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#1 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I can't even believe that this has happenned, but today my dad was in an accident. He was flying (he owns a small experimental aircraft, a "tail-dragger" called the Glass Air which is extremely challenging to fly--we've been trying to convince him to get rid of it, and even he has been saying that he's going to sell it because it's just to dangerous and difficult to fly, especially landing.) Upon landing apparently the left wing hit the pavement, the plane rolled 3-4 times and burst into flames. He managed to get out, apparently moments before the plane actually exploded. But he was on fire--a bystander helped roll him on the ground and put out the flames and get emergency help but he was badly burned. I guess that she was pretty freaked out and traumatized by the whole thing, she was crying on the phone to my mom, and herself had to go to the hospital because she had burns on her hands from trying to help put him out. He was taken to the local hospital and they airlifted him to the trauma burn unit at the University of Michigan hospital.

He is in critical condition but as of now it appears that he is reasonably stable in an ICU bed. But he has burns over 55% of his body, 15% of those are third degree and the rest are 2nd degree but 15% of those are expected to become 3rd degree tomorrow. He's on a ventilator, not because he wasn't breathing independently but because they need to get an airway in before any swelling happens and it becomes impossible to get one in, but they are going to do a tracheotomy in the next 2-3 days because that is apparently a better option than being on a ventilator given his condition. So they have him sedated. I talked to my mom and my sister, and I also called and talked to his nurse. My mom said that it will be a long haul in terms of healing but told me that it will be at least two weeks that he will be in the hospital, which I thought sounded overly short. When I talked to the nurse she said that if everything goes perfectly he will be in the hospital at least until Christmas, that 6-7 weeks in an acute care setting is the minimum and that then he will likely have to go to rehab. So that makes me wonder if my mom has a completely realistic picture of his condition or perhaps not. Unbelievably, he doesn't have any other major injuries or internal injuries other than the burn problem/some inhalation injury to his lung, and one broken rib that isn't causing a problem. One of the big concerns about burn patients is apparently fluid balance--they lose fluid through the wounds so you need to replace that carefully so the kidneys stay okay, but in the meantime if they get too much fluid they can end up having problems due to that. I don't know if this had occurred to my mom, but my dad has cardiac problems as it is--I wondered if he would be especially at risk for congestive heart failure due to this. I asked the nurse, and she sort of hesitated but then said that yes, it was a concern and that there were things they could do if he did start having some cardiac issues and that his doctors were aware of his cardiac history and that they were monitoring his cardiac enzymes and would be watching him closely, but that he was okay as of now and that all his vitals were stable and his labs were good, etc. But I got the sense that I wasn't the first to think of that as a potential problem that could develop.

Meanwhile, I am about 2800 miles away and will be 38 weeks pregnant in a couple of days. I partly want to jump on a plane and go there, but I also don't know how good of an idea that is. I feel like I could probably make it there without incident (I keep having people be suprised that I'm pregnant, so I'm sure I could wear a big sweater and say nothing and nobody would be the wiser in terms of the airline.) I don't feel like I'm likely to go into labor anytime soon, but then again, you never know. Also, if I stay even a week, then I'll be 39 weeks pregnant and the chances I will go into labor on the way back, or will be unable to come back home to have the baby, are increased. So it would probably mean having to stay and have the baby in Michigan, likely in my sister's house or in a hotel room. Also, DH could go with me for a week or so but couldn't stay longer just waiting for me to have the baby, he would have to come back and work, and I don't want to be separated from him at this point. This pretty much eliminates the chance that anybody from my family will be coming out after the baby--my mom and dad were planning on coming here over xmas time. I guess I could wait till the baby is out and take the baby and go when it's a week or so old, provided that things seem to remain stable. He is heavily sedated anyway and his eyes are swollen shut, so it's not like I could really do much for him anyway, but I could be there with the rest of my family.

Right now the plan seems to be to wait till tomorrow-Monday morning, see how his condition is holding out, talk to the midwife, and see then. I cancelled my prenatal for tomorrow because we just can't see driving two hours there and two hours back given the circumstances. Luckily, I have things fairly organized around here--we keep up with the laundry and the house and the finances/bills pretty well, and the birth and baby supplies are fairly organized, so if necessary we could get ready to go pretty fast. I did a bunch of cleaning tonight, partly so if we had to go we could leave the house decent and partly because it just gave me something productive to do and made me feel a little better. I also lined up a dog sitter if necessary, and one of my midwife friends in MI to be on call for my birth there if it came down to it. I don't think I will be going into labor immediately, but I can tell that things are getting more ready incrementally--I checked myself and my cervix is posterior but pretty soft, and I can't reach to see if there is any dilation or effacement, but the head is lower than it was the last time I felt. And I'm having more BH contractions the last couple of days. Partly, I am in a sort of a bind because I don't want to really be away from home and make a major change in birth plans when I am so close to giving birth, especially because I don't feel entirely comfortable there, but I also feel sort of helpless being so far away from my family in this kind of a crisis. I know I need to take care of my baby and therefore myself first, but I also feel like if I just wait around it may be too late to go. I feel like I don't want to be geographically stuck, either here OR there, and I'm afraid I might be. Added in to this is a little bit of anger with my dad that he is engaging in such risky behavior with no regard for how this might affect his family, especially when he is about to have a new grandchild. And the whole thing is just really grim and gruesome, and even if he does recover fully which is a question at this point, it seems he will be pretty scarred and disfigured and have to undergo a lot of painful skin grafts, etc. It is just very upsetting and scary and sad.

Here is a link to a newspaper article about this, apparently it was on the radio and TV also:
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#2 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 07:47 AM
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Oh, Kavita, I am so sorry to hear this -- yes, 2 weeks is short, that's how they do it now, with the healthcare crisis we have in this country -- they just get people in and out. My great-aunt recently had an entire breast removed and was out either that day or the next day (don't remember) but her daughter who has no medical training was instructed how to care for the wound and she did it.

I'm sorry for your dad and your family and also for how this changes things for you. If you do have to make a trip I would guess that your body would hold out for the "right" time to give birth -- however I can't imagine your family wanting anything other than you and the baby to stay "safe" at this point in time.
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#3 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 07:59 AM
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I am so sorry about your dad. I know this would be difficult even under the best of circumstances let alone this far along in your pregnancy. I have never been pregnant so I dont know what to advise as far as flying, staying home etc. I think maybe stay home for now unless your dads condition seems to worsen and then take the baby with you after he/she is born. At least you would be home for the birth. I would think that would be more comfortable. I bet seeing the baby would lift everyones spirit as well. If you do go do you think you could fly by yourself or is that a bad idea? I was just thinking then your husband could come a week later so he would be there when the baby is born. Keep us up to date...I will be praying for you. By the way I think being angry is normal.
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#4 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 08:50 AM
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I;m terribly sorry to hear about your dad. My thoughts are with you and your family. Keep us posted on his progress.
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#5 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 09:33 AM
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I was just lurking for new posts, and I came across your post here.

I can't even beging to imagine what I'd do in that situation. I'd want to make sure I had a safe birth for my baby, which would mean being in a comfortable environment... but I'd also want to be by my father's side "just in case".

It isn't an easy decision whether or not to go. Don't feel guilty with whatever you decide. Either choice is right.

Good luck, and I will be thinking of you and your family.
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#6 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 09:39 AM
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I am so sorry about your father.

My step-father was in an accident 23 years ago that resulted in 3rd degree burns over 70% of his body. The standard 'formula' for figuring mortality rates from burn injuries is to add the % of 3rd degree burns to the age of the patient, and that's the chance of death. Well, my step-father was 41 at the time, added to 70%, and he very obviously should not have survived with a 111% chance of death.

But he DID survive, and honestly, most people have NO CLUE what he endured (even with extensive skin grafts over his face and neck, people just don't notice!).

This was over 20 years ago, so I imagine the treatment options have improved dramatically. I dare say he's looking at a much longer stay than 2 weeks though! I'd say it'll take close to that long to stabalize him.

He is in for a long recovery, but I will keep your family in our thoughts and prayers. Hang in there, I can't imagine going through this at 38 weeks pg.
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#7 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 09:47 AM
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I am so sorry for your dad!!!! 55% is a lot but he should pull through. If they are monitoring his cardiac enzymes closely they should be able to detect any changes early enough that they can take evasive action to help prevent further cardiac complications.

I understand how hard a decision you feel faced with but if I could add my 2 cents, it's really not a good idea to fly when you are this pregnant. I flew to my parents at 34 weeks, a week before my mom was due for major surgery, and ended up getting a small hole in my amniotic sac. I was worthless for days, while I was there and after I came back, literally had to lay around all day long. Luckily the hole closed on it's own buy my midwives said it was because of the pressure changes from flying. (And I had okay'd the trip with them beforehand too).
I'm now 41 weeks and talk to my mom everyday... she's having major complications and my dad is out of town and she really needs me to be there, especially to advocate her condition to the doctors who are treating her like it's no big deal... but it is, she has a long history of getting messed up by the medical profession but that's a LOoooooooong story. Anyway, I wish I could hop on a plane and be there for her but it's really not safe IMO. (plus I'm past due so I could go into labor at any minute).

I just want you and your baby to be safe... I'm so sorry this had to happen at this time
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#8 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 10:15 AM
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to you and all of your family, Kavita. Your post sounds sooo calm and logical- like you're in the stress mode of just getting things done and figured out. Don't be afraid to scream/cry/rage at the unfairness of the world and your situation.

I hope you can figure out what works best for you and your baby and your family. Take care, I'm thinking of you.

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#9 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 11:08 AM
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Oh Kavita, I'm so so sorry. My prayers for you and your family. :

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#10 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 11:38 AM
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I'm so sorry this has happened and I hope he heals well and recovers quickly. I know you are facing some really difficult decisions, and I hope you find peace with them.

My heart goes out to dad died when he crashed his plane almost 12 years ago. I wish there was something I could do to help you and your family through this.

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#11 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 12:18 PM
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how scary for you and your mom and dad and family.. i dont know a lot about burns, but it will probably be a long raod to recovery for him. keep strong and know that your little new life will probably help him pull through

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#12 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 12:28 PM
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I'm so sorry you are going through this. You and your family are in my thoughts.


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#13 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 12:39 PM
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Kavita, I am so sorry to hear about your thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I would have to agree with everyone else: make sure that your baby is safe and healthy first. Get through delivery and then by all means get to MI. I couldn't imagine going through what you're going through right now. I moved back to IN from CO several months ago b/c I couldn't stand the thought of something horrible happening and I wouldn't be able to be there. My dad also has some pretty bad heart problems and has been in and out of the hospital since May. Please, if you even just need to talk you know that you can come to any one of us.
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#14 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 03:47 PM
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Kavita, I am so very sorry that this happened! : I totally understand your anger and frustration with the's amazing how sometimes pregnancy can make you feel trapped when it comes to things like this. Honestly...I'd stay put. Having a baby and caring for yourself and your child in immediate post-partum is something that you should try to concentrate on and cherish WITH help from your DH, in a familiar environment. Do not fly that pregnant - so many things can happen in an airplane with lack of proper circulating oxygen, cabin pressure and so on...(I had PT labour at 26 weeks just before flying to a good friend's wedding - my OB forbade flying)

Your dad, as serious as things are, sounds like he will be out of the thick of things sooner than later. He's conscious, albeit in pain, and in great care. You will be constantly updated about what's going on, etc. Your presence there - while comforting - won't 'do' anything (and this coming from someone with an incredibly CLOSE family). Support your mom over the phone...she also has your sibling(s).

Anyway...keep us updated. FIL and BIL were in a very serious car accident 3 weeks ago and had to be medevac'd to the hospital - I get your stress.

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#15 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 05:00 PM
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I am sorry to hear about the accident. It is terrible to be far from home when family members are hurt, and all the combined emotions in regard to the accident itself, and being pregnant have created quite an emotional stew for you. I will keep you in my thoughts as you cope each day with the situation.

Like a couple pp, I would stay at home to await the birth of my child. You have to take care of yourself and your baby first. After the birth, if you feel strong enough, consider going. Obviously you are doing the best you can to advocate for your dad and get information (by talking to the nurse, etc) and although you might think you 'need' to be there, you are doing the best you can over the phone. Waiting to go will assure your health and your baby's, as well as give you dad time to heal some, so that when you do come, he may be far more likely to enteract with you. Your mom will need you whenever you get there, and if you don't get there, they are sure to understand why.

again, I wish you peace in this trying time.
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#16 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 10:07 PM
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Kavita, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. Please take very, very good care of yourself in these next few days.

Like the couple of previous people who have posted, I'd really urge you to stay home. The risks of flying while pregnant have already been covered, not to mention the fact that changes in pressure can encourage you to go into labour (remember all those people worrying and being advised to take care during the hurricanes?), so there would be a greater risk that you'd go into labour on the plane. It really sounds like your father is stable and getting good care. Even though it's tough, probably the best thing you can do for your whole family is to make sure YOU stay stable and get good care through your labour and delivery. You'll have a lot of other chances to help out -- especially if he's facing a long recovery and rehab period. And your parents will probably NEED the extra help then, after the first blush of the crisis has passed.

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#17 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 11:00 PM
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Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your father. Sending healing thoughts to him and everyone in your family.
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#18 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 11:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your kind words and thoughtful responses.

I think that I have decided that as long as things stay relatively stable with my dad, I am going to stay here, and try to go asap after the baby is born. I don't think I'd be as much of an asset at this point, it would probably worry everyone more to have me there and that pregnant, and the stress and travel and different environment would possibly have a big effect on screwing things up in terms of the birth. It seems like I don't need to do much in terms of advocating, because I do at least feel like my dad is in probably the best care possible, and I feel good that I was able to get good, accurate information firsthand from the hospital and figure out from here what is going on, and in fact I am probably even a little more useful from here at this point at this regard because I am a little more objective without being there in the thick of things, exhausted, etc. I think the best thing I can do is take as good care of myself and DH as possible, so that I can have the baby, recover, and then go to be there.

I also feel like my mom and sister can cover things more now, but they are going to run themselves ragged and will need my help later on, and I need to be able to function then, which will probably be hard enough being postpartum and having a new baby.

So far, my dad continues being stable. I think we'll know more tomorrow, and I'll update as we know.
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#19 of 22 Old 10-30-2005, 11:47 PM
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s and more s, Kavita.

From what I remember (I lived in Ann Arbor), the University hospital has a VERY highly ranked burn/trauma center. He's in good, good hands, and you should take faith in that.

If later on your gut says to to him, then go to him. Ann Arbor is a great place to have a baby--lots of midwives and lots of birthing centers. If you need the name of a midwife/birthing center, please email or PM me....I can get you in touch with a friend of mine there who had a birthing center birth in 2000 and a homebirth in 2003. She was also a LLL leader, so I'm sure she has a great grasp of the local birth/post birth caregivers. I know it all seems horribly last minute, but I'm sure you could find a midwife given the urgency of your situation.

And I know you know this, but take care of yourself! Lots of water every day, lots of rest, lots of time off your feet.

I'll be thinking of your dad, and thinking of you and baby, too.

RedOak ~ Momma to DS (8) , DS (4) , DD (3) , & DD 9/10 ~
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#20 of 22 Old 10-31-2005, 02:03 AM
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Kavita - my thoughts and prayers are with you, your dad, and your family. How scary and stressful for you right now! Hopefully things will get a lot better over the next few days...

Mama to DS (05/04) and DD (11/05), married to a wonderful DH.
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#21 of 22 Old 10-31-2005, 03:30 AM
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#22 of 22 Old 10-31-2005, 05:31 AM
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I keep on trying to answer this, and struggling to find the words. If I were in your situation, I'd be angry as well: maybe not specifically at my dad, but just at the injustice of this happening when you need to be able to turn your focus inwards on yourself.
We have had family bereavements and major incidents around the time of birth for me, and the only advice I can give is to wait and see how you feel once baby is here. A newborn can be completely exhausting- or you may feel a million times better than you did late pregnancy. The stress may bring on labour early, or could mean you go overdue. The only certain things are that your dad is, at the minute, in the right place, the medical staff seem very clued up on things and at some point in the next month you're going to be holding a newborn in your arms.
Nobody expects you to do it all. At this point, your mother does have other support available to her- though obviously, not in your league Take time for yourself to finish growing this baby and to enjoy and appreciate the miracle that is birth.

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