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Evan Dunks Update

4/29/2020

Evan Dunks Update
April 29, 2020
 

There has been an important insight into Evan's condition this week: His doctor ordered an MRI and discovered that he has significant neurological issues, probably caused by a combination of his brittle bone disease and the trauma of being put on and off a ventilator so many times during his hospitalization. His brain stem is lodged against the top of his spinal cord, which interferes with normal bodily functions in many ways, and explains why he has not been progressing in his recovery as hoped.

The good news is that this is a treatable condition, and there is hope that he will eventually recover his lost function. Next week he will be transferred to A. I. DuPont Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware., which specializes in the treatment of neurological issues in patients with brittle bone disease. He will be put in a "halo" traction device to straighten his neck and relieve the pressure. When this is sufficient, they will fuse his upper neck vertebrae to prevent further injury. Throughout, this process, which will take several months, he will be in physical therapy. Julie and I will be able to visit frequently, since the quarantine laws in Delaware are less restrictive those in Virginia.

This is an answer to prayer; we were becoming quite worried about Evan's condition, and now we have a plan of action and a reasonable hope for good results. He still has a very long road ahead, and we appreciate your continuing prayers and support. It's been a very harrowing month for the Dunks family, and it means a great deal to us that we have a supportive church family.
 

Evan Dunks Update
April 27, 2020

It has emerged that his current hospital is unable to treat all of his complications connected to his underlying disease. The flu has been gone for a while, but he’s had less recovery than expected. He will be transported to a hospital in Delaware within a few days for a halo brace, then surgery, then a lengthy physical rehab regimen. If successful he will again be able to swallow, eat and have full use of his arms. Please pray that this be so!

Evan Dunks Update
April 21, 2020

At this point Evan is unable to swallow due to having been on a ventilator, and not all folks regain that capacity. So that is a specific prayer request. He is still so weak that PT goals include sitting and rolling over, but those abilities will come back in time. He is also working to regain enough strength to type, and thus communicate. They say his attitude is good, and Evan is a big favorite on his floor. He does that ‘plucky’ thing that often impresses and endears him to medical staff. We’ve seen it a lot. Anyway, the medical team has developed their goals for him: to move him to a home healthcare situation, maybe at our house or at his apartment. The earliest date would be mid-May but we’ll see. He would need ongoing professional care in this situation, given his challenges. Thanks so much to everyone who has prayed and inquired and commented and sent cards. It’s so encouraging to us as parents, I just can’t tell you. Cards are still about the only communication he gets. Nice nurses help with facetime a few times a week, though of course Evan cannot speak. Hopefully he will regain that again.

Evan Dunks Update
April 14, 2020

Evan is scheduled to move to the rehab floor of his hospital for some time, once he meets certain base-lines of bodily functions. He is almost there. His respiration is good thanks to his tracheotomy, but his swallowing reflex has not yet returned, so they put him on a gastric feeding tube last weekend. His morale is good, and his “brain fog” seems to be lifting. We did find out today, through his nurses, that the reason he hasn’t emailed or texted is that he seems to have lost the ability to type. They will be working on this, along with other things, in his occupational therapy sessions. The experts are very hopeful that he will fully recover all of his abilities, but are warning us that this typically takes months rather than weeks, after such a long time being so sick. Thanks for your prayers! Please keep them up!

Update on Evan Dunks
April 10, 2020

Evan has had a gastric feeding tube placed his side, to replace the one currently going through his nose.  While his respiration is healing nicely, he is not yet recovering his swallowing reflex, so he needs a better long-term source of nutrition.  Not what we wanted to hear, but not catastrophic.  He is still on track to move to the "aggressive" rehab floor soon; increased physical activity will help overall and may help his swallowing.

Update on Evan Dunks
April 6, 2020

Evan is, according to the nurses, making slow progress. I think that's going to be the operative phrase for some time. Julie took his cell phone and laptop to the hospital last week, but he can't yet remember any of his passwords to get online! The brain fog is normal for what he has been through and will eventually dissipate, but for now his inability to communicate is frustrating for everyone. On the other hand, his breathing is getting much better, and his need for oxygen assistance is diminishing. And when his breathing is fully healed, hopefully his trachea will be too, and we can remove the tube there. One step at a time....


The address to send him cards is: 
Evan Dunks, Virginia Hospital Center, 1701 N. George Mason Dr, Room 615, Arlington, Va 22205.

Update on Evan Dunks
3/31/20

Evan is recovering steadily. He is making good progress physically but he is very bored and lonely. Due to the quarantine, we will not be able to see him very frequently, which is hard, though the nurses will put us on the phone with him once daily (where he can listen but not speak). If anyone wishes to send him cards or letters the address is: Evan Dunks, Virginia Hospital Center, 1701 N. George Mason Dr, Room 615, Arlington VA 22205. Thanks for your continuing prayers as he continues to heal. He will be there several more weeks at least; it takes a good bit of time to wean someone off a trache tube. The mental sluggishness that comes with intubation/sedation is also beginning to lift. Hopefully by next week he will be able to get on the internet again.

Update on Evan Dunks
3/25/20

Evan had a temporary tracheotomy this morning. Pray that this gives him energy to quickly recover, and that his throat quickly heals from the ventilator so he can breathe and eat normally.

 
Update on Evan Dunks
3/24/20

Evan is having a tracheostomy on Wednesday, which should enable him to be freed from his ventilator and make progress in his recovery. My sense is that he is expected to remain in the hospital for several more weeks, though all depends on his rate of progress. Please continue to remember him in your prayers.

 
Update on Evan Dunks
3/23/20
 
Evan is back on the ventilator. The good news is that he is disease-free and his lungs are clearing up. The bad news is that the muscles which control his breathing are weak, and swollen and he needs to strengthen them. They may give him a day or so on the ventilator to rest and try to take the tube out again, or they may give him a temporary tracheotomy to let him heal. Please keep him in your prayers.
 
 
Good News on Evan Dunks
3/22/20
 

Evan is off the ventilator!  Still on oxygen, but breathing on his own!

 
Update on Evan Dunks
3/21/20
 

Evan seems to have finally turned the corner.  While he is still on the ventilator, they have reduced the settings and hope to have him off entirely sometime next week.  The only impediment to further is that he has developed a blot clot in his lungs, which they are dissolving with blood thinners.  He is alert and in good spirits, though worn.   Please continue to pray for him.  He still has a long road to recovery ahead.

 
Update on Evan Dunks
3/19/20
 
Evan seems to be making slow but steady progress.  He is still on a ventilator, but they are lowering the settings, incrementally, and hope to reduce him from “extreme” to “normal” ventilator levels today. His fever spikes are beginning to lower as well.  He still has a long road ahead of him, so please continue to keep him in your prayers.  Please pray that he have no lasting lung damage.  He already deals with so many barriers to “normal” life, and it would be grievous to see another debility added to the mix.  Please pray too that he sense the Lord’s presence with him and stay hopeful.  His hospital is under lockdown due to the pandemic, and he will not be able to receive visitors for the foreseeable future. (I tried to play the “But I’m his priest” card yesterday, and was told “Then you can come if he is dying”). I do understand the need for extreme precaution; Let us also pray for our health care workers everywhere who are serving sacrificially and at increasing risk to themselves.
 
 
Update on Evan Dunks
3/18/20
 
Evan is making slight progress, but still is very much battling for his life. They are lowering his ventilator settings day by day, which is good news, but because he fell into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome while battling the flu, he needs to get off the ventilator as soon as possible to avoid lasting lung damage.  And he is still having spikes of high fever, which the doctors find inexplicable. Please continue your fervent prayers for him. Also distressing is the fact that we will not be able to visit him for the foreseeable future: The hospital, following CDC guidelines for Coronavirus prevention, is closed to all visitors until further notice.
 
Update on Evan Dunks
3/16/20
 
Evan is suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome triggered by his flu and pneumonia. Two-thirds of those who contract it recover with few lasting effects, so we are praying that Evan will be in that category. He is still fully sedated and on a ventilator to give his body a rest as he battles the flu, and may remain so for the next 24 hours. He is not getting worse, at this point, and hopefully we will begin to see progress soon. We thank you for your prayers, and ask you to keep them up. Also pray for our health care workers; from our visits to D.C. we can see the beginnings of the anticipated strain on the hospital system.
 
The most common advice from everyone we have talked to or read: Wash your hands; stay home; stay away from your kids and grand-kids: they often have the virus with no symptoms, but can still be carriers.
 
I hope that as Evan stabilizes I can be more attentive to the needs of our congregation. I hope to begin making pastoral phone calls within the next day or so. In addition, please let me know if you become ill or are afraid you are about to become ill. It is my duty and my privilege to care for you and I am eager to do so. I have the time and resources to visit you, and do so safely.
 
Update on Evan Dunks
3/15/20
 
Evan is not doing well. He is back on a ventilator and heavily sedated. The pneumonia, as of today, is not getting better. His prognosis is uncertain; the doctors are taking it one day at a time. We will give an update as the situation develops.

O God of heavenly powers, by the might of your command
you drive away from our bodies all sickness and all infirmity:
Be present in your goodness with your servant Evan, that his
weakness may be banished and his strength restored; and that,
his health being renewed, he may bless your holy Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
 
Update on Evan Dunks
3/14/20
Evan is suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome triggered by his flu and pneumonia.  Two-thirds of those who contract it recover with few lasting effects, so we are praying that Evan will be in that category.  He is still fully sedated and on a ventilator to give his body a rest as he battles the flu, and may remain so for the next 24 hours.  He is not getting worse, at this point, and hopefully we will begin to see progress soon.  We thank you for your prayers, and ask you to keep them up.  Also pray for our health care workers; from our visits to D.C. we can see the beginnings of the anticipated strain on the hospital system.

The most common advice from everyone we have talked to or read:  Wash your hands; stay home; stay away from your kids and grand-kids: they often have the virus with no symptoms, but can still be carriers.
 
 
Evan Dunks
3/11/20
From our Rector, Andy Dunks
Our son Evan spent the weekend with us, and we drove him back to Arlington Monday night. He was beginning to feel sick around the time we were leaving. At around 5:00am we learned from his roommate that he was taken to the ER with breathing difficulties. He was admitted and is in stable condition. Evan does NOT have Coronavirus as it turns out, but rather run-of-the-mill Type A Influenza. It too can come on suddenly and hit like a ton of bricks in those who have preexisting respiratory issues.


3/23/2020
What if we can't have church together on Easter?
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