the medical staff who see Jonah appreciate and admire the young man he is, and the enormous road he faces, can also see he does so knowing he does not walk that road alone. God has walked each and every minute of this road with us. He has provided persons to provide strength: From each of our families, to our work 'families,' to Jonah and Noah's school 'families', to the enormous army of prayer warriors all around continuing to lift his name up to our Heavenly Father. He has heard our prayers as we continue this journey.
As we look to the next steps - more prayers are needed. The phase coming up, while necessary, will also be painful. It is a step I do not look forward to knowing how much he has already endured.
So I ask specifically to lift his name up for strength. Jonah will need it so much. His dad and I will need it, as we see him struggle and work to do what we can to minimize his pain. The doctors will need it to help Jonah move to the next step in recovery.
Please pray for patience. It is hard to watch and wait for God's plan to unfold. It is hard to wait when we have been here in the hospital for 3 weeks tomorrow. It's even harder to wait when we start to see the glimpse of discharge.
Please pray for perseverance. Jonah's road to recovery is a long one. It's not a sprint he so often participated in during his track season. This is a marathon. And we have only begun the race. Quite literally, we are roughly in the first half mile.
Please pray for peace. Jonah's heart was so heavy when I told him the news that his dog Lambeau, "Beau" for short, had passed. With all that is on his heart, and mine, it broke a little more sharing that news. Jonah, unable to say goodbye and Lambeau, unable to stay, was a sad day to be sure.
I do not find myself asking God 'why' however. For His will shall be done and this journey is part of the plan. But I do ask the Lord for 'when'. Because I know in His good time He will answer and the answer will be better than I could have hoped for.
Rita John Jonah and Noah
Posted Sep 10, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
It has thankfully been a quiet one as we had a chance to settle into another day yesterday without surgery. Today he is headed back to surgery. There, they will change out the vac on the upper and lower leg. It is expected to be routine. The doctors are pleased with the process. He is not working with physical therapy to move a lot of his right leg as they want the back of the leg behind the knee to set up for ultimate grafting. In order to do that the tissue needs to settle in place. Jonah‘s day is plenty busy however. He has regular visits with physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, and a tutor. That combined with the regular check ups for vitals and doctor visits leave him with a rather active day.
Prayer warriors, you have lifted us up continuously. Please remember Jonah, John and I, and especially Noah in your prayers. Jonah and Noah are thankfully able to stay connected with FaceTime, but there is certainly a deep brotherly love for they miss each other and that connection time they had. Please pray for continued health, free from infection, and continued healing.
Jonah‘s wins list consisted of seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
We are all holding on to that hope tonight.
Goodbye to Lambeau
Posted Sep 9, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Many people have asked about their dog Lambeau. We are heartbroken that Jonah was not able to say goodbye, but thankful that they all had so many wonderful years with him.
We had to wait some time before posting this because we had not told Jonah due to the accident. But in the midst of so much pain in dealing with Jonah, we also had more heartache when we had to say goodbye to our much beloved Lambeau. He gave it all he had, but in the end, we had to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge. We love and will miss you dearly…RIP
Praise You in the Storm
Posted Sep 7, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Today's surgery took place on time. The surgery went well, in fact it was shorter than the others. They discussed with Jonah the new method of sedation they were going to use to minimize putting him under full anesthesia with intubation. It was welcome news to Jonah considering how many surgeries he'd already gone through, but it left him worried and wondering how much he would actually hear and feel. Thankfully, again the medical team working on him was outstanding and gave him enough that Jonah went to sleep and thankfully never heard or felt a thing. The sedation was easier on him this time around.
After he came to, we were taken back by the storm that rolled through Madison late Tuesday morning. We saw it approaching and had a unique birds' eye view of it rolling through Madison. It took me back to the song by Casting Crowns - I will Praise You in this Storm. As you all know, Jonah finds a lot of comfort and strength in music and this song was one that touched him. If you haven't listened to it lately, find it and take a listen. If you are touched by it as Jonah was - lift a prayer with his name on it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YUGwUgBvTU
The physical aspect of surgery has settled into a good balance of what we had expected. A new update for the healing front is when they replaced the vac on the leg, they actually installed a second one. So now he has two vacs, one located on the upper and the other on the lower leg. The hope is to get the fluid drained out, readying it for grafting which should take place in about a week and a half. All of this is simply projection and nothing is concrete. We have come to simply plan no further than the surgery ahead of us. That next surgery will come Friday.
As has been the case so often, friends of Jonah's have offered gifts to help Jonah pass the time. They have also sent gifts with a humorous side to help Jonah keep his spirits up. Jonah's spirits remain on somewhat of a roller coaster as he struggles with continuous pain and missing his friends and loved ones. A chance to receive a gift helps bring a smile. Today's picture update is a picture of just such a gift he recently received. I know he will wear it often when he's released from the hospital and back to wearing normal clothes on a regular basis. It has brought many chuckles to the nurses caring for him.
Today's focus has been positive. We have begun working with teachers to get him reestablished with learning and attending classes. He has the opportunity to meet with teachers provided by the UW right in his hospital room. He can learn the assignments provided by his Lakeside teachers, but with a tutor by his side to help him with the concepts. He has regular physical therapy sessions now, and together with counseling it actually leaves him with an active day. It's even more so on days when he has surgery.
One of the things we are working on for Jonah is to each day make a WINS LIST. This list is an inventory of the things for which we are grateful today. That's it - just in the day - today, the one the Lord has given us. It helps us when the roller coaster drops and we find ourselves needing to take stock of what we accomplished in prior days.
Today, our wins list is many. Our surgery was light and less scary, while another step was taken by adding the second vac. We have friends and caring connections helping provide us with meals which is a grateful respite when running back and forth to the hospital. And today I was visited by a friend from my office. It was a brief visit as Jonah had just gotten out of surgery and he was recovering in his room. She wanted to offer a brief moment of encouragement and comfort. As a mom who spends a fair amount of time at AFCH, her thoughtfulness warmed my heart. As I was leaving to get back upstairs, I hugged her goodbye and got ready to part ways. Her sweetheart of a little 3 year old boy, Dylan, asked to join in a group hug and I was able to bend down to where he gave me the sweetest hug I think I have ever had. It gives me pause to see this little boy, with health struggles of his own, full of love and life. It gave me pause to look at my own son and know God has brought us to this and He will bring us through this. Dylan's hug gave me HOPE.
And with that hope, it brings smiles. Smiles brought on by the humor we have to keep. Humor that helps us ride out the storm, where we will praise Him still.
If you want to send a note of encouragement to Jonah or Rita, please reach out to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Sep 5, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Yesterday's surgery day was filled with hope, uncertainty and lots and lots of prayers. We were once again hopeful to get the OR early on which had been booked for us at 7:30am. They came in early to draw labs, once again concerned about the white blood cell count which had jumped up (usually an indicator of infection). When we finally got word they were taking us to the OR it was about 2 pm. Again, Jonah had struggled with no eating since dinner the night before and they were doing IV fluids to maintain hydration.
When we arrived in pre-op we were told additional forms needed to be signed because ortho was coming in. This came as news to his Dad and I. Ortho was tag teaming with Plastics to make sure there was no infection in the left leg that had been sutured and then they planned to reset the cast which originally had been split since Jonah was having quite a bit pain with the old one. We were further told they would take a much closer look at the final tissue that had been already sutured into place and would do a good rinse out (its the best preventative for infection for a wound such as his). They were even going to carefully examine the calf for infection even though it also had been sutured. They were trying to cross every T and dot every I to make sure there was no infection brewing.
The surgery scheduled was to be a short one. For anyone who has ever sat through the waiting game of waiting for the surgeon to come out, you know the patience it takes to sit still when you see him rounding the corner and comes to take a chair and sit right in front of you. Fear runs through your mind, first and foremost, and its in those moments when the darkness descends and you are holding your breath wondering what the results are. Short surgeries are really an oxymoron. There's nothing short about a surgery because each minute seems to last an hour.
The surgeon carefully reviewed every possible aspect of where infection could be. Jonah was given the all clear that after careful review of tissue (which looked great and they were very pleased) to incisions and various cuts and gashes that exist, none were tagged as questionable. They changed out his vac dressing, reset the cast on the left leg, and gave him the all clear. They believe the white cell count increase was likely an inflammatory response from having to go in for so many surgeries and a skewed result of his other lab results because his fluids were down.
Yesterday was such a milestone because it may be the last surgery he will have to do where he will undergo intubation with anesthesia. Rather, they can administer gas only when he goes under and they can change out the vac dressing that way. This allows Jonah's body to manage anesthesia easier since he will still have to go in every few days.
This morning, a Sunday, was the two-week anniversary of the accident. It is finally easier for me, as a Mom, to look back over these last two weeks and be able to see all these numerous baby steps starting to add up to the big steps we had wanted to see from the beginning but couldn't. The medical teams tending to Jonah were fastidious and methodical in taking each step they did to reduce to the greatest degree possible any infection risk. As I was in church, the outpouring of support was welcoming and overwhelming. As I took inventory of all the people joining in prayer for Jonah, together with countless others praying all around the nation, the floodgates finally opened and it was the emotional release I thought I was past.
God has been so intentional with Jonah from the beginning of this journey He put us on. He intentionally placed persons who I would know in the midst of trauma, to help guide and be a source of comfort and strength. He also intentionally staffed the OR and ER with so many extra-talented medical staff (we were told later on it was not commonly like that). He intentionally placed friends and family of Christ in our midst to pray with us, pray for us and provide what help they could. And today - God was intentional about reminding me of His power, strength and unconditional love. One of the hymns of worship in church today was "Be Strong." This was the song sung at Jonah's 8th grade class graduation. It was a common tradition that this song was sung by teachers or students to the graduating class each year. It's a song the kids know well and today many of the kids in church could be heard singing with all they had. The song struck an incredibly deep chord within me and one of the verses follows....
Be strong in the Lord and be of good courage; your mighty Defender is always the same.
Mount up with wings, as the eagle ascending; Victory is sure when you call on His name.
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord and be of good courage for He is your guide
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord; and rejoice for the victory is yours.
As we spend the day at the hospital, Jonah's spirits remain high, his appetite is good. The prognosis is guarded but hopeful to return to the OR on Tuesday for just a vac change. From there, we will look forward to what the plan might be for skin grafting and then ultimate release from the hospital.
Two weeks after that fateful arrival at the hospital brought another intentional act from God. I was contacted by a woman I'd never met. But she knew me from the common connection at Lakeside and as one of the nurses in the OR the night Jonah arrived. There is not a single doubt in my mind that a number of people in the OR that night held Jonah's life quite literally in their hands. I wanted to share a picture with three of the amazing medical staff who thoughtfully came forward to wish Jonah well and visit with him. I'm humbled beyond belief that these amazing care workers were able to take time out of their day to encourage Jonah, to share a smile, and a laugh. Of course, Jonah had lots of questions for them since they were there.
So tonight Prayer Warriors please join me in thanks....that's it. Just thanks. Tonight my heart is full of thanks for the milestones we have achieved; the hurdles we have overcome; the light that is getting brighter, the closer we get to the end of the tunnel. Give thanks for the everlasting love of our Savior and God's steadfast grace poured out on us in big ways and small. Give thanks for the medical profession. They literally saved Jonah's life. Through their calling they knew what to do in trauma. Today a few were able to see the smile on Jonah's face and the light that shone in his eyes when they conveyed they were part of the OR team that worked on him. Give thanks for Jonah's body remaining free from infection, allowing his body to heal. Give thanks for remaining steadfast with me while God's glorious plan shows us the way. Jonah was brought to such a time as this and we will see Jonah's journey unfold in ways none of us could have imagined. It is a peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray it is yours tonight.
Walk by Faith
Posted Sep 3, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Update from Rita
Heading into surgery again.
Today has been a quiet one as we simply get ready for another surgery. Jonah‘s white cell count was slightly l elevated so they have been doing more labs today to make sure an infection is not brewing. We are praying it is only because of the stress his body has been under from going into surgery so often. They are monitoring it closely and we will be ready if an infection should happen to be starting. The doctors think it is related more to stress than infection. Please pray that this is the case.
Please continue to be vigilant prayer warriors in sending his name up to our Heavenly Father. At this time it is still unknown for sure if we will have surgery tomorrow. Some will depend on what labs show but more depends on what availability exists for an operating room.
We continue to be amazed at the outpouring of support. More medical staff have requested to stop by and see Jonah to encourage him to continue to fight the good fight. He will have some more visitors tomorrow who were in the emergency room/operating room area the night he arrived after the accident.
If surgery is delayed on Saturday, we will be proceeding with surgery on Sunday. The variables for how often we will continue to return to surgery continue to diminish for which we are enormously grateful.
We are hopeful to look towards skin grafting in the next week or two.
It has been mentioned to me, people are grateful for when they can pray with targeted focus. So I would ask for you to please pray for Jonah‘s health. Please continue to send prayers heavenward that his body would remain free from infection and the remaining surgeries can proceed without further risk. Jonah continues to remain in the hands of one more capable than the best surgeon we could possibly ask for. If surgery should be delayed, please also pray for patience and perseverance for our family. If surgery does proceed on Saturday, please pray for positive results, further confidence to move forward and a hopeful end.
We are continuously uplifted by the support and encouragement of his friends near and far. I wanted to share a shot of the picture board put together by some of Jonah’s most loyal friends. I wanted to close with the feeling of how much love surrounds him and encourages us to walk by faith. I know we do not walk alone.
There is a need for a meal on Monday, September 6 and Friday, September 10. If you can help, please sign up on the MealTrain calendar.
Miracle in the Making
Posted Sep 2, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
We were scheduled for surgery early this morning. As we called it a night last night Jonah was having quite a bit of discomfort and they were adjusting meds to see what was most effective. Since we had been relocated into general care and to another floor, it was uncertain what type of night we would have.
Once again the care staff at American Family Children’s Hospital was thoughtful in considering how often they needed to disturb Jonah. After getting the pain medication set that would provide him the most amount of comfort, Jonah was able to settle in for a reasonably peaceful evening. However, what had been planned for an early morning surgery, instead turned into a waiting game. As I have come to learn, there are two parts of this process I detest. Waiting for surgery to begin, and waiting for the surgery to end. God it seems is not only working to teach patience to Jonah, but it would seem I have some homework myself.
We were notified early this morning that the surgery planned for 7:30, had been bumped to 1:30. But every time I stop and become disheartened, I am immediately reminded that its because someone more critical than Jonah required it.
As resilient as Jonah has been, he is also human, and anyone with children will understand more specifically when I say—-he is a teenager. Ready to go in the morning and then left to wait and wonder, left John and I working to keep him occupied. We worked on a small project to keep his hands busy. But as the hours dragged by and him unable to eat or drink, the frustration began to build. We looked at cards made for Jonah by the students at Holy Cross and read a few devotions together. He finally dozed off for an hour or two this afternoon which left me thinking the medicine to provide pain relief has finally begun to do its job.
They received word that the OR was open for Jonah finally at 3:30 this afternoon. The plan, a shorter surgery than others, was simply to review the work that had been done. They would review the tissue to ensure there was no infection, they would check the stability of the nerve they had been working on and change the vac dressing. I am humbled once again that the condition of his leg is looking remarkably well. Praise God!
The doctor indicated he is pleased with the progress we have made and without a major setback large or small, we are unbelievably grateful. While the risk of losing his leg will remain on the table for the foreseeable future, the nerve is holding, and the tissue that remains viable will hopefully set us up to begin skin grafting in the next couple of weeks.
The doctor is considering moving up the timeline of releasing Jonah in a couple weeks to recoup and then return for skin grafting to instead keeping us in the hospital for the duration and begin skin grafting sooner than we had been told.
While we were talking during the day today, and the way his leg is starting to “talk,” Jonah made the comment—Mom I think I’m a miracle in the making. I simply nodded. Taking in all that had happened over the last 10 days, I simply nodded again, without words…
Yes, Jonah, I do believe you are.
Prayer Warriors—we know our God will use this for our good. Not just for John, I, Jonah and Noah, but I remain convinced for the good of so many. Words and cards of comfort continue to be sent to encourage and lift us up. Thank you, humbly and from the heart.
Rita, John, Jonah & Noah
Posted Sep 1, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
A time to give thanks and rejoice!
So much to update but I hope to keep this a short post. Jonah was relocated today. We are officially in general care! Give thanks and rejoice. Great spirits and good appetite continued.
While Jonah remains on very limited mobility, PT chose to work with him on some core work and upper leg muscles. While he wasn’t thrilled, he did really good.
Jonah‘s leg was certainly talking to him today. While much of his foot does not have feeling there are lots of pins and needles. Imagine your foot continuously asleep. He has additional shocks, that we have come to call zingers. They are managing the pain and discomfort with meds as he gears up for another surgery tomorrow.
Another cause for rejoicing is Jonah officially took his last round of antibiotics today. Praise God that we were able to avoid a serious infection up to this point!
Jonah and John worked diligently to finish the mini Bucky badger and it now stands proudly on display in his room. Imagine micro Legos! Legos so small they would fit on the tip of a pencil. More than once I wanted to ask some of the trauma surgeons who have the micro magnifiers on their glasses if John and I could borrow them to work on Legos with Jonah.
Today, one of the trauma surgeons, Dev, came by bearing gifts in keeping with the badger theme. I will end with this picture for a truly sums it up what no words could accurately describe. Jonah is still here, his heart is resilient and he is coming back!
Prayer warriors - Rejoice with us and give thanks to the ultimate healer! Please remember Jonah with prayers heading into surgery #8 tomorrow that all continues on the path towards our ultimate goal.
Surgery #7 Update
Posted Aug 31, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Before I get into the results of today’s surgery, I would be remiss if I did not first offer up my prayers of thanks. If I could thank each and everyone of you from all over the nation who are praying and offering up Jonah‘s name to our Heavenly Father, it would likely take me quite some time. So if you are reading this please know that my thanks are directed to you specifically. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Jonah had a restful evening. The amazing care staff and specifically the nurses at the pediatric ICU of UW hospital are no less than amazing. They saw what Jonah needed, and delivered big time. What he needed was sleep and they adjusted things within their control to minimize interruptions overnight. That allowed Jonah to sleep relatively well going into surgery this morning.
As Jonah gears up for surgery and recovery, he always asks to pray. It is this singular dependence on his Savior that has helped him through some of the scariest days where it has been difficult for him.
As has become the norm, Jonah was approached with various care teams starting at 6 AM. Sometimes there are faces, those he recognizes, and others new to him but in all, he continues to make an impact on all of them through his resilience.
He headed into surgery worried and as I reminded him though he is in the best hands of the doctor who is caring for him, he is in hands greater than those. Today’s surgery was the longest he had been through since the one that saved his life.
Today, the head of ortho and the head of plastics, came together to evaluate and analyze what they had to work with. The nerve that they have been working to reattach was strained over these last days. They worked to hook it together and because of that manipulation he is restricted to no more than 30° incline on his bed. Jonah the optimist was happy he gets a pass on PT the next couple of days.
As he came out of anesthesia, and was told he was limited in mobility, he became disheartened. But in his mind, as I have come to have such great respect for, he likened it to his track season of long jump. He set personal records often throughout the season. As he said, there are times when he wouldn’t meet that personal record and he would jump less than that, but he always had a reason to be positive about how it went. Today was no different.
The nerve that they are working to reattach is vitally needed for restoration. It restores the ability for him to feel the bottom of his foot. It is frustrating for him right now. As they manipulate his right leg, he can see he has no feeling when they touch his toes. It is not to be expected though, because it will take time for his nerves to restore its functionality. Scientifically, they grow 1 mm a day. Imagine for a moment how many millimeters are in the average leg.
All in all, as long as the surgery took, there is reason to be cautiously hopeful. They have placed in final position many of the various tissues that were severed but viable. This sets it up for the ultimate skin grafting needed. While he is likely to remain in the hospital for approximately another two weeks, there is hope that he will be able to return home after that point.
Warriors we need your prayers.
Prayers for strength and resilience. Yes, today was a big day. A hurdle we had to get past to ascertain viability for a useable limb. Doctors are human. We pray they never grow weary in their vocation. Jonah returns to surgery on Thursday.
Prayers for hope. It would be unrealistic if I said I never doubt. However when I focus on far we have come in 8 days I’m humbled by God’s amazing grace. But I am scared. I place that fear in Gods hands and leave it at the foot of the cross.
Prayers of thanks. Jonah could possibly be looking at release in 2 weeks if he remains free from setback or infection. A long road for recovery and healing starts with being at home where he can rest, see his friends and they can provide strength when he is weak. We can see perhaps light at the end of this where we can be home with him.
Prayers of healing. Prayer Warriors everywhere came together and lifted his name up. We ask for it again. His body is at such a tenuous point where the nerve must hold for viability of his limb. We lift his name again to have that nerve hold; to keep his body free from infection; to help his mind find peace in the storm.
My prayers to you to find peace this night…
If you want to send Jonah or Rita a message or an encouraging note, please email them at HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Aug 30, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
As we wind down the night we have lots of "firsts" that happened today and we have much to be thankful for. First off, Jonah has been doing well and they are pleased with his progress so they have downgraded him from critical to general care. They have opted to leave us in the pediatric ICU room where we arrived a week ago because they are otherwise unable to put him on the general care floor because the beds are full. We are so blessed and relieved by the progress. Overall, Jonah's progress with fighting off any infection has left him in good shape for tomorrow morning's surgery. No fevers though we are always cautious and guarded at the possibility. We spent an uneventful day in his room, but it was another day of mood swings. He didn't get a lot of rest overnight which left him feeling tired and weak through most of the day. PT again put him in the cardiac chair but he didn't have the strength to do as well as he had, so he opted out of it early to retreat to his bed to rest.
Jonah has been craving Culver's for the better part of the week he has been here and tonight seemed like a good night to give him a good meal. He was loving it and it made his heart happy. We have also begun the conversation with his school to discuss what going back into some of his classes might look like for the duration of the time he's in the hospital. A little more each day, we find a piece of the usual life and put into an array of the unusual. We will make this work. Noah didn't want to head back into school, but after a few conversations I asked if he would get back into the routine in support of his brother. Support from Lakeside has been nothing short of amazing. Together we are all moving forward one step at a time.
Doctor visits continue at regular intervals and those residents/doctors with whom Jonah has bonded have taken a special interest in him. It warms my heart to see them engage with him as if they were friends. These visits are critical because of the limitations that prevent family and friends from being able to see him. Last Friday, it was donuts from a resident on the plastics team. Today it was a personalized Badger surgery cap from another resident in trauma.
How does one give back to these thoughtful, caring people? An anonymous meal train friend saw behind the scenes of the work of the many medical staff tending to Jonah's needs and they wanted to give back. I received word that they were holding a delivery at the front desk for us. I rounded the corner to find a man holding a box that resembled a pizza. I was curious at first and proceeded to take the box while recognizing the sweet smell of treats inside. The note indicated it was from an anonymous friend to the care workers on the PICU floor caring for the Heyerholms. Up on the floor, I was able to hand out the highly coveted, fresh Crumbl Cookies. I happily handed them out to our day nurses and saved some for the night nurses who tended Jonah through those frightening first days. Resident doctors were happy to enjoy the treat on their rounds with Jonah as they joked and chatted it up with him. What an exciting surprise from a thoughtful friend.
I know I sound like a broken record when I say tomorrow is more of the same, but that is the life we currently live. More wash out reduces the risk for infection. They will also remove any dead tissue to keep the remaining tissue around the leg healthy and free from infection. Tonight they will administer a blood thinner to help prevent any clots from forming in the legs due to his inability to move them or flex his ankles. Ortho and Plastics will be in there to review what they have to work with as they begin the process of returning functionality. Things have gone as good as they possibly could have gone for him and I'm left doubting our smooth journey and waiting for when the hiccups will happen. And I expect the hiccups to happen - But we cannot give in to fear of the unknown. God continues to provide us enough light for the step we are on and that is enough.
Please remember to pray for guidance as the doctors take some critical steps forward. Offer up prayers of thanks for all we have accomplished and that Jonah's health has remained steadfast. We praise God that Jonah's health is such that they have downgraded him to general care. This hopefully means more restful sleep before he heads into surgery in the morning.
God bless you prayer warriors....
Posted Aug 29, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
It has officially been one week since we got the news that changed everything. And while things have changed in so many ways, somethings still remain. Most importantly it is Jonah. Despite the outer appearance, the son we love is still in there. He is still the same kind thoughtful and caring person he was before this accident took place. Today was more visits with doctors, and more questions.
Jonah‘s dad and I have thankfully had the time to now look at trying to see what our new normal could look like while Jonah remains in the hospital. If ever the phrase “it takes a village” fits a situation, it is certainly this one. His dad and I have been so encouraged by the support systems we have to provide encouragement during these last days. Now we must transition to helping Noah absorb what this new schedule will look like for the immediate future.
Jonah was able to tolerate the cardiac chair better than prior days. It is still not without pain, but it is certainly not without progress. It is a quiet day for us while we spend time with him. It is a challenge to determine what we can do to keep him occupied. His new past time is building Lego sets or specifically FOCO sport sets. He’s been working on a Bucky badger with his dad and then we are moving onto a Green Bay Packer helmet. He likes puzzles to keep him busy and pass the time.
We pray to keep his spirits up as the days drag by between doctor drop ins.
Thank you thank you for all of you out there helping out big and small. We are eternally grateful. Here’s a picture of Jonah’s progress. Each day a little closer to the goal.
Posted Aug 28, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
The overnight into Saturday morning was not as restful as we had hoped. Frequent bed checks and preparation for an early morning surgery meant there was not much sleep to be had for either of us. We received the all systems go at 6:45am.
The plan was simple, more of the same. They would flush out the wounds to minimize infection. They would continue to debride, remove tissue that was not viable, and examine the nerve they had tentatively stitched together. If all was in good shape, they would work on the nerve. Thankfully, his fever was very minimal. Debridement was done with some tissue loss and the nerve, which had held together, was further stretched to reinforce the connection point.
Since the doctor felt the situation was in good shape he decided to attach the vac which would continue to help eliminate fluid and drainage. This creates a base to set up the wound for ultimate grafting. Jonah came through surgery like a champ. He recovered well, along with his appetite, and was able to have a comfortable afternoon keeping himself busy with Lego 3-D puzzles.
The plan is to return to surgery on Tuesday to see how the vac is handling the wound. It is significant because the ortho surgeon will also now be involved. Together, the plastic surgeon and ortho will evaluate and take an inventory of what they have to work with to give Jonah functional use of his leg.
He is by no means close to being out of the woods, he still remains on a targeted antibiotic cocktail to prevent infection.
Jonah remained in good spirits through the day and with his appetite intact was able to keep a steady amount of food going in to maintain his strength and maximize healing ability.
Once again, we remain thankful for the support of so many others who are out there supporting us. Thank you for the prayers, for they are graciously appreciated. We pray for a restful night, and a chance for us to catch up on some sleep.
Attached is a picture taken from the Lakeside Lutheran football game last night.
Posted Aug 28, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
An update from Rita
It's late in the evening on Friday and I find myself sitting in the lobby of the hospital almost in the dark. I have to say it's how much of today has been. Dark. We start the day, as we do every day, meeting with doctors. But during a brief talk with his surgeon, he has begun to ask the questions that tell us he is beginning to come around the edges of absorbing how big an injury this was and that recovery will be overwhelming.
Meetings with doctors while being compassionate, are also honest about the magnitude of injury. Jonah has only begun touching the surface of the tough questions he is beginning to ask - How bad was my injury? How long will I be here?
While they are hard to ask, as a mom, it's even harder to see when the light dawns in your son's eyes and you begin to see first comprehension and then despair.
Jonah had a tough day. Emotionally and physically. Physical therapy put him in a cardiac chair briefly to help him feel control and be able to get out of the bed he's been in since Sunday. There is pain involved as they manipulate his injuries and dizziness as he tries to sit up for the first time in a week. That left his stomach queasy and uncertain. Feeling awful pulled down his spirit and he struggled through the afternoon. As part of the care team assembled to help Jonah, he is also meeting with psychologists to help him process the acute trauma. he asked tough questions thoughtfully and with so much maturity that my heart broke for him.
I received word that a special banner was made by the students of Lakeside Lutheran to offer their support. When I learned it was going to get delivered, I asked how soon it could arrive. Thanks again to the countless friends and family of Christ, I received the banner this afternoon. Jonah was able to look at the words of encouragement, strength, and support during a particularly tough day. It now sits on the wall prominently in front of his bed where he can see it every day and feel the support of his friends.
As we look to tomorrow and another tentative surgery, it was daunting for Jonah when he has been through so much. We ended the night with reviewing some of the letters we have received from so many. I felt it important to know for Jonah's sake that when he felt weak, others were being strong for him. One particular email we received from a member of our church family struck a chord. I truly believe God places people in our lives at certain times to reinforce His love and support. Numerous people over this last week have appeared with coffee. a care package, or simply a change of clothes and a hug to reinforce in my heart that God is walking the way with us and sometimes He sends others to walk with us also.
For those of you who know, Jonah has always been a plyer of piano. Some of his longest friendships started on the piano and continue to this day. So music naturally has always been a comfort for him and a challenge when he found a particular fun piece of music to learn. A church friend reached out to share a story regarding the Christian band Tenth Avenue North. She talked about the lead singer, Mike Donehey, who had been in a bad car accident in high school. He tells a little bit of his story here http://www.100huntley.com/watch?id=226091&title=mike-donehey-of-tenth-avenue-north-at-no-greater-love-festival
This story led to Tenth Avenue North’s album “The Struggle." Jonah might someday relate to these songs even though there’s no way he can understand why this happened or what’s next. For Mike Donehey, his accident led to much bigger things than he ever could have imagined. The signature song on that album: Worn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUEy8nZvpdM It was emotional for both of us and helped us to remember God can make all things new. That even in the darkness when no light is to be seen and we feel alone and afraid. We are not. And even in the darkness, we can hear footsteps and the voice of our Savior saying "I am here."
So here in the dark, when I take inventory of the enormous upswell of support by many who are led to reach out and provide strength, I am humbled. Thank you prayer warriors for supporting Jonah on his journey. We feel Him and it comforts us. Please lift Jonah up in prayer as he continues with another surgery to do more repair on Saturday if all goes well. Guide the doctors to be diligent with eliminating infection, continue to keep Jonah's body and tissue healthy so that we might always move closer to our goal.
Please continue to send your words of love and encouragement to Jonah and Rita to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Rita shares with Jonah the love and encouragement from each of you. Thank you for blessing their family.
Posted Aug 27, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Yesterday's surgery while short in duration was a big baby step forward. Much of the day was spent reviewing med plans with the numerous teams involved in Jonah's care. He has a fever here and there, so cultures are still taken frequently. Many surgical plans can't be made in firm detail because much rests on what they find when they remove the dressing of Jonah's leg. Thursday's surgery had been planned to include a nerve graft. While in surgery, they instead attempted to stitch the nerve back together. This allows them to keep from using other critical nerve grafts that might be needed elsewhere. Nerves have the amazing ability to regrow themselves, however, they grow at a minuscule rate. The hope to reattach severed nerves back together is always the goal and that tentative step was taken today.
The surgeon team reopened much of the work that had been done - viewing and reviewing the work done- to make sure all tissue still looks good. The ever present risk of infection is at an all time high. So more cleaning, more debriding, and the one nerve reattachment were accomplished. He returns to surgery this weekend to do much of the same, always checking to be sure tissue and cultures are clear from infection.
Other teams have begun to be included in Jonah's recovery. Psychology has been added to help him absorb this new, scary, and sudden reality.
Prayers are needed for patience. Jonah is only starting to understand that he will be required to remain in the hospital for an unknown amount of time. It's frustrating for him and leads him to despair.
Prayers needed for medical support. The teams have been amazing in all they are doing for him. But so many surgeries are needed along with consultations with other teams.
Prayers of thanks. The enormity of what we have accomplished and how close we came to the unthinkable leads all of us to give thanks for God's grace.
Once again Jonah's personality is making an impact on those around him. His surgery team told us that he gets donuts on Friday because he has become one of their favorites.
Today is expected to be quiet so Jonah can recoup heading into a weekend of more washing and debriding. They will look at the nerve they are working on and try to pull it together a bit tighter to reinforce it.
Jonah is unable to see family or friends while he recovers. He enjoys emails from those who are praying for him. HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
We would also like to collect pictures to make a poster board for his hospital room. Please send pictures to this email
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Posted Aug 26, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Jonah will head back into surgery around 3pm today. He will have a debridement again and they will also attempt a nerve graft.
He is still experiencing a lot of pain. We will have an update tonight on the outcome of the surgery.
Please pray that God guides the surgeons hands and gives them wisdom as they operate. Please also pray for peace and comfort for Jonah.
Thank you for your prayers and support. Your outpouring of love is such an encouragement to the Heyerholm family!
Posted Aug 25, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Last night was very emotional. The doctors decided to remove Jonah's breathing tube so he could breathe on his own. They also said they don't plan on anymore surgeries for 24-36 hours. The gravity of the situation is starting to sink in for Jonah as he is dealing with a lot of pain. The doctors are doing their best to keep pain under control, but the pain is still significant. The good news is that his fever is gone and his blood pressure is stable. His heart rate is high, but they are not concerned at this time. Although the prognosis is still guarded, doctors are happy with what they see so far.
Last night, he was able to see a video from his brother and video chat with his girlfriend. This made him very happy.
The plan is to go back into surgery tomorrow to debride the tissue again. They will also try again to do a nerve graft.
Please continue to pray for Jonah as he deals with a lot of pain. Please also pray for peace and comfort as he heads back into surgery tomorrow. Pray for wisdom for the surgeons and medical team and guide their hands as they work on his leg.
Posted Aug 24, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
On Sunday, August 22, Jonah's life was inexplicably altered during a sudden and catastrophic boating accident. He was rushed to UW Hospital where hospital trauma staff worked diligently to repair a severed femoral artery in his right leg and multiple other serious traumas. Jonah's tenuous journey towards recovery began during that four plus hour surgery.
During surgery, trauma staff worked diligently to repair the severed femoral artery by grafting another vein from his other leg. Early Monday morning, Jonah was transferred to the pediatric ICU, placed on a ventilator, and given a broad spectrum antibiotic. He returned to surgery later that day for debriding (removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound) of the leg to minimize clotting and dead tissue. He was returned to surgery again Monday afternoon to repair a broken heel in his left leg and a deep gash near his Achilles tendon. Fortunately, he was spared from having pins placed in his heel bone and there was no damage to the tendon which allowed the leg to be casted and heal.
On Tuesday morning his right leg was debrided and a loose dressing applied to minimize infection. Doctors then began to evaluate what they had to work with to rebuild nerves and tendons severed in the accident.
Jonah remains in the ICU and has no immediate timetable for release from the hospital, rehabilitation or return to school. He will need hours of time in the hospital, driving to rehabilitation and numerous doctors appointments and frequent trips for medical care.
The Heyerholms will be spending much of their time in the hospital.
If you are wanting to provide assistance, there is an option to donate on this page. You can also email food gift cards to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com or drop off cards and meal or gas gift cards in an envelope labeled HEYERHOLM at the front office at Lakeside Lutheran or Holy Cross School Madison.
Meal trains will be established once Jonah returns home.
If you have questions or want to send a message to Rita, please use the email address HeyJonah2021@gmail.com or call or text Dana Marthaler at 608-217-7707. It is difficult to have Rita respond to phone calls or texts as she tends to Jonah, so please avoid calling or texting her at this time. She appreciates everyone's prayers and is so grateful for your love and concern.