dan.jpgSince June 22, I have posted information about Dan McConchie, a pro-life leader and friend, who was involved in a harrowing motorcycle accident that day. Dan is Vice President and Executive Director of Americans United for Life.
I will move this post up as I receive new information on Dan’s condition, so well wishes and prayers can be added to just one post. I will move old updates to page 2, in reverse chronological order. Also see updates Dan’s family is posting on this website: prayfordanielmcconchie.com.
From Dan McConchie
Sent September 20, 2007

Well, the good news never stops….

Yesterday my back surgeon said that my vertebrae have healed to the point that I can finally do away with my back brace – a most uncomfortable contraption. For the last three months I had to wear it whenever my back was elevated more than 30 degrees. I can assure you, it wasn’t designed by the person who had to wear it. The doc would like to see more bone growth in my vertebrae. The bones will continue to heal over the next year, so I’ll need to be careful when off-roading in my wheelchair.
The doc also said that I might need to wean out of the brace over the next couple of weeks, but that some people wean out of it in her parking lot. I didn’t leave the thing laying by the side of some car, but suspect that my weaning period will be rather short.
While my back surgeon is a rock star and worth the trip to Milwaukee, my rehab doctor up there is worthless. I’m still slated to be evaluated downtown by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for their rehab program on October 15. Until then, my father and I are pursuing our own rehab program at the YMCA.
As I think I mentioned before, my dad and I go almost daily to the local YMCA. We use the weight room to help rebuild my upper body muscles. In the last two weeks we’ve started using the pool to help facilitate lower body exercises. In the water the affect of gravity is lessened so any movement I can do with my legs is increased. When bracing myself at the side of the pool, I’ll put my feet flat on the floor and my legs at an angle and try to stand upright. So far I can push myself up about an inch or two with my left leg and extend my right leg completely. Since we’ve started this, I’ve gotten new control of muscles in my knees and hip area and more of the muscles in my thigh and hamstrings have been turning on.
In addition, Tuesday for the first time I got verifiable movement of muscles in my feet.
I’m tempted to start taking bets on when I’ll take my first steps.
Once again, thanks for your prayers and support. Milena and I are slated to go to Salt Lake City in a week so I can give a speech. Your prayers are specifically appreciated for that.

From Dan McConchie
Sent August 29, 2007

Thank you again for your many recent notes of encouragement. Your friendship has meant so much during this grueling ordeal. I have much enjoyed the humor of many of you and the votes of confidence in our Lord’s ability to make me whole again.
There have been a few changes as of late, so I wanted to let you all know what was new. I can now feel my legs and contract muscles all the way down to my calves! The muscles have started tightening first along the bone are slowly gathering strength with the daily contraction workouts I put them through. It seems that I get a little more feeling and function each day. I can’t yet feel when someone touches my legs, but they are more sensitive to temperature as of late and we’re hoping that more feeling will come with expanded muscle control.
My shoulder is now healed allowing me to put full weight on it. Now I can transfer myself from the bed to the wheelchair and from the chair to the car with minimal assistance. Our local YMCA gave us a free household membership so my Dad and I go over there every afternoon and work out my upper body to get it in shape for rehab.
Rehab is still up in the air. I have all but decided against going back up to Milwaukee for rehab. The VA hospital has said I’m not eligible, and I’ve lost confidence in the rehab doctor in charge at the hospital where I was for a month. I have an appointment for an assessment at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, but the first appointment I could get was in mid-October. We’re hoping we might be able to move that up some, but don’t know if that will be possible.
In the meantime, I continue to get stronger and more mobile. Thank you again for your prayers and support. I know they have been crucial during my recovery.

From Dan McConchie
Sent August 16, 2007
[JLS note: Sorry I’m remiss in posting this update.]

Dear Friends,
My good friend Wendy Wright pointed out to me the other day that I needed to send an update on my condition to a wider array of people. In her words, the original message of my accident “went viral” and so there are a lot of people who know about it, but haven’t had a recent update.
For those of you who don’t know, on June 22 I was involved in a hit and run accident on my motorcycle. The accident left me with a broken clavicle, broken shoulder blade, six broken ribs, a deflated left lung, and two broken vertebrae – T12 and L3 (for those of you anatomy buffs). T12 was the more severely damaged and is causing virtual complete paralysis lower body paralysis.
I was transported to my local hospital (which was at a loss of what to do with me) and three hours later was sent by Medivac to a hospital in Milwaukee, WI which specializes in spinal cord injuries. There I underwent extensive back surgery where, as I understand, they took blood platelets and mixed them with stem cells taken from bone marrow in my hip to create a type of paste that they coated my spinal cord with. This they hope will help spur some nerve awakening and regeneration. After that I spent two weeks unconscious in the ICU having fanciful hallucinations thanks to the cocktail of pain medications I required.
After awaking, I spent another two weeks in the hospital before being discharged. While most patients would have gone directly to rehabilitation to learn to care for themselves, I was kept from doing so both because my broken shoulder needed to heal prior to being able to bear any weight with my left arm, and because my back injuries were so extensive that the back brace I am forced to wear for three months is too restrictive to allow much rehab to take place. (I was given two awards in the hospital – one by a nurse who said I had the largest spinal incision she had ever seen, and one by a spinal clinic x-ray technician who said I had more titanium in my spine than she had ever seen.)
So, since July 19, I have been camping on an antiquated medical bed in my living room under the watchful care and selfless assistance of my father, mother-in-law, and above all my wife Milena whom I owe so much for everything she has done for me since the accident.
There has been a limited return of feeling and function below the site of the spinal injury, but nothing “meaningful” (in the words of my rehab doctor’s nurse) yet. We continue to pray for a full return of feeling and function.
I am working part-time from home. My home recovery has gone well, but not without its complications. I currently get severe muscle spasms and knotting in my back along the spine whenever I try to sit up in my wheelchair. A doctor friend of mine told me that from personal experience she knew that these kinds of spasms cause similar pain to childbearing. Great… I have a physical therapist coming this weekend to see if she can help alleviate come of the problem.
One interesting thing I’ve discovered is that doctors who work in this area of medicine don’t step an inch outside their specialty. Thus, the only help I’ve gotten from them has been prescriptions to stronger and stronger narcotics. I’ve also discovered that I’ll never be addicted to narcotics because they don’t do a thing for me. I might as well be taking sugar tablets.
In addition, my body, recognizing I’ve had a major trauma, has been working overtime to fix things – to the point that it’s now trying to fix things that aren’t broken. Last week we discovered that my body is dumping bone in my right hip which is beginning to result in a significant lack of mobility for that joint. I’m on a new drug now to try to limit this condition.
At this point, I plan to continue working through September and then go into rehab the first of October. Let me thank all of you for your prayers, encouraging words, and support you’ve offered to me and my family over the past weeks since my accident. It’s been a long, tough road, but not one without its rewards to go with the suffering.
I appreciate your prayers as I continue to recover.

From Dan McConchie
Sent August 09, 2007

First let me thank all of you for your prayers, encouraging words, and support you’ve offered to me and my family over the past six weeks since my hit and run accident. It’s been a long, tough road, but not one without its rewards to go with the suffering.
Yesterday, I spent the entire day visiting doctors in Milwaukee. I thought I’d give you a short update as to what’s going on.
Regarding my long term recovery, the docs have decided that I shouldn’t come back to rehab until I lose the back brace I currently have to wear. The back surgeon has extended my wearing of that brace for another six weeks to ensure the vertebrae are all healed. This means that at this point I won’t be going back to rehab until the end of September. On a positive note, that should enable my participation in strategic planning, board meeting, and the gala. I have been slowly getting some feeling and function back below the site of the injury which has been encouraging. We continue to pray for more to come.
Regarding short term ailments, I seem to have a pinched nerve or some similar ailment in my right hip that has been causing me a huge amount of grief in the past couple weeks. It has severely curtailed my ability to spend much time out of bed due to the resulting pain. My doctors are all specialists who seem to be of no help whatsoever outside their direct area of expertise. Move a centimeter outside their area, and they become mum. If you’re lucky, they’ll recommend you to another specialty. So yesterday presented no help whatsoever toward my current pressing problem other than the fact that I secured prescriptions to more powerful narcotics which I’m loath to take.
All said, if I can get past this current hip problem, I’ll be doing quite well for someone of my injuries at this point in time. I appreciate your prayers as I continue to recover.

From Daniel S. McConchie
Sent July 19, 2007

Thanks so much for helping keep friends and others in the know about my situation. It’s been an incredibly tough month. Everyone’s prayers have been very important in helping me recover so far.
I go home today to allow my left shoulder to heal. In a month or so, I’ll return to the hospital for rehabilitation. I have prayed and asked God for the ability to walk again. I trust God will answer my prayers in his time.
While this is a terrible situation, I have already seen it be a positive in other people’s lives, and for that I’m grateful. I continue to ask for the prayers of friends and strangers alike that God would heal my spinal cord and enable me to walk again.
I look forward to feeding you good news in the future.

From Ginger (Dan’s co-worker)
Sent July 18, 2007

Some good news…
Dan will probably be going home tomorrow morning. That’s the plan for now unless something changes today. A friend from his church has been helping get a temporary ramp set up at the house….
Also, he started having some feeling in his midsection – bladder and the area around there. And asks, “Pray it continues to expand!” It’s the first feeling he’s regained and he, obviously, was very excited. I told him that we’d all keep praying….
It’s nice to have good news.

From Ginger (Dan’s co-worker)
Sent July 12, 2007

I talked with Milena today and Dan did have surgery on his shoulder on Tuesday. They were able to do what they intended and it went well. They are now just waiting on some more healing to take place so that they can create a plan for rehab. Milena sounded incredibly tired, so pray that she will sleep at night. And pray that the healing process will be quick. We are seeing many of our friends and colleagues at the CBHD Conference today who are concerned and praying as well. He’s definitely part of a far-reaching prayer chain.

From Ginger (Dan’s co-worker)
Sent July 10, 2007

I talked with Milena and they’ve decided it best to not have visitors for a while until they see how his surgery goes and until he gets set up in rehab. He had some extended family that wanted to drive in this weekend, and Dan & Milena asked them to wait. She said she would keep me posted and let me know when they decide that everything is settled enough to have visitors.

From Ginger (Dan’s co-worker)
July 9, 2007

Matthew and I visited Dan today. (Thanks to your donations, we took them a $100 Visa gift card to use for gas.)
When we arrived Dan had his laptop in front of him and his phone on his lap! He’s hoping to use it just to keep his mind active. However, he did ask that he not receive email yet and he can’t talk on the phone yet because he still just whispers. He said that he’s just not ready. He said that he appreciated us collecting, filtering and replying to all the inquiries and notes.
It was good to see him. They were not able to do surgery on his shoulder as they had hoped and instead plan to do that on Tuesday. He seemed well, but weakened easily.
We shared with him about all the calls and emails we get at AUL about him. He seemed touched by that. He very much appreciates all our prayers and just asks that we keep praying. He said that once this surgery is over and he gets into a set rehab routine that he’ll better know about a schedule for visitors.
We saw Milena for a little bit. She cried at the gift card and thanked everyone saying that we’ve done so much already. She was very tired, physically and emotionally, so continue to pray for strength and energy for her. She plans to take the girls to see Dan next weekend.
Below is the address to the hospital…he can receive mail there, and we think he’d enjoy getting some cards or ntes from everyone.
Patient Daniel McConchie
Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital
9200 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53226-3596

From Pastor Lee (Dan’s pastor)
July 7, 2007

This morning Kurt Fuqua and I drove to Milwaukee to visit Dan McConchie.
He was moved to a regular room and we found him alert and communicative.
We spent about 40 minutes together, talking, reading Scripture and praying. He is certainly focused on trusting God in this difficulty and is trying to come to grips with his possible paralysis. He said that he is generally the kind of person who takes whatever life throws at him and keeps going, but that the thought of not walking again has been hard.
He is expecting surgery soon to repair his broken left clavicle. His ribs are crushed in several places, along with three vertebrae. He can only speak in a whisper so can’t really talk on the phone.
We told him how many people were praying for him and his family, and when we prayed with him, we did so on your behalf. He expects to stay there for five or six weeks of recovery and rehab before going home. He won’t be transferred to a facility nearer home.
I think if you would like to visit, Dan would probably welcome that, though we’d want to check with Milena first – at least for awhile. The trip took us about an hour and 20 min. one way from church. If you do think of going why not let me know and I’ll act as something of a traffic cop so we can spread out our visits and be sure we’re ok with Milena.
Be ye glad!

From Clarke Forsythe
July 4, 2007

Milena called me at 1:00pm CT on the 4th of July.
Dan is improving physically. He’s no longer dependent on a ventilator. He’s no longer dependent on a feeding tube. He is apparently eating by mouth. They hope to do the shoulder surgery by early next week, and they apparently will start respiratory therapy soon, in order to strengthen his lungs for the shoulder surgery.
He’s conscious and has been talking with Milena. (she was up there last night and today.) He’s only on Tylenol and doesn’t ask for any more pain relief.
But he’s suffering psychologically and disoriented, in part because he’s hallucinating, which is not unusual for someone who’s been sedated for nearly 2 weeks.
I HOPE to be able to go up to see him tomorrow afternoon.

From: Milena McConchie
July 2, 2007, 9:58pm

Since the surgery, Dan has been pretty much sedated because of all of his injuries as well as the ventilator. He was a little more alert today and the nurse told him about the accident. They are not sure if he will remember the conversation. He seems to be still somewhat disoriented.
He is breathing more on his own, which is definitely a step towards removing the ventilator but they don’t know when.
He is also supposed to have surgery on his left shoulder to repair his broken clavicle some time this week (perhaps). Nothing has been scheduled yet. They want to make sure he is strong enough for the surgery.
Again, thank you for your prayers and e-mails. I will keep you posted. Again, sorry that I have not been able to respond to everybody individually. I have been torn in too many directions right now.

From: Clarke Forsythe
July 2, 2007

I just talked with Milena [Dan’s wife] at her work about Dan’s status at 5p tonight.
His recovery is going very slow.
They are hoping to get him off the ventilator soon.
Shoulder surgery this week, hopefully. Shoulder still swollen and they were hoping it would heal on its own, but apparently not.
He still has pneumonia.
Is sleeping a lot, and I’m sure they are keeping him sedated.

From: Dan McConchie’s Church
June 29, 2007

VCL is prepared to accept financial donations on behalf of the McConchie’s. If you would like to donate, please make your check out to “VCL” with “Dan McConchie” in the memo line. These funds will be used specifically to assist Dan and his family with both the immediate and long term financial burdens associated with Dan’s injuries. (Please note that because this is a designated gift, it will not be tax deductible.)
Checks can be made out to:
Village Church of Lincolnshire
With “Daniel McConchie” in the memo line
And Mailed to:
Village Church of Lincolnshire
201 N. Riverwoods Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045

From: Clarke Forsythe
June 27, 2007

Dan was in surgery for over 6 hours last night…past midnight. The surgery went well and they were able to do what they intended to do. They put reinforcements on his spine which allowed them to prop him up today to promote healing in all the other areas (chest, shoulder, ribs, lungs, etc.) He is still sedated and will be for a while so that he can continue to heal. For that reason, they are still requesting no visitors.
The surgeon was pleased with the surgery, but when Milena asked if the success of the surgery would help Dan walk again, the doctor said that it would be a miracle. Milena told us to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and to keep them coming.

From: Clarke Forsythe:
June 23, 2007, 7:14pm

Dan is at Froedtert Hospital & Medical College of Wisconsin, just 5-10 miles west of downtown Milwaukee. (pronounced Fray dirt).
This seems like a top facility, connected with the medical college of Wisconsin, and has about the only spinal cord injury center of its kind in Wisconsin 2 floors above where Dan is now.
The 3 of us met with the neurosurgeon, Dr. Jamie Baisden, who ran thru the results of the medical tests and short-term plans, and with the nursing staff, who were quite good.
Dan is in the Surgery ICU (SICU). He has multiple rib fractures on both sides and is dependent on a ventilator, and has chest tubes on both sides, which will postpone the possibility of surgery until at least Tuesday. They want to stabilize his breathing before doing the surgery. He also has a shoulder fracture. They want him sedated and calm to promote as much stabilization as possible before the surgery.
He has spinal fractures at T12 and L4. Unless God miraculously heals him, he will… be wheel-chair bound. He has full arm movement and I saw him move his arms. How much feeling he has below his navel may depend on
the surgery and rehab….
(His motorcycle had some accident with a car, but whether or not it was a true “hit and run,” the driver ran off. Dan will likely remember nothing of the accident, but the police apparently have a witness of some kind. Dan was apparently wearing a helmet, because there was no talk of head trauma and his head and face seemed free of trauma.)
Most optimistic short-term scenario (absent a miraculous healing): if they do the surgery on Tuesday, and can start therapy 3-4 days later, he’ll likely be there for 4 weeks before any chance of returning home.

From: Clarke Forsythe
June 23, 2007, 9:00am

The latest info is that he does have a serious lower spine injury. They did not do surgery last night, and his wife, Milena, was due to meet with the neurosurgeon this morning to decide what to do.
Due to privacy laws, Froedert will not give info over the phone to non-family members.

From: Clarke Forsythe
June 22, 2007, 8:45pm

I just learned within the past 15 minutes that Dan was on his motorcycle this afternoon and involved in a bad accident. Ginger Eppinette first informed me by phone, from a phone msg left by Dan’s wife, Milena, who said that Dan had “a spinal injury.”
I then made some calls and found out that Dan was taken to Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, IL, then helicoptered to Froedert Milwaukee Hospital (414-805-6717) for surgery.
I talked with someone at Condell who told me that he was “not good” but was “stable.” He “will need surgery.”
When I called Froedert just now, they said that all they could tell me was that he had just arrived and was being treated.
According to Ginger, Milena, who was with him in Condell, said his spine was compressed in 2 places and couldn’t feel one of his legs.