(Updates on Gigi Day’s progress. Reported by Bill Day; written by Patric Hedlund)
Update Friday, Jan. 9, 8 p.m.—We had a hiatus in our Gigi Day updates during the New Year’s break. We resume today, quoting Bill Day on new developments. On Wedneday, Jan.7 Gigi was in physical therapy when she got very tired. Her pulse was racing at 120. By the time the doctor got there it was up to 125. He wanted to give her nitroglycerine. She said she’d rather go somewhere to find out what the source of the problem was. They took her to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. Her red blood cell count was 8.4, which is low, so they gave her a transfusion with two units of blood.
The good news is that Gigi is eating again. That evening she told Bill she was craving steak. He went to Sizzler and got her a what she ordered. She ate the steak and a baked potato, so it appears that the former worry about her ability to swallow has now diminished. Her voice is much better.
On Thursday they also did X-rays to check on progress of mending bones. On Friday (today) they did heart tests, a stress test and an echocardiogram. She doesn’t have a heart problem they decided.
Today her red blood cell count is up to 10.4 which is still a little low. They are theorizing that the trauma, damage and stress of the original accident has impaired her production of red blood cells for now. The two bones that make the most red blood cells are the pelvis and the breast bone. Her pelvis was smashed in the accident (and they had a major operation to put in the plates and bolts) so there has been trauma to that area. Her breast bone also was traumatized. You may remember that they previosuly found she had three broken ribs on each side. Her original doctor was over to see her yesterday. He says he thinks she will start making red blood cells again within a month.
She has been doing physical therapy to regain muscle in the upper body and legs. She can now scoot on a slide board to get onto a wheelchair, so she is getting stronger. We don’t know where she’ll go from here. They are not going to send her back to the previous skilled nursing facility. We think it is a Kaiser cost-management thing. If they discharge her from Bakersfield Memorial Hospital they could put her in another skilled nursing facility or send her home. They could discharge her tomorrow…or she could stay in the hospital for several more days. We’re unsure. They did say another wound doctor may look at the wound on her leg.
Now she needs to mend. It will be about six more weeks before she can bear weight on her legs. On balance, she is makng excellent progress.
UPDATE (Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 8 p.m.)—Bill Day reports that Gigi had another rigorous day. The first significant development is that she is beginning to eat. She had a pureéd breakfast. Then the dietition brought in a special omelette and she ate that too, along with half a glass of grape juice and a protein drink."That is the most food we’ve seen her put away for awhile," Bill laughed. She also ate lunch, including some vegetables and a small piece of meat, then six ounces of soup. "The doctor came in and said ‘maybe the conveyor belt is starting to work again.’"
"This morning she did an hour of physical therapy. She lifted weights and stretched rubber bands and squeezed rubber balls, that was in a wheel chair. She got another shower and then went back over to the hospital. There was a doctor on the trauma team who we hadn’t seen before who looked at her stitches. There was a mix-up with the cast. Orthopedics is only open on Monday. There was no record of anyone asking that the cast be removed, so she has to wear the floppy cast until next Monday. The hospital trip took about three hours. She got back about 4 p.m. It really tired her out."
"Janine Tominaga came by just as they were loading Gigi into the ambulance, it was a 45-second visit."
"Gigi’s still having trouble with her blood sugar. Tonight it was 243. They have to keep giving her insulin. She is taking prednizone for pain and to facilitate healing. They theorize that drug is affecting her blood sugar. That and stress. That’s a working theory anyway.
The Kaiser doctor is Dr. Tran who comes to see her every day. Other doctors at the hospital and Dr. Tran both mentioned that theory."
Bill ended his report with this nugget: "Prednizone is a steroid. So she may end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame at the end of this…Today was a pretty good day."
UPDATE (Monday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.)—Gigi Day began her morning with an hour of physical therapy exercises today. Then, Bill Day reports, she was loaded into a plastic chair to enjoy her first real shower and shampoo since the collision on November 24. Her cast was protected. Then she was put into a wheel chair to go to Kern Radiology to test her swallowing. "They said that she seems to be OK," Bill Day reports. "The theory now is that three weeks without eating has left her with an impaired ability to ingest food."
The nursing facility will now try giving her chopped food (called "mechanical soft") tomorrow. She is able to drink broth and nutritious shakes. Her voice is improving today, "and she sounds better. The theory is that there was some damage to a vocal cord with the insertion of the breathing tube during the last surgery," Bill said.
"She was tired from the exercises today, but also invigorated," Bill summarized. He added that it cost $238 for the ride to the radiology clinic. Bill jokes that he plans "to attach a ramp to my truck and go into that business when all this is over." Tomorrow Gigi is scheduled to go to Kern Medical Center to have the stitches taken from her ankle and a replacement cast applied to her leg.
Bill has come down with a cold and is having a little trouble with a sore throat himself today. Both are in good spirits, but still unsure about the "next step" toward her care and the physical therapy needed for her recovery. After a month nearly comatose in a hospital bed, fighting to stabilize vital functions, Gigi is needing to recover muscle strength in her upper body. She is still too weak to lift herself or pull herself into a wheelchair. She still cannot put any weight on her legs.
The Days have been told that medicare and Kaiser anticipate she will be moved from the skilled nursing home because she is still too weak to begin therapy to learn to walk again. Because she still needs constant care, and is too weak to help herself, an assisted living facility has been suggested. The couple is seeking suggestions from those who are familiar with good facilities with physical therapy services in the Bakersfield area and in the San Ferneando Valley area. You can write Editor@MountainEnterprise.com (Subject Line: GIGI) with suggestions.
UPDATE (Sunday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m.)—Bill Day reports that Gigi Day is improving her ability to swallow today. Her friend Sherre brought some chicken broth from a deli in Los Angeles, "she drank four small milkshakes and a cup of broth, plus some pureéd food," Day said. There was no physical therapy on Sunday, but she had 37 staples taken out of her hip surgery area (a 14 inch incision) today. "She felt good. She was perkier today. I brought her some vegetable soup at lunch. She has eaten some ice cream. They are trying to get her to eat protein now. She’s doing pretty good on that," Day said. "I’m unsure whether they are going to do the swallow test or not tomorow; the doctor seemed to think she is being able to swallow better. She went for two weeks on the IV and had no solid food at all. Maybe she is expanding her stomach a little. Her voice is a little better today," her husband summarized.
UPDATE (Saturday, Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.)—Bill Day reports that Gigi seems to be eating a little bit better. Today she was able to enjoy vegetable soup broth, "couldn’t eat the vegetables, but she is also drinking nutritive milkshakes. She is a little stronger and a little more energetic."
Physical therapy came in today. She still couldn’t get into the wheelchair. "Her arm strength is still pitiful. Her arms are like jello. She lifted little weights but got tired right away. She is eager now to build up her strength."
She is scheduled to go to the hospital on Tuesday. She will be scheduled for a swallowing test with X-rays to see about the trouble. Gigi’s son Max came up for a couple of hours and then she rested. "She was in good spirits. We got the photos from the highway patrol." The family’s attorney is in the process of contacting GARDA, the armored car company. "Not too much will happen until after New Years, people are away on vacation."
Bill says the family wants to know what steps are planned for her care. She is eager to come home but she is still too weak to consider that, Bill feels. He says there is a small gym at the skilled nursing facility that he hopes to see help her regain strength and muscle tone. "Today her blood sugar was 126 in the morning and 239 at noon and then 120 again in the evening. That was a big variation," Bill says, "especially when she isn’t really eating very much. That seems like a problem they still need to work on," Bill said.
Bill was concerned that a Kaiser doctor today said they may move her again. "We need to know what the criteria are for making major changes in where she is receiving care," he said.
UPDATE (Thursday, Dec. 25 at 7 p.m.)—"Gigi and I have been doing some upper arm exercises today. She is watching TV and we do exercises at every break," Bill Day said on Christmas day. Gigi is in a skilled nursing facility in Bakersfield, close to Kern Medical Center. She still can’t talk, because of discomfort in her throat, Bill said. An appointment with Kaiser to take out stitches on her leg and to re-size the cast is hopefully going to be available on Friday. "The cast is really loose. If her foot wasn’t still sore, she could probably slip right out of it."
Bill said the kitchen staff is now pureeing all her food, to help her be able to swallow. "She has a pain in her chest when she swallows," he reports. Friends have been concerned that she was starving. "She’s been drinking vitamin drinks today," Bill replied to the concerns. "They brought her eggs and toast turned into mush. She’s been a little more energetic today. She’s perky and feeling pretty good. She’s doing better. I think she is looking a little better." Mike and Loeta Thorson, Gigi’s neighbors in Frazier Park, sent a photo of the front of the Day house so she can think about coming home. Gigi has it posted on the bulletin board where she can see it from her hospital bed.
UPDATE (Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.)—This was Gigi Day’s first real day of physical therapy. That signals a new chapter in her recovery, which is the good news. The difficult news is that she discovered the muscles she’d toned with constant dancing have disappeared. "Though she couldn’t do too much, she felt good about trying," Bill Day reported. She didn’t have enough arm strength to move into a wheelchair. The therapists did arm exercises with her in the afternoon. "It was tiring to her but she enjoyed it. She is very weak but she may fool us and bounce back more quickly than we expect," he said, explaining that they will lengthen the time they work with her each day.
Meanwhile, Gigi is still having difficulty speaking and swallowing. Eating is a significant challenge. "We want a specialist to look at her throat on December 30," Bill has decided. Following insertion of the breathing tube for the three-hour hip surgery, she has been unable to speak above a whisper. Today Gigi received the poster cards signed by AARP and by those who participated in the blood drive in her honor. She was delighted and sends a big hello to her friends.
UPDATE (Monday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.)—Today they took X-rays of her stomach to see if there was a problem in the intestine. They suspected a problem with the illium could cause her discomfort in trying to eat. That looked ok. She ate about 10 bites this evening. In a few days they will take her over to the hospital to take off the ankle cast. "The swelling has gone down so much that she is like a little girl wearing her daddy’s boots," Bill Day said. "They need to put on a new cast."
Gigi will be meeting December 30 with the trauma team—Dr. Martin and those who did the original surgery—for a follow-up evaluation. Today in physical therapy they had her sitting on the bed and touching her feet on the floor. She didn’t feel pain sitting on the hip. She is not to bend the hip at more than 90 degrees. Tomorrow they will put her in a sling "like a porpoise hoist" to put her into a wheelchair. Then they plan to take her to physical therapy and have her exercise with a pair of hand-operated pedals to develop her upper body strength. "She still can’t talk at all, it is between a whisper and a croak. Doctors say they may have scratched a vocal cord and it needs to rest to heal. It has been two weeks now. I give her cough drops and that helps for a moment," Bill reports.
UPDATE (Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.)—Gigi is still in good spirits today, even though she still can’t speak with her squeaky throat caused by the breathing tube inserted during the hip surgery. The doctor said she might have a problem with a slowing of peristaltic action in the intestines "due to stress from the trauma of the accident" (peristalsis is the involuntary wavelike movement of the intestines which assists in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients). Another photo has been sent to the newspaper showing how much better Gigi is looking. Physical therapists at the new facility checked her out today to determine the extent of her injuries. They will take her for a wheel-chair ride tomorrow to the physical therapy wing, where they say she will get to work with bicycle pedals.
UPDATE (Friday, Dec. 19 at 3:15 p.m.)—Big news today. Bill and Gigi Day called from a skilled nursing facility a few blocks from the hospital where Gigi has been moved. Her voice is still very hoarse from having a breathing tube inserted during the hip reconstruction surgery. It isn’t comfortable to talk much at this time, so Gigi hopes to keep in touch with her friends and neighbors from home with cards and letters for a bit longer. You can bring them to The Mountain Enterprise office.
(7:30 p.m. Bill called again after Gigi had a baseline examination by the Kaiser personnel.) Earlier today, Santa Claus brought Gigi a gift in her new facility and a Country Western group was playing in another room. The Kaiser doctor came to examine her and the nurse did an inventory of her cuts and bruises. "The nurse marked them all on a picture, and there wasn’t anyplace left to mark by the time she was finished. But all of Gigi’s wounds are looking much better. You can see improvement and her face is looking much better," Bill said. "She is feeling perky right now, though she can’t speak too well." Bill reports that It is quieter and more peaceful in the skilled nursing home and they believe she will get a better night’s sleep there. "At the hospital there are 24/7, nonstop interruptions. It was hard for her to get rest," he said. "Tonight they brought around dinner and she is eating a little better than she has…and if I give them $3 they will bring me a meal to eat with her," Bill said with a laugh, adding, "Maybe if I give them $5 they will bring me a bunk…."
In response to concern about questions raised earlier in the week: "I can’t addres the medical questions. They were pretty sure that there is not internal bleeding. She seems a little more energetic today. The question of what is happening to the blood maybe is not as serious as we thought it was. The decision was, ‘let her go;’ if she has an emergency they will just bring her back to the hospital. She wanted to cross off another milestone. She is happy to move up a notch."
UPDATE (Thursday, Dec. 18 at 8:45 p.m.)—"This was a day of U-Turns and medical mysteries," Bill Day said as he called in the evening from Kern Medical Center. The hematologist did not come to check on Gigi today, "because they realized she’d just had two units of transfusions so they said they wouldn’t be testing her own blood…." No news about the cause of the instability in her blood chemistry. Bill’s been told, "maybe just the trauma of the accident." Today, after the transfusions, "she is perkier, and went for a ride in the Cadillac Chair and got to sit outside for about 10 minutes; she was back to her old self more, with better color in her cheeks," Bill reports.
The medical staff spoke about moving her to the third floor of KMC. Kaiser, the Days were told, is also wanting to move her to a skilled nursing care facility where she can get a little physical therapy for her upper body while waiting for her hip and ankles to heal. In going back over her X-rays, the staff discovered she also has three broken ribs that hadn’t been noticed before.
UPDATE (Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 7:45 p.m.)—Bill Day was driving one of the last vehicles allowed on the Grapevine after the Interstate 5 was closed today due to snow. He had been in Frazier Park to pick up mail and take care of errands. When he got back to Kern Medical Center he received a report about what had happened in Gigi Day’s treatment today: "They gave Gigi two more units of blood today. That perked her up. They don’t know if if she may be still losing blood internally. They are doing tests to find out. Her red blood count is in a steady decline. Low blood count is like anemia. It makes her tired. They brought in a hematologist to study the situation." Bill says he asks a lot of questions and feels very comfortable with the quality of care Gigi is receiving at Kern Medical Center: "I see the concern the people here are showing. The level of care appears to be the very best. I feel good with that." Bill said he will check back in with us if there are any changes.
UPDATE (Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 1:45 p.m.)—"Changes are coming fast and furious," Bill Day reported today. Gigi is still having some problems. Her red blood cell count is going down and she is getting an additional nutritive drink. "Kaiser said they would transfer her to San Joaquin Medical Center, but a conference between Dr. Martin and Kaiser led them to decide to leave her at Kern Medical Center ‘for the foresseable future,’" Bill says the doctor in charge told the Days today. "Gigi’s blood sugar is going high again, enormously high, so they are giving her insulin shots again. The reading has exceeded 300, it should be about 100," Bill said. They have taken her off of morphine and vicodin, now using motrin and Tylenol, "And that seems to be doing the trick," Bill said. "She is still very tired, and sleeping alot, taking a lot of naps. She seems exhausted, just pooped out, when they move her into the Cadillac chair…I’m not sure why…it could be because of the low red cells and because she is not eating," Bill added. Gigi is a patient of the Direct Observation Unit at KMC but still physically in the ICU.
The final report has been submitted by the California Highway Patrol about the accident’s cause. "Even the driver said that he hit a shiny spot and veered into her lane," Bill Day reports, speculating that the armored vehicle hydroplaned. "A witness behind Gigi and one behind the armored truck confirmed, as did the passenger and driver of the armored vehicle too that the armored truck went into her lane. Everyone agreed the driver was not going over the speed limit, but he was cited for traveling faster than safe for the conditions," Bill said.
UPDATE (Sunday, Dec. 14 at 7:00 p.m.)—Bill Day reports that Gigi Day "is getting a healthy glow back today. The doctors commented she is looking healthier." The staff is making an effort to let her sleep for longer periods uninterrupted."She is still not eating well. She decided she might want shrimp from a Chinese restaurant today. I know she likes fried shrimp. They looked great. But she ate only one fried shirmp. She ate a cup of pudding and later a popsicle." He says the nutritional drinks are keeping her going. "She is still not quite able to make it without the oxygen, but today the staff loaded her into her Cadillac Chair and gave her a tour of the area, then took her down the elevator to the front of the hospital. She was able to sit out in the sunshine today. She loved seeing outside."
Gigi will be staying in the Direct Observation Unit for a few more days. They have her on a minimal pain medicine. They are trying to adjust the medication. Last night she had a bad reaction to the morphine with hallucinations. "The other night they called me at 5 a.m. I was there at 5:09 a.m. She was seeing things." Bill says he is doing well. "There is a rumor that if I am here another week the cafeteria will paint my name on the back of the chair where I like to sit," he laughed.
Bill says he is coming up to Frazier Park on Wednesday. He’ll pick up any cards and letters that are left at The Mountain Enterprise office. He says he hasn’t been thinking about Hanakkuh or Christmas, "for me it is still the day before Thanksgiving." That Wednesday, Nov. 26 is the day when the collision occurred that put Gigi into the hospital in critical condition.
UPDATE (Saturday, Dec. 13 at 2:30 p.m.)—Everything is looking good today, Bill Day reports, adding that Gigi may be promoted to the third floor Sunday. "She will be able to rest more on the third floor. It is a beehive of activity in the Direct Observation Unit and ICU all the time." The hospital will try taking her off oxygen later today. "They say the fluid in her lungs is almost gone. She is progressing very well." Her white cell count is back down to normal. It spiked after her hip surgery. "They didn’t figure out why," Bill said, but as of Friday "her blood oxygen levels, pulse and blood pressure are all in the normal range. They’ve taken the draining tube from the hip incision. She is still very tired and has a sore throat from the breathing tube they put in during surgery, which impedes her ability to talk. She’s napping a lot today."
Friday, while Gigi’s brother was there, her son Edward came in again from Seattle and Max of Los Angeles visited along with their stepsister. Max brought new photos of Gigi’s granddaughter, Isabel. Kern Medical Center doctors met with the family. Dr. Kathleen Murphy of the orthopedic team and Dr. Martin, head of surgery, answered their questions. "Dr. Bench showed us the MRIs so we could see the various injuries," Bill reports. "They used a metal band wrapped around the socket to hold the hip back together. That will take about 10 weeks to heal." A cast on her right foot will also stay on for about 10 weeks.
Bill is still concerned about Gigi’s lack of appetite. "The food doesn’t taste good to her," he says. The doctors explained that morphine can deaden the taste buds and said they would look into modifying her pain medication. "She can eat food from outside now if she wants it. She told Edward she wanted a bagel and cream cheese with Starbuck’s coffee this morning. She took a few bites of it. She feels full she says. Now they are trying to get her to drink nutritional formulas. They are also getting ready to rig a rack over her bed so she can pull herself up to exercise a little and to shift her position," Bill reports.
At the end of next week, if all goes well, Gigi may be transfered to a skilled nursing facility to heal in anticipation of starting physical therapy. The family is asking for recommendations for nursing facilities in Bakersfield. They are looking for an attentive staff and good medical attention. "We don’t care much about a fountain in the yard…Gigi’s world is going to be the convalescent room and the nursing staff for a while." He said that so far he is pleased with Kaiser’s actions. "The medical director at Kaiser said her injuries were so severe that they were going to leave her at Kern Medical Center. That wasn’t bean-counters running things; that showed caring and compassion," Bill said, adding that they expect to learn about Kaiser’s suggestion for a nursing care facility next week.
News Flash: Houchin Blood Bank has issued its final report and finds that seven and a half gallons of blood were collected during the blood drive in Gigi Day’s name Saturday Dec. 6. Thank you to a generous and caring community. The blood drive to benefit Gigi Day Saturday, Dec. 6 was such a success that the crew of Houchin’s Mobile Blood Bank doubled their anticipated four-hour visit to a full eight hours in The Mountain Enterprise parking lot. Over 77 Mountain Community residents registered, and 16 more showed up spontaneously to donate blood—in fact, there were more volunteers than the staff had time to process, so Houchin personnel said they would be willing to make another trip to the mountain in March. Many who participated were first-time donors.
UPDATE (Thursday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m.)—Gigi Day received two more units of blood Thursday as she heads into recovery from a complicated hip operation on Monday. Her red blood count was low. Her body temperature is nearly back to normal now however. She is still taking oxygen. Bill Day reports: "Her body is still trying to expel fluid. She didn’t bounce back from this surgery the way they were expecting her to. She seems a little weaker. Her blood pressure went lower. My ‘Dr. Bill’ theory is that she was putting out a lot of energy to bounce back from the crash and to live, now with this big operation her reserves are a little drained." .
Bill said he is sounding a bit like the proverbial "Jewish mother" as he urges her to eat more. "She ate one slice of roast beef and a bite of peaches for dinner today. She’s barely eating." Gigi has been removed from receiving nourishment by IV now, but, Bill added, "The doctor says they were giving her this blood and some kind of protein along with it that may help."
"At the beginning she had to fight hard to get as recovered as she was. I think that hip surgery jerked the rug out from under the energy she had left. That would be major surgery even if you came into it healthy. The doctors are aware of that and are dealing with it. I’ve arranged for a meeting with the doctor tomorrow when her brother and her sons are here and we can look at MRIs and test results and get a fairly good idea of where we are and where we’re going in the near future. Maybe they will ask questions I haven’t thought of yet," Bill said, promising to keep us posted with updates.
UPDATE (Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 9:30 p.m.)—Gigi had a quiet day today. Her brother and his wife are visiting from the east coast. She is still recovering from the hip surgery received Monday. Husband Bill Day said the improvements Gigi made immediately after the crash made her strong enough to undergo the hip surgery. "Hip replacement would have been much easier, but there was too much damage to do that. This repair took a lot of screws and plates and is pretty major," he said. He describes the incision from the hip surgery as being about 14 inches long, up her thigh and across her hip in back. "Now she needs time to recover from that," he said.
She is still in the ICU area and still receiving low flow nasal oxygen. Her white blood cell count "is a little high today—they are looking for a possible source of infection. They did cat scans of the fracture on her face, her chest and abdomen. We don’t have results yet. Her body temperature is still sort of low." Bill describes her as being swaddled in a "bear hugger," which is "like an air mattress with hot air flowing through it—that is wrapped around her."
He said they also put her into what he called a "Cadillac chair" for a little while today. It allows her to change position "so she can sit up for a little bit, which helps with her circulation." He says, "She isn’t eating enough to keep a parakeet alive…but she is drinking a high nutrient formula along with a little food." He says she is still very weak: "Even lifting her arms is a major job." Her staples and stitches are gradually being removed. Each new day brings another bit of progress with the healing of the cuts and bruises she received in the crash. "Most of the stitches in her face have been taken out and she’s looking much better," Bill said.
UPDATE (Monday, Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m.)—Gigi came out of recovery about 3:45 p.m. from surgery on her injured hip. She is entubated again and is sleeping. She received transfusions so her body temperature dropped. They have a warming mattress under her. The surgeon explained the surgery in this manner: "If you form a cup with your two hands, the fingers together, to represent the hip socket, the thumb was broken off and the index finger was bent backward, The hip joint was still in place." They put a metal band around the injured area to hold it all in place, Bill Day reports, adding she will probably be fully awake again tomorrow.
"It’s a tough job sitting in a chair watching someone sleep," Day laughed, adding that he had lunch with an anesthesiologist who joked that the sign of good work in his trade is when the anesthesiologist can wake up before the patient does. With too much time on his hands, Bill has begun spinning theories on a number of issues. Here’s one: "My theory is that natural foods are dangerous. You always read about people dying of natural causes, so keep me away from that stuff. I want all the preservatives I can get."
UPDATE (Monday, Dec. 8 at 11:30 a.m.)—"They just now took Gigi into surgery for her hip and said it will be a two to three-hour surgery with an hour recovery time. About 4 p.m. she should be coming back up," Bill Day reports. "She was in good spirits. They asked where the accident happened and gave her the shot. She started out sensibly and within 30 seconds she was in babble mode, then quiet. I’ll update you when she gets out this afternoon," Day said.
UPDATE (Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3:30 p.m.)—Today Gigi is in the Direct Observation Unit. Her son Aaron Kipnis is visiting. While they visited, husband Bill Day called us with his observations. "She’s not an 80-year-old lady, she’s a healthy person with a good attitude who has some serious injuries; but every day she’s getting better," Day said in today’s report. "The tubes and monitors running in and out of her are decreasing, so her plumbing is getting simpler each day." She’s down from three trees of intravenous lines and monitors at her bedside to one. She’s now eating solid food and is no longer on intravenous feeding. "She is eating very lightly—sampling more than eating—but her intestinal injuries seem to be healing well," Day said. She is still on insulin while her pancreas is getting better and medications are altering her blood sugar balance.
"The healing capacity of the human body is what we are leaning about," Day said, "It boggles the mind. I was sure it would be a long time before she would be able to eat or even get off all these intravenous drips."
Dr. Gomez, head surgeon of the orthopedic team, gave the couple a revised description of the hip operation anticipated for Monday or Tuesday. "They will go in from the back with a large incision and put in metal plates and screws around the socket of the hip," Bill Day explained, adding, "so it is a much more serious, more intrusive, operation than previously explained." She will be getting transfusions on the operating table.
The physical therapy plans for her legs, ankles and foot will be assessed after she recovers from the hip surgery. The orthepedists expect she will be able to bear weight on her left hip, but her left ankle has a great deal of soft tissue damage, Day says, like a sprain. The right foot has a crushed heel. The family doesn’t expect to have any definite information for about 10 days regarding whether she could be coming home for some additional recovery or whether she will be sent directly into physical therapy.
"She’ll be dancing the merengue," Bill Day laughed. He was referring to a Dominican Republic step said to have became very stylish after a wounded war hero limped and slid his feet along the floor with the rhythm of the music, moves copied by the adoring public to create a dance floor rage.
Gigi’s brother Nelson and sister-in-law B.J. will be coming in next week to visit until Friday. Sons Max and Edward Hechter will be up on Friday from Los Angles as well.
UPDATE (Friday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m.)—Gigi Day is receiving a promotion today to the Direct Observation Unit from the Intensive Care Unit at Kern Medical Center. Her spirits are very good. Doctors are now using the word "amazed" about her progress toward recovery, her husband Bill Day said. She is scheduled for hip surgery Monday, but orthopedists said today the hip replacement will not be possible until the hip bone heals. X-rays indicated it would be preferable to place a rod in her hip, which will be inserted as a minimally invasive surgery through "a small hole near the hip and another one near the knee," Bill Day reports. "With skills like that, these people could probably change a tire through a keyhole," he laughed.
A culture showed that Gigi does have a mild case of pneumonia, but doctors said they felt it was minor and that a simple course of antibiotics will be adequate. Dr. Bench, a trauma doctor, said that the fibula in her right leg is broken but the main "shin bone," the tibia, is intact. Her heel bone is shattered however. That is a sensitive area where the muscles attach. "They decided to put a pin in from one side to the other to form a hinge. The doctors hope that the bones will heel back. The tendons are all shredded but they will grow back and attach. They said they think she will be able to walk on it…not dance, but walk," Bill Day recalls the doctor telling Gigi, her son Max and him today. "Gigi was disappointed, but she’s absolutely happy to be alive, and believes she’s alive for a reason; they can’t predict if she’ll need a cane or a walker," he said. An orthopedist said they wiill want to start physical therapy at the hospital as soon as they finish the hip surgery.
Bill Day says when they come home to Frazier Park this winter he may be looking "for a wheelchair with snow tires," but that he hopes Gigi will be able to navigate. Day said he was able to talk with the head surgeon toay, Dr. Martin. "She said the surgical team did not expect her to pull through that first night," he says Martin told him. "Right off the bat, the first time I talked with them, I said ‘don’t give up on her, she is not like any 80 year old you’ve met before,’" Day said. The surgical and orthopedic team say her physical conditioning as a dancer has made a great difference in her ability to recover.
Bill said he’s heard "lots of reports from people, incuding family back east, who are checking about Gigi on the website." He plans to be at the blood drive tomorrow at The Mountain Enterprise office. A reported 72 people have signed up to donate blood.
UPDATE (Thursday, Dec. 4 at 3:30 p.m.)—Gigi Day went into surgery and came back to the ICU at Kern Medical Center by 2 p.m. today. “They did a cleaning and closing operation on her ankle,” Bill Day reports. He describes this as a “holding action” with internal bracing, surrounded by an external splint. She is awake now and “feeling good,” he said, adding that her right eye was scratched but the doctor said it will heal and she will be able to track and use it. She is currently sporting a gauze patch over that eye. Gigi is expected to be in ICU through the end of the week. They are watching closely for signs of pneumonia. She is getting stronger and the doctors have gained confidence in her ability to continue to improve.
UPDATE (Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 a.m.)—Doctors cancelled hip replacement surgery yesterday after orthopedists examined Gigi Day’s smashed right ankle bones. They discovered the tibia of her right leg was broken and put it into a cast Monday, then worked on a strategy for reassembling the ankle. She will go into surgery today. Bill Day reports: "They say they will entubate and sedate her again. There will be pins and a rod in her ankle, sort of an external jungle gym around her ankle for awhile." She is having some breathing problems this week, "so they have kicked up her oxygen," Day reports, adding, "but her smile is fully recovered." He noted that her whitle blood cell count is up and hospital staff are checking for signs of pneumonia. "But she’s still scheduled for surgery of the ankle today between 11 a.m. to noon, after which she will be in the Intensive Care Unit again for observation.
Bill Day was able to make a quick run up to the towing yard in Lebec to see her car Tuesday. He found the car keys crushed from the impact and took some photos to show her the car. "Just looking at the keys and the photos, she says it is a miracle she is alive. Despite all her injuries, Gigi keeps telling the nurses and all the medical staff how lucky she is."
UPDATE (Monday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m.)—Gigi Day was taken off the respirator yesterday (although she is still receiving oxygen) and has been scheduled for hip replacement surgery on Thursday. Her hip was broken in three places, according to husband Bill Day. Gigi is responding remarkably well as she comes back to consciousness after being heavily sedated. She is now able to smile and even joke a little with the ICU nurse and her husband. Her pancreas is injured, as is her liver, according to Day. Doctors attended to those problems in surgery on Wednesday and are hopeful that the organs will return to normal function as she heals. Stitches will be removed from her face today, but there is a cheekbone fracture that may require additional surgery. A team of orthopedic surgeons will be checking to develop a strategy for mending a crushed ankle and she has a patch on one eye, which will be examined by a specialist on Wednesday. Bill Day reports the medical staff told him they had doubts about Gigi making it through the night last Wednesday, but they are now gaining confidence in her ability to recover. Bill just smiles and says, "Good. They are coming around to our way of thinking…."
UPDATE (Sunday, Nov. 30 at 10:20 a.m.)—Gigi Day continues in serious but stable condition today. Bill Day arrived at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. He says Gigi was taken off the respirator just now, Sunday, Nov. 30 at 10 a.m. "That was a big sign I was waiting for; that means that she is breathing on her own and is getting good oxygen transfer," Day said. Gigi is intermittently conscious, and aware that her sons and husband are there with her.
Bill Day and the family said they are excited about the community’s blood drive. Bill will try to be in Frazier Park Saturday, Dec. 6 to donate blood and talk with people. He will also try to attend the Thursday, Dec. 4 AARP meeting to give an update on Gigi’s progress.
Gigi’s son Edward Hechter wrote this in a note last evening: "Mom is doing better…they now consider her serious but stable. Internal bleeding is under control, and her vital signs are stable. This morning, she was truly awake for the first time since the surgery. She was able to recognize my voice, and held my hand. You could see her attempt to smile in response to the words I was speaking The doctors, nurses, and technicians at Kern Medical Center are doing a great job, and we are truly blessed that she has received such great care.
"It’s exceptionally difficult to see her in such pain—she’s always been larger than life itself. This is so tragic—I just can’t put my emotions into words….She’s got a very long road ahead of her in terms of recovery, but with the support of her family and friends, I’m sure she will flourish. The doctors and nurses are very impressed with her strength and her will to live.
"She’s not really able to accept visitors (except for immediate family)—not sure how long she will be in ICU. We’ll update you as things continue to progress. Please tell folks to continue to send notes, emails, etc.—I’m 100% sure she’ll appreciate each one."
UPDATE (Saturday, Nov. 29 at 10:15 a.m.)—Gigi Day continued to improve this morning and was described by her family as "more awake and now responding to voices." Her son Edward said she smiled when she heard his voice. He said doctors are waiting for her lung strength to return before taking her off a ventilator. Day’s husband Bill expects to arrive at the hospital today from Arkansas.
UPDATE (Friday, Nov. 28 at 3 p.m.)—Gigi Day’s condition improved further by Friday with the rate of internal bleeding reduced significantly, although she is still in critical condition. Doctors have begun removing her from sedatives and a CAT-scan revealed no concussion or brain trauma that doctors could see. Nurses reported that she has become aware of people who enter her Intensive Care Unit room and that she "indicated discomfort from a collar that is around her neck," which nurses then adjusted for her comfort. Day was fighting for her life Wednesday and Thursday after the Wednesday accident in Frazier Park. Family members have indicated there will be need for assistance to Day’s husband Bill as he will need to remain focused on her daily recovery.
UPDATE (Thursday, Nov. 27 at 10 p.m.)—Gigi Day is still in the Intensive Care Unit of Kern Medical Center. Her vital signs have stabilized and the first 24-hour critical period has been passed with modest improvements which are hopeful. She is still sedated and is not yet conscious. Day’s children have all arrived and are taking shifts at the hospital. Bill Day is driving in from Arkansas via Missouri, equipped for a long stay near the hospital in Bakersfield. Friends are starting to discuss what they can do to help support the family’s vigil.
Gigi Day is a beloved figure in the Frazier Mountain Communities. She is the president of AARP, a Rotary Club member and well-known as a talented dancer who loves jazz festivals. She has been a consistent beacon of community service, including reviving traditional celebrations among the Jewish families of this region.
UPDATE (Thursday, Nov. 27 at 12 noon)—Gigi Day’s condition improved Wednesday early evening prompting doctors to change her listing from "critical" down to "serious." Within three hours, however, complications returned and she was again listed as "critical," according to a family friend at the hospital. Since late Wednesday evening she has made small improvements with a slight slowing in the rate of internal bleeding from her injuries. Doctors have said that the first 24 hours should provide much information about whether Day’s condition will worsen or improve.
FRAZIER PARK, Calif. (Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m.)— A head-on collision involving an armored transport truck and a passenger car has left Gloria ‘Gigi’ Day, 80 of Frazier Park in critical condition.
Day was traveling eastbound on Frazier Mountain Park Road at 12:40 p.m. when an armored car vehicle, traveling westbound, lost control, according to CHP reports and collided with Day’s Subaru Outback. The armored truck reportedly rolled over and landed on top of the Subaru. The airbag in Day’s vehicle was deployed, according to firefighters at the scene.
Day was taken via ground ambulance to Kern Medical Center where family and friends went to stand by for any available information. Husband Bill Day, was in communication with family and friends as he began his trip back from Arkansas via Missouri to reach the hospital. A helicopter enroute to the accident scene had to be canceled due to weather conditions.
Gigi Day is an active community participant, volunteering with numerous non-profit groups, including AARP, Rotary Club, Mountain Shakespeare Festival and others.
Two occupants of the armored car were taken to Kern Medical Center with minor injuries.
Check back at this page for updates as they become available.
This is part of the January 09, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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